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My Life Hacks for Living With Parkinson’s

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Inspirational, motivational, unachievable. We’ve all been called names and they’re just names, except I’m not in your ordinary situation. Last year, during a question and answer session at a Parkinson’s conference, a man walked out displeased with my Pollyanna-esque answer.

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

In nine years with a visible tremor, I’ve been able to accomplish more than not just the average person with Parkinson’s, but the average person period. My grip strength isn’t that of your average woman; it exceeds the average male on both of my hands. I work full-time, take care of my daughter alone and push my body to extraordinary boundaries.

I’ve been grappling for the last several years of the abundance of my abilities in a sea of disabilities. How am I able to do so much? Why me? What am I doing to create such a success?

I wonder for no other reason than to spread love and if I may impart anything helpful, I genuinely wish to promote it. These are questions I cannot definitively answer.

Apprehensive, I scheduled numerous speeches for this year, so I’ve had this helpless feeling, this was something to explore in order to better connect to my audience.

I’ve asked my movement disorder specialist, who responded with, “You’re doing everything correct. You exhibit zero signs of the disease right now. I wouldn’t be able to diagnose you today. You may be getting better.”

Wait… What?… Did he just say that?! Again I’m at a loss as to how…

My neurophysical therapist sat with his mouth hanging open at my first consultation. My movement and balance charted excellent, but I came due to impinged shoulder pain and muscle deviations.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone do that many laps in a gait test.”

Again, why? And then he confirmed my thoughts…

I believe I have found the perfect trifecta! The triple shot of sorts. These are my unscientific, unquantifiable and naturally occurring hacks to my Parkinson’s success thus far!

1. Faith: I am a Christian. While that is my faith, I won’t push my beliefs onto you. I will simply say that when you have faith, you have hope and when you have hope, you have faith. I have found when all else fails my God does not! When I keep Him in the forefront my blessings aren’t in my hindsight. What I must impress upon on you is I believe you must have faith in something bigger than yourself. Otherwise, what hope do you have after. What is the point of life if you have nothing more than yourself to live for. When you’re struggling and depressed and down in life, who is going to pick you up off the floor when you are alone.

2. Lifestyle: Exercise, healthy eating, supplementation, I believe this all plays a huge role collectively. Exercise and movement helps boost your dopamine production. The more you move, the more efficient your dopamine functions. You will need less medication, you will function better for longer and could improve your movement. Move it or lose it! Healthy eating just makes you feel better. Obesity is an epidemic in our First World Society. They believe most diseases begin in the gut. Eat healthy and move regularly and many diseases could lessen. And for supplementation, do your research and learn what is out there and then determine what you would like to incorporate into your daily regimen. I have my scientific and firsthand thoughts about a supplement called NAC. To read an in depth piece on that, here is the link.

3. State of mind: Here is the final piece of the puzzle that is key, and encompasses all of numbers 1 and 2. If you’ve got the first two, but are missing 3, you’re going to suffer more. Let me use the analogy of getting stuck with a needle. When you’re giving blood or getting that yearly flu shot, if you look at the needle going in, you’re going to feel it more than if you look away. When you focus on the needle piercing your skin you feel the pain before the needle comes in contact. Our minds are conditioned to protect us from things that will hurt us, however if we allow our minds to constantly expect pain we will inevitably live in pain. If all we wake up and think about is the fog, you will never appreciate the breaks of sunlight. I never heard voices, including my own, telling me “This is stupid!” It probably is, but I’ve never let that stop me!

That is to say that pushing my body in ways that seem ludicrous are my way of taking back control from what this disease tries to take. I compartmentalize stressors and try to never dwell on the negativities or the possibly not guaranteed. I concentrate on what I can control and look up, giving away all that I can’t. Don’t give this disease more power than it should have! In talking to neurologists specializing in Parkinson’s through the country, those that live these truths, thrive! I found my purpose in life isn’t to just be the best mom I can for my sweet, precious 9-year-old, but to light as many people from within, including her as possible! There is much more grit in your fight when there is reason behind your why you’re fighting in the first place.

In the end, I can’t promise you the same results as me in your journey against Parkinson’s or whatever you’re battling, but I do promise you peace. I promise you will be better off in the future than you are today. If you follow these guidelines I set forth, you can enjoy each and every day you’ve been given and you won’t look back in regret. You will find yourself happier and live a fuller life. I won’t promise you miracles, but I do believe you’ll feel them.

I wish you all the best in your journey.

This story originally appeared on Lit Within.

Getty photo by RyanKing999

Originally published: July 9, 2019
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