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It’s Important to Avoid Dehydration with Parkinson’s

answers

The other day I did something stupid. Really stupid. 

I love to putter in my garden on beautiful days. Only on this beautiful day, I crossed the line. My puttering turned into work, and before long, I was sweating bullets — shotgun-sized bullets on a 98-degree day.

Yet, I kept going. 

I kept going because I didn’t have the good sense to step back, sit down, take a rest in the shade, and get a drink. Like the Energizer Bunny, I just kept going and going and going. If my neighbor hadn’t come outside and reprimanded me (in a kind and concerned way), I’m honestly not sure what would have happened. I noticed while talking to her that I was stumbling around, slurring my words pretty badly, and sweating cats and dogs.

I promised her I would go inside and get some water and cool down. And I did. But I had pushed the boundaries a bit too far. 

During my last visit to the neurologist, my Medtronic rep for deep brain stimulation was talking to me, coincidentally, about how important it is to stay hydrated with a disease like Parkinson’s. He said the body is made up of approximately 60 percent water, and the brain 75 percent. For the brain to be healthy, it needs water. Lots and lots of water.

That day in my garden, I was starving my brain of what keeps it running at peak performance: water.

Water is important for all body functions.

The health advocates at That Sugar Movement note that, “Water is required by every cell in the body and important for all body functions. It helps transport oxygen and nutrients critical to the brain for optimal function, whilst providing cushioning and lubrication to the brain tissue. … So, staying hydrated is one critical factor for supporting the brain.”

Dehydration also can make you tired, mess with your cognitive abilities, lower your blood pressure, and force the brain to work even harder than a hydrated brain to do the exact same thing.

It took me over two days to bounce back from that episode, and it scared me enough to hopefully never repeat it again. With Parkinson’s disease, we’re dealing with major brain issues already. Adding self-inflicted dehydration to the mix is just plain stupid.

Take it from me. Learn from my mistake and go have a nice cold glass of water.

***

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 It’s Important to Avoid Dehydration with Parkinson’s appeared first on Parkinson’s News Today.

Balance Issues Are Inevitable with Parkinson’s Disease

balance

Years ago, Harrison Ford played the role of Henry Turner, the main character in the movie “Regarding Henry.”

Henry’s entire world shifts when he is shot in the head during a robbery at the convenience store where he was buying cigarettes. The nearly fatal injury puts him into cardiac arrest and he ends up with brain damage, specifically retrograde amnesia.

It takes several months for Henry to recover. When he is finally released from the hospital, he is not the man he used to be — an arrogant playboy who steps on others to get what he wants. The Henry from before was unfaithful to his wife, and his daughter was afraid of him. Henry post-injury is almost childlike, and upon learning who he was before the accident, tries to right some of his wrongs.

In the first few days home, Henry is sitting at the table with his daughter eating breakfast when she accidentally spills her milk on the kitchen table. Fear seizes her as she awaits Henry’s reaction. He sees the fear in her eyes, and to put her at ease, says, “It’s OK. I do that all the time.” He then tips over his glass of milk as well.

A few months ago, I read about a woman who had Parkinson’s disease (PD). She, like so many of us, was frequently dropping things, including her meals, which made her feel humiliated and embarrassed. Unfortunately, that’s what PD does. It gives you plenty of opportunities to be humiliated and embarrassed, always when you least expect it. But what we need to do is learn to go easy on ourselves. It’s not like we are doing these things on purpose.

The fact is that we all spill things, Parkinson’s or not. We all lose our balance and drop things or fall to the ground. Having PD just makes the opportunities more probable. We need to recognize that spills and falls are going to happen sooner or later, and we should try to be ready for it.

Here’s what you will need:

  • A cane or a walker
  • A helmet
  • Knee pads
  • Body armor
  • Elbow pads
  • Shin guards
  • Safety goggles
  • Leather gloves
  • Steel-toe boots
  • Brawny paper towels for those tough spills
  • Medic alert device to alert people that you have fallen and can’t get up
  • A sense of humor

A dog to lick up those spills wouldn’t be bad, either. Just decide that you are going to turn that 5-second rule into 20 — as we all know, things take just a little bit longer to do with PD!

