Turtle Dreams


For weeks after receiving Jack’s diagnoses of Parkinson Disease my sleep was haunted by the flash of tiny fish in ever-tightening nets. Or, I dreamed I was a sea turtle flying effortlessly through my domain. In an instant I was entangled in a net, hauled into a small boat where laughing men hacked off my flippers, tossed me unfeeling back into the sea. Even as I fought against the cutting and slicing of my limbs, my means of survival, I understood the men were simply doing what they had to do to feed their families. That, to them, I meant nothing at all except a meal, a way to nourish themselves and to stay alive another day.

Sinking, helpless, back down through the very ocean that had been my home, I would, each night, transform, become an avenging goddess, rise like a rocket up out of the sea and into the boat where I wreaked havoc on the men who had killed me in my incarnation as a helpless, flapping turtle. Even then, though, in my dreams, I stopped, looked at the faces of the men, knew they meant me no harm, that they, like me, were only trying to survive.
Today is the first day Jack and I will receive respite care. Sixteen hours a week another caregiver is scheduled to come into our home and, essentially, do what I do each day.
Jack and I have worked hard to develop a schedule that will have this stranger driving him to acupuncture and massage and to the pool for physical therapy. Leaving me to accompany him to doctor’s appointments, the gym, and other appointments for which I need to be present. This wonderful person, Mr. Elf as I am calling him, will also clean the house twice a week, and most important, focus all his attention on Jack so I can have sixteen glorious hours a week to just be me.
I know that sounds bad. I understand the myth is that loved ones, wives in particular, care for our spouses, giving up piece after piece of ourselves, and we do it all with love and compassion as we rise up into sainthood.
Yeah, well, that’s bullshit.
If you follow my blog or have read My Life as a Wounded Warrior, you know Jack and I have had twenty-five years of living all over the world, we traveled in Asia with nothing but a change of clothes on our backs, taught scuba diving in Mexico, shared a tree house in Thailand.
When we left the doctor’s office, after receiving the diagnoses of Parkinson, I turned to Jack, squeezed his trembling hand, and said, “Well, so now we begin a new adventure.”
He glared at me. “Worst adventure. Ever.”
Because he decided not to take the medication for Parkinson, we started a regiment of, basically, doing everything anyone on the internet said might be good at slowing the progress of this degenerative disease. Mostly this involves slow, steady, exercise. The only suggestion we haven’t yet implemented is no-impact boxing. I’m working now to get that going here in Eureka.
So, about a month into this new adventure, here’s where we are:
We enjoy doing Tai Chi each morning after, and only after, I’ve had my two cups of coffee. We like exercising together three days a week at the gym where he rides the bike (excellent for Parkinson) and we work our way through a few weight machines. I walk in the park twice a week while Jack does physical therapy in a warm pool. I asked and the VA granted Jack massage and acupuncture, both of which are purported to be good for Parkinson. He begins those therapies this week.
Our joke is that Jack has his own little Parkinson retreat center. Our world revolves around providing him the best care we can manage.
Are you catching on to the symbolism behind my sea turtle dream?
Love is transformative. I have no argument with that truth. But the caregiver has to be able to get to the surface on a fairly regular basis. That little sip of air, the feel of sun on a back, and the breeze across the surface of the water – that’s the difference between life and death.


About Author and Speaker Pamela Foster

Pamela Foster is a speaker and author. Her first book, Redneck Goddess, is available at local bookstores and on Amazon. Her second book, Bigfoot Blues, will be available in August 2012.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Turtle Dreams

  1. Staci Troilo says:

    I don’t know, Pam. When you said “turtle” I pictured the turtles from “Finding Nemo” who loved riding that current (the name of which escapes me) and lived to be well over 100 years old. So I guess it depends on how you want to take the metaphor. In any event, know I’m praying for you both and rooting for you both and here for you (hundreds of miles away, anyway) if you need me.

  2. Jan Morrill says:

    I hear that avenging goddess in your words, and I’m glad to hear her spirit that demands (as difficult as it may be) to come up for her own air. It sounds like you and Jack have begun a good regimen, and I’m so glad you’re giving yourself those 16 hours. I know it’s a struggle, but you continue to be an inspiration with your strength, your ability to make us laugh through your tears. Love you and miss you.

  3. Linda Apple says:

    Dreams have haunted me lately, only I’m not so good at interpretation. Maybe I don’t want to. Two nights ago, in my dreams, I was speaking on the phone with Neal when the doorbell rang. When I opened it a huge woman filled the door, she had a Pillsbury Dough Boy body and she started pushing me. I kept screaming for Neal to call 911 as she threatened to overpower me. I still feel shaky from that. This dream is the first thing I thought of when I read your blog. I want to fix it for you. I want to rescue you. But I know this is your path and you are walking on it with courage and dignity. It is making you a better person because you choose to let it and I love you for it.

  4. There is nothing bad (and it doesn’t sound bad to hear you speak of it) about taking care of yourself. In fact, it would be very hard to remain such an excellent help-mate to Jack if you didn’t tend to yourself, too. Good for you to recognize that. I love the exercise regimen y’all have going on and wish you both the best of luck.

  5. Kay Gay says:

    Do whatever each if you need in this life to fund the way to happiness one day at a time. You are target on with exercise!!! Going into year 11 it still helps me enormously. I am retiring by mid May to do things I want and spend time with Denton. My heart goes out to you both. I encourage you both to look carefully for the blessings that come with PD as they will – they’re just harder to recognize. Please call me if you’d like to talk anytime. You are not alone. 😊 Kay Gay (will send my number if you don’t have it.)

    • Good to hear from you Kay! I’m going to send you a personal message on Facebook with my email and phone number. Jack’s symptoms are progressing much more rapidly than those of the few other people we know with Parkinson. We don’t know if this is because he has such a mix of health issues or if the deterioration is primarily Parkinson. In the end, the cause of the symptoms doesn’t matter, though it adds to the frustration. Thanks for responding to this blog. I’ll PM you right now.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s