Playing the Hand I Was Dealt

When I was a teenager I used to play poker. Each player was dealt 5 cards. We had to throw out the cards that were thought to be useless and keep the better cards to play.

Next, the dealer dealt the same number of cards that were thrown away. Then, we had to bet accordingly to see who had the winning hand.

I realized I could apply that idea to how I dealt with my Parkinson’s disease (PD). I was having symptoms of weakness, balance issues, shuffling my feet, small handwriting, balance, depression, and some tremors in my hands. 

Like a true poker aficionado, I applied my philosophy of "playing the hand that I was dealt" to managing Parkinson's symptoms.

Finding the right doctor

After my diagnosis, I had to find a doctor. So, I went to a neurologist. Symbolically, I picked up my 5 cards and saw that I was holding a pair of aces, a 10, 2, and 5. I presented my symptoms to him.

He examined me and told me that there was nothing wrong with me! So, I decided, that he was going to be one of the "cards" that I was going to discard. However, I gained valuable knowledge about movement disorder specialists, a type of neurologist.

Seeing a movement disorder specialist

I made an appointment with the movement disorder specialist, Dr. D. He listened to my list of symptoms and performed a physical exam.

Then, Dr. D tested my reflexes, watched me walk, and listened to me talk. He then told me what he found ... "I believe you have Parkinson’s disease," he said.

He gave me carbidopa/levodopa pills and told me to come back in 4 weeks to see how the pills were working. In addition, he gave me a prescription for physical therapy. Consequently, I felt a little better when I returned to Dr. D’s office.

Incorporating exercise

He noticed that the medicine was having a positive effect and he recommended that I make an appointment to come back in 3 weeks. Symbolically, I knew to keep the aces and the doctor.

On this visit, Dr. D. kept the medicines the same but gave me another prescription for occupational therapy. I made an appointment with him for 6 months from then. In addition, I joined the Parkinsons’ Foundation’s exercise class at the local Y.

I went twice a week, religiously (no pun intended!). Increasing my exercise at home, I bought a boxing bag for my house. I then took up exercises such as Rock Steady Boxing and stretching. I was referred to a psychologist for counseling.

I'm in control

By playing the hand that I was dealt, I decided to keep the pair of aces, the 10 and the doctor. The other 2 cards were discarded.

When I picked up the cards, I took a look. I drew an ace, and a 10. I was now holding these cards, 3 aces, and two 10s. A full house! A winning hand, in my choice of a doctor, in the cards, and my journey on maintaining my health.

I was in control of how I thought and handled the ups and downs of my PD. I knew that I would have to keep or discard some things and try something new.

Whether it be a more knowledgeable doctor, different medicine, or other types of complementary therapy ... this lead me to a state of medical, physical and emotional betterment.

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