***

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 Balance Issues Are Inevitable with Parkinson’s Disease appeared first on Parkinson’s News Today.

Is What You Eat Making You Stink?

balance

If you’ve had Parkinson’s disease for any amount of time, you’ve most likely heard that one of the symptoms is a loss of the sense of smell. You may have experienced it yourself.

I pondered this reality one day and became concerned. I wasn’t bothered so much by being unable to smell skunks or detect a foul odor upon entering recently vacated restrooms. I actually consider those loss-of-smell experiences a blessing.

What concerned me was if I smell stinky to others but can’t smell myself, and therefore can’t remedy the situation.

This concern led me to look into foods that are known to make you stink.

Everyone has heard the little ditty, “Beans, beans, the magical fruit. The more you eat … .” Ah, now you remember. It’s just a fact that you don’t need to be told: Beans give you gas. The resulting emissions can rate from minimal to extreme on the odor scale. 

But what are some other foods that can cause you to produce unbecoming body odor that you may not detect because of your loss of smell due to Parkinson’s?

Garlic and onions are popular BO culprits, but did you know that beets can cause your skin to give off a fishy odor?

Cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and others) can create quite a melody of flatulence, but there are great reasons to eat these veggies. Kristen Smith, of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, told Health magazine that these foods “have a lot of fiber and contain plenty of beta-carotene along with vitamins C, E, and K as well as folate. In addition to being good for general health, there’s some evidence they may also help prevent certain types of cancer.”

Did you know that caffeine naturally stimulates your central nervous system, thereby causing the sweat glands to become active? And because coffee is also highly acidic, it dries out your mouth right away. People with Parkinson’s may already struggle with dry mouth issues. Bacteria can grow in a dry mouth, leading to bad breath.

Although lentils are on the really-good-for-you list, they tend to cause a pretty smelly atmosphere. This high-fiber food increases the gut bacteria — something found to be extremely important for people with Parkinson’s — but it can also cause some intensive bloating and gas. 

Some other foods that tend to make you “odorous” are red meat, spicy foods, and soy. 

Our bodies all react differently to foods. What makes one person painfully gassy may have little or no effect on someone else. If you’ve been struggling lately with odor or flatulence, you may want to examine your food choices and see if there is something that is not agreeing with you. 

Also, ask a loved one to tell you if they notice a bad odor emanating from you. If you’ve lost some sense of smell, you might not be aware of it. 

***

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 Is What You Eat Making You Stink? appeared first on Parkinson’s News Today.

Are You Prepared for a Disaster? Here Are Some Tips

disaster

Can you believe that August is already here and ticking away even as I click the keyboard keys?

Yes, Christmas is just around the corner (although that is not what I was going to say, even if Hobby Lobby already has their shelves filled to the brim with greens and reds and golds). And that means September is less than a month away, toting National Preparedness Month (NPM) with it!

When I think of NPM, I am taken back to the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989, the day I thought the world was ending. That earthquake rocked the Santa Cruz mountains and beyond. It shook my parents’ house right off its foundation. At a magnitude of 6.9, it was the “big one” that left hundreds homeless, thousands terrified, and innumerable unprepared.

How do you prepare for a disaster? 

I recently read an article about a man with Parkinson’s disease who had a delayed flight and didn’t have any surplus medication with him. The airline staff was no help. He could have prepared by carrying a spare supply (or two, three, or four days’ worth) of medication with him at all times.

I started doing this a while ago, as you just don’t know what might happen. Doing this has saved me countless times from experiencing an unplanned “off” time. Or worse.

Why do we put it off? 

The old adage “It will never happen to me” comes to mind when asking that question. But the truth is that disasters, like a Parkinson’s diagnosis, can happen to anyone at any time, no matter their age, time zone, or bathroom decor. 

