Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Say, "CHEESE!"

"Smile Lupe! Why don't you ever smile? Why do you always look so sad?  You should smile more." These are just some of the advice I'm privileged to receive from those who have my well-being in "their" best interest. "I should what?" "And why do you care?" "Thank you for reminding me of the progression of my Parkinson's. You will have to forgive me that it displeases you."

I mean really, who do people think they are that they feel the need to tell others how to carry themselves? I don't tell people who have gained weight, "Wow, you need to go on a diet; I don't like what I see."

Anyone who knows even the slightest bit about Parkinson's knows its cardinal signs: Tremor and Shuffling. However, the many other motor symptoms are not as well known, such as the lack of the automatic ability for facial expressions also known as hympomimia, or masked face. It's a flat affect. The upper lip is rigid and is difficult to move. Less blinking. The face looks, well, just flat...expressionless. Most of the time I sound like I'm drunk when I speak. My speach is slurred. My voice is low. Not so bad when meds are working well. And I would go so far as to say this makes some people uncomfortable. And for some downright nosy.

Being able to multi-task is all but lost as Parkinson's progresses. You know the ability to walk and chew gum at the same time? I've always had a stoic face. I can smile and I can laugh, when the circumstances call for it. I just don't walk around with a goofy grin
on my face. I can smile and I can walk, I just can't do both at the same time.

Before my Parkinson's and before it progressed my voice was deep. No one had trouble
hearing me. Now it's low and soft. I'm often asked to repeat what I say. They have
difficulty hearing me unless I make a conscious effort to pay attention to what I'm doing. The meds help all this.

Unrelated to facial expressions' is difficulty swallowing which can sometimes be painful. It makes me self-conscious to eat in front of others.

We've all know the saying, "Actions speak louder than words," and we all know the meaning and the question that follows. "If you're acting the way you are then why are
saying what you're saying? I don't believe you." Actions and words don't match. The same goes with Parkinson's and the masked face. My outside doesn't match my inside. "Why are you so sad Lupe?" "I'm not sad, I've had a great day." "But you look so sad."

The words, "Smile Lupe," or "You need to smile more," spoken out of self-interest couldn't be more undermining to those who wear the masked face. Not that we think you
should know better. Although there are some that I've told over and over, and yet you still feel the need to tell me to smile.

According to sociology, manners are standards of conduct which demonstrate that a person is proper, polite, and refined, although there is no governing body to set a standard norm. However, there is a saying about etiquette that goes, "Etiquette tells one which fork to use. Manners tells one what to do when your neighbor doesn't." Some people have neither.

I don't need to be told I need to smile more. I'm not a child. I haven't forgotten my face looks sad, unhappy or angry. Nor have I forgotten I'm slower or the tremors. I haven't forgotten my stiff hands and how illegible my handwriting is now or how I drop things. I haven't forgotten all my long sleepless nights. I haven't forgotten all the medication I take during the day just so I can try to do what you can still do. But all that is not why I look like I'm not smiling or unhappy.

In spite of how my words read I'm not bitter about the constant smiling advice. It gets annoying, yes, I will confess. But it is another predominant social issue that people with
Parkinson's do deal with. I guess it comes with the territory. Like the looking at the tremors. Some advisers are willing to be advised themselves, while others just won't take the hint. So we brush their lack of manners off. Or etiquette. Whichever it is. But like I said, it doesn't make me bitter. The Parkinson's life is a life of adaptation. You must learn to adapt as it progresses.
Through the course of it and as time passes if you're willing to accept God's
grace you refuse to take things for granted and learn not to make a big deal
over the small stuff, especially over things other people do that you cannot

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1 comment:

  1. This one was really good! Love the monkey pics! Informative and funny at times. No matter if your smiling or not your still gorgeous to me!! Love you babe.



Where my inspiration comes from

A Recycled-Dad with Bipolar & Parkinson's, reflections on fathering and family life and other stuff thrown in'll love my Soap Box Rants

Blog with Integrity\\ Auhor Lupe Picazo

Why I call myself a Recycled Dad

I call myself a Recycled Dad because of the struggles with remarriage and being a step-parent and weekend dad. This is also about my life living with bipolar and how it affects me personally, my family and my job. It also reflects on the grace God has poured out on me throughout recovery from alcohol and an eating disorder. Recycled Dad is about my reflections on the wisdom God teaches daily on fatherhood and being a better husband in spite of being bipolar.

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