CARTOONS
by Marcie Vallette

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Life with Parkinson's

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Here are some cartoons from my upcoming graphic novel on caring for someone with Parkinson's Disease. It will be 100 pages, each page a stand-alone, its own story. This book is for caregivers only, by the way. It's honest, and it may offend some.

LIFE AS A CAREGIVER

 


My husband is now in a fairly advanced stage of Parkinson’s Disease. My emotional experiences have ranged from deep despair, to feeling cosmically connected and loving; at home with all beings. I have felt homicidally jealous of friends going on trips and enjoying their lives, as this kind of material joy (traveling, going out, buying stuff) was unavailable to me for so many years. But sometimes I could laugh uproariously at a shared joke with my husband and cherish my time with him. Many times I have felt I was also going to die from the unrelenting stress of this disease day after day, year after year.

Even the simplest of tasks are difficult and slowly accomplished. There were many nights when I had no sleep. I have spent hours in the ER with him after he fell. I didn’t want to face another medical bill. Or heating bill or any bill. Going to the mailbox and seeing the bills literally made me gasp for breath and my heart hurt.

Parkinson’s is more than just a movement disorder. It can effect behavior and personality in some people. Not only can your loved one not move well, but they may be hallucinating, up all night, and making bad judgments that affect your future. They may be verbally cruel, and may hide important things. And then there’s the falling falling falling, day after day, night after night.

Sooner or later most of us will have problems that seem to defeat us, changing what we assumed was the course of our life, and challenging our idea that we are in control of anything.

About Marcie-Doll

I went through a phase where I quit my nursing job and couldn't get out of bed. When I did finally get out of bed on a regular schedule, I would look at my clothes in the morning and dress myself, knowing I had to put a costume together that would be judged. My husband was deeply in his own world and didn't notice me. Sometimes I felt nauseous at the thought of getting dressed and appearing in the world of humans. I would be told to "smile," I was sure. I made people uncomfortable, this I was sure of. I practiced smiling to protect myself from being spoken to when I left the house. I couldn't stand being spoken to at that time. I would get dressed and the critiques of my appearance made their way into my consciousness. The critiques were memories of critiques from others that had lodged into my mind, making themselves known, and were now coming from my own mind.

What

About the brain scan drawing: My husband had had an fMRI years before, to rule out a stroke. I remembered looking at his brain scans and feeling afraid and vulnerable. Was his essence really located his brain? Would this change? Now, these years later, some days I felt like I was actually crazy and maybe I should get an fMRI to see if there was something wrong physiologically. It was at this time that I applied for and qualified to be one of the subjects in a brain study on how experienced meditators process pain. I have had a strong meditation practice for years. When I sit with my teacher, Shinzen, and the sangha, and just sit, opening my senses, it is one of the most true and honest experiences. It is like coming home, or like being alone in nature, in a way. But that is a whole other story.

So, I got a free fMRI, and the neuro-scientists sent me pictures of my own brain as a reward for doing it. They found nothing unusual about my brain, or my responses, I was told. I felt good and I felt bad. So there was nothing wrong with my brain. Good. But, then again, how could they not see that my brain was special? What could account for my own strangeness?

My own brain

Marcie Vallette

 

mvallette@hotmail.com