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Courage in the Face of Fear

my way, courage

We all fear something. Some of us fear death. Some of us fear being left alone. Others have a fear of failure. This journey we are on can be full of treks through deep, dark forests, roads full of potholes, and mountains we must climb.

When I hear the word fear, I almost always think of Psalm 23. It is one of the Bible verses kids learn early on in Sunday school. It talks about not fearing what might come: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,” I will not fear.

The shadow of death

What is “walking through the valley of the shadow of death?” I think the shadow of death is anything that casts darkness over our lives. Surgeries, chronic diseases, and heart problems can fall under the shadow of death. The list could also include a dying marriage or a wayward child. Walking in a dark valley can bring a fear to fruition, leaving us to experience undue anxiety, an agitated spirit, and feelings of desperation.

Parkinson’s disease has a way of causing us to fear. But there is a way to deflect it.

When fear immobilizes us, faith can overcome that fear and give us much-needed courage. Faith speaks to our hearts, telling us a better day is coming. Faith walks with us through the valleys, shining a light ahead so our hope does not fail. It keeps us walking when we feel like collapsing and giving up.

Hope

Fear loses its power when we take a deep breath of courage and keep moving forward, refusing to give in. Courage can stand and fight when fear breathes down its neck. Courage faces diseases and refuses to stand down.

Courage refuses to give up. Courage is a state of mind that embraces the here and now and holds out for hope. I have seen people with Parkinson’s disease embrace it with both hands, determined to make the best of it. Do they have a secret that allows them immunity over the fear of Parkinson’s or any other illness? 

No. Instead, they have chosen to ax the fear and live courageously with unrelenting hope. A hope that speaks to their spirit and gives them courage as they choose to believe that change is coming. A hope that says change is possible.

Take heart

When the fear ogre comes to tamper with your courage, know that you have a band of comrades standing (or sitting) with you on the front lines. They are ready to do battle on your behalf.

You may feel as if the load you carry is unbearable. You may wonder whether you will make it another day with the pain and stiffness, the immobility, and more. Embrace the courage within you — no matter how small it may seem — and grab hold of the hope it offers. And don’t let go.

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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.

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Hiding Behind Parkinson’s Disease

shame

We often try to hide from the world when we feel inadequate, abnormal, or different. It’s a natural defense that can be destructive when it leads to feelings of shame.

Shame is an emotion we would rather avoid. It can come upon us unexpectedly. We tend to associate it with feelings of inadequacy or a poor self-image.

Odd but true

It might seem odd to think a disease would cause you to feel shame. With Parkinson’s disease, our bodies change as they become more rigid. They become more difficult for us to manage and we must rely on help from others. The lack of independence can be humiliating and lead to feelings of shame.

Negative feelings about our appearance or our capabilities affect our expectations. When shame is present, we fear being judged harshly. You feel as if you have breached an unspoken code of conduct for what others view as acceptable behavior in public.

We put pressure on ourselves by believing you have to walk a certain way, talk a certain way, and move a certain way to be normal. For someone with Parkinson’s disease, it might be impossible to live up to the code. It is easy to fall into the trap of feeling worthless and as if we have nothing to offer just because we have Parkinson’s. We can feel small and unimportant, and we may want to disappear.

I was talking to a neighbor one day and my hand began to shake quite a bit. She asked, “What’s the matter with you? Am I making you that nervous?” The way she asked was embarrassing for me. But that was the day she found out I had Parkinson’s disease.

Take off the mask

We want to hide because of how our disease makes us feel. Others want to hide from us because of how our abnormalities make them feel. It is uncomfortable for both sides. People don’t always know how to approach someone with Parkinson’s disease. They don’t know what to say or how to respond.

Don’t be embarrassed the next time you find yourself in a situation where someone is uncomfortable because of how you walk or talk. Enlighten them about the disease. Take off the mask of fear and shame and let others see you. There’s no reason for you to be ashamed.

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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.

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Do You Live in the Shadows or the Light?

fear

The tallest sunflower I am aware of measures 30 feet, 1 inch. It was grown by Hans-Peter Schiffer and was first verified by Guinness World Records in August 2014. Schiffer now holds the record twice, winning again in 2015.

The tallest sunflower I grew was just over 22 feet. I thought that was pretty impressive!

Sunflowers are happy flowers

Sunflowers tend to bring their own kind of sunshine and happiness to life.

As my 4-year-old grandson gazed with wonder at the huge sunflower in his front yard, he said, “That sunflower sure knows how to enjoy life.” They sure know how to show off, that’s for certain.

