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Social Impact of Parkinson's Disease

As a natural instinct, I always avert my eyes from someone who is visibly handicapped. I suppose there are several reasons for this reaction. I do not want the handicapped person to feel self conscious from my attention, and at the same time I do not want the person to notice my feeling of pity for his or her affliction. Sometimes, it is not possible to avoid a direct encounter.

I went to the cash register of a department store and the clerk who helped me had a serious case of Parkinson's Disease. Her right hand was shaking quite uncontrollably and her left hand was somewhat better. The muscles in her arms were emaciated from the repetitious involuntary motions. As she tried to scan the bar code of my item, her hand kept jerking and the scanner could not read the code. At one point I felt like reaching to hold the bar code in front of the reader, but I resisted the impulse. She was persistent and eventually the cash register beeped an acknowledgment. You could see some frustration in her face, although her face also twitched.

I realized that she would not be able to work much longer. I wondered why she was still working in her condition, but in the back of my mind, I knew that she had to work because the health care system in the United States had failed her. I felt admiration for the department store that had hired her with her visible handicap in a position where she had so much public exposure. Hopefully this work entitled her to some medical benefits.

The cause of Parkinson's disease is not known, there are no cures, and no preventive measures. Parkinson's disease affects 2 in every 1,000 people, most often after age 50. The possible causes for the disease could be genetic or environmental, but nobody knows for sure. We can only hope that we don't become victims of this progressive, degenerative ailment.

© Copyright  - Antonio Zamora