Are you a "silent hero"? I'm not asking if you dash into a phone booth to change your clothes in a flash, wearing underpants on top of your trousers, like many a fictional super hero. Instead, I refer to those silent heroes among us, who suffer in silence the torment of living with Parkinson's disease. It might be someone in your family, a good friend, maybe a neighbour you merely nod good morning to, but no doubt you know or have heard of somebody suffering this all too common disease, or perhaps the silent hero is you!
I have found generally, that Parkinson's patients put a brave face on, wear a cheery smile and try their best to get on with their lives despite battling diverse unpleasant symptoms. This life changing diagnosis not only affects the patient, but has broad ramifications on immediate family and friends. Some are able to continue their lives, making adjustments where necessary, whilst others have to cope with many difficulties whilst their life is turned upside down.
Just because a Parkinson's patient doesn't make a fuss, may never complain and is barely seen shaking or appearing unwell in an blatant way, does not mean there is no suffering involved, nor is it an indication that the person is in denial. Keeping up appearances is an important coping mechanism for many living with Parkinson's, who fully understand that were they to drop this necessary façade of sorts, the distressing picture would likely send family and friends running in the opposite direction. Support from those around you is extremely important, which again, most Parkinson's patients realise, only strengthening their resolve to put on a good show, for no one likes to be around a grouch!
However, when patients get together and talk frankly, few words are necessary, for the level of comprehension runs deep. We understand one another better than anyone else, as we are living the same nightmare, but try our best to keep the scary portions to ourselves. If I had a penny for every time I've heard "be grateful it's not cancer", I'd be a wealthy woman by now. I am grateful and agree that cancer is undeniably in a league of its own, can wickedly move at alarming speed, hijacking someone's life without mercy. I would never try to compare the two diseases, they both stink! Nevertheless, to belittle or make light of the often long suffering involved with Parkinson's, is inexcusable.
I'm no hero and I most certainly am not silent. I have been campaigning for some years now, and as a one-man show, (I should rephrase that) a one-woman show, with great determination I continue to write and speak; I just refuse to keep quiet! I have written about every topic possible, in an honest and candid manner to hopefully in some small way, help create better awareness and understanding, along with reaching fellow sufferers and caregivers, so they'll know they're not alone in this battle. You may ask what can one individual possibly achieve all by themselves? The answer is: an awful lot. You'd be surprised how loud one small person can be, making a difference by speaking for those with no voice. To the millions of silent heroes everywhere, I salute you!