Category Archives: support groups

What does Thanksgiving mean to you?

For me, the holiday resonates with special memories of the whole family watching parades, football, and eating my late mother’s exceptional cooking. Those memories are treasures that line the walls of my Thanksgiving box for the rest of eternity. Those days are long past, but I am still fortunate to make special new memories with dear friends who mean so much to me. Times change, life moves quickly forward, and I am forced to accept change.

I think a keystone of this holiday is about one thing only, gratitude. In the hustle and bustle of shopping, cooking, pre-Christmas preparation, and Black Friday sales, the meaning of Thanksgiving gets blurred.

This year, I have lost more dear friends, neighbors, and close Parkinson’s disease colleagues than I can count on my fingers. Loss of loved ones, both friends and family are so bittersweet as I rejoice in having been part of their lives, yet mourn that those days have ended.

As the year quickly ends, I am ever so grateful for my wife and best friend, Angela, my wacky and hilarious chocolate lab, Lily, my relatives all across the United States, my dear Reiki and Parkinson’s families, and you the reader/subscriber who takes time out of your busy day to read my latest blog post. I am grateful!

Thank You!

Happy Thanksgiving!

10 Tips to Improving Your Life with Parkinson’s Disease and Other Health Conditions

10 Tips to Improving Your Life with Parkinson’s Disease and Other Health Conditions

Parkinson’s disease is an illness that may require varying strategies. It may take new and different tactics to work with the ever-evolving changes that may pop up over time. Here are a few pieces of advice to consider as they may help you as they have helped me:

10) Intake Matters – Consider everything that you put into your body. Stay hydrated! Eat as cleanly as you can (local organic fresh vegetables, balanced diet, pay attention to your nutrition) and going easy on processed foods. Try reducing and even eliminating soft drinks. Avoid artificial sweeteners! Diet and Parkinson’s disease seem to go together; which makes complete sense, as reams of research seem to point to the gut as a possible culprit for the illness. Since going vegetarian, by vastly reducing my soft drink intake, increasing my water consumption, and reducing my reliance on processed foods, I have noticed digestion and medication absorption both, seem to have improved.

9) Keeping Social and Well – Informed – Creating and maintaining a social life keeps you involved, knowledgeable, engaged, and active. A social network and/or a support group is an opportunity to connect with other like-minded individuals who are dealing with your condition. Sharing information together provides you with a resource for experience and wisdom from those who are living with illness as well as those who are caring for loved ones. Having a sounding-board of experienced people can be very helpful when trying to learn about medications, navigate local resources, find therapies, and share stories about your health care providers. Seek support!

8) Lowering Your Stress Level and Keeping Anxiety Down – There are techniques and complementary therapies like massage, yoga, meditation, Reiki, and Tai chi, which can reduce stress anxiety, and calm the mind; these are but a few of the many therapies that you might consider trying. Several of these therapies can help teach breathing techniques and ways to lower anxiety. Finding that balance of your mind, body, and spirit can have a significant impact on your health.

7) Special Doctor – If you have Parkinson’s disease or another kind of movement disorder, find a neurologist who is specially trained as a Movement Disorder Specialist. They have extra training and an understanding in neurological disorders.

6) Keeping Positive – A positive attitude is contagious. Making the choice of staying positive and identifying the good instead of the negative is important to create a healthy and conducive environment. Remember that you have a choice!

5) Gratitude – Hold on to your joy for life and the gratitude for all that is in your life! Appreciate what may seem like small things but really are not, is a good start. Medicine, doctors, clean water and air, a good meal, friends, family, and just being alive are all to be appreciated. Add the awe of a sunrise, a sunset, a good laugh, great conversation, and helping someone else, are all acts to be cherished.

4) Doing What You Can – Do as much as you can, while you can, and maximize your good days! Take advantage of everyday and make the most of them!

3) Be Heard – Get involved in your community through advocacy groups, local organizations, and share your voice about your journey with illness. Educate those around you about your illness and encourage friends and family to learn with you on how to improve the Parkinson’s community.

2) Do Something – If you are in denial, apathetic, or depressed, it may be very difficult to motivate yourself to do what you need to do. It may be helpful to seek help from a counselor or someone who understands depression. This may take small victories and small steps. It may take learning about the disease in small chunks. Know this, that everyone’s journey is different and that you can’t gauge one patient by another. The more proactive and motivated you are, the more prepared you will be. Being flexible and staying open to new opportunities can be very helpful.

1) You are Not Powerless – Realize that you are in the driver’s seat to your healthcare! You must be your own best advocate and make sure that you are doing your very best. Be proactive with conventional medicine, skeptical but open to other non-invasive therapies, and a willingness for change. A little hope and faith can go a long way!

I really do believe that we have the power to help ourselves. We have the power locked inside ourselves, we just need the right key to unlock it. I think it is up to us to find that key.

Enjoy #SingOut2017 Concert via Live Stream tomorrow 9/9 2pm CDT 

Watch the world’s largest Parkinson choir give a concert tomorrow, Saturday 9/9 at 2pm CDT. You can watch the performance either in person at Richardson High School

1250 W. Belt Line Road, Richardson, Texas 75080

-Complimentary Valet Parking

-Reception to Follow Performance

or watch the LIVE stream of the concert at the Parkinson Voice Project Facebook page.  For more information you can also visit: http://www.parkinsonvoiceproject.org/ShowContent.aspx?i=1834

It’s so inspirational and moving to witness over 100 unified parkinson voices as one loud harmony! You need to hear it and share the triumph of these singers as they raise their voice in song. I encourage you to listen and experience this magical presentation.

Just so you know, I am a supporter and board member of the Parkinson Voice Project and have been for over ten years.

