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From Fly Creek

March 6, 2014

Let not thy left hand know

That headline’s a Bible allusion, trenchant advice not to preen when doing good: “But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth.” Amen, I say.

But lately I’ve had an actual right hand that not only was failing to keep its counterpart posted. On its own, it would haul off and slap me upside the head. Or clutch at my beard. Or punch me. What? Yes.

And this assault was unpredictable, twenty-four, seven. The rest of me could be sound asleep, and still that right hand would yank itself out of the covers and, open-handed, would slam into my ear. How’s that for an abrupt awakening?

I shouldn’t have been surprised. Parkinsonism never sleeps; and further seems to have a bizarre sense of humor. And pointless to say to P., “Give it a break!” or even to my hand, “Stop that, damn it!” I wouldn't have heard a snicker in response, but I could imagine one.

The creepiest part for me was that tendency to personify my hand and arm—to think of the unit as a willful, separate entity. After all, if you’re down with a horrible cold, trapped inside a clogged head dense as a block of cheddar, you still think of your body as your ally in fighting off the invader. “We’ll beat this together, whether it takes two weeks or a fortnight.”

But what if a bodily part turns traitor, has suddenly joined the evil forces? And, holy crap! What if other limbs go turncoat, too?

But, to my rescue came Dr. Paul Deringer, who quickly doubled one of my medications and, in about ten days, quelled the rebellion. My good right hand was my own again!

And just as well. I’d taken to sleeping with an elastic bandage wrapped tightly around my right forearm, then run under my body, then bound to my left arm. So strapped, I got at least an early warning tug if that right hand was balling its fist.

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