|Fort Thomas resident, Scott Layman, lives with Parkinson's Disease. These are his observations. Photo provide.|
"24"By Scott Layman
Living with Parkinson’s Disease is a daily struggle. I used to say it sucks, but now it’s not so bad. Perhaps I have adjusted my own expectations of myself. I have my share of down moments and down days, but more importantly, I have plenty more up moments and up days. Having a disease like Parkinson’s requires a daily gut check and a constant adjustment of my expectations of how I might function based on how I feel.
Today, I feel about 50-50. On my personal feel-good scale, this is about as bad as I get, so I am optimistic that tomorrow’s new day will bring with it fewer bad symptoms than today presents.
Day-by-day … that’s how I’ve managed my life for the past 8 years. Hence “24,” as in 24 hours in a day, for the title of this writing, and hopefully more writings to come. I want to share with my community what’s inside the mind of a man living with Parkinson’s, and so with this daily theme comes the story of something that has happened to me over a 24-hour span that I found inspiring, and hopefully others will too.
I have never served in the military, but I have so much respect for those who have. Men and women for decades have put their lives on the line every single day to preserve the freedoms that so many Americans take for granted and others are thankful of. The same goes for the Fire and Police, many of whom are veterans themselves.
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There is a young veteran in town, the son of a deceased police officer, who did something that has really stuck with me. It happened one evening at a local watering hole, and I learned a lot about a man that I had only previously known as a nice guy with a really thick shell to crack. This veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom came home unable to walk. The nerve gas had attacked his body the prognosis was not good. He had lost so much weight. He defied the medical news that he would not walk again, pushing himself every day like a soldier in training. When I saw him that evening, he was walking and he stood tall, as big and strong as ever.
As this soldier told me his story, I stayed glued to his words like a child listening to a teacher. I had known him for years, and yet I learned so much about the Man he had become. His father would be proud.
The more he talked, the prouder I became of him and our friendship. Of course, it didn’t end there; he had to raise the bar even more. He continued to talk, telling me how he had been following my personal story as I battled Parkinson’s over the past 8 years. Suddenly, I felt like the teacher. He talked about me with a wealth of respect, although I know inside my heart that what I have endured fails in comparison to his personal fight and his own victory.
He is wearing this ball cap which is beaten and battered, much like his body was. The Velcro is practically non-existent, likely from the strain caused by his huge melon-size head. It is frayed and dirty. Then, he takes his ball cap off and puts it on my head. I smiled a big smile, and as I went to return it, he insisted I keep it. He said that I can never give up my fight, and that I must always remember that he is only a phone call away should I need anything. This bruised and beaten up hat is more than just a hat. It is a reminder of this promise. It symbolizes a bond of brotherhood, and I felt invited into his circle.
I turned 50 this year. I feel wise beyond my years, and I have never been more proud to be an American. I have also found myself very proud to have Parkinson’s, because if not, I never would have had this uplifting experience to share. Thank a veteran. They all deserve our gratitude.