By Sharon Bowers
Phones ringing, files waiting, patients checking in, charts being reviewed, doctors requesting things, cards copying, machines buzzing, and myself running never sitting is a typical day of my life at the office where I work. The stress level is high and intense as I juggle the doctor’s schedules, the appointments for medical tests, insurance verifications, nurses’ letters and test results.
Whew! That was a glimpse of my former work life! At the end of each workday, I always felt good about greeting patients with a warm smile and an uplifting chat, even though I was very exhausted. I thrived on this supercharged environment of keeping the doctors on time and making the day go smoothly. I was the coordinator, like chief of operations, whose unwritten responsibility was to keep the doctors and nurses happy. This was the colossal challenge! “If the nurse ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” My pride and joy, my confidence was meeting this mission successfully.
Slowly but surely, something started robbing me of my skills and the unique rhythm I gave to my job. I did not know when, who, what, why or how . . . the sneaky thief was mysterious, keeping its identity masked for years.
The multitasking became extremely jumbled and terribly difficult. I felt like I was in one of those mazes where I could never find my way out. On top of that, I felt like I was walking around with parts of my body and head going in different directions. It was almost like dancing with disco black lights strobing the floor. With a swimmy head and wobbly legs, “how can I keep up?” became my daily mantra. The strain on my brain gave me the awful feeling I was going to blow a gasket or break into a million pieces. “What’s happening to me? What’s wrong?” also became part of daily chants. My movements, handling patient charts, appointments, and important medical information, developed into a stranger. “Who is this that has taken over my body? Or is it my brain that they now possess?”
The natural, familiar routine that was artwork to me was unexpectedly missing my signature, my way, my painting. Something was chipping away at my smooth surface, leaving gaps, and holes, and pockmarks, and changes that made the face my job satisfaction unrecognizable. The nurses were not happy anymore, and the doctors were puzzled. The thief who had stolen so much left everything in a mess and still stayed hidden. It made me feel shaky and unsure.
The thief of my confidence took away the pleasing environment and the organized system. I was robbed of the bubbly, enthusiastic, gentle personality that I brought to the relationships with patients and medical staff. My energy waned. The bandit ran off with my job as well as my confidence. I never understood what happened, but I knew I had to give in and wave the white flag.
A few years later, my villain revealed its identity as Parkinson’s disease.
I have nicknamed this sneaky character “Parki.”