Spilled water feeds into "Denial" river. A sad hand weight leans against the Nile's hills and looks on sadly.

Denial Ain't Just A River In Egypt

Prior to my diagnosis of Parkinson's disease at age 32, I was a pretty active chick. I loved a challenge. I had heard about CrossFit training, which is an extreme form of exercise and I enjoyed the intense classes. Then a Diva named Parkinson's took over my body and everything changed.

New worries

Now I had to worry about... Are my medications on? Do I feel dizzy or in pain? Can I move with ease? What if I dropped a dumbbell, would people stare at me? What am I going to wear? If I go to a scheduled class, will my body be in the best state for exercise during that hour? What if I get dystonia...wait...don't say it, or it will happen! What exercises can I do today? I know I can't lift the amount of weight I used to be able to do? Am I a loser? I feel fatigued. What shoes will I wear that will keep me from cramping...dammit! I said it! Now I have dystonia!

Fish out of water

But even with all this noise going on in my head....those damn voices...I am still determined to believe I can do anything, so there I am standing in front of the local CrossFit gym in my new workout pants and matching shirt, holding my water bottle and towel, which I am sure I won't need because of my amazing fitness physique. A group of ladies stood at the entrance waiting for class to start and asked, "Is this your first class?" I responded, "Oh no, I used to do CrossFit years ago and I loved it so much, I wanted to get back into it." A few ladies mentioned that this would be their first class, so I felt it was my duty to catch them up to speed with my vast knowledge of the sport.

The instructor calls our class over to begin. There are around 15 people, various genders and body types. After attendance had been taken, our teacher tells us to run 400 meters. I first think, "I haven't run for over a year!" But everyone in the class begins to jog, and my ego says, "Suck it up! You ran a 5K mud run... stop whining." I pick up my stride to hang with the group.

Not even halfway through, I start to fall behind. Everyone is passing me, but I try to remain calm. It didn't take long before no one was behind me, and I could only see distorted figures of my fellow classmates in the distance. I am gasping for air like a fish out of water when my slow pace turns into a walk. I round the corner of the gym and then start to run again just to fool everyone into thinking I ran the whole time. Maybe I had to stop to tie my shoelaces or help an injured dog on the road...they don't know! Back in the gym, the class is kindly waiting for me, while they stretch out. I come in panting and then bend over trying to catch my breath. This isn't going as planned.

Determined to push forward

We are directed through some movements to learn the proper technique of an over-head squat and push press. Now I have heard that girls don't sweat, they glisten...not today! I am dripping with sweat. Looking for my towel, I couldn't help but notice that everyone around looked like they had just got out of a nice relaxing massage; no heavy breathing and they didn't even have a sheen of moisture on their brow. The voice in my head is screaming encouraging words like, "You got this!" and “Don't pass out, that would be embarrassing." As the minutes go by, my determination pulls me through to what I thought was the end, then I hear, "Good warm-up, now it is time for the workout". Ummmm....come again? Later that night, my friend called and asked, "How was your CrossFit class?" I say, "Oh, it was good...can't wait to go again". Denial, party of one...your table is ready!

As I type this blog, nursing my sore muscles, I still refuse the possibility that CrossFit is out of this Parkie's reach. The gym may have beat me that night, but it didn't destroy my determination to keep pushing forward. It is when we give up and say "I can't because of Parkinson's” is when we’ve lost the fight. But that doesn’t mean we can’t find ways to modify our lifestyles. I knew that CrossFit may be out of reach, but there are plenty of other forms of exercise out there that will challenge me, but not kill me.

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