Wailing, with tears flowing, I cry out, “I feel terrible! I can’t even think straight!” My partner runs over and hugs me hard. I am lost and have nothing left to give.
This is one way that “crossing the threshold” affects my life. It rarely happens — once every five years. It’s the result of things piling on top of things, the old ways of coping no longer working, and stress pushing me over the edge. It began with the ruin of a sedentary life.
It was an ongoing disaster. I had injured muscles while overdoing it in the garden. With rigid Parkinson’s, a muscle injury results in additional spasms and rigidity. Recovery time was weeks, which led to excessive time spent on my computer. I sustained an eye injury in the spring, and I’m still learning to compensate for the resulting vision loss while managing an increase in vertigo and migraines.
A medication adjustment led to further nausea, and a trial on “natural” medication caused an allergic reaction. Due to these stressors, I lost my appetite, which led to weight loss. Was it over? Not quite. I was exposed to a particularly nasty virus that hit me hard. No exercise, poor sleep, and the pressures mentioned led to the ruin of this columnist’s sedentary life.
I know that this situation is not good for me. At the same time, in an almost nonsensical way, I experience resistance to moving away from the situation. It’s easier to do things as I’ve always done them than to change. I realize that the old coping skills, like heavy exercise and gaming, were much easier before Parkinson’s, and less effective now. I experience procrastination; I know that I should take action, but I haven’t.
I am not ruling out ignorance as a cause. I thought that I knew many things about muscle injury recovery, but I had more to learn. I put myself under an unhealthy level of stress to meet what I perceived as important demands on my time. The cruel fact was that I could no longer recover from a muscle injury in the way that I used to. I recognize that I must learn a new way to heal.
I can’t find much scientific research on rigid Parkinson’s and the benefits of exercise on recovery from muscle injury. More education is needed to help those who are trying to maintain an exercise regimen.
I realize that my inattention to the changes that I’m undergoing can place additional burdens on the people around me. I am trying to change my actions and avoid feelings of frustration due to my failure to remember what I cannot do these days. My internal dialog is working with the idea of “out with the old and in with the new me.”
My well-being mantras are as follows:
- If I can’t do it as I did before, then I must put time into learning a new way.
- Vary my exercise regimen. Adjust for recovery from injuries and “off” periods.
- Remember to warm up, stretch, and prepare for any vigorous exercise.
- Keep hydrated. Use the belt attachment to carry my water bottle so that I don’t lose it or forget where it is.
- Take time to recover from any strenuous activity. It used to take a day; now, it can be two or three.
- Think about proper mechanics when carrying out tasks. I must figure out another way to cut down and move trees.
The ruin of a sedentary life was the result of many actions that exacerbated the muscle injury problem rather than contributed to healing. Old ways and familiar mantras don’t work anymore. My muscle rigidity and weakness have jumped another plateau in the progression of this chronic disease, so I must teach myself a new way to exercise. It can’t be business as usual, because the typical strategies aren’t working well anymore.
Now is the time to put the new wellness map into play — every day, with a healthy dose of self-kindness.
I’m developing an information page on exercise with Parkinson’s on my website (www.drc.life). If you would like to contribute to this topic, please let me know in the comments below.
Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.