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Watch Out for Those Good Days!

good days

“Oh my gosh! The presentation was amazing. And I’m not just saying that because I’m your partner.”

It was my first presentation about my experience with Parkinson’s, and it flowed smoothly. It had been a long time since I was in front of an audience, reaching out and connecting. Time was suspended, and I found my bliss again. I was bounding around the house like a young boy who had gotten his first bike for Christmas.

Riding the wave of unbridled enthusiasm, I said, “Now there is nothing stopping Dr. C from becoming famous!” I turned my head slightly and gave my partner a wry smile. My partner gave me “the look.”

The next day, I crashed emotionally and physically because I had let the excitement of the previous day run free without restraint, to the point where the consequences were unhealthy — the opposite of what the bliss experience should provide. I know I’m supposed to watch out for those good days because they will sneak up on me.

Threshold management is the practice of calming emotional input before thinking or reacting to that input. This calming practice helps to prevent a buildup of emotional energy that can toss someone over the threshold.

My previous columns have focused on emotions like irritability and anger. Getting overly excited about good things in life can create just as many problems as getting worked up about bad ones. If I keep threshold management practices in place during a good day, then the crash doesn’t have negative consequences.

Exploring the possibility of discovering new, early Parkinson’s symptoms continues to be of major concern to me. In some Parkinson’s patients, emotional signal input is heightened, or the brain’s normal filtering mechanisms are diminished, causing the emotional signal to appear heightened.

Parkinson’s patients can have one or more of the following: depression, anxiety, and impulse control. With the recent increase in the severity of my symptoms, I now get surges of depression, anxiety, and an annoyingly loud startle response. Absurdly, I was startled the other day by a loud crash from a blob of shampoo falling from soapy hair and hitting the shower floor.

Prior to Parkinson’s, I had no history of these emotional responses. Exaggerated input on good days is my new life. I feel like I’ve gone past the borders of my wellness map. I am taking my explorer’s machete out of the toolkit and blazing a path to new wellness practices.

In addition to practicing threshold management to keep excitement from running rampant, two other practices help me to stay balanced during the good times. The first is, “Don’t chase after the blissful feelings.” The second is, “Accept the good day as it presents itself and channel your energy accordingly.” Part of what fuels my excitement running rampant is chasing after it because I want it to last longer.

An interesting phenomenon occurs during good days: My Parkinson’s symptoms are less severe, sometimes strikingly so. I noticed this with other pleasure-related experiences as well, such as enjoyment from creativity, an excellent movie, or a romantic evening with my partner.

The positive effects of bliss are more powerful and longer lasting. Even so, all of my pursuit of blissful feelings results in negative consequences. Chasing things that feel good is composed of habitual thought and action. It can be changed.

We all have different things that we do to help us feel better. Maybe it’s a hot shower with the warm water massaging sore muscles. Or it might be a good book at night where we can escape into the writer’s world. It becomes a problem when chasing after feeling good replaces constructively changing thought and action to become more open to experiencing well-being moments.

This is not easy. It’s not about perfect abstinence. It’s about paying attention to that big neon sign that says, “Caution! Chasing risk ahead.”

One of my rules regarding human change is that you can’t change something into nothing. If you’re seeking to remove a behavior — chasing after feeling good, for example — it is difficult to be successful if you’re just asking the behavior to be gone. Once the behavior is gone, there is a void, an empty space where a thought or action response used to go. If another thought or action is not put into that void, then the old thought and action will return more quickly than you can snap your fingers.

Fortunately, seeking acceptance offers us just what we need: The good days can be handled in the same way that we handle the bad ones. We calmly accept what the good days bring just like we calmly accept the bad ones. It’s a pathway full of possibilities.

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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 Watch Out for Those Good Days! appeared first on Parkinson’s News Today.

In Search of Acceptance: Starting Small

acceptance

Researchers have said that combining acceptance with meditation works better than meditation alone. That sounds like a fantastic idea. I’ve been having trouble with meditation ever since the ruin of stagnation. Maybe if I search for and discover how to combine acceptance with meditation, it will make a difference in my pursuit of well-being. The research supports this approach.