Shortly after the earthquake, my in-laws invested in a good-sized duffel bag. This was to be their “grab-and-go” bag. They kept it in the closet next to the front door. It was ready to grab and go if they had to get out of the house in a hurry.

Experience had shown them what it meant to confront a disaster head-on. They had lost their home to a fire several years before, and although they didn’t lose their house in the Loma Prieta quake, they weren’t wasting time preparing for another disaster.

When it comes time to discuss your disaster plan with loved ones (now!), make sure to designate a meeting place should the need to evacuate arise. Just as you should update the supplies in your bag, you also should occasionally update your meeting place to ensure it still works for everyone involved.

What should you include in your bag?

If you are at home when disaster strikes, you will be ready to head out the door with your emergency duffel bag. However, if you are at work or elsewhere, having a mini bag is recommended, such as a backpack or a small duffle bag that you can store in your car. 

Everyone’s bag will differ slightly, but to get you started, following are suggestions of what to include in your mini grab-and-go:

  • Copies of your license, Social Security card, medical information (doctors, medications, insurance info, medical hardware charger and info, emergency contact info, allergies, etc.), all sealed in a waterproof bag.
  • Medication for two to five days.
  • Cash (in smaller bills).
  • Small flashlight and spare batteries.
  • Multipurpose tool.
  • First-aid kit.
  • Bottled water.
  • Small snacks. 
  • Comfortable shoes and a lightweight jacket.

Large duffel grab-and-go suggestions:

  • Duplicate contents of the waterproof bag listed above.
  • Cash (again, smaller bills).
  • First-aid kit.
  • Extra medication.
  • Toilet paper.
  • Personal wipes and antibacterial soap.
  • Multipurpose tool.
  • Flashlight and spare batteries.
  • Water, freeze-dried meals, dried fruit, and nuts.

The list can go on and on, and you can find more suggestions on what to include at the government’s build-a-kit site.

Assembling a preparedness kit will give you some peace of mind should a disaster occur. At the very least, it should help to prepare you.

***

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 Are You Prepared for a Disaster? Here Are Some Tips appeared first on Parkinson’s News Today.

Frustrated and Angry? It’s Not People, It’s Parkinson’s

angry

I get angry if he does and frustrated when he doesn’t. “He” is my husband.

I am getting rather self-conscious about going out in public. Sometimes, I feel like people who don’t know me perceive me as being a little drunk because I’m off balance when I walk. 

Other times, I feel people view me as ignorant because I’m unable to finish some of my sentences or I lose my train of thought. That’s where he — my husband — comes into play. When we are out in public, I sometimes get angry when he finishes my sentences for me, and at other times, I get frustrated when he doesn’t.

He can’t read my mind, so he won’t always know when I want him to step up and help me out or when I want him to let me communicate on my own. 

The other day, someone asked me an important question. I got so flustered over my response that I stewed over it for two days.

When I saw the person again, my husband was there. I posed the question to him so she could get a clearer, more logical answer. Then I stewed over whether I should have done that. Just as I had anticipated, however, he answered it with knowledge, wisdom, logic, and clarity. I find that harder to do at times with this scatterbrained kind of disease, and it makes me want to cry.

I have never considered myself a genius, but I have never thought I was stupid, either — until now.

I feel that’s how others perceive me, probably because I tend to view myself that way nowadays.

For example, when I am out for a walk with my neighbor and I am sharing something with her, poof! Just like that, the thought is gone. Or my words feel jumbled and sticky. Or I trip over the silliest things, like my own two feet, and I end up breaking my toe.  

Yes, that was a recent occurrence. 

In my own home. 

In front of all my grandchildren. 

It’s frustrating, and I do grieve the things I’ve lost to this disease — not just speech and balance, but all the things that were mine to use and refine and are now gone or on their way out.  

With all that said, I try to treasure what is still here and make the most of it because I know it could be much, much worse. I also know that if I want to finish my own sentences and feel I am not always given that opportunity, I should actually be grateful there is someone who cares enough to not leave me standing and looking foolish. All I have to do is look at him with “Help” written in my expression, and he comes to my rescue. My hero.

