Parkinson’s Can’t Stop Us!
Although Parkinson’s is believed to be an illness which affects older individuals, it does not discriminate based on social status, ethnicity, gender, or religious beliefs. As the world population ages so is the rise of PD expected to increase.
With so many people young and old being afflicted with this illness: how does one manage not only to survive but actually thrive?
Here are a few tips which have helped me in taking back control of my life.
First and foremost is getting the right diagnosis and starting early treatment. Although no current neuroprotective agents are available, I like many Parkinson’s specialists believe that starting treatment early DOES make a difference in quality of life. I know many patients are afraid to take medications and suffer the side effects but it’s like having a motor run out of oil. The motor can continue to work if oil is added rather than keep running it until it all falls apart. Replacing the oil may be a pain but by doing so we can continue to use it for a longer period of time. After all, we want both quality and longevity. But if we can’t have both, quality over quantity is always best!
Find a doctor who listens
I am extremely fortunate to have my friend as a physician. I don’t know where I would be without her help and constant support. Give doctors a couple of tries before you decide they are not a good fit. Remember, doctor-patient relationships take time to develop. It takes time to develop a solid foundation. Keep an open communication and make sure that both sides are working in unison. You know your body best but your doctors have the knowledge we may lack to maintain and maximize our functioning.
Voice your concerns! I frequently say no more than three issues at a time so as to not overwhelm your physicians and ensure all your needs are met. Don’t be afraid to request appointments sooner to discuss any other issues (e.g. social concerns).
Schedule yourself first
We need to learn to put ourselves first. Many of you, like me, have always played the role of the caregiver and may find yourselves out of sorts when asked to consider your needs first. However, if you are a mom, spouse, caregiver, etc., those who depend on you will suffer the most if you are unable to care for them any longer. So by making sure you are at the top of your game you can continue those roles more successfully. By making sure I rest before any activities my daughter has, I am able to give her all my support and feel good as a mom.
Don’t give up
The good news is that we now have many new treatments which can give us a better chance to tackle and not just live with PD, but give the chance to thrive. However, it is important to keep in mind that even when a first or second treatment does not work, you should not give up. Be open to treatments – even ones which did not work the first time because our bodies and our disease change over time.
We all need a reason for living, fighting, getting up and showing up. For some, it may be God, their children, the love of their lives, or some other force like boxing, etc. The important thing is to find a passion which drives you. As long as you fuel your passion, your soul will never surrender. A key to thriving is love for self, for God and for others!