There is a man who has been diagnosed for Parkinson’s disease for many years. He has learned how to manage his symptoms to the best of his ability and exercised daily. Although he lives alone in an assisted living home, he prides himself on remaining independent and still has a full-time job that he does from home. But there has been one thing missing…love.
One day, he met a beautiful woman and they hit it off famously. They were smitten kittens and a relationship began to grow. The man was feeling blessed that he had actually met someone who didn’t look at him and only see Parkinson’s disease. She could see past the tremor, beyond the rigidity and adored him for who he was… or so he thought.
It wasn’t long before she started to encourage him to move out of his home and into an apartment, where she could care for him full-time. Although a little apprehensive, he was excited to think about living independently. The possibilities were endless.
After a short time, she began to ask for money to provide full-time care although she was not a trained professional. She began living with the man and using his credit cards to buy groceries for the house. While living rent free and collecting $600.00 a week for her services, she began driving him to his Neurologist appointments. This was perfect seeing as he had to give up driving last year due to his condition.
The man did feel slightly uncomfortable with the fast pace of the relationship, but he couldn’t bear going back to the loneliness he felt in assisted living. He finally had everything that he had wished for… someone to love and care for him as his Parkinson’s progressed.
Within a month of meeting his beautiful companion, she began to ask for things that would benefit them both. It started off with small things… a new couch for their apartment, dinner at an expensive steak house, new tires for her car (I mean, she was driving him to all of his appointments after all). The man didn’t tell anyone about his new love because he knew something was off, but he couldn’t put his finger on it because she was so sweet to him.
At his next Doctor’s appointment, the man was having a bad day. His tremor was off the charts… he even asked for his companion to help him with breakfast. This time, she insisted on coming into the exam room for his appointment. As the man had difficulty speaking, she would communicate for him. She claimed that because no one could understand him, she would so kindly talk for him. The man didn’t object, sometimes it was easier for her to speak then having to muster up his voice.
One afternoon, on the way home from an exercise class, the woman sad she had a surprise for him. As she pulled into the Lexus dealership, she cheered, “We’re getting a new car!” Puzzled, the man tried to make sense of the fact that THEY were buying a new vehicle… her 2012 Honda Civic was running just fine since he just bought new tires. After meeting with the salesman, it was clear that the woman had already picked out the car she wanted during a previous visit she made to the dealership while he was napping.
The man saw the final price tag of $45,000 for the Lexus and was shocked to hear his new “girlfriend” (that’s now what she called herself) wanted him to pay for the ride. After denying her request, they drove home in silence. “What happened? I thought that she truly cared for me,” the man pondered.
As the days rolled by, the man began to get depressed. He thought, “Is the only way for me to have a relationship with a woman is to accept being manipulated?” He didn’t know how to end the relationship. Those close to him didn’t know of his companion, and those that he had little contact with, believed that they were two birds in love. They spoke of how brave the woman was to care for such a great man who has Parkinson’s. The man felt stuck. He was afraid of retaliation if he tried to end the relationship with his “girlfriend”, but also feared being alone even more.
This manipulation is happening everyday around us. Some view Parkies as frail or weak… easy to take advantage of. They use our longing of being loved and accepted against us. Although they may seem genuine, their intentions will only benefit them.
How can you protect your self from potential manipulators?
– Go with your instinct. If it seems fishy, then you probably have a huge piranha floating around in your life.
-Listen to your Wolfpack. Those in your pack know you best and will be looking out for your best interest.
-Know your self-worth. You are awesome and just because you have Parkinson’s disease doesn’t mean that you are damage goods. You still deserve to feel loved and be respected.
-Set your boundaries. You know what your comfortable with, so don’t compromise.
-Shut it down. In some cases, you might need to completely remove the manipulator from your life. Tell them you will have no further contact with them or have someone from your Wolfpack take the reins, then block their phone number and move on with your life.
Life is short. Choose to keep people close to you that lift you up and truly care for you. Parkinson’s disease is hard enough… don’t spend energy on those trying to take advantage of your awesomeness.