I’ve been notified of our 40th high school reunion (yes, 40th) from Bishop Hogan High School in Kansas City, Missouri. All of a sudden, I feel old and nervous about reuniting with classmates.
My face has aged with Parkinson’s Disease (PD). Sometimes when I see my reflection in the mirror, I can’t recognize the person staring back at me. I have that blank PD facial mask that doesn’t truly convey my thoughts and feelings. My outside often doesn’t match my inside.
My face represents my personal identity. It is my way of communicating and expressing emotions. People have said that I look sad or angry when I feel quite the opposite.
A recent Tufts University study found that individuals whose emotions were masked by PD were perceived as less intelligent, socially savvy and trustworthy than other patients.
Before PD, people often commented on my beautiful smile. Now I have to rehearse smiling (not grinning or smirking) with my rigid facial muscles. I have a couple of months to unfreeze that PD mask.
I need to go and practice.