She had fallen on her knees while running. There was even blood! She didn’t want to cry, but the tears ran down her cheeks nonetheless. The little girl’s mother ran to her and explained that there are 10 different types of plaster, 12 types of pill and 8 types of ointment. Oh, and if it’s really bad, they can stitch you back together with a needle and thread. So, what do you have to say about that then? Don’t worry! Hundreds of little boys and girls scrape their knees. And who knows, maybe you can all tell the nice doctor which plasters work best. Or which pills are the tastiest. You know what? If you all start shouting loudly enough about how painful it is, it’ll stop hurting. Or at least a little. So, come on, dry your tears and go back and play.
The tears don’t stop
The little girl goes back to her friends and even carries on playing. But the tears don’t stop. I know lots of people who were busy playing when they suddenly stumbled and scraped their knees. There was a lot of blood then too, figuratively speaking. They didn’t have a gash in their knee though, they had Parkinson’s. They also cried. They didn’t want to, but yeah, it hurts. The neurologist comes with 10 types of pill, 12 types of therapy and 24 types of exercise. Oh, and if it’s really bad, they implant a couple of electrodes in your head and a box with a battery somewhere under your skin. So, what do you have to say about that then? Don’t worry! There are hundreds – what am I saying? – millions of men and women with Parkinson’s. So who knows, maybe you can all join forces at some conference or another and tell the nice researchers which pills work best. Or which form of exercise is the most fun. You know what? If you all start shouting loudly enough about how useless it is, then, then, then …
Then what exactly?
Then something clicks. The tears don’t stop, no matter how many amazing doctors, amazing therapists, amazing carers and amazing pills you have at your disposal.
The only thing you need is comfort. Comfort is a beautiful word. Its meaning is the same in every language and related to love and sympathy. Comfort is therefore not something that you can derive on your own. Although, a consoling bar of chocolate now and then can do wonders.
You can’t comfort just anyone and you can’t (or won’t) be comforted by just anyone. Comfort is an interaction between people who trust each other. Can happen anywhere. On that very congress, for example, where you join 3.000 other people with Parkinson’s, attending workshops and presentations. It can happen when you’re doing a Rock Steady Boxing training with fighters just like you. It can (and often will) happen amongst close friends, or at home, having dinner with your family.
Without all those pills and electrodes, and without all those dedicated health care professionals, we’d be in a sorry state, I agree. But think back to a serious low point in your life. When something really bad – let’s say Parkinson’s – happened to you or a loved one. Who comforted you? And who were you able to comfort in return?
I’m sure a particular situation quickly springs to mind. After all, comfort’s not something you easily forget.