I’ve already written this post three times this morning. In fact, I’ve written this post dozens of times over the past few years. What is it to be in control? This was one version:
As I sit, cross-legged on my bed, laptop atop my lap (as it ought to be), listening to the rain beat against the roof, waiting for the plumber to arrive, checking social media for, well, anything to distract me from the task at hand, I’m less concerned with being ‘in control’ than I am wondering what it means. What does it mean to be out of control? This was a question that greatly troubled the minds of theologians such as Jean Calvin, who (roughly) saw that there was a problem with the idea of free will and an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent deity … how could the two possibly co-exist. This question is at the heart of Francis Bacon’s dictum ‘Knowledge is power’ which, as I’ve pointed out before, doesn’t quite mean what everyone thinks it means … in short, for a deity as described, to know is to do. Who’s in control?
But you don’t want theology, you want interesting, preferably salacious, tidbits about Parkinson’s disease, and how it makes me lose control, how it makes me behave badly, how it makes me … but you’re not going to get that.
I was diagnosed, as I wrote in the Independent and in my book, Slender Threads, because my control of my limbs began to diminish. To cut a long story short (and, naturally, to try to get you to buy my book), the gap between my ability and my expectations in several fields widened to the point where there was no leaping across.
In physical terms, my control diminishes in a non-linear fashion, with everything I do in terms of therapy merely limiting the gradient of the descent. This is not control. This is damage limitation. And yes, in many ways it is just like getting old. But more so.
When I type, I type with my right hand only. Often with just finger and thumb, sometime two fingers. Very occasionally, I can introduce the index finger of my left hand. More often, I’m continually scrolling back and forth as my fingers involuntarily hit keys. A tremor while typing can make life very slow indeed.
When you’re young(ish), and don’t have a wild tremor, just find yourself freezing at supermarket check-outs or shuffling unsteadily along the street, choking on food or perhaps struggling to get up from a low sofa, many (quite reasonably) assume drunkenness. They don’t assume illness. They expect one thing, are confronted with another, and fill in the missing link in the only logical manner. Over people’s thought processes, I have no control. Over Parkinson’s, I have some control. Only I am responsible for my reaction to both.
Control in is the eye of the beholder. Control is a matter of closing the gap between expectations and ability. It’s hard enough to do it with oneself: with others, a nightmare.
I don’t know whether it is true or not. Today it feels as if it is. Tomorrow’s another day.