My Link to Muhammad Ali Through Parkinson's

My Link to Muhammad Ali Through Parkinson's, by Connie Lawn
June 4, 2016
I never met Muhammad Ali, but we were linked together in an important and deadly way, through Parkinson's disease. I have suffered with the disease for five years and counting. For the millions of us around the world afflicted by this, we may as well be in a boxing ring. Our heads are pummeled by a brain disease which affects our walking, talking, writing, thinking, posture, looks, and everything else. It does not happen all at once, but the erosion is there -waiting to pounce.
We "Parkies" form an unwanted club. We all lived life with intensity - perhaps we burned out vital parts of our brain, if they were ever there in the first place. But most of us keep on going as long as we can. We try to dance, engage in sports, see friends, laugh, and tell sick jokes. We are grateful to organizations like the Parkinson Foundation of the National Capital Area and the Michael J. Fox Foundation, which lead the way in Parkinson's research. I am eternally grateful to my husband and caregiver, Charles, and to the great, loving care provided by my Hospice, Capital Caring. So far they have been able to come to my home and treat me here - I hope that will continue. I am also grateful I can continue my work -so far - as a radio reporter and blogger. It is tedious work, sometimes taking an hour to write a paragraph. Radio voicers, which I have done effortlessly for nearly 50 years, are now difficult. I bless my listeners for their patience with me - they are my essence. Like many reporters, I care about them more than myself, and would be lost without them.
I have been very lucky so far. This year my younger son and his wife blessed us with a second grandchild. My older son got married, and I have two terrific daughters in laws, plus a wonderful extended family. At work, where I cover the White House, fellow reporters and officers are helpful to this slumped over old lady. Many remember me when I was young and vigorous.
At the National Press Club, I was overwhelmed. I donated a silver plaque - a Lifetime Achievement Award from the New Zealand Press Club. It is now on display in the front glass case of the Washington Club. Thank you!
I am not nearly as well known as Muhammad Ali, but we shared a disease in common. We also shared a love of people, and hope we did some good in the world!
God Bless, Connie Lawn