In my work over the years, I have worked with many people in challenging circumstances. They have had sudden devastating illnesses such as strokes and brain tumors, dementia and a vast array of other conditions. I have worked with them and their families and done my best to support them as they either progress – in the case of those with dementia – or rehabilitate as in the case of those with strokes and brain tumors.
Everyone reacts in their own individual way to these health issues. I am always amazed at the resilience of people when faced with significant health events, both the resilience of the person directly affected and also their family who support them.
I am working with someone who has had a long standing condition for over 50 years. He works, he drives a car, he lives on his own and has not had any help – or indeed seemed to need any – up until recently where he is recovering from an injury caused by a fall. I have been working with him and supporting him as we identify what supports he now needs. He has a number of challenges in his life and some things we all might take for granted must be incredibly difficult for him at times. I was talking to him today and I told him how much I admire all that he has done. I acknowledged that his independence was important to him and that I wanted to support him to remain as independent as possible, while acknowledging that the time has come to let some support come to him. After all these years he is now willing to finally accept some help.
I was speaking to a colleague today and said to him, “……………… would have to be my favourite patient of all time”. When I was asked why, I said that I am so inspired by how resourceful this patient is. My colleague agreed and also pointed out that with all he has had to contend with, both through the years and in his current recovery, he has never complained once. He just gets on and does what he needs to do and now is accepting the time has come for some support.
It has made me think. This man has lived with a challenging condition for over 50 years. He has maintained his dignity and his independence. He holds down a good job and just gets on with life. He is positive and strong willed. He is appreciative and good to deal with. It makes me appreciate that having Parkies may not give me 50 years – I would be 111 by then – but I can try to apply my strength, my resilience and my positivity to my life with Parkinsons. If he can manage with a life of significant disability for 50 years, I can live my life to the full with my ‘slow burner’ of a condition for the years I have available to me.
People like this man continue to live lives to the full, with dignity and resourcefulness. I aim to do the same.