Cooperstown Crier - Your Source for Hometown News - Cooperstown, Baseball Hall of Fame

From Fly Creek

October 11, 2012

'So how's it going?'

The headline is a question I get a dozen times a day, almost always from friends and neighbors who want a real answer. Bless them for that.

I usually palm the question off with a laugh and, “Still wobbling along!” That’s a shameless plug, I know, for my Parkinson’s book, but my answer’s on target: I am still wobbling along, mostly forward, with unplanned, reeling sidesteps to retain balance.

But I’m not falling down. That’s due to six weeks of great therapy under Mike Quinn at the Bassett Railroad Avenue clinic, followed by steady work with Jim Jordan at the Clark Sports Center.

Mike sent me on to Jim with an exercise prescription, and Jim’s holding me to it. I’m at the Center three mornings a week, twice downstairs in the exercise room, once for a stint of swimming.

That regimen, plus good medication (more of it since I last reported to you), has kept me literally on my feet and doing things I really enjoy — including writing to all of you.

With that said, there’s no denying that I’m losing ground — or, if you prefer, Parkinson’s is gaining on me. And the most haunting change is that it’s now creeping into my cognition.

More than once, I’ve told you that this stuff feels like sailing toward a fogbank, toward almost sure dementia. Well, the first wisps of fog are now in my head, drifting around ominously. I have moments of real confusion, at least to the point of being unable to lay out ideas in sequence.

(I believe that’s called “thinking.”) This means that, more and more, I freeze up at the keyboard and have literally to back off from it to allow for a rebooting.

Not of the computer. Of me.

It also means that big chunks of my memory are suddenly missing. And I don’t mean trouble with short-term memory; that’s been plaguing me (and dear Anne!) since this stuff began. I mean the wonderful stuff I’ve gathered for decades, stowed away, and could draw on at will.

I mean the whole line of the kings and queens of England, Alfred the Great to Elizabeth the second. I could pull up their names and most of their coronation dates easily, and they became at easy reference for paralleling a given on in time with Louis XIV or Ivan the Terrible or Genghis Khan or Leif Erickson — and with historic events back to the eighth century AD. And the same with the line of Caesars and with the events of their reigns and with their famous contemporaries.

These days, I reach for the fourth century BC or the ninth century AD, and they’re gone. My long-term memory is like a glacier, large chunks of which are breaking off and drifting away into the misty seas. I think that process is called, “calving.” Well, my head’s calving at a great rate.

And so: When shaky hands on the keyboard align with decaying memory and shaky thinking — then, as the saying goes, “That’s all she wrote.” In my case, “he.” And literally.

Jim Austin’s got a last column on file, in case this should happen suddenly (strokes, mini and maxi, hit guys my age and condition; and embolisms, too.) But I’m planning that Jim won’t have to pull that column out of the file for a long, long, time. I’m planning a leisurely, if ungraceful, descent down this slope, with pauses to rest along the way.

And, apart from my shaky physical being, how about the far more important question? As Quakers would ask, “Is it well with thy soul?”

1
Text Only
From Fly Creek
  • From word to phrase to sentence As usual, Dennis Savoie started it. Old friends, we long ago discovered our mutual interest in oddities of words and language usage. His most recent challenge to me: Is our flag properly called "spangled" with stars?

    July 24, 2014

  • 'They were out of step but Jim!' All right, skip the drolleries about the headline. The quote is actually the title of a 1918 song by Irving Berlin, who, with George M. Cohan and other songsmiths, was producing patriotic pieces by the dozen as the Yanks were going "Over There!"

    June 19, 2014

  • Replanting has taken root Lots of boxes still to be unpacked and stuff to be put on shelves and into closets, but Anne's and my shift into Cooperstown is almost done. We're securely replanted at 24 Delaware Street and already feeling at home.

    May 8, 2014

  • There's reason to hope I hadn't planned this piece for my April column, but something happened that was impossible to ignore. Within a week, three different friends (count them, three!) from different parts of the country emailed to say they'd come across an old Crier column that they'd saved for twelve years and had sent to many friends because it meant much to them.

    April 17, 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.

    March 6, 2014

  • How good to be back! "Tis I, the Spirit of a Thousand Columns Past, back after a twelve-month silence to talk at you again in the flesh!"

    January 2, 2014

  • Mammon Triumphs in Turkey Bowl Editor's Note: We're thrilled to announce the return of our columnist, Jim Atwell, and his legendary column "From Fly Creek." Jim's column will be an occasional feature, when he is able to write or he has something he wants to contribute. We celebrate his return with one of his classic columns.

    December 5, 2013

  • Rolling toward a stop I’m slowing down, friends, rolling toward a stop for this column. The best way to describe my reason is through an analogy: I want you to think of me as a horse-drawn wagon and driver â€" not just as the driver, but as the whole shebang.

    December 27, 2012

  • Giving gnomes a home Whack a mole, if you must, but never a gnome. You'd enrage those who dote on them. And there are many such people, though maybe not as many as gnomes. Gnomes are everywhere.

    November 29, 2012

  • Hauling history home Anne and I have a trip ahead of us. We'll be trundling south in our bought-used-but-still-great Mercury Mountaineer SUV.

    November 15, 2012