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Who Should I Listen To? My Doctor? Or the Ice Cream?

Posted Feb 24 2010 7:17am

When I visited with my neurologist last week, he gave me a gentle scolding for putting on some weight.  “It’s gonna catch up to you as the disease progresses,” he said.  He advised more exercise and less of what he called “the bad food.”

And I know he’s right.  It makes all the sense in the world.  If I were lighter and more muscular, I would still have Parkinson’s disease, but it wouldn’t be such a heavy bulk for me to lug around.

But the soft, soothing voice of ice cream tells me differently.

Yes.  I can hear ice cream.

It happens when I’m waddling down the aisle at the grocery store, my walker in front of me.  That’s when I hear the voice.  I turn to the freezer display, and at first I have to wonder how that tub of Ben & Jerry ’s “ Cherry Garcia ” knows my name.

It draws me closer.  The pint of ice cream sparkles like a glittering diamond in a jeweler’s display case.

“Hi there, Bill,” the ice cream says.  I say nothing, because I know the voice is meant just for me — and besides, if folks see me holding a one-way conversation with a pint of ice cream, I’ll be in “the home” sooner than I really want to be.

I decide it will be OK if I communicate with the ice cream telepathically.

The ice cream seems concerned about me.  “What are you afraid of, Bill?”

“You’re BAD for me,” I think at the pint.  “My doctor says I shouldn’t eat you anymore.”

“Oh, piffle!” the ice cream says.  “You have Parkinson’s disease.  You’re ALWAYS going to have Parkinson’s disease.  And even if you DO lose weight, you’re still gonna end up in the wheelchair sooner or later.”

Now, I know I’m the only one who can see this, but the ice cream slides just a little bit closer to the edge of the display case, nudging aside the frozen yogurt and sorbet.

“Now, if you buy me and take me home and EAT me, you’ll STILL have Parkinson’s disease.  You’ll STILL have trouble walking and balance difficulties.  But for a moment — just a BRIEF portion of your evening — you’ll have a cool, tasty, creamy treat that will make you FORGET about the stiffness, the soreness, the slowness.  Think of it as a brief vacation from reality, Bill.”

I have to admit.  The ice cream is making sense.  I begin to back away from the display case.

“No, no, no,” I think at the tempting pint of deliciousness.  “You’re telling me what I WANT to hear, not what I SHOULD hear!  You’re giving me bad advice,” I think as I slowly retreat.

“Ah!  Ah!  Your doctor said ‘No backing up!’” the ice cream scolds — but ever so sweetly.  “You don’t listen to THAT advice, but you WILL listen to advice that would deny you my rich, sweet, cold and creamy goodness?”

I feel something snap in my mind.  Call it the “breaking of resolve” if you will.  I prefer to think of it as “making an executive decision.”

“No!” I shout telepathically.  “I will NOT be ruled by fear!  I WILL buy you, ice cream!  I will take you home and EAT you at a time that is convenient for ME!”

I open the display case, withdraw the pint of Ben & Jerry’s.  It’s cold and heavy in my hand.

“Wise decision,” the ice cream says, as I place it in the shopping cart my wife is pushing.

So, spare me your lectures.  I know it’s bad for me.  So is Parkinson’s disease.  I can exercise more.  I can eat less.  But none of that is going to make a WHIT of difference at the end of all things.  When the end comes, as it certainly will at some point no matter WHAT I do — whether it’s from aspiration pneumonia (the leading cause of death for Parkies) or falling and breaking a hip (hey, if I’m padded well with adipose tissue , won’t that make my hip HARDER to break?), I will NOT lie on my deathbed regretting that I enjoyed the cool, creamy, fruity goodness that lured me to the display case at a grocery store.

Death awaits us all.  Some of us sooner than later.  Will YOU lie on your deathbed wishing you had eaten one less cheeseburger, one less order of fries, one less pint of ice cream?

Not ME, Mister!  Not ME!

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