Parkinson’s is an inherently confusing disease with symptoms constantly ebbing and flowing. When first diagnosed, Parkinson’s seemed to be toying with me, allowing five years before I started taking Levodopa, the only medication, in my opinion, that significantly eases symptoms.
Parkinson’s is a supremely patient adversary, demanding more Levodopa until the side effects produce such painful and debilitating movements that they are worse than the disease.
There are few options available at this stage of disease progression. Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) is the most common, but only if you are fortunate enough to prove sufficiently psychologically resilient. DBS temporarily masks symptoms while Parkinson’s steadily grows more robust. Still, DBS brought me six quality years.
So, nearly 18 years after diagnosis, how do I explain such beautiful days as my recent rigorous hike followed by a quarter mile, 50-degree swim? While not necessarily able to slow PD’s progression, there are lifestyle changes that can leverage good humor to find strength in weakness.
Diet, exercise, sleep and keeping active impact Parkinson’s ability to overwhelm. A brutally honest appraisal of life and what will happen after death (spirituality) helps self-regulate mood in a disease that depletes the body’s reward mechanism, dopamine. Lastly, putting concern for others ahead of yourself and having compassion for all creatures puts things in perspective. I have no problems.
It feels good to be out of breath in pain’s eager embrace, wondering if your heart will give out while knowing from the depths of your soul that fate would never allow such an accessible retreat from circumstance, settling into a peaceful surrender to life’s flow.
Laughing freely in this singular expression of grace ushers in a joy unobtainable from all the world’s money, power, or fame. I am grateful beyond measure to be blessed in all respects that matter.