I would characterize the first six years of living with Parkinson’s as being in a state of blissful ignorance. Actually, the first three years were more a case of living in blissful denial because I didn’t even bother to see a neurologist, believing that I didn’t have PD. But then as the symptoms progressed, I decided to get serious about it [healing myself that is], and I started doing research.
When you’re trying to tackle a serious health condition holistically, particularly one where there seems to be very little experience or documented cases of recovery and protocol, research is critical and must be done extensively. The problem however with researching is that you tend to find out things you really don’t want to know about, because they can be quite scary. Last year for instance, while researching the long list of symptoms that characterize PD I learned that one of the symptoms [which I had been experiencing] was constriction in the throat. The website I found mentioned that worst case scenario could involve feeding tubes [which scared the daylights out of me, so much so that two months ago as I felt more tightness in my throat I started experiencing major anxiety and panic, only to find out that the throat doesn’t actually constrict … the muscles in the throat lose motility, but the throat doesn’t actually close over]. Although I was greatly relieved [turns out that the tightness is mostly due to fear], this experience brought to the forefront the conundrum of researching PD.
It is extremely important to educate oneself, but to do so without terrifying yourself in turn is definitely a challenge.
How do you do it then? To begin with, remember that fear isn’t real, at least, not the fear we are dealing with here. This particular fear, in this moment, is just a thought [a thought about the future], and in that sense, it can do us no harm.
Second, take action. One of the things I learned in my research is that there is a high rate of depression and suicide amongst people experiencing PD. Depression results from a loss of hope, so it’s important to stay positive. Train yourself to stay positive through positive affirmations. Create happiness in your life. Watch movies and television shows that are joyful and uplifting. Surround yourself with optimistic people. Make goals for yourself and do something meaningful [I’m blogging about my experience and hopefully helping others]. Take action.
Third, don’t buy into the notion that there’s no cure for PD. PD can indeed be cured [there are documented cases of it]. Any disease can be cured by detoxing the body and letting go of emotional pain [particularly fear and anger] and this is the truth. It is important to believe [because it’s true] that the body is capable of healing itself. If it can heal a headache or a broken bone, then it can heal a disease.
Fourth, validate everything you learn. If you find something on one website, check other websites and speak to your neurologist. I could have saved myself a lot of agony if I had spoken to my neurologist much sooner about the tightness in my throat.
Fifth, remember this, just because it is a Parkinson’s symptom doesn’t mean it will happen to you. Everyone is affected differently and you may not experience, or be greatly affected, by a specific symptom.
Sixth, for any specific symptom, there is a holistic solution. For instance, Body Stress Relief [BSR] helps me enormously by minimizing the trembling I’m experiencing and easing the tension in my throat. And flipping a ball helps with my balance. Knowing in advance that you may experience a certain symptom eliminates any surprise and allows you to be prepared for it. It puts you in charge and this is empowering!
Next, keep your body as healthy as possible. One of the things I learned in my research is that a very high percentage of people with Parkinson’s die of pneumonia, so it’s extremely important to keep the body fit [particularly the lungs] and the immune system strong through exercise and a very healthy diet.
Finally, remember the old axiom, knowledge equals confidence. What I’ve learned in my research that I have benefited from far outweighs anything that might have frightened me. In fact, the things that have frightened me have helped me learn the truth about fear, particularly the role fear played in my developing PD in the first place. This knowledge has strengthened my confidence that I will recover from this condition. So in that sense, the conundrum was only temporary.
One other thing, educating yourself about recovering from PD needs to include your decision about taking medication. Just because your neurologist tells you to take meds doesn’t mean you have to. Make sure you understand the side effects and ask about alternatives. If your neurologist doesn’t know about any alternatives, do the research, because there are alternatives [the aforementioned BSR is a good example]. Sometimes, the side effects of medications are worse than the symptoms of the disease and I’ve been told getting off medication can be very difficult, so I think it’s really important to do your research.
Have an awesomely studious day!