It’s winter and we are barricaded in our house by 6-foot snowbanks. Getting out to my sanctuary in the garden and the forest is almost impossible. Without a physical sanctuary, it’s difficult for my mind to find peace. But I’m going to give this “acceptance” idea serious consideration.

Family members have said to me, “You’re disabled. Accept it and get on with your life.” It can’t be that hard. I just need to say to myself, “Accept your chronic disease, and accept your vision loss.” With a pint of ice cream in hand, I repeat this acceptance mantra. Half an hour later, with the ice cream gone, I feel nothing from the mantra. But there is a touch of pleasure from the ice cream devoured.

It doesn’t seem right to tell myself that I accept everything about my chronic disease and vision loss. Repeating the “mantra” turned me into a zombie. It’s an outright lie. I don’t accept everything as it currently stands, because I believe that the pursuit of wellness contains vast undiscovered territory. My wellness map is only the beginning of the journey. For me to accept everything about my condition feels like resignation, as if I’m giving up and allowing life with Parkinson’s to take over. There must be a better way for me to embrace acceptance.

Pacing the floor and fidgeting with my tablet and video game, I try something different. “I accept that I am responsible for managing how the disease affects my behaviors and how those behaviors affect my quality of life.” This is my new mantra. I repeat these words as often as possible between smashing monsters on my video game. After an hour of mantra repetition, I find no new levels of peace. But I go up a couple of levels in my game, leaving me with a touch of happiness.

Acceptance has this utopian vision connected to its construct. If I can drink successfully from the cup of acceptance, the elixir will help to heal my troubled being. But I don’t even have my hands on the cup — half empty or half full! I put the video game down and pace the floor, wringing my hands, mumbling. With a drink in one hand, I reach for a bowl of chips and miss. Crash! Bowl and chips scatter on the floor.

My partner comes into the room with a worried look. “It’s OK. I can clean that up for you.” I say I’ll get it. I turn without thinking, relying on my body to remember how to move, and reach too quickly for a broom. My body doesn’t engage as fast as my mind and I stumble. She smiles and says calmly, “You seem a little out of sorts. What’s going on?”

I look away from her and my head hangs low. “I’ve been struggling with this idea of acceptance. I just can’t accept everything.”

She comes over and gives me a light hug. “You do tend to overthink things. Just start small. Start with something easy, like accepting mumbles, fumbles, and stumbles. You can say, ‘I accept these things will happen in my life. I will do what I can to decrease their impact. Ultimately, I must accept that these things are happening and will continue to happen.’”

I collapse in my chair almost dumbfounded. “You’re amazing. Acceptance doesn’t have to be this wave that washes everything clean. It’s not about perfection. It’s about baby steps. It’s a calm, meditative acceptance of those small steps: mumbles, fumbles, and stumbles.”

I sink back into my chair and repeat my new mantra between deep meditative breaths. “I accept mumbles, fumbles, and stumbles. I’m doing all that I can using my wellness map.” Gentle peace is discovered in this special combination of acceptance mantra and meditative breath. The two seem to enhance each other — each one acting as a catalyst to the other. It’s an unusual sensation, a soothing comfort lasting for hours — and something that had been undiscovered before I’d written this column.

This is the path of possibilities that runs through my wellness map and leads me to moments of well-being despite the chronic disease.

***

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 Search of Acceptance: Starting Small appeared first on Parkinson’s News Today.

Exploring the Relationship Between Parkinson’s and PTSD

PTSD

I was out gathering flowers, peach tulips, and blue orchids. It was a beautiful sun-kissed day. I wondered where I would discover new blooms in the garden.

Out of nowhere, a chasm opened beneath my feet, and I plummeted into unknown depths. Jagged rocks and outcrops tore at me and bruised every part of me. Mind you, this was a virtual game experience. I wasn’t really falling. But it still took a toll.

Days with Parkinson’s disease (PD) are like this. It’s sunny. I stop to smell the roses, have positive expectations, and then something inflames my PD symptoms. Like falling into that virtual chasm, I have to stop what I’m doing and go in a different direction. I call it “PD forcing,” and it is happening more often these days.

