I’m not going to lie to you, living with Parkinson’s is a challenge. But I feel very fortunate, because by comparison, almost ten years into this experience, I’m doing very well. I’m particularly grateful that I don’t have clinical depression which is a common symptom.
For the most part, my life is unchanged … although I did have to sell my motorcycle. I’m able to live independently, walk unaided and deal with an acceptable amount of trembling. I can eat anything I want (I just have to chew it really well … which is better for you any way) and I am able to teach martial arts (although I sometimes wonder if the parents think I’m drunk, the way I sway around and lean … aka, stagger … forward). I’m also able to fish and play golf, although my golf game sucks at the moment (I suspect this has nothing to do with Parkinson’s).
I do have difficulty standing (without losing my balance), swallowing and doing anything with my left hand (especially typing and playing the guitar), I’m also much slower at everything I do, sleepy all the time and I feel anxiety in situations where I never used to. But at least I understand it, so I can take the necessary steps to mitigate the severity.
Quite frankly the biggest challenge I’ve faced so far was flossing my teeth (because of the loss of dexterity in my left hand), so I switched to floss sticks ,,, problem solved.
I don’t know why I developed Parkinson’s both from the perspective of what caused it (to be covered in a future blog) and why this challenge is part of my journey (I think we’re all meant to face some sort of adversity), but I figure the best three weapons I have for overcoming it are:
- Live in the present moment
As concentration camp survivor and author of Man’s Search For Meaning, Victor Frankl said, “We don’t always get to choose our experiences, but we get to choose our attitude towards those experiences.” Attitude is everything and my attitude first and foremost is that I am ‘experiencing a condition,’ I am not ‘suffering from a disease.’ I don’t want to feel like a victim, nor do I want to judge this condition. I also never refer to it as ‘my Parkinson’s,’ because it’s certainly not something for which I wish to claim ownership. It’s not me. It’s just something I am experiencing.
I believe the human body is capable of recovering from any illness or trauma. After all, we recover from colds and flu, and cuts heal eventually. And even though we haven’t figured out how to cure Parkinson’s, despite 200 years of experience, I figure it’s because the research has focused on the effects (neutralizing the symptoms), not the cause. So I’m feeling very optimistic.
For the first five years, I have to admit, I didn’t take Parkinson’s very seriously, despite having two very high profile people (Muhammad Ali and Michael J Fox) serving as examples of how debilitating this condition can get. At first I didn’t believe I had Parkinson’s and then after the diagnosis I just figured I’d heal it and that would be it. Now I’m taking it very seriously and I’m learning everything I can. The more I know, the better chance I have of achieving success. The challenge is, that very little is known about what causes Parkinson’s and what natural treatments work (because almost everyone opts for medication … and who can blame them). So I’m having to figure it out for myself. None the less, I am confident that there is a solution and knowledge will help me find it.
If you stop and think about the future, having a progressive degenerative condition can be very daunting, if not down right scary. So it’s important to stay present. As I wrote in an earlier blog, living in the present moment is an important part of the healing process! It keeps me in a happy state of mind which helps strengthen my immune system and keep my body in an alkaline state.
At the end of the day, I am encouraged by what the neurologist said at the conclusion of my last visit. He told me I’m doing very well for being ten years into this without being on medication. That truly is awesome!
Have an awesomely optimistic day!