CHAMPs > Parkinson's CHAMP

July 2012 - Team Marc-I-Am



Believe me, if I had my druthers (where are my druthers, have you seen them?) I would prefer not to have Parkinson's disease, but along with the disabilities and inconveniences that we've all experienced, have come some positive results.

I am a fifty-five year old Attorney, who spent his first fifty years observing life from the "cheap seats." I was the first to stand on a soapbox (which often broke under the pressure of my weight), but in reality accomplished little.

What changed this? At forty-nine I was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, and after a period of depression, I woke up one morning and realized that I was wasting my time. I observed a co-worker, younger than I, care for her husband with Alzheimer's disease. She did this with grace and dignity. She would talk to people about the disease, who would listen, but she never once complained. Along the way she had become an advocate for those suffering with Alzheimer's.

Who was I to complain? My life has been very easy. I have wonderful and supportive friends and family. I decided then that I would speak out about the disease, but never complain.  Somebody always has it worse.

Just appreciating life was not enough. I wanted to pay it forward. I applied to “The People with Parkinson's Advisory Council" of the Parkinson's Disease Foundation. To my surprise, I was accepted. Here I have met wonderful, energetic people, some of whom have Parkinson's, some of whom are caretakers. When I meet with them, I feel optimistic and energized.

Around that same time, I decided to put together a team for the Parkinson's Unity Walk. Thus was born "Team Groucho Marc." Having had no experience with fundraising, I set a modest goal of $1,000.00. As usual, I severely underestimated my friends and family. I can't think of a family member or a friend that didn't come through. We even received donations from friends that I hadn't seen in nearly 40 years. That first year we received over $6,000.00 in donations.

One Saturday, in February, 2011, I was sitting at my desk, when I received a special e-mail and donation. Bob Nystrom, a star from the New York Islanders in the 1970's and 1980's wanted to join us at the Walk. Bob, it turns out, is friends with my physical therapist. They were discussing it and he asked to join. This was a thrill for me, having been a season ticket holder throughout his career.

He did not disappoint. We talked about Hockey, we talked about charity and we talked about fundraising. Bob said something that I shall try to always remember. He said that life has been very good to him, therefore he likes to pay it back.

More than 40 friends and family showed up that day. Many wearing the fake "Groucho nose and mustache" that I handed out.

In 2012 we changed the team name to "Team Marc-I-Am," in honor of my favorite poet, Dr. Seuss. I also raised the goal to $7,500.00. My friends and family came through again, by exceeding our goal.

I've always loved to write. I was blessed with a vivid and unusual imagination, which until recent years I had stifled. For my own enjoyment I started to write a "blog." I called it "Memoirs of a Disgruntled Attorney." It contained my offbeat stories and parodies. I soon started a second "blog," devoted strictly to Parkinson's. I called it "But this is the hand that I shoot with." One day I confused the two and the following emerged. I called it "Shaken Not Stirred."

Shaken not Stirred

I was asked for a poem about my plight.
After a short debate, I said alright.
Since you've asked for Poetry, Madam
I will try, said Marc-I -Am
My favorite poet was Dr. Seuss
So watch out now, I'm on the loose
Parkinson's may have slowed me down
But on my face. appears no frown
Limbaugh may think that we are fakin'.
I'll mix him a Martini, he'll see it's not stirred but shaken.
Buttons, Ties and Laces cause me trouble
And I'd prefer to skip a shave and have a stubble
My handwritten is unrecognizable
sloppy, shaky and barely sizeable.
But if you attempt to match me, word for word
I guarantee, you'll look absurd.
Don't waste your time with this endeavor.
My mind is just as sharp as ever
Just as it was, when I did start,
It's my second favorite body part.

I'm not fooling myself. I don't know what the future will hold. So, I've decided that I have a choice. I can wake up tomorrow depressed and with Parkinson's, or I can wake up optimistic and with Parkinson's. Since either way, the constant is Parkinson's, I'll choose optimism.

An event recently occurred in my life that enforced my optimism.

There I sat, in the Doctor's office, when a nurse with pigtails approached me. She was wearing a blue plaid dress and ruby red slippers she was closely followed by a little dog named Toto. She said that I looked fine, why did I want to see the doctor.

I said, "Fine? I have no dopamine."

She asked, "What would you do with dopamine, if you had some?”

I said "What would I do with dopamine if! had some? Well 1..." (I start singing)

"My legs would be like Towers,
I'd be able to smell the flowers.
I'd have a normal dream
And the baseballs I'd be catchin'
I might even get some action,
If I had some dopamine.
I would try to play the fiddle,
touch my toes, not just my middle
And walk and not have to scream."

(Nurse sings)
"With the way, you'd be a lookin’
you would really be a cookin'
If you had your dopamine"

"Oh I, would close my fly.
I'd remember that it zips.
On the dance floor, I'd remind you of the pips.
In the pool, I would do flips.
instead I stand here shakin',
no longer good at fakin'
I'm not part of the in scene
what happened then? I wonder
someone really stole my thunder
when they took my dopamine.

As my friend Bob, says, "Life has been good to me, it's time to pay it back."