When my children were young, I called the sunflowers in our yard the boogeymen. Our garden was right below my bedroom window, so these shadowy, majestic wonders appeared to be tall, skinny men dancing in the night. I didn’t realize these creatures actually scared my kids.

It wasn’t until a few years ago, when I grew sunflowers outside my front windows, that I understood how real their fear was. It was a beautiful moonlit night when I wandered into the living room for something and just about died of fear when I saw the shadow of a tall, skinny man walk across my living room. Fortunately, before I succumbed to a heart attack, I realized it was a shadow from the sunflowers outside that was playing havoc with my emotional state.

Now I understand

Shadows from unknown sources can cause great fear!

We recently returned from spending time with my oldest son and his family. As I was tucking my grandkids into bed, I discovered that my two grandchildren had different night light preferences. My granddaughter wanted one on, but my grandson did not.

They used a battery-operated tea light, and my grandson insisted against it, as he didn’t like the shadows that the small, flickering flame produced. I could leave him in a blackened room where he couldn’t see his hand in front of him, but there is no way he wanted that “candle” in his room.

I didn’t blame him for being scared. The large shadows it cast against the wall were unnerving, to say the least. They reminded me of the boogeymen who used to frequent our garden and dance by the light of the moon. 

It’s easy to scare ourselves

It’s easy to make things out to be bigger than they really are. We convince ourselves that boogeymen are real. We let shadows play tricks on the walls of our minds and find ourselves concentrating on the darkness instead of the light.

When we switch the light on in a room filled with darkness, we find the truth: There is nothing to fear. When we remain in the dark, we continue to feed our fears. 

Having Parkinson’s disease, it’s easy to concentrate on shadows and stay in the dark, letting the boogeyman have his way with your mind. But being scared of this disease, afraid of what may never be, isn’t the life you were meant to live.

We were meant to live like the sunflower in my grandson’s front yard. We were meant to enjoy life.

When the sun is up in the sky, shining down on the earth below, sunflowers are a beautiful thing to behold. However, when the sun disappears, they can appear as something frightful. The difference is night and day — one we allow ourselves to enjoy, while the other we tend to fear. 

When we feel the darkness closing in on us and are afraid of what we can’t see, it’s time to turn on the light and allow it to chase the darkness and shadows away. It’s only in the light that we are able to see things as they truly are and “really enjoy life.”

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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.

The post Do You Live in the Shadows or the Light? appeared first on Parkinson’s News Today.

In the Battle Against Parkinson’s Disease, Are You a Warrior or a Worrier?

warrior

A warrior is not a worrier. A worrier has no peace, is filled with anxiety, and frets over the smallest things. Worriers tend to be lacking in courage and a calm spirit. 

Warriors exude courage. They are brave in the midst of the battle. They are fighters determined to not merely survive but to thrive. Warriors choose to march forward despite the war raging around them.

Parkinson’s warriors have been to the battleground many times. 

They have fought grief over losing pieces of themselves to this disease. 

They have battled depression and struggled for their mental well-being. 

Fear is no stranger in their war, but they muster up the courage to overcome it. 

The enemy of control has gathered its forces against their muscles and nerves, causing them to flail about, become weak, and tremble. They do their best to take charge, using the weapons available: physical therapy, medications, exercising, deep brain stimulation, and more.

The skill with which they once used their fingers to write or paint, garden or fix things, and button and zip their clothes is vanishing, and they realize they may not recover their dexterity.

But they must carry on.

I must not allow this disease to steal my hope that drives me to carry on in the midst of pain and grief. And you mustn’t either. Hope allows us to put one foot in front of the other regardless of our fear of falling — it may even put a cane into our hands. It allows us to focus on the positive things that might be and those that could be. It wears blinders to block out fear and prevent it from taking our joy and peace.

We must not allow it to diminish our courage. 

Our battle is tough, and we may feel that we’re fighting this disease alone. Parkinson’s can leave you feeling isolated, which makes it more difficult to fight.

That’s why it is so important to go out and get involved in the Parkinson’s community. Join an exercise class for those with Parkinson’s. You will meet new people and feel better mentally and physically. Support groups online or in-person will help you to feel connected and provide you with a safe place to share your experiences. 

If you feel like you’re fighting a battle with Parkinson’s and could use some reinforcements, let me know. You can never have too many soldiers around you. We’re not supposed to fight this disease alone. I’ll be with you on the battlefield.

