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Goodbye, Friend

Hello, Help for PD community. This week's blog post will be a bit different. A couple of week's ago, I lost a very close patient and friend of mine. As some of you might know, I am a Physical Therapist. I have the ultimate pleasure of treating people with Parkinson's disease. I may even treat some of you reading this! I have the opportunity to form close relationships with my patients. I learn about their struggles, their favorite pastimes, their dreams, their fears, their favorite memories, and so much more. I really form a strong bond with my patients. Unfortunately, this means that I also experience loss. I want to share my recent experience of loss in hopes that it helps someone else reading this and as a goodbye letter to my dear friend, David.

I met David almost two years ago. He came to see me after recently being hospitalized due to a different medical condition. He did not yet have a PD diagnosis, but was showing obvious signs. I referred him to Albany Med where he was formally diagnosed. From that point on, I had the absolute pleasure of watching him get stronger, gain more balance, and grow to have hope.

Davis was a funny guy. We would race each other in the hallway of my clinic with him using his walker to cut me off as we turned a corner. He would roll his eyes when I asked him to do an extra set of sit to stands or call me crazy when I asked him to run or do burpees. Yes, he actually ran and did (modified) burpees! He would entertain my quirks and sing along to Total Eclipse of the Heart with me. Most of all, David never gave up hope. He came to PT with an attitude that he was going to get better. And for a while, he did. David gained enough strength to walk without his walker, go on small hikes outside, and get back to some of the things he loved to do.

Unfortunately, some of David's other medical conditions progressed and it took a big toll on him physically. As you know, you do not die from Parkinson's disease, you die with it. After another hospital visit, David was admitted into a nursing home where he chose to be put on hospice. Yet still, he was the same funny, but now a little grumpy, guy I have come to know over the past 2 years. A couple of weeks later, David passed away, leaving a big hole in his family and friend's lives and in mine.

Losing someone is hard. Feeling helpless in a terrible situation is hard. Seeing someone you have formed a close relationship with slowly lose their function is hard. For all of you care partners out there that are experiencing this feeling, I am sorry. For all of you out there that have lost someone with PD, I am sorry. It is such a terrible and unfair thing to experience.

David, I really loved working with you for the last two years. You brought so much laughter to my day and showed me the importance of hope. David, thank you for never giving up, teaching me about birds, sharing your life stories with me, making me laugh when you complained about your cat jumping on your bladder in the middle of the night, being the best Willie Nelson impersonator, and for sharing so much of your last 2 years on this planet with me.

So, David, turn around, bright eyes.


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