Harnessing the power of creative writing
March 2022 Good News
Harold Macy is no stranger to challenges. The retired 75-year-old forester has called rural Comox Valley home for the past 40 years, a place where he and his loving partner, Judy, raised three children, built their own house in the family's 800-acre forest, and grew most of their food.
When reflecting on his life, Harold says that he always felt in the driver's seat, able to choose his own path while learning from mistakes and opportunities. However, that all began to change when he started noticing peculiar symptoms during physiotherapy sessions after a spinal reconstruction surgery in 2015. Several professional opinions later confirmed the symptoms to be that of Parkinson's disease (PD). The diagnosis put a screeching halt to who he thought he was. "I have had to learn some very hard lessons," Harold says.
Presently, Harold experiences numerous Parkinson's symptoms daily, such as mobility and balance challenges, sleep disturbances, and fatigue. "Often it feels like I face a long hallway of doors, some open, some closed," he says of the frustrations caused by PD. "When I reach for the doorknob, it disappears and the door remains shut and locked."
Despite the obstacles presented by Parkinson's, Harold is immensely grateful for all the good in his life, such as his family, faith, and land. Harold has sought solace from the challenges of life with PD through creative writing, which he feels is a great exercise in cognition. "Keeping plot, character, setting, and dialogue consistent is a juggling act," he says. "In fiction, story allows me to escape PD, even though, like a pebble in my boot, it is never completely distant." His recent short story, The Beast Within, is a nonfictional account of his experiences with PD, adorned with fictional details to make it more interesting. The act of personifying his Parkinson's has allowed Harold to compartmentalize the disease, and has improved his ability to cope. He is presently writing a new book, entirely about his life with Parkinson's.
To learn more about Harold and his writing, please see his website www.haroldmacy.ca. To read Harold's short story, The Beast Within, please visit our website at www.parkinson.bc.ca/the-beast-within-story.