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From this compassion was born a deep admiration for my father, who had loved and supported my mother through everything. I was also full of admiration for my mother, who had been the very face of fortitude.
After I had reconciled myself to the truth, I experienced immense helplessness. We had all we could dream of, and yet we could do nothing to put her out of her misery. Endless visits to countless doctors yielded no hope in the way of a cure. This led to the next stage.
At this stage, our entire family’s salient thought was social stigma. We were willing to go to many lengths of denial to avoid the stigma that we predicted would accompany the truth.
By the time I started middle school, my mother had already given up on many of her own dreams. This once ambitious and carefree soul had begun to internalize the fact that suffering would be her companion for the foreseeable future. She had unknowingly started to live vicariously through her children, my sister and myself. Our every success was her own little victory. She dreamt through us, for us.
Parkinson’s Disease is never the battle of the afflicted alone. It is the journey that an entire family endures. Our family, the Krishnans, was no different. It touched the very core of my family and defined our decision making processes. Her pain became our pain. Her journey became ours.
And through it all, I learned so much. I learned that faith and validation can have a tremendous impact on a person. I learned that stigma was a real thing, and that otherwise fearless souls could live in fear of stigma. I learnt the joy of having a support system, and of being made to feel like a contributing member of that system. I learned that every little effort can count. But most of all, I realized that the battle against Parkinson’s Disease would form a core part of my life. It would be a part of my identity, and a part of my purpose in the world.
My journey, from the day I noticed that something was different in the way my mother walked, to today, has had many different stages.
Guilt was my constant companion at this stage. I blamed myself for having wanted to escape. But even so, I was now curious to find out the realities of the disease. At what stage was my mother? What would be an informed way to help her?
There is so much to learn and grow from. And I am determined and motivated to make that learning and growth possible.
My name is Abilash Krishnan.
My mother, Radhika Krishnan, suffers from Parkinson's disease.
This is me, today. I wish to share, express, and contribute. I wish to aid and support all others on this journey.
However, I am also mindful, that people find themselves at these stages constantly through life, in various contexts.
I would spend extended periods of time with my mother, just listening to her talk. I began to value the power of presence. I felt true compassion for her, and for all that she had endured.
This ignorance was at first passive. I was too young to know or comprehend my mother’s affliction. This slowly morphed into an active ignorance. I could perceive that something was wrong, but asked no questions to appease my curiosity.
She was diagnosed with the disease at the tender age of 30, a rare case of Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease (YOPD).
My earliest memories of my mother are of seeing her limp and struggle to complete her movements. I have seen her cry, fall, bleed, shiver, and hallucinate. I have seen her pray for strength as she failingly tried to summon the strength to move a part of her body.
However, I have also seen her fortitude. Even in the face of difficulty, I have seen her persevere to be a beacon of light and support for others. I have watched as she elegantly danced between her desires and limitations.
I needed to get away from the frustration. I was not capable of carrying the burden, or of being a source of support anymore.