“I didn’t want to be judged by that,” Mr. Smith, 71, explained recently in his light-filled Victorian home north of San Francisco. “Either I’m a good writer or I’m not. ‘He’s our pre-eminent Parkinson’s writer.’ Who needs that?
Novelist Martin Cruz Smith, talking to NYT reporter Pam Belluck for today’s story Martin Cruz Smith Reveals a Twist in His Tale. Belluck writes,
In 1995, he received a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. But he kept it hidden, not only from the public, but from his publisher and editors.
He concealed it, although for years, tremors and stiffness have kept him from taking detailed notes and sketching people, places and objects for his research — and even as he became unable to type the words he needed to finish his 2010 best seller “Three Stations.”…
In talking about his Parkinson’s odyssey, including a relatively new but promising treatment, Mr. Smith is opening a window on the still incurable disorder affecting four million people worldwide, a disease that is becoming increasingly prevalent as baby boomers age.
His experience reflects a common desire to conceal often-stigmatizing symptoms, like shaking, slowness, and rigidity…
Two who commented on the story got it exactly right:
Many chronic illnesses are concealed, for good reason. Despite the ADA, discrimination is rampant. I have MS, and have often kept my illness a secret, especially from employers and co-workers, until it felt safe to disclose
Much of what Mr. Smith said rang so true. Many of us with chronic illnesses do not want to be judged, either positively or negatively, as a person with ______ (fill in the blank). We want to be judged on our merits. Once you disclose your illness, it’s the prism through which everything else is judged.