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Rush Limbaugh and Michael J. Fox

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Message Kevin Geary
I want to address the controversy surrounding Rush Limbaugh's comments about Michael J. Fox exaggerating his Parkinson's Disease symptoms on a political ad, and quite apart from the unspoken irony of a man who abused prescription medications criticizing someone with a genuine disease, I wanted to address the issue from a perspective of knowledge.

My late father was afflicted with Parkinson's disease at the end of his life, and fortunately, because of the late age and his slower metabolism, it did not cause the terrible problems that this disease can cause in much younger men (such as Michael J. Fox). Parkinson's disease is a terrible affliction. It is not only terrible in its effects, but the side effects of the medications taken to control it, often end up causing more problems than the disease itself. For instance, one of the side effects of one of the commonly prescribed medications can cause addiction to gambling in people who never gambled before, and/or addiction to sex or inappropriate sexual behaviors. It can also cause depression, which is alleviated by taking more of the medication! But from observing my father's condition closely, it was readily apparent that Parkinson's symptoms can vary from day to day, and even hour to hour, despite medication. In addition, excitement or aggravation can severely affect the patient's condition. For instance, if Michael J. Fox felt passionately about the issue of stem cell research and was excited about the issue whilst he was speaking, his "exaggerated movements" would become increasingly severe. Also, and this is one of the bitter ironies of this dreadful disease, when trying to control one's movements deliberately, it can have the exact opposite effect of increasing the shaking/trembling/ moving from side-to-side, thereby doing exactly the opposite of what one wanted to do.

Parkinson's disease is a terrible affliction, and for someone like Rush Limbaugh to suggest that Michael J.Fox was exaggerating his movements deliberately is not only to show how little Limbaugh obviously knows about the disease, but also to be utterly insensitive to a fellow human being. Coming from Rush Limbaugh who has had his own medical problems, this beggars belief. But perhaps it's a reflection of the insensitivity that Republicans have displayed for quite some time in the body politic. Disagreement politically is one thing; criticizing someone's uncontrollable movements that are the result of an incurable and life-shortening disease is utterly contemptible!

 

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Kevin Geary is an artist and writer. He currently resides in Sedona, AZ.
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