Mary Ann is in bed now, watching television.  I am sitting at the computer on the other side of a closed door, around the corner and down the hall in my office writing this post.  What if she need’s me?  How will I know?  She needs my help to take care of basic bathroom needs.  The Parkinson’s Disease has quieted her voice.  Getting out of bed and walking out to find me is not always an option as mobility has diminished over the years. 

I can hear what is happening in the bedroom through the surprisingly powerful speaker on the baby monitor sitting just to my left on the corner desk on which the computer monitor sits.  I can disconnect it from the power cord, use the batteries, and walk outside or sit on the deck and hear her movements. 

I have a love/hate relationship with another of our communication devices – the electronic doorbell.  A number of years ago, I found an inexpensive electronic doorbell system that included two button units and the sound unit (about the size of a pager).  I bought two systems.  There is a button in each of the two upstairs bathrooms within reach of the toilet stool.  There is a button next to the bed in case I don’t hear her through the baby monitor.  There is a button on the table by the parking space for the transfer chair where she takes up residence each day.  The sound unit (only one still works) sits in a central location. 

Let me tell you why the relationship with that doorbell is a love/hate relationship.  The sound of that bell rings in my ears.   It immediately triggers that same reactive fight or flight response that helped our ancient ancestors survive.  It means I must stop what I am doing and move, hopefully, to the right button location.  The need may be an urgent trip to the bathroom or bedside commode.  The need may be to pull a cover over her, turn her in bed, turn the television off, the ceiling fan on or off, have a drink of water, Tums for her tummy, a snack.  It may be to deal with the mice or rats she often sees in the bed.  Hallucinations and vivid dreams are gifts from the Parkinson’s that journeys with us.  How can I help but hate the sound of that doorbell? 

I love that doorbell.  It is the bell that tolls freedom for me.  Were it not for that bell, I couldn’t venture to another part of the house to write a post or listen to some music or read an article or calm my spirit with a moment’s peace.  Without the bell, I would be tied to Mary Ann’s side — which, by the way, would annoy her more than me.  Without the bells, she would have no privacy, nor would I.  Without the bell she would need to be in sight every moment of every day until one or both of us cracked and crumbled. 

I think I have gotten a little dramatic about the bell.  It is just a cheap electronic doorbell.  Mary Ann doesn’t even always remember to push the button next to her — but it helps when she does.  The Parkinson’s is here to stay.  We choose not to give it the power to rule our lives.  If a cheap electronic doorbell defuses some of the Parkinson’s power to rule, so be it.

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