In Sickness And In Health…

In sickness and in health… regardless of religion or cultural background, this vow usually makes its way into most wedding ceremonies. But how many of us in our relative youth at that time, actually truly understand what those words mean. “In health” is the easy part of course but what happens when unexpectedly some sort of chronic, serious illness decides to intrude on your perfect union?

That’s exactly what my husband Arun and I faced over fourteen years ago. We were married just five years when my symptoms began. And despite my desire to hide my head in the sand, he’s the one who encouraged me not to ignore the tremor. He was the one I ran to, my eyes full of angry tears, after the first neurologist had the gall to tell me he felt I had young onset Parkinson’s. He sat holding my hand when months later the second well-renowned movement disorder specialist confirmed this life sentence despite my desire to be absolved from the initial diagnosis.

He listened to what my physicians were recommending and took care of the practical side of things when all I heard were words and nothing was registering. And he was the one who [...] continue the story

Seeing Light And Shadow

By Judith Leitner

It all begins with light and shadow: opulent daylight softly slipping through a window and illuminating a lovely face, deep shadows stretching across wide valleys and cavernous crevices, dazzling light glistening on ice or crafting strange forms along sand dunes, elongated shadows within dawn’s emergent light and dusk’s fading glow, dense light within grey fog, mellow open shade on a bright summer day, harsh and calculating flash light in a dark room: these and an infinite array of other expressions of light and shadow are the primary shapers of meaning in a photograph. Indeed, the word ‘photography’ literally means ‘writing (graphy) with light (photo)’.

The first time I taught children to ‘write with light’ I quickly understood that all they needed – after a very basic intro to the camera and film – was a few lessons in exploring light and shadow. Outdoors, we wandered and observed how time of day, weather, open air and rooftop canopies informed qualities of natural light and shadow, and we played with the flash in daylight. The children were amazed when they perceived the ways their hats blocked light and cast dark shadows on their faces. Indoors, we looked at diffused window light, [...] continue the story

All For One…

By Soania Mathur

Once again it was a restless night but worth it this time. I got home around 1:30 in the morning wired on a combination of caffeine and Sinemet. The insomnia that ensued was inevitable but I had such a great night eating, chatting, laughing and playing cards with my girlfriends that I have no regrets. It was our monthly girls’ poker group, one of many get togethers that I look forward to on a regular basis. Be it lunching out, dinner at a friend’s place, movie night or simply going out for a coffee, having that social connection is invaluable to me. With three kids and a million duties to fulfill, it’s not easy to find those opportunities but it is something I try and make time for.

Let’s be honest, we are all social beings, granted some of us more than others, and our social network can provide us with the distraction that we sometimes need to escape from our daily stress. It’s nice to lose yourself in the sometimes mindless chatter and not have to think about some new symptom that has cropped up, how screwed up your meds seem or worry about what the future holds. [...] continue the story

Now To Tell the Kids…

By Soania Mathur

Time to tell the kids… As I laid down with my youngest daughter tonight, as I usually do while she drifts off to sleep, she looked at me and asked in a tired but inquisitive voice, “Were you born with Parkinson’s”. “Well, it’s a little complicated…” I began. This is just one of many questions I’ve fielded from my girls over the years. “Does your medicine make you feel better?” “How can you swallow so many pills?” “Mama, why are you limping? Did you hurt your foot? ” “Why can’t they find something to make you better?” And my favorite “If I hold your hand forever, will it stop shaking?”

I still marvel at the matter-of-fact nature of the conversations we have about Parkinson’s and the comfortable manner in which our girls discuss this disease. It’s exactly the way I had hoped my Parkinson’s would be perceived by my daughters – as a part of life’s challenges that can be dealt with, not as a frightening life stressor. Children these days are having enough difficulty navigating the world, dealing with school, peer groups, hormones and so on and the last thing I ever wanted was to add to their burden.

Let’s [...] continue the story

Sleep – Is It Overrated or Am I Just Stubborn?

By Soania Mathur

Well here I am, 3:40 AM, up and out of the warmth of my bed – yet again. It’s been years of sleep issues of every sort. Sometimes it’s initial insomnia where I’ve spent countless hours staring into the darkness, reading into every shadow, tossing and turning, trying to find a comfortable position, trying not to wake my husband, trying not to look at the clock which seems to mock my difficulty. Other nights I do fall asleep, either because I haven’t truly slept in literally days or because I’ve given in and actually taken yet another pill, this one designed to make me sleep for a few precious hours. I don’t often do this, mostly due to my own stubbornness, the desire to will my body to do what it’s supposed to do without the need for something outside of me to do the job. This obstinate stand usually frustrates my husband and my oldest daughter whose plea “Mama, what’s one more pill especially if it helps?” makes complete logical sense. Yet to me that one little pill (or the three it takes now) represents yet another way this disease has taken away my ability to control [...] continue the story