I get angry and frustrated sometimes. I have to remember that Parkinson’s is the cause, not people.

***

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 Frustrated and Angry? It’s Not People, It’s Parkinson’s appeared first on Parkinson’s News Today.

Panic Attacks Can Go Hand-in-Hand with Parkinson’s Disease

panic attacks

Twice in the past month I have had what I am calling panic (anxiety) attacks, which are something I had never experienced before. I had shortness of breath and my heart was beating much faster than normal. Since the only activity I was involved in at the time was trying to go to sleep, it concerned me. It scared me enough that I told my husband about it the following day.

I consulted Dr. Google and here’s what I found:

A study showed that panic attacks in Parkinson’s disease could possibly be a long-term complication of levodopa therapy. The keyword here is “possibly,” which isn’t definitive enough for me, plus the study is from 1993. I skipped that one and continued my search.

Dr. Google led me to the Parkinson’s Foundation, which stated, “Anxiety is a common non-motor symptom of PD. It is important to note that anxiety is not simply a reaction to the diagnosis of Parkinson’s, but is instead a part of the disease itself, caused by changes in the brain chemistry of the brain.”

It went on to say that, “Anxiety (or panic) attacks usually start suddenly with a sense of severe physical and emotional distress. Individuals may feel as if they cannot breathe or are having a heart attack. They may feel they are experiencing a medical emergency. These episodes usually last a few minutes to an hour, particularly when associated with ‘off’ periods, though they can last for longer periods of time.” 

Several different sources agree that some of the symptoms of a panic attack can be trouble sleeping, heart palpitations, hyperventilating, uncontrollable worry, chest pain, dizziness, tunnel vision, and hot or cold flashes.

Bingo. They hit that nail on the head.

The list goes on and it can be hard to diagnose what is happening, as the symptoms mimic other possibilities of what could be going on. 

When I identified what I believed to be the culprit (a panic attack), I made a note to bring it up at my upcoming appointment with my neurologist. Until then, I decided to rely on the hope and faith I had within me. I forced myself to breathe normally and drew deep upon that faith. The attack finally subsided and I was able to quit worrying about getting the porch fixed and the gate repaired and the shower installed and the sink replaced and …

Here I go again … 

This time I’m diving deep into that faith before the panic kicks in. 

***

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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Exercising with Parkinson’s Disease: Try It and See the Benefits

panic attacks

I began taking Rock Steady Boxing classes about nine months ago. The exercise program is tailored for those with Parkinson’s disease, and if you’re like me, you’ve dragged your feet and refused to go for any number of reasons or excuses. Maybe there isn’t a class near you. Or perhaps you feel too tired and don’t think you’ll have enough energy to do what’s required. Maybe money or time is the issue.

Do me a favor. 

Just consider it

I was reluctant to go. Mostly because I’m an introvert — yes, I really am. I have to push myself to get out there. And so I did. I forced myself to check it out almost nine months ago, and I am still going. 

I recently read a discussion in a Parkinson’s Facebook group I belong to. Someone asked what decision others had made in their lives since their diagnosis that had made the most positive difference to their health. I was surprised by the number of answers about exercise. It seems logical to me now, but before attending boxing classes, I may have had a different response, such as increasing my chocolate intake.

We are meant to be active

A 2018 study looked at the reduction of movement in neurological diseases. Commenting on the research, one of its authors, Dr. Raffaella Adami, told the journal Frontiers that we are meant to “walk, run, crouch to sit, and use our leg muscles to lift things.”

According to the article, “Cutting back on exercise makes it difficult for the body to produce new nerve cells — some of the very building blocks that allow us to handle stress and adapt to challenge in our lives.”

When I joined my boxing class, I was surprised by the number and variety of exercises we had to do. I had figured that activities would be specifically related to boxing. We spend the first half of the class on exercises such as jumping jacks, squats, leg raises, jump-rope, stair steps, balance beam, ladder steps, box steps, pushups, lunges, planks, and various activities using punching bags, jelly bags, and speed bags. Then we practice punches with our coaches. We close out our session with a game or competition — my favorite part.

