Stuck at the Airport

Monday 10 January 2011: 4 years 4 months on …

Over the last few weeks we have heard many stories and seen many visuals of people stuck at airports in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Europe and North America. Unseasonable weather and heavy snowfalls created a knock-on effect and havoc around the world. People’s holiday, Christmas and New Year’s plans were thwarted and thrown into disarray.

That’s Life!

We can plan, set objectives and goals, make New Year’s resolutions and think that we have everything under control, but suddenly, and often, in the blink of an eye, God – or nature or the universe or some higher authority or life, or whatever we believe in – dictates otherwise.

As much as we think we ARE, the reality is just that we ARE NOT in control.

And, so, at times, we get stuck at the airports of Life.

I think of my own situation. It was slightly more than four years ago that I started realising that something was wrong. My left hand fingers weren’t doing what I was telling them to do and I was having problems shaving – I couldn’t get my left hand to my face!

Chiropractors, physiotherapists, doctors, neurosurgeons, neurologists, CAT and MRI scans set the investigatory pathway beyond cancer and tumours to Parkinson’s and then eventually to Corticalbasal Degeneration.

In that brief moment, sitting in the neurologist’s office at Tygerberg Hospital in Cape Town, my life – and that of those closest to me – was thrown into disarray. Our plans, our goals, our objectives, our lives, were thrown out of the window in the flash of a moment.

Just when I thought that my life’s Garmin was working at its best, when I thought that my GPS system can’t get it wrong, my way was lost. The snow had come and I was stuck at the airport!

When you lose your way with a GPS, you are told “recalculating” is taking place. New objectives and instructions are given to get you to your destination.

Similarly, when stuck at Life’s airports and at this time of each year, you need to take stock, “recalculate” and set yourself new goals, new plans and new objectives. Otherwise, things can go horribly wrong.

My diagnosis has got me stuck. And being stuck at my particular airport doesn’t make things easy. It’s the difference that one letter makes.

I am not stuck at Heathrow – I am stuck on Deathrow.

Whilst the rest of the world carries on ‘normally’, I (and my family for that matter) have become entrapped in an artificial cacoon – waiting for the inevitable to happen.

There’s no way back. I can’t go back to the Life that I knew. Right now, there is no way to reverse the CBD that I have. The damage has been done and cannot be repaired.

Each day, more and more snow falls. What started off as an exciting new challenge becomes a daunting future. The circumstances become increasingly difficult. And I am being worn down, day after day.  As the disease gives more of itself each day, it takes more of my body by paralysing it and more of my mind by confusing it. I become increasingly weary.

All that remains is to wait for that plane to arrive to take me to my Final Destination, and to make myself as comfortable as possible in the meantime.

And, in the meantime, like at the airport whilst the wait continues, the floor becomes hard, the lights go out, the services dry up, the money dries up, the patience runs out, the tempers fray, the information ceases and the waiting becomes intolerable.

I have said that I will party till the End. I am not being negative nor selfish but, please forgive me if there are times when I wish that End to arrive speedily, when I wish for that plane to arrive sooner rather than later. There are times when I consider all the possibilities of hastening the arrival of that plane – a mercy flight? – that will take me out of this uncomfortable hiatus.

I guess there are many people who have been stuck in similar circumstances before, and many will be stuck there in the future. Many are stuck with me right now!

It is not for us to judge their wishes. It is only when we, too, experience those circumstances, that we may be able to make an informed decision about their wishes and actions.

Is there ever a point when the quantity of life overrides the need for the quality of life?

 It is something that I wrestle with as the packing up and goodbyes commence and St Francis Bay and Holidays 2010/2011 come to an end.

 It is something that I wrestle with in my cacoon as I set my objectives, goals and plans for 2011.