There is no question that Parkinson’s disease can be a tremendous struggle, filled with changes and developments. My theory is that when we ‘wage war, go to battle, or fight’, we highlight stress, violence, and turmoil. I don’t often quote film, but as Patrick Swayze says in the classic, Roadhouse, (okay it isn’t really a classic but it makes a point), ‘No one ever wins a fight.’ Avoiding and reducing stress are key to keeping your Parkinson’s symptoms at bay. By avoiding and reducing known stress-related triggers, finding coping methods, like exercise, meditation, and yoga will assist in retaining your energy and flexibility.
Try considering your illness, be it Parkinson’s disease or any other disease, as a roadblock or obstacle to work around or to work with. Maybe if we visualize our illnesses in a less threatening state and see them more as “something that we can work with and not against”, our bodies may not have to exert so much towards the fight and can devote more energy to getting better. Just something to chew on.
Back To School
A phrase or term in the English language that makes young people shudder and hide when heard. To parents it means a return to normalcy and yet it means more carpooling, drop-offs, early mornings, and late nights.
We are all constantly back to school. Once we stop educating ourselves, we limit our potential. Always be back to school!
Nutrition, health, and news to come from World Parkinson Congress (WPC) and the Brian Grant Foundation (BGF)
Nutrition in general is a vital component to our daily health and to someone with Parkinson’s, diet is even more crucial. Staying hydrated and eating the right fruits and vegetables will keep your digestion active to help avoid constipation. The better your gut is working, the more likely you are going to get top efficacy from your medications.
Eating local from Virginia farmer’s markets in spring and summer is a treat and is my healthiest alternative since I don’t grow my own food. When buying fruits and veggies that are shipped far distances it is easy to forget that produce that travels miles loses some of the nutritional potency as opposed to that of a local provider. Winter and fall is a bit more of challenge for me to eat local.
I noticed a tremor in my left foot at age 17 that only showed up sporadically. At age 23, and after about 9 or so different doctors, I finally got my diagnosis for Parkinson’s disease. It has been over 30 years since my first noticeable symptom and not far from 30 years from my diagnosis date. I truly believe that eating low on the food chain and eating vegetarian has helped me remain on a low dose of medicine.
If it is true that we are what we eat, and I do, then we need a greater awareness and more consideration for the fuel we load into our bodies. Food and food science has changed our diets dramatically with additives, emulsifiers, and sweeteners. I am careful to eat organic whenever possible. I eat healthy but there are times when my craving for a cookie or chip takes over and I have to submit to the urge. Overall, I stay aware of what I am eating and how it may interact with my medication. I am very protein sensitive and my medication can fluctuate tremendously when it comes to dairy, nuts, eggs, and soy.
Trying to find a product without high fructose corn sweetener, wheat, or citric acid, in a large conventional grocery store is more of a challenge these days. Understanding your food now requires knowing a little more chemistry than when I was a boy. Good nutrition is achievable but like most important health decisions a healthy diet takes preparation, planning, and forethought.
Eating healthy isn’t always the cheapest of ways to eat, so compromise and alternatives have to suffice at times. It is so important to read those labels and know what is in your food to make the best choice.
On a personal level, I have little doubt that my being a long-term vegetarian has been of benefit in my digestion and pill absorption as well. Eating lower on the food chain and eliminating meat products helped me maintain my weight, improve my energy level, clear my skin, and feel clearer of mind to boot.
As the 2016 World Parkinson Congress (WPC) nears its arrival to Portland, Oregon, also the home of the Brian Grant Foundation, I am excited to hint about a program that will soon be released. The Power Through Project (PTP) is something new and an event for everyone to take part in. Stay tuned for upcoming announcements. See you in Portland!
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A little over a month ago, a very inspirational and motivating teacher and fellow Parkinsonian from the Midwest, Dora Leonard, introduced me to a song that she and her son, Jeremy Leonard, collaborated on together. The song, I Will Choose, came from a poem written by Mrs. Leonard, put to music created by Jeremy, and sung beautifully by a local singer in her church, Shawn Christopher, who helped her bring the song to life. She is generously donating all sales to Team Fox.
After hearing the song for the first time, I was moved and my wife was brought to tears. That’s what music is supposed to do.
I Will Choose is an uplifting anthem of hope and dedication to staying strong and positive whether you face Parkinson’s disease, another illness, or any obstacle that may crop up.
If you seek a piece of music for a boost of motivation look up I Will Choose by Jeremy Leonard (feat. Shawn Christopher) on iTunes.
No matter what you want to call it, patterns, cycles, or habits, I believe that we are capable of achieving the change that we are seeking. When we are too inflexible for change or correction we begin to lose that part of ourselves that brings us to our higher self.
Focus can be good but when we tunnel-vision too much in our mind, we lose perspective and the importance of what is going on all around us. There is too much to miss if you focus solely on yourself. We must know our place and not be so focused on ourselves or others but to maintain a healthy balance of our connection with the world around us.
I am fresh back from Alaska where I was treated to a bounty of natural wonders. Mountain vistas of snow-capped peaks, flowing waterfalls, soaring eagles, sun-soaking seals, and feasting humpbacks were just a few of the jaw-dropping trip highlights.
Nature has a way of putting us back into our place. It reminds us that we are but a tiny cog in a huge winding interwoven web of life which connects us all. Nature rejuvenates body, mind, and spirit. It reminds us what peace is meant to be.
Parkinson’s disease can force us to make major life alterations and re-prioritize what it is we hope to achieve with our lives. As sobering and dramatic as this roadblock can be, realize that there is assistance and a network of support available to you.
Parkinson’s never asked me if it come and play,
It’s the kind of houseguest you wish would go away.
This disease is a strange one for no two are alike,
It can steal your balance, your speech, or ability to bike.
Parkinson’s has a wider impact farther than we know,
Without a better understanding, it is sure to grow.
Read and learn and find everything you can,
Join a support group and get involved with PAN.
The support group that my wife and I have run for over 10 years has come to an end. I have witnessed the fluctuations in attendance and noticed the absentees. Sure, some weren’t ready for the group, some didn’t like the format of the group, while others found the location or time to be inconvenient, transportation could have been a problem, Parkinson’s symptoms may have gotten in the way, or they weren’t wild about the group leaders. I wonder and worry about all those I meet, befriend, and then go missing. Sadly, this happens in Parkinson’s disease.
I recently found out an old friend I had met in 2004 is now bound to a wheelchair and in a nursing home. If you read my blog, I am a positive person but I see far too many friends disappearing from our community. As these voices go silent, it becomes easier for them to go missing.
There is no shame in having Parkinson’s. This illness alienates and devastates friendships and relationships, if not closely monitored and preserved. Often, depression and/or apathy play a part. Whatever the case may be, Parkinson’s patients tend to slowly fade from the crowd and it just shouldn’t be that way.