A doctor once told me, “All Vietnam vets have PTSD.” A generalization. However, military veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or a traumatic brain injury have more than double the risk of rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder (RBD), which is a risk factor for PD. RBD can precede classic PD symptoms by years. Researchers at the VA Portland Health Care System and Oregon Health and Science University plan to explore the incidence of PD among veterans with RBD.

Additionally, people with PTSD have an elevated risk of developing PD later in life. Further studies may clarify the relationship between PTSD and PD and the efficacy of prompt intervention for PTSD.

To some extent, I think that PTSD can be brought on or exacerbated by PD symptoms. The symptoms and progression of PTSD and PD are also very similar. For example, symptoms of PTSD include irritability and angry outbursts with little or no provocation, verbal or physical aggression toward people or objects when frustrations or challenges become “up close and personal,” reckless or self-destructive behavior, hypervigilance, exaggerated startle response, problems with concentration, and sleep disturbances.

Living with the ever-increasing and debilitating progression of PD can be traumatic. Coping through a variety of escape modes and old habits no longer works. Trauma doesn’t just come from military combat. It can come from combat with a chronic disease. The PD thief keeps coming back, stealing another skill or capability — unexpected, unwanted, and unforgettable. I never know where the next chasm will open beneath my feet.

Until now, I didn’t think that PTSD fit my experiences. The PD thief, however, continues to be a source of trauma and is just as powerful as my military experiences in Vietnam.

I could hear my suffering more clearly while I worked on physical healing. I’ve made progress with anger, but every day I’m afraid of being traumatized again. I’ve retreated into a cocoon: a lounge chair and a sedentary life.

A sedentary life is a dangerous one, but I needed time to heal. When I finally ventured into the world, I didn’t feel safe because of PTSD, PD, and vision loss. Interaction with the world results in a regular stream of, “You can’t do this anymore.” It is often overwhelming, and it is happening more often these days.

I know it’s time to leave my cocoon of safety. I know the world is not always painted with the dark palette of the PD thief. The sun still sends her shimmering fairies to dance on the lake ripples. Trees still whisper melodies in harmony with the wind.

Yes, it is hard to motivate myself to move and engage after being sedentary for months. But my gardens will bloom again, and so will I. Like chartreuse bulbs bursting through the soil, signs of wellness are showing up in my life: healed injuries, greater appetite, months spent retraining my eyes to see differently, less pain, and a significant decrease in the duration of vertigo.

I focused on healing while I was sedentary, but now it is time for me to leave the chair.

Moving out of a sedentary life isn’t easy, but the wellness map helps. There is nothing good about a prolonged sedentary life. It is time to get up and show up for the next destination on the map. As we enter the new year, it is time for me to beat back the PD thief and his sidekick, PTSD.

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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 Exploring the Relationship Between Parkinson’s and PTSD appeared first on Parkinson’s News Today.

Going from Zero to 60 in 4 Months

anger

Boom!

A cannon shot shakes the windows of the house. No, it’s not terrorists showing up in rural New England. It’s just winter. We have a steel roof. When the temperature is just right, the snow slides off the roof with the force of a cannonball and hits the ground with just as much noise.

Every winter, I’ve been out helping to clear the snow. But not this year. The ruin of stagnation has forced me to practically abandon any physical activity while I healed. Slow progress was made as I increased exercise each day from zero to 60 minutes. It is very slow healing. I am not used to the slow pace, and that nags at me, like a child wanting to get to the next carnival ride.

Neo interrupts my thinking: “Well, it’s been four months. What have you accomplished over all that time?” I can always count on Neo to hit me with a direct shot, without a warning over the bow. (Neo is my brain’s neocortex, which I’ve mentioned in previous columns.)

“I have tried to push harder and go faster to make this healing happen,” I reply. “It’s not helping. The old way of using the fierce ‘push harder’ is not working. I have used anger to motivate myself, to push myself harder, so that I can accomplish more. But no longer. The anger now adds stress experienced in a raw and unfiltered manner. I can no longer afford to do things the old way if I’m looking for genuine wellness.”

“Sounds like you want to get rid of anger. That’s a tall order,” Neo points out, puffing his chest. “There are many good reasons for keeping anger in your back pocket and pulling it out when needed.”