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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.

The post In the Battle Against Parkinson’s Disease, Are You a Warrior or a Worrier? appeared first on Parkinson’s News Today.

I Have Parkinson’s, and Life Is Still Beautiful

mammogram

Sherri Journeying Through

 

“Life is beautiful.” “The best is yet to come.” Two small plaques inscribed with these words of wisdom stared back at me as I sat in a cubicle waiting for the technician to come and get me. I was booked to have a mammogram and an ultrasound. As if having Parkinson’s disease wasn’t enough, I was being tested for “concerning tissue,” as my doctor called it.

Life is beautiful, but sometimes a gray cloud casts its dark shadow over us, causing us to fear. “The best is yet to come,” beautifully scrawled on a sign, may soothe us temporarily until we are facing the possibility of a new and troubling diagnosis. In that case, these words may seem like mocking whispers in the background noise of our minds. What we hope for may not come to pass, and fear, if it hasn’t already done so, soon takes over.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

One thing we all have in common is fear. But in times of uncertainty, some of us fall short of hope. We can jump to conclusions about what our future may look like while we await our test results. Our minds run rampant and we have our funeral service mapped out before we even receive the findings due to our tendency to fear what may not exist.

Drawing on fear when facing an ambiguous situation can be easier than relying on hope because it is natural to fear the unknown. Hope is an attitude of optimism that believes good things are possible. It comes from within.

To hope is to believe the best is yet to come, no matter what the diagnosis or prognosis.

And so I sat there in that cubicle waiting, and then it was time. I followed the technician into the mammogram room, my “cape” blowing behind me. The machine trampled over my breasts like a Mack truck slowly rolling over a rubber ball. Next stop was the ultrasound room. After that, I returned to my cubicle, where life is beautiful and the best is yet to come. 

And the best did come. There was nothing abnormal to report, and the radiologist didn’t see anything to be concerned about. I could go.

I only had Parkinson’s and the need to get my hands on a tire pump. No cancer.

Life is beautiful.

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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.

The post I Have Parkinson’s, and Life Is Still Beautiful appeared first on Parkinson’s News Today.

The ABCs of Parkinson’s: ‘F’ Is for ‘Fear’

fear

Sherri Journeying Through

Editor’s note: A continuation of the “ABCs of Parkinson’s” series.

“You have Parkinson’s disease.”

“What exactly does that mean?” I asked.

While I waited for a response to my question, my thoughts covered a multitude of fears in a minimal amount of time. I sat and listened to my doctor’s explanation, which began sounding like background noise. I answered no to the question of whether I had any questions, when in fact I had multitudes but didn’t want to hear the answers for fear of what they might be. I was loaded with a sample starter of Mirapex (pramipexole) and something else I can’t remember for lack of paying attention. Then, I said thank you, scheduled the next visit, and left. 

“It’s gonna be OK,” my husband tried reassuring me later at home. But, how did he know what OK looked like and if I was going to like the picture?

I know as well as the next person that fears are normal. They can be both healthy and destructive. I know fear is common among people with Parkinson’s disease. As I began learning more about PD and acquiring information about the disease, I saw that fear was not only a real part of Parkinson’s but something that was rarely ever mentioned, let alone discussed. Were we supposed to be brave on the outside while we were shaking like crazy on the inside?

I had a professor in college who said it’s not that we fear the dark but that we fear the things we cannot see in the dark. I suppose you could then say — as a person with a chronic disease — that we often find it easy to “live in the dark,” as this disease manifests itself with things we can’t see. Things we didn’t know would be coming. We aren’t so much afraid of Parkinson’s disease or having it. It is safer to say that we fear what Parkinson’s could, can, and will do to us. 

My edition of Merriam-Webster defines fear as “a reason for dread … taking the form of terror, horror, panic, alarm, dismay, consternation, and trepidation.” Yep. I’d say those terms fit. 

Fear can be my greatest enemy in this journey with Parkinson’s disease. It can cause anxiety at every level. Honestly, dread, terror, panic, dismay, and consternation have all had their heyday with my mind when it comes to this disease.

At times in my life, I have felt powerless because of this disease. I have experienced moments of terror when an intense, overpowering fear has swept over me and consumed my thoughts with the what ifs. Panic has seized me in the most unexpected moments: seeing a person in a wheelchair, a woman who shuffles into the store in front of me, an older man who drops his coffee mug because his hand is shaking. There are reminders all around that cause me to panic and be reminded that this could be me in five months, or two years, or six days, or …

I have been dismayed and at times have lacked the courage and the power to fight this monster. I have felt paralyzed by the confusion of what to do next, helpless in this new battle I was chosen for, and afraid that I may not know how to fight well, or may not have the necessary weapons.

