Living with Parkinson's Disease Is No Walk in the Park
Last updated: February 2023
Let’s get real ... living with Parkinson’s disease (PD) is no walk in the park (pardon my pun.) Parkinson’s disease is a serious chronic, progressive, and debilitating disease. It is ruthless to those afflicted and their families. There isn’t an objective test for it. There are selective treatment options, but no cure yet.
As one who has Parkinson’s, initially, it was a life-changing diagnosis. My prior healthy life was disappearing from my purview little by little. It was slowly replaced with signs and symptoms of PD. Once it invades your body, the attack starts. My body was being ravaged 24 hours a day, every day.
My total being was being brutally transformed socially, emotionally, and intellectually by this insidious disease. Before the diagnosis, I was a relatively healthy person. Now, in a weakened state, my body is engaged in a war within itself to fight for the parts that PD has already claimed. Here are 5 things that I think about most often with Parkinson's.
Accepting my diagnosis
I cannot be like an ostrich with its head on the ground ignoring this dreadful disease. I had to accept that for the rest of my life, unless a cure is found, I would be living with a life-altering illness.
There are exercises and activities that I must religiously complete daily. These activities will hopefully slow the progression of this debilitating disease. I must maintain the performance levels that I have previously achieved to thwart the inevitable Parkinson’s.
I must constantly research and educate myself on the current PD literature. I must discuss my findings with my doctors to hear about the pros and cons. Internet research can lead you to dangerous and false information on PD. Official sources from governmental agencies and research facilities are usually unbiased.
Changes in my social life
Unfortunately, my social life has also changed. I am now more housebound since I gave up driving and due to my progressive limitations on walking and the risks of falling. In addition, fatigue is more challenging, too. I cannot do things for a full day that I was once was able to achieve. Therefore, I have to pick and choose which social events I put on my calendar for that day.
Cognitive and intellectual changes
I face cognitive and intellectual changes that are slowly progressing. My executive functioning and memory are becoming more affected. My ability to process information is slowing down.
Parkinson's can cause many physical changes:
Tremor - The shaking in my hands has caused my handwriting to become illegible. I've learned that governmental forms that need to compare your signature should be frequently updated as your signature changes.
Slowed movement - Slowed movement, or bradykinesia, has caused simple tasks to become more difficult and time-consuming
Muscle stiffness -Stiffening muscles may occur in any part of your body. They can be painful and limit the range of motion abilities.1
Impaired balance - Falling is becoming more frequent. I've experienced difficulty with balance. Getting in and out of a bed or a chair is becoming more challenging.
Speech changes - PD can lead to monotone, slurred, low volume, or rapid rate of speech. Misarticulations, word-finding, and inaudible voice makes communication more difficult with others.2
How I address these changes
To combat these changes due to Parkinson's disease, I participate in physical, occupational, and speech therapies to assist me in maintaining my current levels of functioning. I also take my medicines on time daily.
Do you experience issues with spatial awareness?