I take a deep breath, and with unusual calmness, say: “I don’t think I can get rid of it. I think it’s a part of who I am. But I do think I have misused and abused the energy of the calling behind anger. For me, the injustice connected to suffering and the objectification of others inflame me. I have used this fire to fuel my motivation, to continue the good fight.”

Neo retorts, “Yeah, man. Help the good guys and kill the bad guys — anger is good for that.”

I shake my head. “There is an attacking edge to anger, but it is not an absolute quality of anger. Rather, it is a self-imposed one. I willingly choose to attack with anger. It is unnecessary for wellness, and I see this attacking edge as harmful to my search for healing. I need to remove this self-imposed attack quality and embrace a transformed anger,” I say.

Turning his head slightly in a gesture of acknowledgment, Neo says, “Peace on earth and goodwill to all. I get it. But anger is also good for helping to get a point across. Get attention.”

“Not always, Neo. Powerful ideas have enough of a spark in them to kindle awakening in the hearts of all who can listen. All the fire of anger does is obscure the discovery of that spark. While healing, I need that spark, I need what’s behind that spark, and using anger to incite just gets in the way.”

As I walk over to the kitchen to cut up zucchini (there’s always too much zucchini in New England), I can see Neo crinkling as he wrestles with his thoughts about anger. As if a lightbulb had been illuminated over him, Neo blurts, “Sometimes I just want to blow off some steam. Anger is a good way of doing that.”

I respond, “Whenever I’m in one of those venting moods, I also have this internal dialogue that is filled with negative statements about people, life, and past events. It’s inner dialogue that points fingers at ‘he said this,’ ‘she did that,’ ‘not fair that this happened to me,’ and ‘I want this to go away.’ The venting is filled with a lot of energy, and somewhat of a rush can go with it. In the past, it may have helped. But now the emotional intensity of this venting is no longer healthy for me. And it can hurt people around me.”

I take a sip of holiday cider and continue. “There is a different way to look at how to use the energy behind anger, the energy of perceived injustice. It is a way of taking that energy and focusing it solely on solutions — not on people, not on personal injury, not on personal feelings. Every problem is a solution waiting to happen. It is shifting the focus of the energy toward constructive change, and in doing so, it changes the nature and quality of anger.”

Neo has been tapping lightly on the table for the last 30 seconds, and now he jumps in. “You will need that anger if your life is threatened or the lives of your children or grandchildren are threatened. You’ll need that anger energy then for sure.”

Taking a deep breath after a lengthy pause, I say, “Most of us are not faced with actual life-threatening situations. There are places in the world where such threats are real, and in those situations people need to act in a way that preserves both life and humanity. But for most of us, it is the perceived threat or illusions of threat that enter our lives. Remove the illusions and you remove the need for anger to function in this manner. Anger is reframed, transformed.”

Neo nods. “So the gift of forgiveness, tolerance, and patience is in keeping with the holiday season. It’s a good gift for yourself and for others. And a good New Year’s resolution!”

This is an example of reframing, a powerful tool to help facilitate positive change. Anger will no longer motivate me to push harder and faster. Let it go! It’s OK if it took four months to go from zero to 60.

How can the holidays be a time for practicing reframing and letting go for you? Please share in the comments below. 

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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 Going from Zero to 60 in 4 Months appeared first on Parkinson’s News Today.

Devices to Record the Progression of PD

devices

The progression of Parkinson’s disease (PD) is unique to every person, with different early, middle, and late-stage symptoms. However, this view of PD progression may be an artifact of limited data rather than an accurate description. We need new ways of measuring PD symptoms as they change over time. We have the technology to create new devices that people can use over an extended period, across multiple settings and severity of “off periods.”

I see progression as a change in the intensity and duration of “bad” days and off periods. Many longitudinal studies investigate the progression of PD (for example, the rate of progression in exercise), but it is hard to find studies that measure changes in response to treatment. Devices discussed in this column might change that.

Better measurement of PD progression begins with a few assumptions. First, subtle, early motor symptoms will appear before more obvious symptoms, such as tremors or bradykinesia. Second, early motor symptoms will be inconsistent and episodic. Third, we have the technology to build mobile monitoring devices.

