Contarini fountain on Piazza Vecchia, Citta Alta, Bergamo city, Italy

I love languages. I teach Spanish, speak Italian, understand Catalan and read French and Portuguese fairly well. Perhaps, then, it’s not surprising that understanding Parkinson’s disease (PD)—and gaining a new understanding of my husband with PD—felt like learning yet another language.

Grammar is a language’s underlying structure, and like a student racing through lessons on verb tenses, grammatical gender and pronouns, my husband and I sought the rules and patterns for Parkinson’s. We read books, made appointments with doctors and met others who had PD. While we found some helpful, general guidelines, the unknowns seemed to outnumber the rules.

For me, loving my husband has meant learning all his languages: Italian, Bergamasco and now Parkinson’s.

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