activist, writer, and founder of the Feminist Press

Florence in Words

A Blog to Break the New Silence

June 6, 2018

Tags: Parkinson's

Note: First written in May, but posted in June

Yes, barely out of the first week of May, we have some decent spring weather and the green has burst into view all at once and all bright. I’m trying to move into a schedule. I’m trying to be at least a tiny more upbeat. And yes, I’ve made one breakthrough: I went to see my dear doctor Helen Hecht who convinced me to see my former neurologist, Jonathan Charney, which I did that very afternoon, since Dr. Hecht called him and he said he’d work me into the crowd of people in his waiting room.

It was good to see him again. He feels more like a friend than a doctor. He always remembers to compliment me on my memoir which he claims to have read. And so he assessed me and of course noted that I could not walk, was using a wheel chair, and was feeling desperately depressed. He’s scheduled me for a test Saturday morning, and he’s starting me on another pill without changing the dopamine I have been given by the NYU neurologist I have been seeing, even as my ability to walk has worsened over these past weeks, even months.

So yes, I am going to begin to add to the dopamine the new drug, amantadine, that is supposed to help me walk. Yes, I feel skeptical, and I expect I sound skeptical. But you won’t blame me, will you? Dr. Charney says that when he sees me in two weeks, I will be walking, perhaps with my little walker, but certainly I will not be in a wheel chair. So I am trying to be hopeful, but not too hopeful.

Coincidentally, I find myself with two books about Parkinson’s, and so I have begun to do what I would normally do, but haven’t, for whatever reasons. And I must add here that, while I’ve taken only one of those new pills, my typing is much better than when I was last trying to write I was cheered by the combination of Helen Hecht herself and her insistence that I see Dr. Charney (who is her friend, too).

If you are bored with what has become a description (and not very consistently) of my illness, then I am sorry and will try to do better. I know only of a few people—old friends, usually not living in New York—who keep track of me mainly through checking the blog. Perhaps they will tell me to quit right now.

I want to add that I did more yesterday than I have for weeks and weeks. The brain test had me at Dr. Charney’s office by ten a.m. on Saturday morning. Helene met me there, since we had afternoon tickets to an Encores performance of “Me and My Gal,” an old musical performed in a characteristically intense manner and with a talkback feature about the history of musical theatre I have come to enjoy.

At six we were in a taxi heading home, the longest day I’ve spent out of the house in many months. And with it all, I used my walker, no wheelchair.


  1. June 7, 2018 4:53 AM EDT
    I check on you! Thank you for the update! Best wishes always..
    - ShelleySarsfield
  2. June 15, 2018 3:48 PM EDT
    Dear Florence, I’ve just heard from Shirley Lim, who says she visited with you. I think of you with affection and admiration, remembering how much your encouragement meant to me at Goucher and SUNY all those years ago. (And I’m cheering you on!)
    - Claudia Gary
  3. June 26, 2018 3:33 PM EDT
    Hi Florence, I am one of the out of towners who check on you through your blog and I'm very happy to read today that you are doing better. Love, Carol Dahl
    - Carol Dahl
  4. July 7, 2018 12:20 AM EDT
    As we can all see, you ARE walking and writing/blogging! Alas, depression is a hard challenge to meet....
    But so many love you!
    - Shirley Geok-lin Lim
  5. July 8, 2018 12:21 AM EDT
    So glad you have had this break through. We haven't been to NY in over a year, but I have hopes I will come in October. You are on my mind. In my heart.
    - Julie Olsen Edwards

Select Works

"Everyone concerned about global feminism, women’s contributions, and humanity’s future will be enhanced and enchanted by A Life in Motion.”—Blanche 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
“It is impossible to imagine women’s studies without Florence Howe. Myths of Coeducation shows her vision and courage, insight and dauntlessness.”–Catharine 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.

Quick Links