The Healing Power of a Morning’s Work

I woke up today feeling sorry for myself. A week ago I had applied for an exciting new opportunity that had been sold to me as a once in a lifetime first class trip to a far flung corner of the world to be paid to do some filming. They weren’t looking for actors but were looking for people with movement and speech disorders. Suffice it to say that it sounded right up my ally.

Well, last night I received a hastily written email informing me that I did not get the part. Boo hoo, right? Well, it certainly didn’t help that my Parkinson’s symptoms had been feeling about as bad as they have in the two years since the adaptive settings on my deep brain stimulator were first turned on. What that means is that soon after I woke my tremor kicked back up and I felt the muscles in my right hand and foot slowly clench back into the old familiar dystonia I once knew so well. I have also been feeling more bradykinetic (slowness of movement) lately along with the added difficulty brought on by a new nemesis, postural instability (PI), which means that I now feel far less sturdy on my feet and am prone to tip over. I was suddenly starting to feel the dread of another long Canadian winter slowly creeping through my bones.

In moments like these, every little annoyance becomes a drain that can mess up your entire being. From checking your bank account to make sure that last check cleared to the fear that later that day you’ll need to get in a car and drive 5 minutes to get more medication to having to shake yourself out from under warm covers and plod along cold tile floors to get to a bathroom. Rejections like the one I received can make you feel like the world is just too crushing a place to be.

But, after moping around the house for a bit contemplating my own existence, with the aid of my greatest ally in my new daily skirmish with PI, walking sticks, I went downstairs, looked outside and was reminded that my dad had asked me to unearth some tiles the day before so he could level the ground beneath. I thought about just telling him that he needs to do it himself, but was reminded that in a tug of war between a 39 year old kid with 10 years of Parkinson’s vs. a 74 year old man who had worked hard with his hands most of his life suffering from back pain that can flare up any minute, that I’d likely win. So I begrudgingly hobbled over, put down my walking sticks and got on my knees to try and move that first stone.

At first, no matter how much sand I dug from between the tiles, it would not budge. I thought about just tipping over into the pool and ending things right then and there. But then as I dug the screwdriver and wrench in again the stone began, ever so slightly, to wiggle. After just a bit more prying (and cursing) it was free. After that first stone had been moved the next one came rather easily, and the next and the next. Before I knew it I was humming along.

It was then that I remembered the disappointment I had felt earlier that day and started to feel a little foolish. There is something about work that, for lack of a better expression, fills the soul. It is most certainly not a cureall, nothing is, but I hope it is helpful to remember that there are things around us we can lean on when we need a little support.

(Banner image is titled: Factory Worker – Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen taken from this Pinterest account)


  1. Ben, I call it doing a “reset” and it can take many different forms. Thanks for reminding us of one thing we can do. Pat Evans

  2. Dear Ben,
    I am very sorry that you have to go again through such a rough time.
    You wrote this on my birthday. Thank you very much for this birthday gift and instilling even more motivation into my work to find a cure for Parkinson‘s disease. Now you keep on digging those tiles and staying positive. Your life has a meaning – to all of us and yourself. Stay tough! One day I hope I can help you with those tiles.

    Best wishes,

  3. Hi Ben this moved me to write to you and say well done for persevering. my husband is the one with Parkinsons and this year has been more of a struggle as symptoms seem to progress a lot this year with Postural hypotension with lots of falls and black outs as well as general deterioration. after many months of seeing or talking to his specialists – one little tablet – and he is free from falls and black outs and much happier.. Please keep up your newsletters which I really enjoy

  4. Bravo Ben for turning your day around. I find it helpful on bad days to be reminded that I only have to get through this day…
    Thanks for writing and sharing your thoughts.

  5. Ben,

    Sorry to hear that you aren’t feeling well Hope you’re feeling better soon. Keep the faith and keep on trucking’. Appreciate your blog and all that you do.


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