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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.

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.

Out of Control

Out Of ControlParkinson’s Disease agonist medications (Requip and Mirapex) have been shown to cause compulsive behavior for some users. Some users have been shown to be prone to gambling addiction, sex addiction, shopping addiction, food addiction, and gaming addiction may occur. Compulsion may even entice users to go beyond legal limits to feed their desire or lose sense of time.

If you find yourself facing any kind of compulsive behavior that may be taking you away from friends and family, or is disrupting your life, tell your neurologist and someone close to you about breaking the cycle. Communication is so vital to your well-being. Carrying secrets only fuels the tension and stress on the mind and body. Letting go and making a change (with your neurologist’s help) might just be the right move forward.

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.

Some Do’s and Don’ts For A Better You

Pay close attention to changes.

Pay close attention to changes.

Once you find a routine that works well it becomes comfortable and automatic. The routine would be wonderful but adjustments must be made, because when one is dealing with Parkinson’s disease, the rules as we knew them change on us. The alteration in what was once normal can be both perplexing and sheer upheaval. The uncomfortable trick to working with this illness, and not fighting it, is analyzing what the body has changed and how do I counter-move to the newest change.  The process is difficult and a tremendous challenge. I can speak from my own experience that as I continue to make slight adjustments in my daily life, I can tweak what isn’t working and slowly implement something new that might help. Part of the process is keeping an open-mind and a willingness to try what may be considered “unconventional”.

Here are 5 items to consider:

  1. Do- Keep a close eye on your medicine regimen. You don’t want to spike your dopamine level nor do you want it to plummet. Keeping the same schedule daily is your best bet for maintaining an even flow of medicine.
  2. Don’t–Avoid or at least reduce your consumption of  high protein foods, high sodium foods, fatty foods, and unhealthy processed foods that may be interfering with your medications.
  3. Do-Something as simple as a banana before bedtime may reduce muscle cramping and improve your sleep. I’ve seen it work!
  4. Do–Breathing is an action many of us take for granted. The problem that I have found for many parkinsonians is that we don’t breath as deeply as we are able. Focusing on our breath and making sure that we are processing as much oxygen as we can is of vital importance. Through awareness, practice, and maybe some help through your local yoga teacher or an online video, you may expand your breath capacity.
  5. Do–Speak up –if you aren’t getting what you need from your support group, tell them what you need or start your own group.

Making slight and subtle changes everyday may be very beneficial!

The Frustration

Why is it that some people who need help ask for help and when help is provided, the assistance is rejected?  I can’t tell you how many times I have come across this scenario.  I try not to offer advice unless the advice is requested. You would think that if someone were open enough to ask for help, then they might be open enough to try the advice.

Those Parkinsonians who are unwilling to take charge of their meds or their condition are going to face an uphill battle and make the future that much harder on themselves.  A small change in our bodies can set an array of problems off that we would never expect.  For example, a minor toe infection can throw off your walking, your comfort, and lead to a fall down the steps. I have seen things very similar to this account.  If you are able to address what appears to be insignificant and stamp it out early, the small stuff doesn’t go rampant.  If left unattended, the scab may lead to infection and worse.  A big component of self-care is knowing your body’s strengths and weaknesses.

Something as simple as missing meals, dehydration, or poor nutrition can lead to a laundry list of blood, psychological, and balance related issues that throw the whole body out of balance. People with Parkinson’s disease are prone to low vitamin D levels which may bring about stability and bone issues, according to medical websites.  Keeping up on your nutrition and staying current on your regimen of medicines is vital to receive maximum benefit. When we fail to monitor our body and our condition, we put ourselves in harm’s way and open ourselves to damage more of our systems.

I am not a doctor and this is just my opinion. This is NOT medical advice—it is just what I think.

Join us online December 9, 2012 to discuss Parkinson’s Disease!

Join me, Karl Robb and my guest host, Angela Robb, as we answer questions and discuss issues impacting Parkinson’s disease(PD) patients, caregivers/care-partners, and those who want more information about living well with PD. Thanks to Robert Rodgers (www.parkinsonsrecovery.com) for the chance to guest host. Feel free to submit a question before the web show by logging into the web link and password below or phone your questions in live with the provided information and code below, on the day of the show (Sunday, December 9, 2012 at 5:00 PM Eastern Standard or 2:00 PM Pacific)

See the online and phone information below for show details:

http://InstantTeleseminar.com/?eventid=35333202

Online Event password: karl2012

Primary dial in number: (206) 402-0100

Secondary dial in number: (323) 476-3672

Dial in password: 200414#

Summer Color

Summer color and flavor

It’s A Fast-Paced World

We live in a world of faster is better: food-service, information and news, data/technology, and most everything else. In a society expecting speed and instant gratification, someone with Parkinson’s disease (PD) or any neurological disorder is at a distinct disadvantage. When time is considered money and faster is better, the individual with PD suffers because he or she may lack the ability to move into fifth gear. What the person with PD does receive is the opportunity and challenge of learning true patience and the ability to learn to live in the moment.

Part of living with PD is the act of acceptance. This does not mean that you don’t continue to seek bettering yourself and finding therapies, but it means accepting that you are different and finding comfort in your own skin.  Finding the balance in one’s life is a constant challenge. When illness is involved, if not put into perspective, can compound the stress and anxiety of basic daily living.

Coming to grips with your illness may take time and effort. In many cases it may seem impossible, but it isn’t. Seek out the part of you that is able to navigate the inner workings of your mind, body, and soul (spirit) to realize that this is a challenge, but one that you can meet. We are stronger and more capable than we know. Adversity can bring out the very best in us and release strengths that we forgot we ever had. Part of accepting an illness is keeping up the necessary search for relief and bettering oneself through proper nutrition, exercise,  medical care, good drug management, and willingness to explore non-invasive complimentary therapies that may potentially improve one’s condition. An open and flexible mind may serve you well in seeking answers and solutions concerning your condition.

What Are You Willing To Do To Help Yourself?

How far are you willing to go to help yourself? Would you try a complementary therapy that  made little sense to you but may have real benefit? Would you sell your favorite objects to gain back your health? Would you change your diet, your job, and/or your residence to get better? How open is your mind to the investigation of learning to find the answers of your illness and healing yourself?

Whether you have Parkinson’s disease, have some other ailment, or issue in your life, there is probably an element in your life that could use improving. I have yet to meet the individual who has been able to manage their daily stress, issues from their past, or fears, and not be in need of at least a little assistance.

Today, I can say that I am better now than I was 10 years ago. Having had Parkinson’s for over 20 years, I see this as remarkable and nearly miraculous. My medications haven’t changed for many years and if they have changed at all, it was a slight reduction in pills and not an increase. I can control almost all of my symptoms thanks to Reiki (complementary therapy energy work—see my prior postings on Reiki). I am not at 100 percent, yet, but it took a long time to get sick and it will a long time to totally heal.

I don’t like the words “chronic”, “degenerative”,   and “incurable”, and yet these are the words that label Parkinson’s and so many other illnesses. With these words, the medical community offers nothing but doom and gloom when what is needed is encouragement for motivation and life change.  Hope and direction is often what the patient needs. Sometimes a shift in thinking, perception, outlook, emotions, diet, lifestyle, and openness to healing is enough to make the transition improving one’s condition and see an improvement. For myself,  the gradual  transition to improving took time, energy, dedication, and sacrifice. Getting better for most of us Is not going to be a quick and easy fix, but if you open your mind to explore outside your comfort zone, you may very well find yourself seeing improvement in your overall health.

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