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When I Tried Something Out of My Comfort Zone With Parkinson's

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I did it, you guys. I. did. it. 

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

I mentioned on my blog in late spring that I had learned of a Parkinson’s-centered physical therapy group near my town. And guess what? I went!

I was nervous. I was anxious. And I wanted to back out. But I didn’t. I was easily the youngest person there by 25-30 years. I was reminded of how weak my legs have become and how compromised my balance is. I’m sore in muscles I didn’t even know I had. But, it’s OK. I’m happy I’m sore. Because for the first time in over a year, the sore is not the usual Lupus or Parkinson’s pain I feel every day. This soreness, this pain, is from action. This pain is from me fighting back. From me vowing to take control over these diseases. To show myself and others what living with Parkinson’s can look like. I’m ready to prove to this disease that I am not its victim.

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Uncomfortable Comfort

I also learned, by attending this class, how much comfort can actually be found outside of my comfort zone. I have five new friends and five new advocates to guide me and support me through this battle.

T, who leads this group, is welcoming, encouraging, energetic and has studied Parkinson’s. He knows how to adapt exercises to maximize the benefits for Parkinson’s deficits. He tells exactly what skills we are improving and strengthening with each move we try to master.

L is further along in his disease than I am, but he is still very active, has the best sense of humor and is so kind. I really like L, even though he finished one of the skills before I could. He’s definitely going to be a good motivator!

B is also further along in his disease than I am. B never gave up yesterday, never stopped before a skill set was over and never complained that something was too hard. Well…almost. At the end of the session, when we were going through cool-down stretching, he looked at T after he told us what we needed to do next. B just shook his head and said, “you’ve got to be kidding me.”

R and C are a husband and wife in this group. C does not have Parkinson’s Disease, but she supports her husband by attending each session and doing the exercises right along with him. R is at about the same stage of the disease as I am. He received his diagnosis about six months before I did. He has taken a similar approach as me in these early stages and is ingesting as much knowledge and information about Parkinson’s as he can.

None of them made me feel uncomfortable during my first session with their group. Quite the opposite. They welcomed me into their small family and showed me just what I had been looking for these last several months.

Round Two

I’m going back soon. I’m sore as can be; but I’m going back. I want to be able to once again say I. did. it. And I think I get to punch things. So, heck yeah, I’m going back. I think I get to do some Rock Steady Boxing-inspired therapy next session.

Rock Steady Boxing is a super-cool, non-contact Parkinson’s therapy program founded thirteen years ago by Scott Newman, a patient with Young-onset Parkinson’s disease and his friend, Vince Perez, a “Golden Gloves” boxer. After Newman’s diagnosis, Perez refused to let his friend go down without a fight.

Together they worked to develop a way to slow the progression of the disease and to find a way for Newman to feel less powerless against the disease. Rock Steady Boxing was born with the mission and motto to empower people with Parkinson’s to “Fight Back.”

So, I’ve started. I’ve woken up. I’ve made a decision. I’m not going to be a victim of this ugly disease. Fight Back. That’s exactly what I intend to do.

(Posting this no-makeup, post-therapy workout photo… Also way out of my comfort zone!)

Photo courtesy of the author

Originally published: November 13, 2019
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