Many participants in the Facebook group discussion agreed that their decision to join a Rock Steady Boxing class had been beneficial. The next two most popular activities were walking and yoga. I don’t think that it matters which form of exercise you choose as long as you are doing something.

See the benefits

May I encourage you to start an exercise routine if you haven’t already. You’ll soon realize that you can do more than you could before, and you may find that your overall well-being has improved.

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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 Exercising with Parkinson’s Disease: Try It and See the Benefits appeared first on Parkinson’s News Today.

Really Living Life with Parkinson’s Disease

living life, Journeying Through Parkinson's

Today I spent another day with my 4-year-old grandson. His words of wisdom have come and gone yet again.

Finn’s day began early. Before climbing into the car with his mom to skedaddle to Grammy’s for the day, Finn stopped abruptly. 

He took a deep breath and exclaimed in front of the only sunflower that survived of the two packages we planted, “Oh, wow! This sunflower is really living its life, isn’t it, mom?!”

I wish I lived life like he does, with utter joy in each moment, each circumstance, and each opportunity that is given to me. But sometimes it’s just downright hard to live that way all the time. Especially when you have a chronic illness such as Parkinson’s disease (PD).

I was at a farm today and they were selling single stems (stalks) of sunflowers. All the kids were buying one or two. So were the adults. 

Sunflowers have an alluring quality that draws you into a magical place no matter your age. But it’s not every day that we are able to run down to the local farm or nursery and get ourselves a few stalks to cheer ourselves up. Sometimes we have to improvise and find something else that will put a new spring in our step. Something that will bring a positive outlook to our day. And sometimes, that can be hard to do when we are fighting a battle against an enemy like PD. But here are some suggestions to get you started:

Sing

Sing out loud. It’s healing physically, emotionally, and mentally.

Karen Carpenter of The Carpenters made a song titled “Sing” famous. The lyrics are:

“Sing, sing a song,

Sing out loud, sing out strong,

Sing of good things not bad,

Sing of happy not sad, …

Don’t worry that it’s not good enough,

For anyone else to hear,

Just sing, sing a song.”

You aren’t singing to impress anyone, so just sing!

Do something for someone else

When we are feeling down in the dumps, one of the best things we can do for ourselves is to do something kind, something unexpected, something good for someone else. Doing unto others as you would have them do unto you has a profound effect.

Send a note of encouragement

Text someone merely to let them know that you are thinking about them. It’s another way of doing something kind for someone else.

Read an uplifting book

Try a biography of someone who made a positive difference during their lifetime despite the adversity around them. Someone like Mother Teresa.

Whether we have Parkinson’s or not, it’s vital to keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward — even if it seems we are often moving backward. 

In this journey with Parkinson’s disease, I want to live life like a sunflower standing as tall and as sturdy as I possibly can. I want to follow the warmth of the sun throughout the day, and I want to bring joy to others as I bloom. I want others to see me and exclaim, “That person is really living 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 Really Living Life with Parkinson’s Disease appeared first on Parkinson’s News Today.

Change Someone’s Day with a Smile

living life, Journeying Through Parkinson's

Today I was sitting in a line of cars. I can think of better things to do on a hot day: eat an ice cream cone, swim in a pool, read a book in the shade of a tree. But it is still early summer and people pulling their trailers and boats are heading out of town. Traffic jams are forming everywhere I go. And where traffic jams exist, so do short tempers and impatience. 

I sat in that line, watching people cut in and out, trying to get out of the busy parking lot. Horns were honking, people were squawking, bad words were heard. I motioned a few people to go in front of me. I wasn’t in a hurry to participate in one of the summer’s sessions of disrespect and rudeness. As I let them gain little ground by going in front of me, I noticed a young man standing on the sidewalk in the shade, watching the mayhem. 

And then he smiled at me. 

That’s all it took. Just a smile. 

