Resilience and flexibility are two traits that we all have and often forget to use.
Today, of all days is the perfect time to discuss the subject of change. Today, in the United States, millions of voters will have the opportunity to let their voices be heard with a single vote to impact their government. Millions of dollars will have been spent in campaign advertising to insult their opponent, praise or question the current or past administration, or just be terribly annoying, until the next election.
I, for one, cannot wait to see these divisive, bitter, mudslinging, name-calling, unbecoming, childish, messages turn into vapor and return to the barrage of those amusing pharmaceutical ads that we all enjoy at breakfast and dinner time.
If just a small percentage of this political advertising bounty were used to inform the public about the needs of the Parkinson’s world, we could educate the planet on identifying, treating, and caring for patients far earlier in their treatment and improving their care for a disease that has no cure. What could be a more noble use of funds than educating the masses about an illness that is so misunderstood and so poorly explored publicly?
Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurological disorder in America with an estimated 6 million cases worldwide and approximately 1-1.5 million people in the United States. Even these numbers are suspect for lack of updating and availability to necessary data for making better estimates. For as far as we have come over the 52 years of my life and the 30 years that I have lived with Parkinson’s disease, I see a need for a similar buzz for change, much like the excitement that is in the air on this election day and eve.
If you are anything like me, you probably don’t need a raging lunatic with a butcher knife and a hockey mask to get scared. Maybe a speedy roller coaster or a week or more without sunlight would fit in the category of frightening! Okay, this is pretty much a blog on Parkinson’s disease and I will admit that this illness can be very scary, but it doesn’t have to be terrifying.
Some of our fears are truly justified and are there for a reason. Fears can be mechanisms that remind us not to get too close to a fire or to avoid approaching the lion’s den, but then there are those fears that perpetuate themselves and may get away from us. Fears, like wildfires, can get fanned and grow into severe anxiety, causing more and more negative emotions. Fears of the unknown or visions of our mind that manifest from our sub-conscience may just arise. When anxiety, frustration, and stress lead into depression or despair, we have a huge problem to resolve, quickly!
Fear is that four letter word that can motivate us or hold us back from fulfilling our destiny and our dreams. People share with me how impressed they are that I wrote a book. As much as I appreciate the praise and well wishes, I tell them that anyone and everyone can write a book. Overcoming the fear to put your story or viewpoints on paper or the web takes some gumption and willingness to be completely frank, yet vulnerable. Just like writing, public speaking is frightening, exhilarating, exhausting, and empowering, all in one.
Some fears are ours to conquer. Some fears are meant to be respected and accepted. Most of us know deep down, which ones are which, but it is when we choose the wrong fear to meddle with, that may cause problems, danger, harm, or insult.
Overcoming our fears is a step-by-step piece of our growth to becoming stronger individuals. A big part of learning and improving ourselves is to expand our knowledge base and to find the tools that may assist us in calming our fears.
Rigidity in thought and body may go hand in hand. Rigidity can be many people’s main complaint when they are first diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Keeping active, moving, exercise, and stretching are just a few of the tools to keep in mind when your body starts to stiffen up.
As we age, it gets easier and easier to become so convinced that there is only one way to do something. When we get to this mentality that there is only one correct answer, we may be shorting ourselves of new pathways and seeking new alternatives. The sooner that we accept the way we used to do a certain task may have changed, the sooner we can create a plan to identify and try a new method. Flexibility in body, mind, and attitude are necessary when considering what it is you want to tweak with your illness. Sometimes, it may take a slight increase in medication to improve your on-time and reduce symptoms of the disease. Sometimes, thinking outside the usual structure of traditional medicine can be fruitful.
Had I not incorporated reiki, massage, meditation, qigong, yoga, exercise, and reflexology, all in to my life, I honestly don’t know where I’d be. I can tell you this, at first, I was not a believer. It took a leap of faith and necessity to get there. Had I not gone outside my comfort zone, I would never have benefited from these various therapies
For those who question the true benefits of complementary therapies, I ask this: Don’t you think that these therapies might have some merit if they’ve been around for hundreds to thousands of years? Is skepticism holding you back from trying something new? Is it time? Is it money? What holds you back from exploring new options of helping yourself?
Adding a new practice, therapy, or routine to your health regimen takes some investigation, research, and commitment. Keeping positive and remaining hopeful are beneficial in whatever you choose to try.
Depending upon your choice of therapy, it may be important to confirm with your physician, neurologist, or specialist, just to be safe. I am not a doctor! I am a Parkinson’s patient of over 30 years that can declare benefit and relief from these therapies.
Without some sort of plan or framework, it is very easy to get lost along the way. Whether you have Parkinson’s disease or not, just having goals may not be enough, as unexpected obstacles can arise at the most inconvenient of times. There is so much in our lives that we can’t expect, but must just accept and move on, as best we can. Our perspective and flexibility can impact how we deal with adversity.
The following few tips are some thoughts and suggestions that you may want to consider. I hope that these tips might trigger some revelations for you.
Consider building a series of plans from your personal medical team, your support network, your health team (trainer, physical therapist, massage therapist, speech pathologist, etc.). Some of these networks may overlap and vary as your providers may change over time.
Keeping current on developments and timely releases about your illness is not only empowering but beneficial to both you and those who you choose to enlighten.
If you have early onset Parkinson’s disease, I strongly suggest for you to consider finding a Neurologist who is a Movement Disorder Specialist, as they have special training dedicated to this illness.
Don’t compare or contrast your Parkinson’s to anyone else’s. We each have our own flavor of Parkinson’s and we each have our own unique journey.
Timing our medications is a crucial component to making the most of our day. Maintaining and strictly adhering to a timely regimen where your medications can work at their best, takes experimentation and some trial and error.
Try not thinking of illness of any kind as a war, a battle, or a win or loss. Consider illness as an obstacle or an obstruction that must be worked around. No one wins a war. War is dark and violent. Maybe, a new perspective towards illness can take some of the anxiety out of it.
Explore the numerous therapies outside of western medicine to see if you can find one that offers benefit or relief. Get good referrals from friends and family.
Keep an open mind to relinquishing some of the responsibility for the good of lowering your stress level and improving your mental health.
Do what you can, while you can! Whether you are healthy or have illness in your life, consider that our control is limited.
While there is definitive change in our lives and the options may vary or seem more limited, we must recognize that we have more strength and control than we realize.