Of Pain and Laughter: Being the Daughter of a Parkinson’s Patient

The never-ending cycle of hospital visits, followed by laughter over coffee continues with my dad.

4 min read
Of Pain and Laughter: Being the Daughter of a Parkinson’s Patient

It’s been four weeks of dealing with Anna being disoriented more than usual. Just not being “all there” most of the time.

I was kind of getting used to being disconcerted when I meet him. And suddenly, things have changed. How did that happen?

It started at noon on Monday. A panicked attendant calls to tell me that Anna had suddenly become loose-limbed and nearly fainted on his walk back from the park. Two times, to boot!

Murphy’s Law demands that I not be at home when there is an emergency and hence I am ensconced in an office in Noida, working.

I call Sanjiv, who has just returned from taking his father to the doctor, and tell him to rush over and take Anna to the hospital. I believe that Anna’s loose motions have weakened him and caused his fainting-like symptoms. I am also pretty sure that physical illness exacerbated his mental acuity.

Anna has been more disconcerted lately than usual. (Photo Courtesy: Sangeeta Murthi Sahgal)

The Hospital Conversation

Me (after I explain the fainting-like episodes): You need to take Anna to Neptune.

Sanjiv: OK.

(Neptune is the name of the small hospital with great doctors that we go to.)

Me: Take the red sling bag – it has all his medical papers.

Sanjiv: OK.

Me: The orange cloth sling bag has a change of clothes for a hospital stay, if needed. Take that too.

Sanjiv: OK.

Me: Take the plastic zip bag with all his pillboxes and emergency medication. The sheet with his pills’ administration schedule is in a pocket in the bag.

Sanjiv: OK.

The poor man isn’t able to get more than a word in while I continue to give instructions.

I take a call not to go to the hospital as I have it all organised. (Photo: iStock)

Me (not missing a beat): Take the schedule register that logs his daily routine.

Sanjiv: OK.

Me: Call me when you know what the doctor says.

Sanjiv: OK.

I put down the phone. I look up and notice people looking at me strangely. “Aren’t you rushing home?”, I am asked.

No. I take a call not to. I have it all organised. The bags, the register, the reliable doctors at a nearby hospital.

Not to miss out Sanjiv, who is conveniently at home.

A Morning of Laughter – Before Another Hospital Visit

We find out that Anna has a stomach infection that we treat with antibiotics. He is also prescribed lots of liquids and no food from outside.

At 6.30 am on Thursday morning, I ring Anna’s doorbell with my characteristic quick double-beat. I ask the night attendant if Anna is OK. He responds with, “He is fully awake. He heard your signature bell-ring, and his eyes flew open!”

Sangeeta Murthi Sahgal at a city mall with her father who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2008. (Photo Courtesy: Sangeeta Murthi Sahgal)

Me (leaning over his bed side rail): Hi, Anna.

Anna (with a wide beautiful smile): Bandya, amma.

Loosely translated that means, “So you’ve come.”

Me: Anna, are you ready to get up?

Anna (with alacrity): Yes.

He attempts to get up, and I give him a friendly push to help him sit up.

Me: Anna, do you want to have coffee?

Anna: Why else would I get up in the morning?

Hrrm! Why indeed!

Me: Anna, do your joint loosening exercises.

I show him the finger contraction and release movements. The wrist rolling movements. The arm bending motions.

Anna (doing some of these, for show only!): Joints need lubrication from coffee, amma!

I laugh. He’s back! Witty at 6.30 am in the morning.

We sit in the rear courtyard and chat over coffee. (Photo: iStock)

We sit in the rear courtyard and chat while he eats half a waffle crisp with his one-third-cup of coffee. With his second one-third-cup of coffee, I ask him if he wants the other half of the waffle crisp. Selflessly, he offers it to me saying, You have it, amma.” I say “no” and we decide to keep it for a snack later in the day.

He watches an airplane fly by and tells me stories of his brother, Krishna, throwing stones at planes claiming to hit them, and getting responses from pilots!

Then he is ready for his after-coffee/before-breakfast nap.

I come back home feeling good. As light as airy warm soufflé.

On Friday morning we spend 3 hours in hospital.

The circle continues....

(After working in corporate India for over 29 years, Sangeeta had taken time off to look after her father, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2008 and passed away in 2017. Sangeeta hopes that these authentic stories will help patients and caregivers understand and appreciate the impact of Parkinson’s Disease. You can follow Sangeeta’s blog here.)

(This piece is being repubbed from FIT's archives to mark World Parkinson’s Day.)

(This story was auto-published from a syndicated feed. No part of the story has been edited by The Quint.)

(The Quint is available on Telegram. For handpicked stories every day, subscribe to us on Telegram)

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