What do you do with that feeling of helplessness and dread? What do you do when panic consumes your life and leaves you exhausted and powerless?

I can’t accomplish much of anything when I’m feeling overwhelmed, and my mind is confused and cluttered. Eventually in my struggle, I remember and believe that the God who made me will not allow this trial to consume me, nor will He leave me defenseless to fight it alone. Some say that religion or God is for those who are weak. You can call me weak.

There is comfort in knowing that I don’t face the battles of this disease alone. The unknowns. The what ifs. If I truly believe what I write, then I can step out and do what often seems impossible to do in the darkest valleys: face my fears. What makes that possible is faith. And it is faith that gives us hope.

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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.

The post The ABCs of Parkinson’s: ‘F’ Is for ‘Fear’ appeared first on Parkinson’s News Today.

Source: Parkinson's News Today

Combating the Fear of Parkinson’s Disease

fear

Sherri Journeying Through

There is an acrostic I have seen for “fear”:

False
Evidence
Appearing
Real

I am sure the author of that acrostic meant well, and while there is some validity to it, it is not completely accurate. Ask anyone who is dealing with any kind of illness. Speak to an elderly person who knows they only have days, maybe weeks left to live. A mother who is waiting to see if the test results of the baby she carries are accurate. The father who just lost his young wife and must now raise his three young children on his own. Or the single mother who has just lost her job.

These people’s fears don’t just appear real. They are real. Those who live with a chronic illness deal with fear daily. A chronic disease robs you of the joy in your journey, the delight in your day. It steals your contentment and calm, replaces wonder with worry. So what do you do when the worry ogre comes to call? When fear capsizes its ship in your harbor and leaves you to deal with the wreckage? How do you handle the kind of fear that does that?

In his book, “Fearless,” Max Lucado examines fears relating to finances, children, violence, and more. However, he doesn’t address the fears of living with a chronic illness. Yet, tackling the fear of unemployment, our children’s safety, violence, chronic illness, etc., are all dealt with in the same way.

Fear is a feeling or emotion about a perceived threat, either real or imagined. It’s the condition of being afraid. It is having a feeling of dread and hopelessness. It is assuming something terrible is going to come out of a given situation. Having Parkinson’s disease can make you feel like that: afraid, threatened, hopeless.

We fear losing our ability to talk coherently. To sing or dance. To write, read, paint, draw. We fear losing the ability to hold our children or grandchildren, to hug our spouse. We fear having to depend on others for help with everyday tasks. We fear there will be no cure. We fear we will be left to die with this cruel disease instead of the more abstract fear of being hit by an unmanned, runaway ice cream truck.

Fear implies a sense of anxiety and a loss of courage. With fear, there is an intense reluctance to face or meet a specific situation such as Parkinson’s disease. There is an aversion to fear, and rightly so.

One thing I don’t want to be in this battle against Parkinson’s disease is a coward, but it’s certainly easy to let the fears take control and to think about the “what ifs.” This is when I step back and ask myself where my faith lies.

A friend, Ardyce Glessing, shared the following in a Facebook group: “I too have fears of not being able to look after myself and be dependent on my family for everything. I am used to taking care of everyone else and I wish it could stay that way. Somedays I do pretty good and try to carry on and think positive, but at times I just break down and cry from, I guess, a fear of the unknown. Eventually, I get over it and carry on with the rest of my day. I can honestly say it’s always in the back of my mind though. My family is supportive, but I don’t like to continually complain about my problems so just usually say ‘I’m doing good”. Every day I pray for a cure or a medication that stops the progression of PD.”

A recurring theme in facing and combatting fears seems to be having a positive attitude. Although this may seem basic, it’s often hard to muster up courage when you’re facing your little monster every day. I like Ardyce’s fear-buster tip: “Have a good cry.”

There is a legitimate fear in not knowing what the future holds, but thankfully, I believe God holds the future. So, while we can have a good cry now and then, we can also remember God still remains in control, even though all around us it seems life is unraveling.

I think we all have fears, but we seldom talk about those fears. I find myself moving onto other things to distract myself from harmful thoughts that may never amount to anything.

And again, Ardyce is spot on: Sometimes we just need a good cry to wash those fears away.

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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.

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Source: Parkinson's News Today