I never used to be late for anything. I was always on time, no matter what the occasion. I could always manage a last minute rush if I needed to but for the most part, I was organised, in control and easily on time. I confess to having had a sense of frustration with those who were late, those who appeared to ‘pfaff’ and be disorganised. I am acutely aware that now, all too often, I am the one who appears to ‘pfaff’ and be disorganised, no matter how much preparation I put into trying to be on time.
You see, Parkinson’s is a time thief. It infiltrates my days and my nights and steals time from me. It does so stealthily, creeping up on me gradually, at first, hardly noticeable but with ever increasing presence and persistence. The stolen time is the extra minutes that daily task take to complete or a task that is only necessary as a result of living with Parkinson’s. I no longer have the luxury of the full 24 hours that I used to enjoy in my pre Parkinson’s days, in which to organise myself.
Having the memory of a goldfish doesn’t help either. I frequently leave the house only to return a few minutes later for something I have forgotten. I assumed that eventually the requirement to wear a face mask would register in my subconscious and I would routinely take one with me everywhere, like I do house keys or medication. Having forgotten one five times in as many days, it would appear this is not yet the case!
Parkinson’s – The Time Thief
(The extra time it takes to do something because of the effect of Parkinson’s)
I estimate that Parkinson’s steals two hours each day from me. That’s the equivalent of 14 hours a week, 2.5 days a month, or one whole month every year.
In a bid to remain punctual, I initially thought I could simply give myself longer to get ready, I could arrive on time and no one else would be any the wiser. But once again, Parkinson’s gets the upper hand. It is not simply the amount of time required to do a task, it is any one of a number of interruptions, that set me back too. The dog barking, a text message, even a flight of thought to something other than the task in hand all add a delay to even the simplest of tasks, as each redirection of my attention requires time to refocus and carry on with what I was doing.
I’ve learned that if I’m running late, any attempt to rush is futile. The tiniest release of adrenaline, designed to help me react more quickly, in fact makes my tremor more troublesome, my fine movements less accurate and my memory even worse than usual. I drop things, forget things, fumble around even less effectively. So trying to hurry up is not the answer, it only adds to the problem. If I find I’m running late, the most effective thing I can do is to stop for a minute, take a deep breath and relax. There is however, no easy answer. With this approach, for those I keep waiting, particularly for those who find my tardiness frustrating, perhaps worse than appearing disorganised or ‘pfaffing’ is arriving late looking as if I have made no effort at all!
Image Source: ClipArt Library