What to do to “live well” when all seems lost

7:19 AM

This case study is based on a call from a long time friend’s relative.  Since I don’t know all of the details, let’s consider this a fictional case where the names and exact details are not the same.

Harriet’s husband is ready to leave her after 30+ years of marriage, 20+ she has had Parkinson’s.  She currently is mostly bedridden and takes numerous Parkinson’s and antipsychotic medications.  The relative says she needs the medications to keep her manageable for the daytime aide.

In high school Harriet and her sister were among my close circle of friends and while we all majored in sciences or engineering, we lost track for a few years. When we caught up Harriet was still trying to work but trying to diagnose her problems, she was in her 30’s and  would not accept the Parkinson’s diagnosis and over the next few years traveled to at least five major medical centers in the east coast to  get answers. They all told her the same Parkinson’s and she assumed it was from chemicals she used in the laboratories,

When husband Adam was offered a job offer that he couldn’t refuse , they moved to the west coast and I lost touch with her again.    

In the next 10 years, I develop Parkinson’s.  I was 47 when I was diagnosed. Over the next few years I attended support groups and educational programs.  The medications worked, I started to exercise more and I’m basically “living well” with Parkinson’s.  So our travels were bringing us to her town one summer. I contacted her and we set a time to meet but she cancelled the next day.  This was repeated several items over the next 10 years with her canceling each time, I still haven’t seen her in person. She did not let her sister visit for many years but they have renewed their relationship.

Harriet’s sister Georgine called  recently and said Adam can’t cope anymore and threatened to leave Harriet.  I really had no answer at first .  I’ve always been sort of mad at her for not taking better care of herself.

A few  days after I spoke Georgine, I thought about the following.  They are in a major metropolitan area.              I think Adam needs a well deserved break and I feel that Harriet could be taking too much medication.  To make drastic changes requires a safe and orderly environment.  I think he should find a neuropsychologist or psychiatrist that specializes in Parkinson’s and get her checked into a facility for evaluation,  If she  responds well, then you can see if she can regain mobility and “live better.” We all know that every case is different and while we  know Parkinson’s is degenerative and 30 years is a long time to have lived with this, that perhaps a fresh start and fresh atttitude might help her through the next 10 years or so.