“What did I gain from the WPC?” Parkinson is a very isolating disease. Your world grows smaller, and slower, while around you, the people you know, and love, are rushing, accomplishing, doing, at what for you is now a dizzying pace. It’s hard to explain to anyone not battling the slowness and stiffness of PD what it’s like to wake up in the morning and literally force your feet to move. You want to crawl into bed and do nothing, but you know that doing that would be a death sentence, that it’s crucial to get up and go, be with other people, exercise, work, and accomplish. Parkinson’s forces you to live in a slower reality. Things that once upon a time you were able to do without thinking now requires total concentration, which is difficult for others to understand.
At the WPC I was together with thousands of others like me. I didn’t have to feel embarrassed if it took me a few moments to find the courage to step on to the escalator, or walk across the room. The people there understood me. They were there, together with me, battling the same enemy.
But it wasn’t just the camaraderie, the sense of belonging. There very air was charged with optimism. It pervaded every conversation, lecture and workshop. We felt unified, that we were in it together, and that it is our obligation to do everything in our power to keep ourselves healthy, to continue living our lives to its fullest, despite our limitations. It was like being part of a gigantic cheering squad, urging me to stretch to my utmost.
The lectures and workshops touched on almost every aspect of living well with Parkinson, but even more, they gave me, as well as the thousands of others who had come because they believed that it’s possible to continue living well, despite PD, a feeling of hope.
Of course all of this was possible for me, as a religious Jew, thanks to Sparks of Life. I don’t know how I would have survived without their three glatt kosher meals (with a mashgiach tamidi!) each day. And it was wonderful to have a quiet area of my own, in the middle of this enormous, busy conference, where I could relax and socialize with other frum Yidden, who, like myself, were facing the challenge of Parkinson from a place of emuna and bitachon. Thank you Rabbi Gruskin. Thank you Sparks of Life.