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Monday, April 5, 2010


While the Christian world celebrated the Resurrection of Christ this Easter weekend, our family was enjoying a renewal of our own.

During the past several weeks I have seen an enormous improvement in Michael's condition, something I never thought we'd see again. He is sleeping better most nights which is perhaps why he enjoys more mental acuity during the day and seems to have longer periods of physical fluidity. It could be the result of a recent adjustment in his medication or that he is simply getting better after the horrific few weeks of an extreme Parkinson's crisis during the late fall and winter. But Thursday, the day before the weekend, he seemed to slip once more into the usual torpor, unable to move or even stay awake most of the day. I wasn't sorry because I could buzz around vacuuming and cleaning the house before family arrived for the weekend, confident that even the noisy vacuum cleaner would not disturb him, though, as the day wore on, I anxiously checked him more frequently to be sure he was still breathing.

The first offspring arrived Thursday evening, two more by noon on Friday. That day he perked up a bit but still succumbed to several naps throughout the day. On Saturday the weather was spectacularly warm and we planned to have a houseful of friends and family for a buffet supper, thirteen of us, in fact, and three dogs. I was certain the day would exhaust him. We lead a very quiet life with the only child still living at home rarely around, so we notice an enormous increase in the noise and energy levels with each additional child. It's amazing how loud adult children can be when they get together but I love the positive, happy energy in the normally quiet household.

As the day wore on and I was immersed in cooking and preparing for the crowd, I noticed something remarkable. My husband never flagged all day. He was out there playing with the kids in the back yard, running around and hurling the football like the pro he always was. Given the extra drain on his energy, I was careful to stay on top of the five doses of medication he needs to get through the day, a total of 23+ pills, but I found at each dose time he was still full of energy and fully mobile, not normally the case. I was sure the evening crowd would do him in - it has in the past - but, no, he was calm, engaged, aware and talkative. When everyone had left by 9:30 pm he slumped and had to go to bed immediately.

I felt sure the next day would see him exhausted and drained after a full day of activity but he was just as energetic. In fact, during a brief Skype conversation with a relative in Britain, his old wry self-deprecating humour surfaced as he joked about tinkering with the tractor (a serious bone of contention between us) and knowing how to mask his blunders from everyone's sight. A rare glimpse into the old Michael.

Easter Monday, with the last child returning to university, he was still busy. By then, though, there were no kids to throw a football or kick a soccer ball so he focused his attention back on the tractor and other large machinery we have, bringing back my anxiety over his restlessness and how to channel it safely away from dangerous machines that he can no longer operate but thinks he can. By Monday evening it had escalated to a kind of mania where I was seriously planning to sell off everything in the house that could harm him. But that would be an impossible task and without merit because on a bad day even things like the electrical outlets are a danger for him (I found him kneeling before one just last week ready to insert needle-nose pliers "to fix" something). There were angry words between us when I felt I had to intervene and few words exchanged the rest of the day as we both were on slow simmer.

I had resolved to take steps on Tuesday to rid the household of as many dangerous things as I could if this new energy and wellness were the new reality. But, for better or for worse, he slumped back into lethargy and immobility. I welcomed it on one level but was saddened by it too. He had truly enjoyed a kind of resurrection last weekend and for all the problems that posed for me, it was wonderful to see. It is also humbling to know that my company alone lacks the stimulation he seems to need. He enjoys, more than anything, the fun and camaraderie of a good game of something, anything, with like-minded people.

On pondering the remarkable events of the weekend I've concluded that much of his listlessness and immobility might be the result of depression and boredom. But then there was something more at work this weekend because he has had countless opportunities to engage in fun activities with people and has just not been physically able to do so. Perhaps the warm weather was a factor, perhaps the company. Perhaps with all the kids home and playing with him, I felt comfortable enough to pay him less attention and thereby he felt the lift of my watchful and oppressive eye. Or maybe it was a small miracle reflecting the joyous events celebrated at Easter.

Who knows?

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