Some days I feel sluggish, need an hour nap in the early afternoon, and suffer from downcast emotions that can border on depression. Some days are good, I feel almost normal, I can walk like a human being instead of a pregnant penguin, my bike rides are glorious despite my left arm issues, especially with the minimal car traffic and clean air we are currently experiencing because of the Covid19 virus, and I get the creative bug to write or play music. It’s a day to day thing. I am no exception: everyone who suffers from Parkinson’s will tell you that they have good days and bad days.
With Covid 19 "Shelter in Place" still the norm in California after a month and a half of binge watching TV shows, wearing masks and gloves outside, sanitizing everything that comes into the house, ordering groceries online via Instcart, keeping fit riding my bicycle (mask on), and taking catnaps with my furry friends, we still have at least a month to go before SIP gets lifted. When comparing Parkinson's to the severity and possible consequences of the most recent and deadly Coronavirus, I often try to suck it up and pretend that the PD I was diagnosed with last summer is no big deal. The fact is,it’s a bigger deal than I’d like to admit. But denial is indeed a powerful tool.
Then I think about going back to work. Given that my left hand has tremors that can at times cause my arm to act like an undulating jelly tube, my job as a piano tuner can be problematic. Both hands are used 100% of the time. My left hand--the weak, wobbly one--is the hand that hits the key to produce the note I’m tuning. After an hour or more of using that arm and hand, the shoulder gets sore, the arm and hand tremors increase in frequency and severity. As I type this, the hand is bouncing off the keys. Not agonizing--but quite annoying. It's slightly worse than it was in early March when I stopped working, but not so bad that I can't tune a Steinway within my regularly scheduled appointment time.
Yesterday, my apprentice Blaze (pictured here) and I gave tuning a try on my Mason and Hamlin to see if it would even be physically possible for me to do. As I pushed and pulled the tuning hammer (or wrench, as some call it) and hit the keys, Blaze reached down to test the strings. Cats touching piano strings is not recommended for various reasons, so we closed up shop pretty quickly. But I was relieved to find out I would be able function at work after all. Those negative “I’ll never work again” thoughts that had so often crept into my mind in the dark of early mornings were dispelled.
Then there's the Covid safety factor to consider: spending 1.5 hours in a closed environment where one isn’t certain of the client’s ability or desire to take appropriate safety precautions is unnerving. From the phone calls I've received from clients, though, it is evident that most are more than willing to accommodate our mutual safety needs in their homes. I am planning to wear mask, gloves, and sanitize all I touch: my hands, every key, every part on the piano I come into contact with, door knobs, toilet handles, etc. I am just about ready for it, but in the month building up to reintegrating into the local work force, my desire to work will build—as will the need for money!
I finally started taking the drug recommended by my neurologist, Carbidopa/Levidopa. It addresses symptoms, not causes. Research for a cure is ongoing, much of it being done with the help of The Michael J. Fox Foundation. So far, there is no cure in sight. But the Dopamine substitute is ok.
Thanks for reading, take care, be safe.