Life would be so much easier perhaps if we knew what to expect, but none of us has a crystal ball to be able to see what our future holds. Perhaps that is for the best.
Today, I had a discussion with someone I have worked with for a few years now and who is about to retire. I wasn’t aware that she hadn’t been at work for a few weeks, but today she told me she had had a heart attack recently. She had been doing her best to live a healthy lifestyle and yet she still ended up with a heart attack. Luckily she has come out of it OK, but will have to take medications probably for the rest of her life.
We had a good discussion about our individual situations – she has known about my Parkinson’s for a while – and we both had similar viewpoints. She is a similar age to me – perhaps six years older – but that is nothing in terms of age difference. She has adult children and grand-children and we talked about the impact her heart attack had on her. I was struck by how similar our attitudes are post diagnosis/event. We talked about how having had the experiences with our health that we both are more conscious of not wanting to waste the time that we have left. Of spending valuable time with our families creating memories.
We also spoke about how our children reacted when they knew we had a major health diagnosis. The difference perhaps for her was that she didn’t choose to share her diagnosis. Having had a heart attack, her children would have been told what had happened to her pretty much immediately. There have been subtle changes by the sound of it in how they interact with their mother in a positive way.
I had a choice whether to tell my children and when. I chose to tell them pretty much within a day of being diagnosed. It was the best decision I could have made. I wanted them to know what was happening to me. To be honest and to give them the opportunity to be part of this journey. They know how important they are to me and in turn also their children, my beautiful grandsons and granddaughters. Perhaps, like me, they want their children to spend time with me more often so that we can build memories together. If I hadn’t told them, I would be taking away their ability to understand and support me and to help me to spend more quality time with their children.
Life is about choices. But we can’t make the right choices if we don’t have the full picture. If I hadn’t shared my story/diagnosis with my children and something happened to me down the line, how would my children feel? Would they feel robbed of opportunities to be there for me? Would they feel hurt that I didn’t trust them enough to tell them the truth?
I’m glad I made the choice to tell my children. They are a big part of my support network and I try to be a big part of theirs too. Like my colleague I was talking to today, I don’t know whether some unexpected different health event may come my way. Parkinson’s at least is a known health issue and I kind of know what to expect and how to counteract it’s effects with medication and exercise. All I know, is that I want to make the most of life for myself and for my family.
So, I don’t have a crystal ball. My future may be uncertain. But, whose isn’t? But knowing I have a condition gives me the opportunity to make the most of life. To hold life as a precious thing and those that I share my life with as precious too. To do my best to live my best life despite my health issues. Because, I don’t know if a heart attack or stroke or other event might come along and I want to feel that I have done my best to live at my best.
Whatever my future holds, I want to look back and say ‘I did my best to be my best’ and I have left behind me a legacy of love and precious memories.
That’s all I ask.