Blog Archives

10 Holiday Suggestions For Those Dealing With Parkinson’s Disease

Christmas Lights

Christmas Lights

The Holiday Season means parties, presents, parents, and packing on pounds. It is a special time when family comes together to share the joy and celebration. This time of year can also be difficult and trying for many people due to finances, loss of family members, or just trying to coordinate the added responsibility that comes with this time of year.

The added pressure of trying to produce “the right gift” and to cook “the right meal” on top of dealing with your Parkinson’s disease probably isn’t of benefit to your condition. I know from experience, that when I am overloaded with a laundry list of to-do items and I am facing deadlines, stress and tension builds higher and higher – only to make my PD worsen.

Here are a few suggestions to remind you how to maintain your meds, your mind, and your overall well-being over the holidays:

  1. Travel can interject a scramble in timing your medications on an irregular schedule and for people with Parkinson’s, timing can be everything. Do your best to sustain as close to your usual schedule as you can to maintain an even stream of your medications. If you need a reminder, use your cell phone or your spouse’s phone to make sure that you don’t miss a dose.
  2. The Holidays bring on huge changes in our eating habits as we eat and drink more, often of foods that we may not eat at other times of the year. Sweets, pastries, and other rich foods can play a part in reducing your maximum absorption of your medications, so pay attention to what you are eating and how much of it you intake. I find alcohol fiddles with my pills, so I try to not drink at all, but if you do, just pay attention to the impact it may have on what you are taking.
  3. It can become overwhelming when we have multiple family members from multiple families, kids, animals, music, technology, and food and drink, and loud conversation, all in one room. The energy and space can become overwhelming and feel a little enclosing. We all have different stress triggers that evoke our symptoms to come out more. Be aware what induces certain thoughts and feelings, before the trigger takes hold, if you can. The key is being aware of the situation that you are in at the time.
  4. Be sure and take time for yourself, when you need it! Everyone at the party and celebration wants you to be at your best and if it means you need to take a little extra time to get ready, ask for a change in food or drink, take a rest, or need to lower the music to be heard better in conversation, I would think that those slight concessions would gladly be made for you.
  5. Remember to breathe, breathe, breathe! Deep breathing is something very few of us do enough. It feels so good to breath deeply.
  6. Go into each event expecting to have a good time and to really enjoy yourself. Keep your expectations in check and just be present.
  7. Stay as active as you normally would on any other day. Keep on your normal health regimen of exercise, sleep, and diet (as best you can) to keep up daily maintenance.
  8. Address your needs to speak of those you have lost or miss if you can, without interfering with those who may not want to deal with past issues. I like to just light a candle in remembrance of those who are unable t be with us, as this is a way of honoring their memory.
  9. If stress creeps in and you need something, check out my last blog post on the program, HeadSpace and see if this App does’t help clear some tension and anxiety.
  10. Lastly, this time of year should be about whatever you want it to be. Placing expectations and conditions on what you hope or think it should be, only weighs you down. If you build up expectations, it can lead to less successful outcomes. Just being as good as you can be at the time of the event, and being yourself, without expectation, may just allow you to find that you enjoy all your events, even more!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

A Danger In Profiling

Is Profiling Really Right?

I am worried! I’ll tell you why. The Transportation Security Agency (TSA), the people looking out for us at the airports and train stations are going to be profiling passengers. They are on the lookout for people that stand out in the crowd—people that move differently and may appear to be nervous, stutter, or seem to have something to hide.

Parkinson’s patients may fidget, tremor, or shake to and fro, at any time for any unknown reason. Stuttering, stammering, or broken speech can be part of the illness—does TSA know this? Who is training TSA about the thousands if not millions of people who travel with neurological disorders? If isn’t Parkinson’s, it could be one of the many other illnesses that calls attention to the patient. Stress and anxiety strike even the healthiest of the population at certain times of his or her lives—how does a TSA agent, someone unfamiliar and void of neurological conditions make the judgment to dismiss one person acting strangely over another to a traveler acting strangely due to a medical condition?

About 4 years ago, my wife and I were traveling to go to Florida. On this one occasion, I would take a walking stick that hikers use and can be adjusted to work as a monopod for stabilizing a camera. I decided it wouldn’t be a problem since the stick was retractable and very portable.

Security went smoothly, until I passed through the metal detector. I was fine, but the young woman scanning my carry-on and now, the stick, eyed it like she had never seen a walking stick before. Her perplexed expression confused my wife and me but we hoped that wasn’t going to last—it did. She called over a tall, pushy, young, man in his late 20’s to ask me what this was and to tell me how he was going to proceed to dismantle it in front of me. I immediately snapped back,

“If you break it, you buy it! It’s a simple spring-loaded walking stick! I have Parkinson’s disease and on occasion I find it helpful! Last week, the tension spring on the stick got stuck and it took me an hour to get it right and if you disassemble it, this thing will never work right!”

 To my amazement, the kid eyed me, eyed the stick, and handed it back to me. My outburst had paid off and we were free to be on our way.

Here is an example of our culture making life more difficult rather than easier. I understand the need for security on our planes, trains, ships, and highways, but I also think that those inspecting the cargo and passengers should have knowledge about what and who they are inspecting—don’t you?

%d bloggers like this: