The doctor was referring to me as being a Health Trooper, not a state, military or police trooper. He was referring to my determination in managing my life with 18 years of Parkinson’s Disease (PD) and 9 years of Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS).
What the doctor didn’t know was that I was on the verge of returning my Health Trooper badge and replacing it with an Ordinary Human Being one.
The Urban Dictionary defines trooper as “anyone who exhibits EXTREME perseverance, fortitude, and tenacity.” It’s the extreme part that worries me. Anything that’s extreme can’t be good for my health. “Everything in moderation” has been my motto.
I have felt a lot of pressure and stress in assuming my role of Trooper.
Being a Trooper involves being a model person with PD and a poster child for DBS.
Being a Trooper means that when someone asks how I’m doing, my response is always “Great!” (but I fail to mention the occasional tremors and the more frequent stiffness).
Being a Trooper refers to refusing to surrender to PD and claiming that “I have PD, but it doesn’t have me.”
Being a Trooper entails focusing on the positives and insisting that my quality of life has sky-rocketed since DBS.
Being a Trooper entails minimizing the negatives of PD, saying that I’m a “better person” for having it. However, I can’t quite reach the point of calling PD a “blessing” or a “gift” or that I’m “lucky” to have it.
Being a Trooper is having 91 speech and voice therapy sessions, and still not being heard or understood.
Being a Trooper means that even after problems with DBS and programming, I’d still be willing to do it all over again if required.
Turning in my Trooper badge and exchanging it for an Ordinary Human Being badge would make me just like everyone else, with good days and bad days with PD. I’d be more honest. I’d be able to say that some days I hate having PD. I’d be open with others about my struggles and even use my previously forbidden word, “suffering” when describing my experience with PD. I’d sleep more soundly at night and take a nap during the day if I felt like it. I would stop pretending that I have all the answers and control over this condition. I’d be better at saying “no” when asked to assume further PD-related responsibilities. I’d be dancing more and taking life less seriously.
I look forward to earning my new badge os an Ordinary Human Being.