What is a ‘Disease’ by definition? I have tried Dr Google and one response is as follows:
‘Any abnormal condition of the body or part of it, arising from any cause‘.
However, to me to label Parkinson’s as a ‘Disease’ infers to me different meanings. I have always thought of something or someone as diseased as having a medical condition which is infectious and by it’s very nature something that can be passed on from one person to another. While there may be a genetic factor for some, I don’t identify with this ‘condition’ (my preferred definition) as one which I may pass on to others and make them unwell.
Words are powerful things. Our perception of the meaning of words may not come from a dictionary, but by our social and cultural experiences. So, for me, calling this thing I call Parkies a disease sounds ominous. That I may somehow affect or infect those around me by my very presence. I know it is not so, but the word ‘disease’ has that sort of power to influence how it is viewed by me and perhaps by others.
Having a ‘condition’ seems a less ominous way to refer to this thing that I carry with me. It infers to me a state of being. A condition seems to me something that has happened to me, but that I cannot then pass on to others.
Then there is the use of the word ‘abnormal’ in the definition. What then is considered normal? After all, as individuals we all have our own individual state of being. My ‘normal’ could be far removed from anyone else’s normal, but who is to say that it is therefore by definition ‘abnormal’?
My life now is one in which Parkinson’s is part of my being. It is not my sole focus, but for me now this is my normal. Taking medications three times a day is normal. Having some trouble with word finding is normal. Having issues with pain for me is now normal. Having to exercise daily is my new normal. As to the cause? Who knows? I think this is in a large part still a bit of a mystery.
So, for me, I refuse to be labelled as ‘Diseased’ or ‘Abnormal’ and I choose to say that I have a condition. A way of being that is influenced by that condition, which for me is now normal. That normal will change over time, but so will everyone’s over time as they age. What is normal for me today, may be quite different in a week, a month, a year.
Words have power and so I choose not to identify with being ‘diseased’ and deficient in some way. Although my function may differ from others over time at each age and stage I will endeavour to manage my condition and whatever normal happens to be at the time.