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How Parkinson's Helps Me Cope During These Challenging Times

Does having Parkinson's disease (PD) make it easier to deal with the current COVID-19 pandemic? I have found that it does. At least for me.

What I have learned about living with PD has helped me cope with the pandemic.

Lesson #1: Be patient

One thing I have learned after being diagnosed with PD is the value of being patient. I am patiently waiting for new drugs to treat and, hopefully, cure PD and remind myself that the process of developing a new drug can be long and expensive.

The fact that the gold standard for treating PD, carbidopa/levodopa, was developed decades ago is evidence of the paucity of new drugs for treating PD. Drugs are in the pipeline but it may take many more years of clinical trials before they are if ever, approved.

By contrast, having a vaccine for COVID-19 ready by the end of 2020 or in 2021 would be remarkable. That’s lightning speed!

Lesson #2: Stay flexible and adapt to the new normal

Everybody’s life has been turned upside down during the pandemic. Travel is curtailed, masks and social distancing have become the norm, schools have gone virtual, sports are being played without spectators if played at all, theaters have gone dark, etc. We all hope we can go back to life as it was pre-COVID.

Adapting to the changes has been difficult for some, however, I have found having PD has made it easier for me to adapt to the new normal. Since I was diagnosed over 10 years ago, I’ve had to make adjustments to my lifestyle due to PD.

I adhere to a strict schedule when taking my PD medications, I have to maintain a low protein diet during the day to increase the effectiveness of my medication, I exercise religiously to slow disease progression, I have to regularly charge the batteries for my neurostimulator. Everyday activities like taking a shower and getting dressed take a little longer than they used to. So, dealing with the change during the pandemic is easier.

Lesson #3: Maintain a positive attitude

Perhaps the most important lesson I have learned since I was diagnosed with PD is to maintain a positive attitude. For many, this is not easy - depression is a condition that affects many with PD. However, making an effort to have a positive outlook has helped me live with PD.

In the current pandemic, I have also found the benefits of a positive attitude. I try to look at the positive side of things though at times that can be very difficult. For example, quarantining at home gives me more quality time with my spouse, not being able to do any foreign traveling causes me to take some domestic trips I have been putting off, and having Zoom calls with friends has deepened my connections with others. Still, I yearn for the day when this pandemic has passed us and we can resume life as normal. Stay safe!

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