I recently read that a patient being evaluated for “internal tremors” showed no signs of tremor during a physical examination of his bare feet. However, once he put his socks and boots on, an astute clinician observed the left bootlace swinging in such a way that, when measured, fit the PD pattern of a tremor. In other words, while the patient didn’t exhibit tremor during a visual examination of his bare feet, his shoelace reflected an underlying tremor!

A shoelace is not going to be a reliable measuring device, but it proves that slight motor changes that are difficult to detect do exist. I’ve designed two possible motor symptom detection devices: a mobile swing monitor (MSM) and a fine motor skills test (FST). Both devices would record and monitor movement fluctuation over time and across settings in daily life over 10 or so days. Both devices use sensors to track and record movement through three dimensions.

The MSM uses five “movement in 3D space” sensors — one on each wrist, one on each ankle, and one on the belt — with recording hardware for all five. Worn for several days, like a Holter monitor, the MSM would map the sway of the arms, legs, and body over time and across settings. The MSM is very similar in appearance to wearable training weights, which can measure the slightest variations in body movement. Wearable training weights are used by Olympic and World Cup judges to evaluate Shaun White’s amazing snowboard flips and twists.

The FST, illustrated in the graphic below, has a 3D monitor in the “soda can” receptor where the block is inserted. Similar to the game “Operation,” the patient must remove objects from openings in the receptor without setting off the buzzer. The warning light goes off when the sensor plate is touched.

The FST will measure how the person adjusts position and control while using fine motor skills. The FST uses a 3D monitor and four independent, pressure-sensitive plates that record when the patient fails to insert the block and when the block is aligned. The plates can be positioned at different widths using an adjustable difficulty setting, making it harder to insert the block without touching the plates.

Fine skills motor test, designed by Dr. C. (Photo by Dr. C)

Data gathered by these two devices may provide patients and medical professionals with more accurate clinical data about motion, tremors, and fine motor skills over a greater period. They could demonstrate the progression of intensity and duration of bad days and off periods and serve as the beginning of a database on PD progression.

Many people are excited about using technology to provide outcome measures. As we know, technology is not being utilized in offices with patients to help understand the progression of PD. But hopefully, that will change.

If these devices are already being tested in the home of PD patients, sign me up!

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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 Devices to Record the Progression of PD appeared first on Parkinson’s News Today.

Understanding What Parkinson’s Progression Means to Each Patient

progression

Every day following the ruin of stagnation, it seems that I have progressed from early Parkinson’s to a moderate stage of the disease. But I can’t be sure. Many other factors, including stress, injuries, medication changes, and aging, could be making it look and feel worse. To appease my quandary, I dove into the internet, searching for elucidation about Parkinson’s progression.

We watched as Michael J. Fox and Muhammad Ali were changed by the disease. Granted, their Parkinson’s symptoms were dramatic: Their body movements gradually became less fluid, the tremors more pronounced. Over time, the movement challenges became more noticeable, signifying progression. The Parkinson’s community uses the terms “early,” “middle,” and “late” stage to describe progression. It mostly makes sense and matches what medical providers identify with patients. But it doesn’t help me in my search for well-being possibilities.

Progression for me is more than “early,” “middle,” or “late.” I accept that the disease will cause changes in me and my life. But it would be helpful for my wellness map if some of the pitfalls could be marked, “Danger ahead!” or, “Here’s a list of supplies,” to get me through the hardest parts of my chronic disease journey. Being well-prepared is an essential part of wellness success. The progression of Parkinson’s is not about stages — except in a general way. Rather, it means having some idea about what can be done to slow the progression, or, failing that, how to recognize when progression is happening. Useful information about progression would help guide us through what is sometimes a tortuous journey. It might make the trip easier.

Chatting with the Parkinson’s community reveals the entrenched idea that progression is unique to each person. It would be helpful if our understanding of progression could provide for each patient more details than, “It’s unique to everyone, and you will know when you get there.” So what’s holding up progress toward understanding disease progression?

Medical professionals determine Parkinson’s progression by a system involving a physical exam, patient report, and sometimes a standardized measurement tool or questionnaire. That system fails when all that we are told about progression is, “You’ll know it when you get there.” We need better information from early Parkinson’s stages to understand progression to middle and beyond. Data from the existing collection system is insufficient to give a clear understanding of what progression means to each patient.