Book Review: Parkinson Voice Project

Dealing and Healing with Parkinson's Disease and Other Health Conditions: A Workbook for Body, Mind, and Spirit

Dealing and Healing with Parkinson’s Disease and Other Health Conditions: A Workbook for Body, Mind, and Spirit

My many thanks  to my friends at the Parkinson Voice Project in Richardson, Texas for this generous review of our second book!

Book Review by LOUD Crowd® Member Carol Brandle

TITLE: Dealing and Healing with Parkinson’s Disease and Other Health Conditions: A Workbook
for Body, Mind, and Spirit
BY: Angela and Karl Robb

Having a workbook to accompany the best-selling Parkinson’s book, A Soft Voice in a Noisy
World, provides an excellent wellness tool for individuals or group discussion. Questions in the
workbook are closely paired with chapters in the book. Additionally, some questions shine light
on new ideas, such as complementary therapies like Reiki, massage, acupuncture, and
reflexology.

Karl Robb brings the same positive attitude, hope, and strength to this workbook as to his
book, A Soft a Voice in a Noisy World. Exercises which reduce stress and reaffirm strength can be
done as individuals or in communication groups, such as The LOUD Crowd® groups at Parkinson
Voice Project. A caregiver or partner might use the questions to strike up meaningful
conversation with the affected person, whether Parkinson’s is the health concern, or some other
health conditions. Either format will help you balance the connection between mind, body, and
spirit.

It’s apparent that Angela and Robb write from a wealth of experience as they direct
questions to sensitive issues, such as “What are you willing to do to help yourself?” and creating
a timeline to improve communication with a health care provider. Angela was honored in 2015
as a White House Champion of Change in Parkinson’s Disease. She and Karl also author an award winning
blog, http://www.asoftvoice.com


Angela and I have been fans, friends, and Board members of the Parkinson Voice Project for several years. We encourage anyone unfamiliar with this organization to learn about the wonderful work that they do.

Guest Blogging for PatientsLikeMe #MoreThan Campaign

I am so excited to be part of the @PatientsLikeMe #MoreThan campaign! I recently wrote a blog posting for the PatientsLikeMe blog, which you can read here. I encourage you to tell the world about your #MoreThan story via your social outlets. Sharing your story can help inspire, motivate, and educate. Showing the world that we are #MoreThan our illness is a powerful reminder that those of us dealing with illnesses have families, hopes, dreams, and goals just like everyone without this additional challenge. There is something very powerful about one’s personal story along with a photo. Making your voice heard is crucial for awareness, unity, and community! Thanks to @PatientsLikeMe for this opportunity.

#MoreThan Parkinson's PatientsLikeMe - Karl Robb

#MoreThan Parkinson’s PatientsLikeMe

Preserving the Smile

Parkinson’s Disease can take away the very basic but vital skills that we treasure and sometimes take for granted. Facial masking, or loss of obvious facial emotion can make identifying a Parkinson’s patient’s state of emotion very hard to read, by observation. Due to muscle tightness and rigidity in the jaw and facial muscles, some patients find it difficult to smile.

Just taking the time on a daily basis and scrunching your face in the mirror, wiggling your tongue back and forth, and squinting your eyes and face can be a great way to keep the face a little more limber. That’s what I do!

A smile is not to be wasted nor forgotten. Use your smile and share it with the world. Sometimes we forget to smile and the power that comes with it. If those facial muscles are a challenge for your smile, do what you can to work to keep those facial muscles as limber as you can and keep that bright smile. A smile is a viral gift that often comes back, when shared with others.

We shouldn’t have to, but Parkinson’s disease may make us have to practice smiling, instead of just doing it naturally.

Remembering Those Before Us!

PD Tulip

As Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month comes to a close, as one well too familiar with this illness, I am compelled to bring awareness to those who have left us in the struggle. I am so very grateful to have known them and to have shared their stories and their lives. Losing friends, whether it is from PD or not, is a pain that I dread. Yet, death is a fact of life that none of us likes to talk about or truly accept. I am so grateful for the friendship and acceptance that our PD community continues to share. I truly hope that all 12 months become months of Parkinson’s Disease Awareness–not just one!

Some Rediscovered Observations–Worth Sharing

PathwayHere are some thoughts and tips that I wrote down awhile back and found again-I hope that they are    helpful:

1. It is a new year–full of exciting opportunities to explore. Keep your options open and remain flexible to new possibilities. Be open and a little cautious,too.

2. Keeping a positive and hopeful outlook isn’t always easy for some of us. Following through the hardest times makes even the smallest joys of life that much sweeter.

3. Staying social and active are crucial to anyone facing an illness. The stronger your support team–the stronger you are!

4. Diet, sleep, and stress can alter everything–it’s up to you how you monitor them.

5. Stay focused and on track. Targeting a cause can pinpoint your goal and keep you motivated and clear.

6. Embrace the day–there is no need to attack it.

Please share it–if you like it.

 

Motivation

What gets you out of bed every day?
What makes you happy?
What inspires you?

Every day may be about small victories.

They count.

Be proud of your achievements.

Don’t discount yourself or what you accomplish.

Winter Can Be Cruel

Cold WinterAs a child, I used to love winter. I would sled and ski and didn’t give the bitter cold a second thought. Now, I am less oblivious and less tolerant of the cold. My body functions and just moves more freely in warmer climates. Cold seems to cause greater constriction of the joints and even the muscles.

Winter doesn’t just bring on change of the physical body but with light changes and shorter days, the changes may impact your mood. Keep a close eye on your daily attitude and if you experience thoughts or feelings that you need to express (sadness, possible depression, or anger) consider getting help and stay on top of it, before it manifests into something you can’t control.

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