No matter how many times I have seen the movie Cast Away, I always find myself watching the last scene over and over, trying to determine which road Tom Hanks' character takes. He is standing at a crossroads, looking around, unsure of where to go, not knowing the best road to take. This indecision comes after finally being rescued from a deserted island he was stranded on for years. Like the Cast Away character, Chuck Noland, Keith and I have found ourselves standing at a crossroads, unsure which path to take.
In the four years since Keith's diagnosis, we have each found ourselves feeling as if we were alone, stranded on a deserted island. We say we are in this together, but in reality we can never fully understand what the other is feeling. I will never know how he feels as his body deteriorates, slowly becoming more stiff, slow and shaky. I will never know the heartache and frustration of a slipping memory or of time lost with my children. On the other hand, Keith will never know what I go through as I watch this disease slowly ravage his body, stealing all those little pieces that make up Keith. No matter how often we network with others, regardless of all the young-onset PWP we have become friends with, and despite all the PD support groups we have attended, it is still so easy to feel alone, stranded on a remote island named Parkinson.
This past year has been our awakening. We determined individually and together that we had enough resources to put together a raft, climb aboard, and sail off this lonely island. We knew the waters would be rough. We knew it would be dangerous; the chance of drowning in a vast sea of financial insecurity, medicinal side effects, physical disability, memory loss, and frustration was high. It was risky, no doubt, but we were determined to get off that island, and sink or swim, or even doggy paddle, we were going to get back home.
As it happened, the trip off the island was the easy part. I wouldn't exactly call it smooth sailing, but we arrived at our destination in one piece, all parts in working order, a little weary but content. Now, like Chuck Noland in Cast Away, we find ourselves standing at a crossroads unsure of which road to take. We have decisions to make about how to proceed with PD that will affect each member of our family. In the past Keith and I often let our emotions, namely fear, dictate what the outcome of our decisions were. Not any more. That's why we've decided on a counselor from here on out. Not a marriage counselor, but someone who specializes in neurological disorders and the issues they entail. Most of our interaction with the counselor will be as a couple, though I am sure there will be times when Keith and I will need to speak privately to him/her. I have been burned out, Keith is frustrated, there is potential for resentments to build on both sides, all of which we want to avoid. As we stand in the crossroads of PD, we have recognized that we need help in our decision making. We are no longer stranded on a deserted island, nor do we wish to return to it, so it only makes sense that we would surround ourselves with people we know to be supportive, understanding and helpful, counselors included. Our hope is that a counselor will help us cast away all those fears and doubts surrounding PD, and help us determine which is the best direction our family needs to turn to.