As my Parkinson’s symptoms escalate, I have begun wondering about when my caregiver will have to put on “the leash.” With my typical male ego apparent, I have already steadfastly refused to accept help in managing several PD symptoms. Among the earliest was my inability to deal with the collar buttons on my shirt. Shortly thereafter I found I was unable to zipper my jacket. It took me several weeks and a lot of frustration before I realized I needed assistance.

Not too many more weeks passed before I realized I could not cut into my steak. Fortunately, this was an at home meal and I was at ease with my spouse doing the deed. So, when the waitperson brought me a T bone at my son’s wedding I was mentally prepared to accept help without feeling embarrassed.

Though still somewhat on the stubborn side, I am beginning to realize it will be just a matter of time before my caregiver will be much more involved with my personal care. I’m not sure how they know, but our dogs (four of them) take turns watching me enter and exit from the shower. No doubt they are prepared to signal my spouse when they witness a spill.

Other responsibilities transferred to my caregiver include check writing, tax return preparation and the customary personal notes added to greeting cards. What used to be very legible handwriting has evolved to what appear to be DaVinci code characters. Can you imagine how difficult it would be trying to get into our safe deposit box?

So what is this about a leash you say? At this moment I am at my stubborn best in resisting any talk of taking away the car keys. For most men the car is their favorite toy. For me it involves independent contact with an “outside world” still available to me; getting a haircut, doctor’s appointments, or possibly even stopping for a donut or hamburger. When I am no longer able to drive whenever or wherever I will feel just like one of those four dogs when they are put on a leash!

Stubborn? YES! Realistic? YES! I have instructed my caretaker to put on the leash when she feels I am endangering myself or others. If you are a caretaker or a patient who has not yet dealt with this most important decision THINK ABOUT THE CONSEQUENCES OF INDECISION!

Editor’s note: Bob corresponded on our Forum, using the screen name Bandido1. Sadly, he passed away on April 7, 2012. Bob’s loss is deeply felt by all of us who knew him. His contribution to the causes of the Parkinson community have had profound impact.

About the Author
photo: Bob CummingsDiagnosed in 2006, Bob was a Parkinson’s patient from North Texas. He was a Korean War Navy Veteran, graduated from Temple University in 1959 with a B.A. in Political Science and worked for 40+ years in the Trust Administration and Wealth Management field. Bob retired in 2001 as Senior Vice President of his company’s Los Angeles Office.Although medical problems reduced activities to some of his charitable volunteer work, he kept himself busy working as a Parkinsons advocate. Bob worked with the Michael J. Fox Foundation, the Parkinson’s Alliance, the Parkinson’s Acton Network and with the Obama Administration’s Health & Human Services Department in advocating patient input to a proposed National Healthcare Information Technology Database.
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