A Thankful Parkie 2021

This year, for me anyway; it’s been a real challenge to be thankful! It’s been the first time since I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s that I’ve felt “What have I got to be thankful for?” What with this crazy COVID-19 still affecting us all (and now it’s re-surging); and even with this new GPi DBS I received back in May, I’m still experiencing the same old cramping toes; and after all that, trying to face each day fighting this advancing Parkinson’s monster… well, sometimes it feels I have the weight of the world on my shoulders. I finally had to tell myself, “Tom, you old turkey, snap out of it! There’s a million things to be thankful for!!
So in this season of giving thanks, I’ve done my best to “get out of my rut” and think about ALL the things I have that I am thankful for. As I’ve said before, we all have to realize – myself included –  that being thankful is not something you do only when you feel like it, or only when things are going good; but rather should be a way of life.
With that in mind, it’s time that I present to y’all my Annual Thanksgiving “Things I’m Thankful For” list for 2021… Let’s see if what I’m thankful for this year rings true for you too!

Our Care Partners  Of course, the first thing I, and most of us Parkies would be thankful for, is our loving and patient spouse and care partner. I know I’m sure thankful for mine (Karen). Let me tell you, it’s no easy challenge putting up with me every day! (My family members reading this are now most likely bursting with laughter saying, “Yeah, ya think!!”) What with day to day activities; taking care of our household; taking care of me as she watches this disease slowly take a little bit more of me each day – and more so, each year… well, let me say it takes a strong and loving partner to accomplish this feat… and I’m sure most of us Parkies will agree that’s the first thing we are most thankful for every year.  So to my wonderful wife, Karen, THANK YOU for all your love and care during these years since my diagnosis, and in the years to come. And in those times when I’m really cranky; or I’m in an ‘off‘ state and may be complaining loudly; or just generally feeling really ‘bad‘… remember that I am always so thankful of your love, patience and help. Love ya!

Our Doctors, Medications, and Medical Technologies Needless to say, these folks, along with our meds and tech that we we use on a daily basis, come in second place in my list of thanks. All of these people and things help us manage to live with this disease each day. If you have a good Motion Disorders Specialist (MDS) and/or neurologist, that is something to be very thankful for. It’s a big advantage having these folks helping us, since I’m guessing that just a few decades ago there were little to none of these types of professionals around! So I’m thankful to have found the needed  professionals who help me manage this disease.
Secondly… Yes I’m still most definitely thankful for the meds we have available that keep us moving each day! And for all those new breakthrough meds those wonderful science people keep inventing – yeah we can gripe (and I do, a lot!) about the cost of these new meds… but remember: Only 50 years ago the PD patient had virtually nothing to use for Parkinson’s – and most mid to advanced patients were either home bedridden or in nursing homes. Then along came Levodopa, and finally treatment for PD – at least he symptoms anyway – became possible. These same individuals who couldn’t walk or move anymore suddenly were able to get up, move around and walk, and were (hopefully) able to get on living somewhat of a ‘normal’ lifestyle (well, as normal as it can get with PD, anyway) So even when I gripe about them, I’m thankful for these meds, and the fact that we live now in this age and time rather than 50 years ago!
Finally, I’m thankful for all the cool and helpful technology available to us today. Take DBS for instance… 30 years ago it would have seemed ridiculous to even think we could help with Parkinson symptoms by implanting wires with electrodes deep into the patient’s brain and then passing current through those wires! Yet today, it’s really a common surgery for Parkinson’s. In addition, we’re in an age where medical breakthroughs are happening all the time, and more money than ever is being spent on Parkinson’s research… which makes me thankful and much more hopeful that the cure for PD may just be around the corner!
My Parents, Family and Friends I am always proud and thankful, first, for my parents. It’s hard each holiday – my Dad is no longer with us (he passed in January 2011); and although my dear Mom is still with us, she, like me, is battling a serious disease (Dementia). But regardless of this, I am SO thankful to have had loving parents; especially those who kept me on the straight and narrow path. To often these days, some parents just don’t seem to care, and don’t spend enough time with their kids making sure they don’t end up in trouble. Mine sure did – even though they divorced when I was 8 years old – and taught me right from wrong, and a strong faith in God.. It’s the main reason I’ve ended up the person I am today. So thank you so very, very much, Mom and Dad! 
I’m also thankful for my family, including my little sister who is always checking in on me to see how I am doing, and praying for me each day. It’s gives me much comfort and reassurance to know I have a close sibling who cares, and one that I can turn to when need be. Thanks sis! And not to be lacking, I’m also very thankful for my other family: My Bro-In-Law (or should I say Brain-in-Law?  ); and those on my wife’s side of the family – you are a joy to know, and are always supportive of me on this journey of mine. So thank you, and God bless each of you!
Finally, I’m thankful for my friends – those whom I’ve known for only a short time; and also those ‘best‘ friends I’ve known for what seems to be forever! Last year, just before COVID hit, we were able to take a trip to Florida and visit with one of my best friends – not only a friend but also the Best Man at our wedding – whom I’ve known for almost 40 years. Although we talk/text each other whenever we can, I had not seen him in person for 20 years… Man, was that trip not only fun – but for me, in the midst of this disease, it was simply inspiring and refreshing for my soul to visit with him and his wife again, and to joke around and remember “the good old days“!! I needed that boost, just at that time so thank you Les and Pat!
And just this last summer, I had the privilege to visit with another dear friend of mine I met when I lived in Arkansas – I’ve known him and his wife for over 40 years now!  It was a joy seeing them, and it did me a tremendous amount of good – sometimes even the most optimist of us (referring to myself) get down with all that is going on in our lives, and it takes a visit from a lifelong friend to bring us back to the place where we remember the reasons for living! So, I want to say to Houston and Vicky, thank you so very much. And to all those other folks I’ve only known a short time, but who still are supportive and inspiring, thank you for the little things you do – trust me, they mean a lot!

