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All in the family

My cousin, Jone, is as close to having a sister as I will ever have. It is with a certain irony that we both have an incurable neurological disease:  Jone has Multiple Sclerosis (MS), and I have Parkinson's disease (PD). Two years younger than me, she was diagnosed with MS eleven years ago. After I got my PD diagnosis five years ago, she really opened up about her struggles with MS.

When we talk on the phone, we get an update on how the other is doing. We'll frequently compare life with MS to life with PD. I'll start a conversation with, "Well with Parkinson's... and how does MS affect you?" We have found that we have an even deeper bond between us because of living with a chronic illness. We know that the other one really understands some of the challenges of being ill.

Jone recently came for a visit. As usual, one of the topics of conversation was some of the coping strategies we use.

For instance, when my cousin and her husband go out, she now uses a scooter or a wheelchair to get around. Yes, she can still walk, but using an aide like a wheelchair helps her cope in several ways:

  1. She can keep up with the others

  2. She doesn't hold the rest of the party back because she can't walk as far or as fast

  3. She conserves her energy, and has found that she can make it though a day's activities and on into the evening

When traveling, Jone and I always contact the airline and ask for wheelchair assistance to propel us through security to our departure gate.

We agreed that this was not the life we had envisioned we would have. But we refuse to let pride get in our way of living an active life. We choose to live our lives to the fullest, and if that means using a wheelchair, so be it.

We do what we must to get along.



World Parkinson's Congress

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