I recently read an article in which the authors discuss the merits of the retropulsion test to evaluate postural instability in Parkinson’s. The three methods are: “(1) the pull test as described in the MDS-UPDRS scale; (2) using an unexpected shoulder pull, without prior warning; and (3) the push-and-release test.” Although the test is considered the gold standard, the authors state that “the outcome can vary considerably due to variability in test execution and interpretation.”

The authors state that the test fails to predict future falls, explaining that falling results from the “complex interplay between gait, balance, cognitive decline and environmental factors, and the retropulsion test captures only part of that.”

It is difficult to spot early symptoms during a short office visit once every three to six months. Increasing the speed of care by reducing the duration of clinic appointments has not improved healthcare for this ailing columnist. It hinders the ability of the healthcare practitioner to get to know the patient better and increases the chance of the latter being categorized as “that patient with Parkinson’s.” The provider can’t see all the effects of the chronic disease, even with a longer visit.

We have good and bad days, on and off periods, and life circumstances — all of which make data collection on Parkinson’s progression from a 15-minute office visit problematic. It makes sense that early diagnosis and proper treatment should make a difference in progression. As far as I can tell, no adequate longitudinal studies exist that describe variation in progression as a result of treatment, or lack thereof. This applies even to exercise, my favorite Parkinson’s treatment to slow progression, and the effects of stress as my “most need to avoid” situation to prevent speeding up the progression.

In the next column, I will offer a possible solution to the Parkinson’s progression research problem. 

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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 Understanding What Parkinson’s Progression Means to Each Patient appeared first on Parkinson’s News Today.

Understanding the Relationship as Sanctuary

relationship

The healing relationship holds a sacred place for people as they search for a path to well-being moments. This relationship offers every possibility for allowing those moments to occur. It is a safe place and a sanctuary that aims to facilitate and bear witness to the experience of well-being.

The healing relationship starts with an agreement to enter the compassion space for the purpose of exploring well-being. Some people enter the compassion space almost effortlessly and without a great deal of resistance. Some move to experience well-being in the compassion space quickly, while others take longer. Understanding how to sit with resistance and eventually let go is part of the relationship as sanctuary.

Resistance can be more intense with relationship sanctuary than with sanctuary formed in connection to a place. So many deep emotions — good and bad — are tied to the memories of our relationships. We enter the healing relationship with a “relationship stance” built upon our history. Within that stance is resistance to sanctuary.

Working with a healer or a guide as a form of relationship sanctuary can be helpful. An experienced guide can show you your resistance obstacles, teach you to move around them, and help you to experience a well-being moment.

Finding healing relationships while battling a chronic illness is tough, but necessary. We are by nature social creatures and our health benefits from nurturing relationships. I long for conversations that explore the sacredness of life rather than the sickness of strife. Chronic illness consumes much of my time, but it does not define me. I’ll always have time for stimulating discourse.

Everything seems so rushed these days. Henry David Thoreau said there was no need for people to travel so fast on those locomotives going 25 mph. I giggled, and then thought that we are still going fast. Relationships are affected by a technological train that steamrolls into our lives without conscious consent. Texts, tweets, and obligatory holiday visits give us brief glimpses of those we love as they go dashing about their lives.

I don’t dash any more. Well, maybe to that emergency bathroom call, but not much else. I remember when I used to dash, both mentally and physically. I can’t push hard like that anymore. Stress hit me hard with the progression I experienced following the ruin of stagnation.

My disease took a turn for the worse this summer. It wasn’t a big crash into a tree, but a noticeable bump in the road. The ruin of stagnation was part of the progression. Everything is more difficult than it was three months ago. It’s hard to share all of this in a way that doesn’t come across as a pity party.

The relationship as sanctuary is a compassion space for me to be heard, understood, welcomed, and embraced. My partner does this day in and day out without complaint. I get tired of being with myself more often than that.

Relationship as sanctuary has been my life’s work. I find that the more I learn, the less I seem to know. It’s an old saying, but it is deeply poignant when applied to the sacred quality within the healing relationship. It is the best thing that I do as a human being in my service to humanity.

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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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