After Wally’s diagnosis in January 2000 and our first years living in Wilmot Creek, his quality of life marginally changed as his daily dosage of bromocriptine crept up. He walked the dog every day, joined the pool club and was soon playing in all the tournaments. He even played some tennis with his longtime buddy Jack, who also had Parkinson’s.
Jack, who went on Sinemet (L-dopa) immediately, developed a routine where he followed the daily recommended exercises for people with Parkinson’s and danced with the ladies every weekend. He didn’t care if his partners were young or old, as long as they danced. His right hand noticeably trembled except when he played tennis or his electric keyboard. He maintained a straight posture, while Wally grew more stooped.
Jack invented a stretching machine for Wally to use to help him straighten his shoulders, but on his own, Wally never used it. Occasionally Wally’s left leg shook, but most of the time his tremors were invisible. He never enjoyed physical work outs. “Work” was the key word. For him, tennis and golf were fun, and they gave him plenty of exercise. His attitude never changed after he developed Parkinson’s.
In the meantime, I was putting in crazy hours working from home. I was afraid to turn down a magazine assignment or editorial project in case I would lose the business. I went through many deadline marathons where I barely slept. We often ate out because when I’m working 60- to 70-hour weeks I lose interest in cooking.
Wally’s very social. He enjoys being around people and interacting, especially in competition, though he would never call himself a conversationalist. He expected that I was also social. I do make public speeches when needed and jump into conversations that interest me, but he never realized I don’t seek to be with people until we moved to Wilmot Creek. I love the sanctuary of my home and working from home fed my introspective nature.
If Wally never had Parkinson’s, I doubt we would have questioned our styles of respite. When he worked late selling real estate or played in tennis tournaments, he never had to feel guilty because I didn’t need him home to entertain me. I welcomed my alone time because that’s when I pursued my dream of writing novels. Many things we did together as well. We were partners on the same path, holding hands but not clinging. We were independent and free, yet spiritually joined. We enjoyed unconditional love. I can’t remember a night when we didn’t go to sleep laughing because of Wally’s one liners. We welcomed life, and we enjoyed it. In our home, we never dwelled on problems. We figured out solutions and moved on. Life was always a forward motion. Consequently, neither one of us is good at remembering what happened yesterday, so we don’t hold grudges. Not usually.
But, as Wally’s Parkinson’s progressed, he began to resent my computer. What he really meant was my time at the computer because it’s time we didn’t have together. As he began to lose more control of his life, being together became increasingly important to him.