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One of the difficulties I have with Parkinson’s disease is how visible it is.  There’s no getting around the fact that, when people meet me, they noticed my shaking immediately.  It helps to form their first impression of me, I believe.

 I’ve been thinking about this as I watch the presidential race.  We live in a culture where how you look is a very important factor in people’s judgment of you.  So, John McCain can’t appear too old, Hillary Clinton can’t appear too feminine, and Barak 0bama can’t appear too white or too black.  Presidential politics weren’t always like that.  Abe Lincoln was tall gawky and funny looking, William Howard Taft was obese, and John Adams had bad teeth and was bug-eyed (or at least Paul Giamatti played him that way).  Franklin Roosevelt was in a wheelchair and would never have gotten on the podium in today’s world, much less win the election four times.  But since John F. Kennedy appeared without his hat and looking young and debonair, while Richard Nixon appeared on television needing a shave, the presidential races have been influenced by appearances.

All of us are.  So, I become the guy with the beard who shakes.  I can live with the Parkinson’s, I just wish it wasn’t so visible.

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