What is a prognosis?

The prognosis is one of the hardest things to come to terms with when diagnosed with Parkinson’s: the seemingly inevitable physical disintegration rushing towards me from my future. We rely so much on our physical control that its loss feels like a loss of ourselves. The prognosis of Parkinson’s triggered mourning for myself, not necessarily for what I’ve lost but more for what I might have had. However, there is a problem with mourning this “might”; I try to hold onto something I never held in the first place.

“What I might have had” is grounded in what I expect of my future. Usually, I measure my expectations in comparison to other people but, as Heidegger pointed out, this causes me to become lost to the crowd (or the “They”). Other people are separate to me and as such have unique experiences and instances of thrownness, including their prognoses. Therefore, mourning expectations founded in comparison to other people essentially unlike me is empty. The only entity that I can intelligibly be compared to would be a person with the same experiences and thrownness as myself; I am that person! I must be compared to myself in my current possibilities; my past possibilities have already been used up and possibilities in my future have yet to be discovered.

My current possibilities have to surrender to the limits of my thrownness, which includes Parkinson’s. Therefore, mourning what I might have had ignores my thrownness completely. Further, applying to myself a prognosis based on other people tries to cover up the blindness I have of my future possibilities. I can only compare myself to my current possibilities and judge what possibilities I am currently choosing.

Therefore, my prognosis is not part of my “now” since it is something unknown in the future.

dr jonny

Not quite Heidegger, but here is an extract from another philosopher on a related matter (Robert Burns, from 'To a mouse')

But Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!

Still thou are blest, compared wi' me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But och! I backward cast my e'e,
On prospects drear!
An' forward, tho' I canna see,
I guess an' fear!
Thanks for the Burns EF. Exactly, living in the moment is hard. Heidegger says this is because we are ahead-of-ourselves and constantly projecting possibilities onto the future. We are cursed by conscious awareness - before we knew we had PD life was easier (even though we still had PD) because we didn't have the burden of awareness of our PD. Dealing with this disease is mentally dealing with that awareness. Its hard

dr jonny

I can't quotes any famous scholars however the very important points to be made and was said to me by my
Wonderful partner when on being diagnosed not so long ago I asked if he still wanted to be with me as we have only been together 3 years and are both still quite young if mid forties is considered young these days! Well he turned to me and said I loved you before we knew you had PD and I still love you now we know, he then said "I may have cancer or dementia in the future"
The difference is you know now and we deal with whatever comes along, the rest of us may be heading for something we have no idea about just yet so in a way ignorance is bliss because PD is not just a physical thing it's the reality that we know we have it and that its only going to get worse not better I am just lucky I have someone who loves me regardless.