Jan 2, 2014 | by Darcy Blake | If you are a caretaker or even just a daughter of a person with Parkinson’s Disease, chances are that the holidays were bittersweet. It is hard not to think of have-nots when your parent is unable to communicate. Such is the case with my mom who has had Parksinson’s Disease for at least 25 years.
I made the trek down to see her over the holidays. I didn’t want to fly because I’ve just had DBS and the thought of arranging a custom scan which I now must do, was too much to tackle, so I drove to Santa Barbara the first night, and in the morning, made my way to her skilled nursing facility in Sun Valley, CA.
When I arrived, I found my 84-year-old mom drooling in a wheelchair outside her room and unable to speak. I rushed to the nurse’s desk to ask what was wrong. “A virus has swept through the facility,” she said. Everyone was on a liquid diet after being sick the day before.
What do you do in that case? I’d been on a 2-day journey to visit my mom. It was the first visit since my DBS, but she was so frail that she couldn’t speak. I blurted out every speck of family news to her that I could remember. Then the nurses arrived to listen to her raspy breathing with a stethoscope. “Sounds clear,” they said. “We’ll keep an eye on it.” Then they left. I raised mom’s bed to give her a little more comfort and she quickly fell asleep. I realized that my time with her was over.
All of this is the periphery of my story because the most important part of our visit is the thing I haven’t mentioned yet. When I saw mom, although she couldn’t speak, she grabbed my hand. With the expression of her eyes and that squeeze, I knew that she recognized me. I thought about my DBS surgery and remembered how meaningful it was when the nurses held my hand in the worst parts of the surgery. The soothing power of touch tells you that you’re not alone.
If you are visiting a loved one, remember that touch expresses what words cannot say. It is the bond that seals our connection as human beings and it is more valuable than a conversation. Touch is the ultimate demonstration of showing that you care.