No. 510



We can't hold it in our hands, see it, or touch it, but one of the greatest possessions we could ever have is something we call hope. It's been said that a human being can live three weeks without food, three days without water, three minutes without air, but we cannot live for three seconds without hope. The famous American Poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807_1882) had this to say about it, "The setting of a great hope is like the setting of the sun. The brightness of our life is gone." What I want to share with you in today's column will perhaps mean more to me than anyone else, but I have a message of hope that could inspire thousands of people across this great nation, especially those who are battling a chronic or debilitating disease.

If you have read this column very long, you may know that my wife, Viola, has Parkinson's. The symptoms began to show up about seven years ago and she went through some very rough times, especially from severe pain that most Parkinson's patients do not experience. I had reported to you in several other columns that she had become so immobile that we got a motorized scooter and I had a carrying basket built for the van so we could take it with us when we went to church, the grocery store or other places around town. We never went very far from home, because the pain was so great that she could not stand to ride for any length of time.

As someone who is not retired, of course this affected me greatly. Not only was I doing the regular office work, writing and other duties, I also found myself doing most of the household chores as well. If you have ever found yourself in a similar situation, you know there is an old saying that applies: "You just do what you have to do." That I did, from cooking, grocery shopping, making the beds, doing the washing and whatever else needed to be done. During those early days we laughed a lot, and still do, but I began to wonder how long the Lord was going to leave her here on this earth. She always said, "I don't mind dying, but I'm not into pain."

Then one day several months ago, one of my aunts told us about how a drug called Sinamet had helped a friend of hers with improved mobility. Viola had tried Sinamet several months before and it just knocked her for a loop. We later learned the problem occurred when she went "cold turkey" and stopped taking one drug and started taking another one the same day. After talking with her doctor, Viola tried Sinamet again, but this time it was phased in over a period of several weeks. She had been taking a very expensive drug called Mirapex ($7,300 of unreimbursed prescription drugs in one year) and it had helped her some.

What happened over the following weeks is almost a miracle, and this is the hope that I talked about earlier. At first, Viola began to see little improvements. Previously, she came up to the office very seldom, and then only by hanging onto the railing beside the steps. When she went back down, she had to have me help her, one step at a time. It gradually got easier for her to make the trip and then one day she was at the computer and noticed all of a sudden that she was typing with both hands! Before this, she had to hunt and peck using only one hand. Things continued to improve, as she got more and more mobile. One of the real blessings came when she bought a fancy-type walker that has wheels, brakes, a seat and a wire basket to carry all the things that women carry. Don't ask me to explain what all is in there.

As I said before, we laugh a lot and when she got to the point she was getting in her van, loading up the walker by herself and going to the grocery story, lunch with friends and other places around town, I made the comment "Spunky Rides Again." This nickname came about because our friend, Stanley Russ had read her little book titled, "Who Me?" and made the comment, "Viola has spunk." Another friend, the late Bud Lippincott, picked up on this and began to call her "Spunky." To me, this word says a lot to describe the amazing lady I am married to. If you have read her book, I believe you will agree that she does have spunk.

As I've said before, there is not a lazy bone in her body. While not at the same speed, she is back to doing most of the things she was doing before the Parkinson's came along. There are a couple of things I would like to say before I go. With a little experimentation, with her doctor's blessing, Viola found that taking two Sinamet tablets and one Mirapex three times each day works best for her. Please understand, we are not practicing medicine and treatments vary from patient to patient based on many factors, but this is what has worked for us. For this we praise the Lord. Also, I would like to express my deep appreciation to each of you who have sent her a card, called or asked about her during conversations with me. Thanks so much for your friendship.

(Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)