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Part 1: Living Well With Parkinson’s Disease

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?

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.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The ParkinsonsDisease.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • Michael Church author
    5 months ago

    Mishka – But you can. I’ll admit it isn’t easy but then again I don’t know your situation. Try this: place value on positive things. Write down on a 3×5 card 3 goals you want to accomplish every day. Place card in a conspicuous place like your bathroom mirror. List simple attainable goals, such as: get dressed today, take a bath/shower, smile for one full minute. Seriously, one full minute. Its harder than it looks. Try this for one month and soon you’ll be changing your attitude. It’s amazing! Don’t beat yourself up if you only accomplish one goal. Some days I don’t even make it out of my bathrobe. Let me know how you do.

  • Mishka
    5 months ago

    I wish I could have your positive attitude

  • MichaelinSouthernCal
    5 months ago

    I appreciate your positive contribution. In all honesty though I do not agree with your comment that “attitude is everything”. I have been a very positive thinking individual most of my life with an upbeat attitude and a fast-paced drive to experience and accomplish everthing I want during my lifetime. I even maintained that disposition when I was diagnosed at age 52 with Parkinson’s. Now that I’m in my late 50s, I find that a positive attitude does little or nothing for me when I’m laying on a bed during my off time (usually several times a day) – totally exhausted yet unable to sleep due to tremors throughout my body, severely cramping legs and an inability to be comfortable in any position. I’m commenting on this because it can give the impression to people that the way they perceive this illness will magically solve the problem and if they’re not able to live comfortably with Parkinson’s it becomes their fault. In other words it sends the message that people’s ability to deal with this disease is a choice depending on their attitude. In my situation, I think that’s completely false. I believe it’s important to tell the truth about this disease and not whitewash it with new-age-ish nonsense. This disease is a REAL struggle to deal with. And that’s the reality. I just don’t see any other way to describe it. Acknowledging the hard cold reality is more helpful to me than covering it in some hopeful veil of a psuedo self-help approach. Perhaps this is true for others reading this.

  • Michael Church author
    5 months ago

    MichaelinSouthernCal Thank you for submitting your comments and I agree somewhat to what your saying. Attitude alone, isn’t the only factor in a well managed treatment plan. I fully get that. But it can’t hurt. I don’t contend that attitude alone will solve all your problems nor is it my intention to provide false hope. Instead I’m simply providing information that is based on my experience. The truth and pertinent facts vary among people living with this disease and the intended purpose is to motivate and encourage the PD community to be proactive and a positive attitude is essential. Even when you are at your worse. I’d love to hear more about your personal story and get to know you better. Thanks for the input.

  • Chris H. moderator
    5 months ago

    Hey, @michaelinsoutherncal – Thanks for taking the time to express your feelings on this matter. I can absolutely understand your position here. Parkinson’s is incredibly difficult to manage, and it no doubt affects everyone in different ways. I think Michael was detailing the ways in which he’s able to best manage his PD, and that may look different from someone else’s approach. If you’re up for it, we’d love to hear more about your journey with Parkinson’s in our stories section. If you follow this link, you can post your story: https://parkinsonsdisease.net/stories/. We appreciate your participation in this conversation! Take care. – Chris, ParkinsonsDisease.net Team

  • Michael Church author
    1 year ago

    I am sorry there is no system of support presently in your life at a time when you need it most. It really makes me sad when someone feels truly alone. Goodnews! You aren’t alone and that is one reason this group, parkinsonsdisease.net exists. We will happily be your surrogate family and try to guide you through the twists and turns of living with PD. I can promise you that if you join our Facebook community or email me privately if you choose, I, my wife or someone is here to help. I have developed my system of support over time and now some are my closest friends. Sometimes we just need someone to talk to in order to deal with what is directly in front of us. Don’t lose hope. I am reaching out as a friend who honestly cares and wants to help. You’ve already taken the first step by posting your need. Contact me anyway that works for you and know for sure that positive support is out there.

  • julnare
    1 year ago

    I have no support system. No sister like Michael had to hang in there and find ways to get him out of his funk. No parents, no brother. Sadly, no group of friends. I have one good friend 2000 miles away, and one friend near me, but is not the kind to give of her time. I have 2 children, also half the country away. I cannot afford to move there. I fear for the future.

  • Aw100590
    12 months ago

    Julnare I am knew to this group but I am not new to Parkinson’s I would be delighted to be your support friend. I’m sure there is a way we can get emails to each other. Just let me know. PM

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