Part 1: Living Well With Parkinson's Disease

You can live a successful life with a chronic disease like Parkinson’s Disease (PD)! What I mean by successful is a more managed lifestyle where symptoms are under your control and the side effects of medications are more predictable and stable. How is this possible?

Living well with Parkinson's

I have struggled personally with the effects of PD for nearly 22 years. Symptoms include tremors in the extremities, involuntary movement, called Dyskinesia, muscle stiffness, joint pain and muscle spasms, (Dystonia). These are just a few of the motor symptoms of PD. There are other symptoms associated with this disease that are unseen and often go unreported. Some of these are problems with memory, clarity of thought, organization, speech and swallowing. Many people do not think they are related and therefore often go untreated. Additionally, there are psychological issues such as depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorders and more. Now you may be asking yourself, after reading what I can expect from a diagnosis of PD, “how can I live well?”

One part management

Wellness is one part management and one part attitude. The physical symptoms can be controlled by medication. Now I should tell you, I am not a big fan of prescription medication. Do I take it for my PD? Yes! Does it help? Again yes, but I supplement the medication regime that I take with activities and exercise. Movement is an essential element of staying ahead of this disease. If you just sit on your couch and watch television waiting on some miracle cure, you aren’t doing your body a favor. Doctors are constantly telling us to exercise. There are many reasons for this. When we exercise, our bodies produce endorphins that stimulate the brain and encourage the production of various chemicals in the brain and elevates our heart rate, which increases blood flow and an increase in oxygen. This is a scientific fact and has been proven to not only improve our overall health but slow the progression of PD. There are different types of PD friendly exercises and you should check with your doctor for which is best for you.

One part attitude

Attitude is everything. I mentioned sitting on the couch and waiting for a cure. I have a confession to make. I was that guy! Not only was I feeling sorry for myself, I could feel myself falling into a deep depression. Thankfully, my sister pulled me out of this state of self-pity and introduced me to a group of other people living with PD that got together once a week. I guess you could call it a support group but it was much more. I remember them talking about this disease and laughing about each of their experiences in living with PD. My attitude changed toward PD altogether. I discovered that a combination of exercise and social activity modified how I would deal with PD in the future. Never would I look upon this disease in the same way again. I am grateful for the early lessons of learning how to live victoriously with PD and for the injected humor but most of all, I am forever grateful for the care and love of my sister’s intervention and for almost 22 years of living well with Parkinson’s Disease.

Click here to continue on to part two of Living Well With Parkinson's Disease.

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