*To read how my journey to the World Parkinson’s Congress Began, Click here
I spent the first 2 hours of the flight thinking of clever ways to torture my nemesis the nincompoop. Maybe I could ask for a napkin, a fork, a lime with no seeds, a drink with only one ice-cube mixed with 3 various types of soda, and then order a box meal, take a bite out of the sandwich and then ask to exchange it for a different meal. Oh yes, I can do this all day. But I thought watching “Iron Man 3” on the television would be more relaxing and a better use of my time.
I thought of what it would be like in Montreal. Seeing as they speak mostly French in that part of Canada, I knew I was in for some challenges. Traveling with Parkinson’s disease (PD) is always, shall we say, interesting. I have never been to an airport that you can step out of your car and onto a plane, so you know you are in for a bit of a hike. Not to mention going through security with Deep Brain Stimulation can be fun. I refuse to go through the metal detectors, even though they have the x-ray machines that supposedly don’t impact the stimulators in your chest, I always opt out. I would prefer to watch the TSA squirm, as they have to stop their cattle drive into the metal detector machines just to find a “female assist” who can Wo-manhandle me.
Flying usually always sucks…then put PD on top of that and you have a colossal suckfest. Imagine for a minute that your body is stuck in Molasses and you have to get to the gate for your flight. No, you cannot lick the Molasses off…I already attempted that and it doesn’t work. Then as you are trying to lift your extremely heavy legs off the ground beneath you, every muscle in your body tenses up. Your knees lock, now your legs are stiff as a board as you try to take a step. Time to add on cognitive trouble. You feel as if you are standing in your underwear in the middle of the airport and everyone is looking at you just fumble around. Now you are ready to get on your flight.
Sitting on the airplane can also present trouble. Try sitting still smack dab in the middle of two people, like you are the meat in a Parkie sandwich. Now don’t move for at least 4 hours. You might have just taken a little more Sinemet in the morning just to get you through the madness of air travel, which may have led to involuntary muscles movements called “Dyskinesia”. This will take much energy and concentration trying not to kick the person next to you, or shall we say, the “bread” of your Parkie Sandwich. Now make sure to eat and take your medications on time as you are surfing through multiple time zones! Oh and don’t forget, you have a 3 hour layover in a foreign city, so you get to go through this educational experience all over again!
I arrive in Montreal close to 10pm, exhausted but excited to be there. As I step off the airplane, I am overwhelmed…. everything is in French! The walls, the signs, the people, I even think I heard a dog say, “Bonjour! Mademoiselle”. I bounce into a taxi, do my best French-ish pronunciation of the hotel’s name where I will be staying, and then we are off. As I arrive, my Dad is waiting for me on the corner to help me with my bags. I am slow with my movements and feeling overwhelmed. I think to myself, “Just get to the room”. You might have thought by how tired I was I would have no trouble sleeping that night, but nope. …I stayed awake most of the night, wondering what it would be like at the Congress, who I might meet, what I might learn.
The hotel that we where bunking at for the week had breakfast each morning, so the next day we headed downstairs and enter the dinning room. It was like Christmas morning! It was filled with Parkies and their families, from all over the world! It wasn’t awkward to see someone moving slow, or struggling through a bout of Dystonia. We had been given badges for the congress that included our name and what country we were from. We had struck up a conversation with a group of Parkies from the United Kingdom. As we were making small talk, a man named “Danny” said, “I think I know you.” I responded, “Maybe, how have you heard of me?” He says, “I think I follow you on Twitter. You are the Perky Parkie…I read your blog.” I was shocked! It was so exciting to me to see how far my reach has extended! Across the pond! It was one of those moments that I felt like I was flying on a cloud and nothing could bring me down. Be sure to read about the 25 things I learned from the WPC.