Ignorance vs. Grace: How Do We Deal with People Who Disappoint?

Journeying Through Parkinson's

I have Parkinson’s disease, but unless you have a good eye and a good listening ear, most days you won’t notice. On most days, my symptoms are internal. Occasionally, such as when I have forgotten to take my medications, I will have breakthrough tremors. And when my deep brain stimulation needs adjusting, I may present other external symptoms. Unless you know I have Parkinson’s, you may not understand the significance of these symptoms.

To some people, it doesn’t matter what I have.

Two nights ago, I broke my little toe. It always amazes me how much pain can be associated with something so small, such as a tiny splinter in your finger or a grain of sand in your eye. Careless words spoken in ignorance are painful, too. We’ve all said them (at least in our head) and heard them spoken to us at some point in our lives.

Yesterday, I went to Costco to pick up my prescription from the pharmacy.

I wasn’t quite “on,” having run out of one of my prescriptions the previous day. I walked to the back of the store, paid for my medication, then headed to the exit. As I was walking toward the door (not very fast, given the pain in my foot), I heard a woman’s voice behind me comment rather loudly, “If this woman would ever get out of the way, we might actually get out the door.” 

I wasn’t trying to go slow. I wasn’t trying to be an annoyance in her day. However, between dealing with my “on time” turning into an “off time” and my foot throbbing, I wasn’t capable of hurrying. 

It wasn’t until I had gone through the door — not at a snail’s pace, but not feeling as though I was in a race — that the guy who was with the snooty woman decided to be snooty, as well.

“People like that shouldn’t be in places like this,” he said. “They just take up space and make it miserable for the rest of us who have things to do.”


After gaining his coveted lead to get to his car, he glanced back at me and shook his head. He also continued his rant so that I could hear him. 

Shaking the head expresses shame. It represents disappointment and failure. At that moment, I felt it all.

I’ve made ignorant remarks. I’ve even shaken my head at someone for not measuring up to my standards.

Shame on me. 

We all need a refresher course in grace, a reminder that things are not always what they seem. Sometimes, we can’t see the underlying condition that causes the person in front of us in the checkout line to go so slower than we would like. Sometimes, we can’t see what is keeping them back from being able to run through the exit at Costco: a broken toe, Parkinson’s disease, a splinter.

Grace has been extended to us at times so that we can, in turn, extend it to others, and I would rather hand out grace than ignorance anytime.


Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

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