There’s no other way to describe it … I crashed at the Montreal airport. We had left the 3rd World Parkinson Congress (WPC) in plenty of time, but I think everyone leaving the Congress for home that day was trying to catch their plane simultaneously.
As I waited in line, I kept hoping someone would say, “Those requiring extra help or those with small children, please come to the front of the line.” I felt my legs turning to rubber and squeaked out a weak “help me!” Sandra, my traveling companion, went to find a wheelchair. There were no personnel in sight! A sweet couple in front of me grabbed me under each arm and prevented me from slumping to the floor. I finally got a wheelchair, calmed down, and then had dyskinesia from you-know-where for the remainder of the trip. As we were finally boarded the plane headed for Tri-cities Regional Airport in Tennessee, the stewardess asked me, “Can I get you anything?” Without hesitation , I answered. “Yes! A new brain!”
Although I arrived safely home, I still have the same ol’ brain that has been probed and studied and probably glows in the dark from all of the neuroimaging I have had, but all to no avail. But that’s not totally true, because I didn’t leave Montreal empty-handed.
I left with three good…no, three irreplaceable assets:
- I left with a better understanding of what it is like across all levels of living with Parkinson’s.
- I left with a pocketful of business cards, representing but a small percentage of new acquaintances to add to my network.
- I left with renewed hope for finding, in my lifetime, better therapies for Parkinson’s.
In research, the scientists are always talking about how Parkinson’s is so conducive to inflating the placebo effect. And if everyone could participate in the WPC 2016 in Portland, OR, we would definitely have a statistical problem. It’s a problem I would welcome.
Peggy Willocks of Johnson City, TN is a member of PDF’s People with Parkinson’s Advisory Council. Read her full bio on our website here, and download her fact sheet on traveling with Parkinson’s here.