I had been feeling kind of down earlier in the day. Maybe it was just that down kind of feeling that can be a prevalent part of this disease on many days. Maybe I was missing my grandkids. Maybe I was in pain. Maybe all three. But when that guy smiled at me, I began to feel better. It was just a little thing, really — a lift of some of the face’s muscles — but someone’s day changed for the better. 

A smile. A kind word. It doesn’t take much to brighten someone else’s day, and it works the other way around. If you give a smile or a kind word and are able to see the difference it makes, you usually feel just as good as if you had received one from someone else.

How often have you stood next to someone in the checkout line who looked as if they could use a kind word? How about the person manning the drive-thru window who looks like they have been yelled at more than encouraged that day? 

Who in your life could use a smile?

Maybe it’s the in-home care nurse who goes the extra distance each day and remains calm and peaceful through all of the mishaps that are thrown her way. Perhaps it’s the one you are caring for, someone who feels they have no purpose, who is in need of a genuine, healing smile.

When you give a smile, you usually get one back. And giving — or getting a smile — could very well change your entire day. Or someone else’s.

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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 Change Someone’s Day with a Smile appeared first on Parkinson’s News Today.

What Makes Someone a Parkinson’s Hero?

Journeying Through Parkinson's

I have often seen the legend “Parkinson’s Hero” on shirts and sweatshirts. Come to think of it, I even have a shirt with that written on it. But I have often felt confused by the expression. A Parkinson’s hero? What is a Parkinson’s hero?

I recently was reading a blog post by Jeff Goins about the characteristics of a hero. The traits he listed gave me pause to revisit the expression “Parkinson’s hero.”

Goins states that heroes are ordinary and unknown. They start out as losers, nobodies. He gives Marty McFly in “Back To The Future” and Frodo Baggins from “The Hobbit” as examples, but what about Gracie Hart in “Miss Congeniality” or Elizabeth Bennet from “Pride and Prejudice“? Then there’s Clark Kent as Superman, and the shepherd David who brings down the giant Goliath and goes on to become the king of all Israel.

Heroes are unknown, but they are not nobodies.

Goins states that heroes are ordinary, like Marty McFly; however, I think that deep down, they are extraordinary. They fight the fights nobody else may see or want to see, and they stand for the things that others won’t. Things that change the future or the world. Things that make a difference for others and not necessarily for themselves.

Heroes don’t just become heroes overnight or because they are buff or good-looking.

Heroes have scars from the hard times they’ve been through. Some scars are seen, some are unseen.

They have walked through the halls of heartache. They have suffered through hardship and affliction, trauma and tragedy. They can understand what others are going through because they have journeyed the same path or a similar one. And it is that path — the one filled with sorrows and setbacks, adversity and suffering, pain and disease that heroes evolve along. It is through the tough times that courage surfaces.

Heroes don’t stay stuck.

They don’t give up. Instead, they push through the hard times, facing their fears. They stand in and they stand up for others. They know that unless they fight, all is lost. And so they fight.

Parkinson’s heroes fight for a cure. They fight for better medication, therapies, and insurance. They fight for those less fortunate and seek out avenues to make them more fortunate. They find programs that provide wheelchairs and walking canes for free. They will even fill out the mountain of paperwork it takes to get those things into the hands that need them.

Heroes come in all shapes, heights, and colors.

They know they won’t save the world, but they will do what it takes to make it better for just one person. They volunteer for studies. They do research. They don’t quit until they’ve made a difference, big or small.

On this more than 15-year journey with Parkinson’s disease, I have met several people who have, for one reason or another, become my heroes. All of my heroes have this in common: They have faced fears and walked through trials that many of us will never know of, and they have battled their fears and come out the braver for it.

We all have heroes. People we have come to count on. Heroes we can look up to and be proud of. Heroes, once just ordinary people, who have become extraordinary human beings. Heroes who now walk beside us, helping us become someone else’s hero.

Who’s your Parkinson’s hero and why?

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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 What Makes Someone a Parkinson’s Hero? appeared first on Parkinson’s News Today.