activist, writer, and founder of the Feminist Press

Florence in Words

Diagnosis Parkinsonís

June 10, 2017

Tags: Parkinson's

The ring finger of my right hand twitches uncontrollably when I hold my hand palm upwards. Not so the ring finger of my left hand. But sometimes they change places. I have no other twitches.

Still, there are other dimensions to a diagnosis of Parkinsonís disease. Instead of shaking, legs and arms may grow rigid, unable to move easily, if at all. That seems to be my case. And itís been most apparent getting into and out of automobiles. At the worst, before I began the new medication, someone had to actually lift my legs out of the auto, and if the driver was in a hurry, he had to move my legs in the first place. Now, after almost two months on the Parkinsonís medication, and Iím still on a relatively low dose, I can move my legs myself.

Also there are other, more intimate changes, some having to do with matters of dressing. Itís easier now to get my socks on and my trousers as well as my underwear, and I donít take so long, nor does the effort now bring me close to the point of tears. And Iím not as worried about falling in the stall shower as I have been. On the other hand, I continue to need naps and lots more sleep than ever before. And I still have nights when I canít sleep at all, even if my naps were only 20-minute breathers.

So hereís what I have to do. I have to take three pills a day with meals, which means I have to return to the habit I broke several years ago. So breakfast is still the same solid meal of oatmeal and bran muffins and coffee and fruit, varied once a week or so by eggs or lox and bagels. And dinner is still meat or fish and two vegetables, with or without a salad. (Sometimes dinner is a huge salad and soup.) But lunch is the problem and so Iíve taken to yogurt and/or soupójust a bare minimum.

Iím still not able to walk more than a few blocks at a time, and Iíve not gone back to rehab yet. The longing for sleep is something that worries me. And of course the neurologistís response is ďdo something,Ē ďkeep busy,Ē remarks that I might have made to a friend with a similar complaint. But I have plenty to do, meetings to attend and books to read. Often, Iíd rather take a nap. In addition, I have friends who want to go to the movies with me. Why do I resist such entreaties? I still long for a swimming pool and have done nothing about that either. And yes, I will probably regret having written this out for others to seeÖ itís embarrassing, and I yawn again and again even as I go on typingÖ.


  1. July 5, 2017 3:46 PM EDT
    Florence, my apologies that I had not been following yr blog of late--Chuck's accident in early Feb and three month long disability after surgery with me as only care giver; house repairs, and more. This is the first time I read about yr medical condition. Very sorry. Please call/email if there is anything I can assist you with, albeit long-distance. Much love.
    - shirley lim
  2. July 5, 2017 6:44 PM EDT
    I'll write soon. Didn't know of Chuck's problems. Florence
    - Florence Howe

Select Works

"Everyone concerned about global feminism, womenís contributions, and humanityís future will be enhanced and enchanted by A Life in Motion.ĒóBlanche Wiesen Cook, author of Eleanor Roosevelt: Volume I and Volume II
Lecture delivered by Florence Howe on January 8, 2011, at the Modern Language Association Annual Convention
ďIt is impossible to imagine womenís studies without Florence Howe. Myths of Coeducation shows her vision and courage, insight and dauntlessness.ĒĖCatharine R. Stimpson, Rutgers University
A revised and expanded edition of the classic groundbreaking anthology of 20th-century American women's poetry, representing more than 100 poets from Amy Lowell to Anne Sexton to Rita Dove.

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