Monthly Archives: May 2011

Picture Of The Week – Staying Social

There is no question that the challenges that come with having Parkinson’s Disease may weed out friendships, acquaintances, or colleagues. Our truest friends and those who care about us will stand beside us when needed most. Keeping social and maintaining your relationships as best you can will help to keep your network active and provide a foundation for support and assistance.    

Build a network of friends and support!

Who Says Parkinson’s Patients Only Get Worse?

There is so much gloom and doom on our cable, Internet, wireless, and any other media that I can think of, it makes me cringe. The bombardment of fear mongrels, doomsayers, television news pundits, Hollywood debufelons,  and Charlie Sheen wannabes doesn’t help the world in any way! Negative energy is simply corrosive and corruptive to the Planet and its’ inhabitants healing process.

What you expose your body to, be it water, food, air, sunlight and radiation, stress, chemicals, and unseen forces like negativity, electro-magnetic fields, and emotional build-up play a vital role in how one copes with and fights off illness. For me, stumbling on to Reiki was the key that opened the lock to begin my path to healing.

I have heard people who know absolutely nothing about Reiki who have no comprehension of “energy work”, discount it, and call it “voodoo”. These people have no idea what they are saying, and it is to these negative ninnies I say, do the research and try it before you badmouth something that you don’t understand.

When I was first exposed to Reiki, I too discounted it, and thought that using one’s hands to transfer Universal life-force energy for relaxation, stress relief, and potential healing sounded outlandish! But, I had and have Parkinson’s disease! When you are ill, some measures outside the norm are necessary and completely justified. Be smart and avoid invasive untested therapies that may have irreversible effects, negative permanent results, or is a radical alteration to your regimen. It is best that you and your doctor agree on making any changes together, before making any changes.

After 12 years of practicing Reiki on friends, family, and myself, my wife, Angela, also a Reiki Master, we are taking this powerful complimentary therapy to the Parkinson’s community. Last Saturday was a day that reminded me just what Reiki has done for me. With the assistance of 8 other amazing friends and Reiki Masters we ran a Reiki For Parkinson’s Disease Level I Workshop for 21 students. As it was for me 12 years ago, I watched Reiki recipients as instant relaxation set in, tremors subsided, muscles released, facial masks washed away, eyes brightened, and lethargy was replaced with energetic zest! If it sounds incredible–well it was!

I am pleased to report that through Reiki along with massage, yoga, mild exercise, a hopeful attitude, and a vegetarian diet, I have held steady and reduced my dosage of medication rather than ramp up as is expected in Parkinson’s disease. The proof is in the results!

I hope to have results and feedback from the Workshop participants, so stay tuned for future updates.

Celebrate Your Life — You Don’t Have To Celebrate The Parkinson’s Disease

Someone that I respect recently wrote an Op/Ed piece that I felt shined  a more negative light on people who maintain a positive outlook on people dealing with Parkinson’s disease.  My interpretation of the piece inferred  that Michael J. Fox calling himself “lucky” or anyone  who considers  themselves lucky to  have Parkinson’s,  to be a “Pollyanna”.  Pollyanna, (as I have read accounts and in full disclosure not read any of the books) went through extreme suffering but was grateful for what she did have.  I see this trait as nothing but admirable. If seeing  the glass half full as opposed to half empty, empty, or even dirty and cracked is Pollyannaish then paint me as a “Pollyanna”.  Having lived over 25 of my 44 years of life with this challenging illness, I am not naive nor am I uneducated. I am well aware that this illness robs millions of people around the world of their ability to move, to work, or to function as they choose. The mind seems to get a mind all of its own and neither the mind nor the body wants to respond to one another.   

Parkinson’s  symptoms of tremor and rigidity appeared in my life at the early age of 17. I spent over 6 years without a diagnosis, never knowing what I was dealing with or how fast it might progress.  Was I scared? Sure.  Did I feel  sorry for myself? Only, after I got booted out of Outward Bound for being considered a health risk to the rest of the hiking party did I feel a real loss, because of the bonds that I had made and my failure to complete what I had started.  Thankfully though, my dismissal from hiking the rugged mountains of North Carolina led me to my last 3 or 4 doctors who finally diagnosed me with Parkinson’s disease. Not until years later, did I realize that it took my leaving the group to get diagnosed and move on with my life. 

The diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease for most people, can be sheer shock and devastation, or sometimes provide a sense of relief such as, “I had a feeling that it might be Parkinson’s” is heard from someone newly diagnosed who was looking for the culprit behind the symptoms.

 As a support group leader, a frequent speaker,  an active advocate for Parkinson’s disease issues,  and as an attendee at several  conferences a year on issues related to Parkinson’s disease,  I can honestly say that those people dealing with Parkinson’s disease who keep a positive outlook, appear to be doing far better than those who are less positive. Staying positive is a choice.

Once I received a diagnosis, I had an idea of what I was up against. Usually, people with  early or young-onset Parkinson’s disease symptoms progress slower than older patients. The Disease can impair both mind and body, cognitive function, memory, speech, swallowing, balance,  gait, posture,  and numerous other challenges. Parkinson’s can unleash an array of physical and mental  complications and with side-effects from Parkinson’s  medicines almost every patient can have a unique combination of symptoms .  Some people with Parkinson’s  show little to no obvious physical impairments but may suffer strictly from cognitive issues or vice versa.

The really good news is that as bad as this illness is or may seem, there are numerous therapies, medications,  exercises,  doctors, and classes, support groups out there that can make a difference in your life and help you change your life for improvement. While I don’t discuss DBS (Deep Brain Stimulation) surgery, I have seen it help many friends and for some it has not been as positive.

Parkinson’s has taught me to appreciate every day, to appreciate and to truly be grateful  for the good things and the simple pleasures in my life. Whether one has Parkinson’s  disease or is in perfect health, the realization that a positive outlook not  only makes you feel better but makes those around you feel better as well. I didn’t choose to spend the majority of my life with Parkinson’s disease, but I did. Sure, illness throws roadblocks and detours in the path, but that’s where the ability to adapt and creativity come into play.  Any illness can change how you see yourself and may get in the way of your perception of who you really are.  This is an opportunity to take a hard look at your life and observe that maybe a change in lifestyle is in order. Reducing stress and altering your life for the better in diet, exercise,  and complementary therapies on top of neurological care can have a tremendous impact on mood and well-being .

I hope and wish for a cure for all of us. Until the puzzle of Parkinson’s disease is solved, I believe the best course of action is to stay informed, take the best care of your body and mind as you can, take your meds on time, eat low on the food chain, eat organic, and get your rest.

If every day were sunny and warm could you truly appreciate the loveliness without experiencing those cold gray damp days of winter? The balance of life exposes us to pain because without it, there is no knowing pleasure. 

Take stock in the fact that people care about you. Focus on the simple things in your life that you can appreciate, like having a comfortable place to sleep, clean air and water,  the beauty of Nature around,  and so many more details of life.

I would like to know what you think.

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