On Monday night I watched a brilliant, heart-squeezing documentary on Four Corners. It was one reporter, Liz Jackson, turning the camera on herself and her life, focusing on her diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease. It was amazing to watch and brought up lots of feelings to the surface.
One major theme the documentary explored, as part of the journey of living through the disease, was fear – or so it seemed to me. Fear of losing control; of being unloved/ unlovable; and of losing the self: the mental and physical capacities. The title of the report was called, “Sense of Self” even. It’s a vulnerable position.
It resonated. Like Liz, I’ve prided myself on my intelligence, both emotional and cognitive. I hate the idea of losing that…even though (barring some catastrophic event) the possibility is a long way off. Years down the track, if it were to happen. As I said to someone the other night, it’s the great trade-off…long life sounds nice (in theory) but is there much point to it if you don’t know you’re that old? (For example.) I know it’s a lot more complicated than that, but it still lingers. We humans often spend a lot of time ignoring our own mortality and debilitation – to have the courage to face it, as Liz Jackson has done through this documentary, is admirable.
The show really shows how harsh a diagnosis – and the aftermath – can be. Parkinson’s disease is incurable. It comes with a range of symptoms, not just the stereotypical tremors, which can range in severity. The impressions I got from the show were that such a diagnosis is bloody challenging, especially when it involves severe unusual symptoms (as is the case with Liz). Also that there’s a lot of trust needed between people in this situation, but to trust someone with your own life can be difficult, even when you’ve known and loved them for years.
The show reminded me of a quote I read recently: “where there is love there is life” ~ Mahatma Gandhi. I agree wholeheartedly.
One journalist in the Guardian wrote his own reflection on the show – it’s a good one.
Thank you Liz and husband Martin, not to mention the rest of your family, for your bravery and your candour in creating this piece.