Parkinson’s Disease and Accidents

I was sitting at my desk reading emails on my computer. The door to my home office suddenly opened and my wife entered. Her eyes shouted fear and her hand was wrapped in bloody tissues. She said with tumbling voice, “I cut my finger.”

PD has made cutting an apple difficult for my wife. She sticks a knife in the apple. Instead of pushing down on the knife through the apple, she pounds the apple with the knife sticking in it on a cutting board. I sit in my home office, and I know when she is cutting an apple in the kitchen… thud, thud, thud on the cutting board… as she tries to cut through the apple. I thought it was because of a dull knife. So, I sharpened it to make it easier for her. I knew a sharp knife would be more dangerous. It was. She sliced her finger open while trying to cut out the core of the apple.

She entered with a face of distress and her hand wrapped in a bloody tissue. I was afraid to look at her hand. I led her to the bathroom and had her sit down. I did not have any rolled gauze or pads. I cut up an old t-shirt. I took off the bloody tissues. I looked at the finger. I calmed down. She calmed down. I washed off the blood. I wrapped strips of the old t-shirt around the finger and hand. I wrapped first aid tape around the cloth strips. I said, “First, we stop the bleeding. Use your good hand to put pressure on the bleeding finger and elevate it.”

Why am I writing about this incident?

I’m trying to interpret the feeling I had in the moment I saw the fear in her eyes and the bloody hand. That flash of feeling was not just compassion. It was fear. I felt anticipatory grief. In a moment I thought about how I would feel if she died. My heart would sink in pain. I felt loss. In that moment I felt deep love for her. That’s love.

If you are a caretaker of a spouse with PD then you need to be prepared for accidents. They will happen. My wife had a car accident. My wife fell and broke her front teeth. You cannot panic. Respond as a peaceful reassuring presence to sooth your spouse’s anxiety and his/her feelings of frustration and self-condemnation. You should not devalue your spouse’s dignity with blame or shame. Let love rule the accident. Let love heal the moment.

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