My Faith As I said previously, my parents – especially my Mom – instilled in me a deep sense of faith. Long ago, when I was just a young ‘punk‘, I would rebel against them when they insisted I go to church or study the Bible. As I’ve grown into a ripe OLD man, the years have taught me just how right they were! I am so very thankful for my faith in God and the hope that it brings me each day to know that this disease is NOT the end of the story; that one day I will see my Dad again and this disease called Parkinson’s will be no more! If that’s not something to be thankful for, then I don’t know what is!

That I Am Still Able to Write About These Things and Hopefully Help Others With everything going on, I realize that I’ve neglected this blog quite a bit this year – and I apologize to my loyal readers for that. I’ll do my best to be better next year… But I still believe that the whole purpose behind this blog is my sincere wish to write about my journey and those things I’ve learned and experienced; and in turn hopefully help others along the way. To me, this is my gift, and I am thankful for it. And I am always thankful for you, my readers, who have kept up with me and my blog during these rough times – my hope is that I’ve given someone, somewhere, some advice, resources, courage, and maybe even a little laughter – just something that may have brightened their day or gave them hope. If so, then that is truly what matters most!

Well, I hope I’ve inspired you to think about some of  the things you are thankful for, and to remember those who have and are helping you along life’s journey. If so, please share your thoughts in the comments below.
In closing, in this season of Thanksgiving, remember to be thankful – and live each day as best you can! And remember, laughter is sometimes the best medicine – even when fighting this monster known as Parkinson’s! 
So to all of you out there: Have a blessed Thanksgiving! And as I always remind you each year – don’t eat too much turkey!! 


"I believe that no matter what may happen to you, life should be lived, and lived to its fullest. Don’t just exist – have fun! Live your own life passionately; laugh long and loud and often; enjoy family and friends; and most of all, love – not just others but yourself as well. Remember, even with a chronic disease, there is NO ONE else like you!" Deep Brain Thoughts is one of my ways to help others live life with Parkinson's (PD); to give me an outlet for the things I believe in; and to show my loyal readers what inspires me in a world that sometimes seems out of control. So… sit back, relax, take your shoes off, and let's journey on.

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