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With Parkinson’s, the Good Is Worth the Fight

grit

In her latest column at Parkinson’s News Today, Jean Mellano shares a frightening experience she had several years ago while cycling in Spain. “The memory of that trip plays in my mind as I fight my new battle against another formidable adversary,” she writes. “Just when I think I am making headway against this beast called Parkinson’s, it rears its ugly head with a renewed fury.”

Isn’t that just like the Parkinson’s beast? Much like what Jean describes, it can come head-on, offering no grace. For some, it gives a reprieve and hides for a time. That’s rare, but it’s been known to happen.

Be in it to win it

Jean says she is a survivor. After reading some of what she has been through, I am inclined to agree. She is someone who has continued to press on despite her circumstances.

In “The Lord of the Rings,” Sam tells Frodo (after somewhat of a lengthy speech), “Folk in those stories [of hardship] had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something. … That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo, … and it’s worth fighting for.”

How do you keep going while living with Parkinson’s disease? You believe the good is worth the fight. It is worth cinching your belt and preparing for a battle for hope. It is worth pulling up your boot straps, sharpening your sword, polishing your shield, and setting your helmet securely upon your head.

It is time to do battle with the beast. Be in it to win it.

With Parkinson’s, you must be ready for the blows it will throw at you. Be intentional. You need to be ready to strike back.

How to keep pressing on

  • Get up and exercise: Parkinson’s will try to keep you in your recliner. Pull tight on those boot straps and move! Even if it’s walking around your house two times a day, something is better than nothing.
  • Take care of yourself mentally: Don’t let Parkinson’s steal your joy. Focus on what makes you happy.
  • Spend time wisely: Parkinson’s will compete for your energy. Decide in advance how you will handle your “down” time. Don’t waste the time given to you.
  • Fill your mind with truth: Parkinson’s will mess with your head, so keep that helmet snug. Play brain games. Listen to encouraging music.

I call Parkinson’s the “little monster.” It is out to destroy us, but we can’t give up and we can’t give in. We don’t have to be alone in this battle. We are in this together.

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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 With Parkinson’s, the Good Is Worth the Fight appeared first on Parkinson’s News Today.

How Our Disease Keeps Pecking Away

Sherri Journeying Through

Jean Mellano, a fellow contributor at Parkinson’s News Today, recently wrote a column about how this disease keeps taking bits and pieces of us — our abilities, our control of self — and leaves less and less of us day by day.

In a reply to a comment I left about her column, Jean said: “I do find it a huge challenge that everyone thinks I am fine, but they have no idea how much this disease chips away at us.” 

For some reason, a woodpecker came to mind. 

I have several bird feeders in my backyard, one of which attracts the downy woodpecker, the acorn woodpecker, and the northern flicker.

One of the acorn woodpeckers was also attracted to my neighbor’s tool shed and spent a good amount of time there last summer doing a lot of damage to the siding. The damage didn’t all happen in a day. It took several weeks. It wasn’t noticeable for a while, but when I finally figured out where the constant “hammering” was coming from, the damage was quite obvious. 

The chipping away happens little by little. 

At first, it isn’t too obvious. But before you know it, it almost looks as if a dog has been gnawing on the wood. Just outside my back fence stands a telephone pole. Although, with the lack of telephones today, these tall, cylinder poles are most likely referred to as utility poles. The woodpeckers aren’t picky as to whether we call them utility or telephone poles. They just enjoy drilling holes into them. This particular pole has hundreds of holes stuffed with acorns all the way to the top. Those woodpeckers just keep pecking away at those poles, and they’ll keep at it until the utility company has to replace them.

Little by little, day by day, the Parkinson’s woodpecker pecks at us, wearing us down in many different ways. It can take our smiles, our voices, and our balance. It takes our independence. It renders us feeling useless and without purpose, feeling as if our lives no longer have meaning.

But is that who we are — people with a disease, therefore without purpose or meaning? No.

Acorn woodpeckers. (Photo by Sherri Woodbridge)

As long as we have breath, we have a purpose.

As long as we can at least smile, our life has meaning. How often has a stranger offered you a smile and it changed your entire day?

You might say that you can’t smile because you have a stone or masked face. I challenge you that yes, you can smile. I have the same symptom (masked-stone face), but I pray for my smile to show through and I intentionally practice smiling throughout the day. 

As long as you can breathe, you can smile, even if it’s forced. And as long as you can smile, you can change someone’s day for the better. If you can do that, your life has purpose and meaning, no matter how much this disease keeps pecking away at you.

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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 How Our Disease Keeps Pecking Away appeared first on Parkinson’s News Today.

An Introduction to ‘Slow Is the New Fast’: How Did I Get Here?

column, perspective, shared advice

I am not a writer.

A little history

In 2010, I retired from a 37-year career in the information technology industry. For many years, I relied on the analytical side of my brain. While in retirement, I decided the time was right to exercise the more visual and perceptual side of my brain. Graphic design was a natural next step for me, so I began to do the creative work for the event business of my life partner, Steve.

Graphic design seemed to make sense, but I never envisioned myself as a creative writer after I retired from my computer career. My writing experience primarily consisted of developing contractual documents related to phone-system deployments.

A turning point

When Steve took his own life on March 15, 2015, my world changed dramatically. We were together for over 33 years. I took solace in writing about Steve and found purpose in trying to bring more awareness to suicide by telling Steve’s story.

About six months before Steve took his own life, he was suffering from a panic attack in our living room. Seeing someone you love in such a state is devastating. I remember helplessly dropping to the floor while my body was wracked with sobs. Steve was in so much mental pain and our relationship and “fairy tale” life was falling apart. I clearly remember feeling something “snap” in the back of my head. It was not pain, but I recalled thinking to myself that this was an ominous occurrence that would impact my long-term health. I did not think about that moment again until I received my PD diagnosis seven months after Steve died. More than one neurologist has told me emotional trauma I suffered before and after Steve passed might have triggered the onset of my PD.

Why do I write?

While blogging about suicide and grieving, I have been encouraged by many to continue writing. Comments left on my blogs indicated that many no longer feel alone in what they felt after they have read my stories.

Now that I have PD, I hope to be a voice for people afflicted with this disease. One of my other goals will be to help others better understand what one who has the illness struggles with on a daily basis. While I will continue to write about Steve and suicide-related topics, I will now also share my PD journey in this column.

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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 An Introduction to ‘Slow Is the New Fast’: How Did I Get Here? appeared first on Parkinson’s News Today.

Source: Parkinson's News Today