I just read a synopsis of Michael J. Fox’s latest memoir, “No Time Like The Future,” and it reminded me once again not to have the nerve to complain about … anything! This man, who founded an organization to end Parkinson’s Disease through medical research, is a model of courage. He has an indomitable spirit, stoically refusing to be vanquished by his afflictions, though acknowledging their heavy toll. And, unfortunately, adversity keeps knocking on his door. Besides coping with PD since the age of 29 (early onset PD), he has been beset with other medical calamities, including a spinal cord tumor and a fall with a very badly fractured arm which left him wheelchair bound. And, yet, he manages to maintain a form of resiliency which allows him to cope and retain a spark of optimism. I think that most mortals would succumb to these disastrous challenges (I would, for sure), but his finding solace in his wife, family and friends, and some activities sends a positive message. It is a message of Hope – that in the end medical science will prevail and snuff out the suffering.
When we get battered by persistent misfortune, it’s hard to gather up psychological defenses to stave off impending doom and destruction. But, eventually relief can come. One has to try and keep the faith – to hang in there. Think about the WWII Battle of The Bulge. This was the largest and most costly of the battles involving Americans in the war. In mid-December, 1944, things were looking bad – really bad- but reinforcements eventually arrived and a month later, although suffering thousands of casualties, the American troops turned it all around and began to march in the right direction (toward Germany).
At this time, there is as yet no cure for Parkinson’s. And there may not be the equivalent imminent offing of relief for PD by a George S. Patton leading a Third Army who relieved our encircled soldiers at Bastogne. Nevertheless, we should be heartened by the massive efforts being undertaken by research scientists (e.g., at the National Institute of Health, the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research) who have made some important strides. And given how successful and speedy was the development of the Covid vaccines, I think it’s not overly polyannish to expect that positive developments in PD will be forthcoming, as well.