When You Are Doing Well, What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Last updated: September 2022

I’ve been doing well the last 9 months. My balance has been better (lots of physical therapy), my symptoms progression has slowed down, and I’ve been working hard physically and mentally. I’ve developed new coping skills that really help to keep anxiety and depression better controlled. What could possibly go wrong?

Parkinson’s!

Small incidents

I don’t know if it’s a case of arrogance, hubris, or the old pride goeth before a fall thing. I have made 2 relatively small incidents into super large ones and obsessing over them has definitely taken my self image down a notch or 4.

After not falling in 6 months, I had 3 hard falls in 10 days. My urinary incontinence has progressed to the point that I’m faced with my first set of Depends.

Somewhere deep in my brain, I should know my falls are related to Parkinson’s foot drop and not walking with focus. I should know the Depends are a necessary step as those little triangle pads were not containing occasional leakage that has been going on for awhile.

A negative self-image

The little voice I’m always hearing, however, is hammering on my self-image. These 2 relatively small things have metamorphosed into a loud voice that says:

"Now you’ve done it! You’ve taken a big step, or maybe many, down that Parkinson’s slippery slope. You’re no longer safe walking and you’re now like those people in the ads you see on late night TV. Incontinence and falling? You’ve regressed to being a two year old again!

I had no idea my self-image was so fragile! Nine months of slow, incremental progress blown away by 2 relatively small negatives.

I’m ignoring 9 months of real progress. I’m letting a few falls and an occasional incontinence issue that has no muscular or orthopedic cause, but clearly has a Parkinson’s root cause, take over my self-image. I seem to have lost all perspective.

What are my choices?

I really have 2 choices.

Continue the pity party. Become that non-ambulatory, couch loving persona that voice in my head is proclaiming. After all, I’m old and isn’t this what eventually happens to almost all old people? It’s actually pretty easy to just quit.

Or ... get back in the fight. Get myself back to doing everything I can physically and mentally to fight Parkinson’s.

I don’t do well with binary choices. The choices and the consequences are too big. In the logical part of my brain, I know I’m not ready to go back to being that couch potato person but saying I can jump right back and continue the fight is a big step. I’ll have to break it down.

My next steps

What to do?

  • Get my orthotics and foot brace replaced or refurbished.
  • Resume walking exercises with my physical therapist.
  • Push my cardio and core exercises

The change to wearing Depends is the theory of worst alternatives in action. It was a big step just to wear the little pads. Do I not wear any and continue to occasionally soil my clothes and deal with loathsome diaper rash, or do I wear them and have a better outcome in terms of physical health and less chance of embarrassment?

Not a difficult choice when I think about it and say it out loud. After all, their ads say, "No one can see you’re wearing them."

Will I recover my self-image? I hope so and plan on using all my refurbished and new coping skills to get back to where I was. That little negative voice in your head can certainly go from a whisper to a shout in no time at all.

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