November 2023

Leveraging Parkinson’s

Parkinson’s Disease can hold you back. (Understatement of the century.) It is too easy to say no to opportunities on the theory some symptom or other will interfere with your ability to take advantage of them. Your urgent bladder makes travel an occasion for anxiety, so forget making that road trip. Your fatigue precludes you from going out to an evening performance, so skip that concert. Your difficulty speaking makes social interaction a grueling ordeal, so blow off that party invitation. It’s a preemptive strike on possibility.

Is there a way to flip this script and make Parkinson’s work to your advantage? As it happens, yes. With a little creativity, you can make an ally of Parkinson’s Disease. How does this work? Look for ways coping with PD can be used as an excuse to do more of the activities you actually want to do, and/or less of the things you are sick of. As Winston Churchill said “Never let a good crisis go to waste”

For instance, if, like me you love bicycling, now is the time to go full speed ahead on this hobby that provides such powerful benefits to those who have PD. According to research by Dr. Jay Alberts of the Cleveland Clinic, when done properly, riding a bike can reduce your motor symptoms by a third. When I learned of the good cycling can do for Parkinson’s sufferers, I used that to justify going all-in on biking, even getting a fat-tire bike so I could ride in the Winter. This way I get to do something I cherish and get all up in Parkinson’s face at the same time. Booyah, PD!

Hate your job? Loathe your boss? Can’t stand your co-workers? Your commute making you crazy? Stress is awful for Parkinson’s patients. It worsens symptoms and likely aggravates the underlying disease. Maybe Parkinson’s will give you the permission you need to quit your soul-eating stress monster of a job and do something you always wanted to do, but never had the nerve to pursue. PD could be the excuse you need to open that bakery you always dreamed of owning, or better yet, a bike shop.

How’s the weather where you are? Are you tired of shoveling snow? Is the rain on the plain driving you insane? Do you live too far from, (or too near) relatives for comfort? Can’t get good care for your disease in your area? Your movement disorder is telling you to move. You will still have PD if you live in Hawaii, but you will have it in Hawaii! Hang loose and pray the volcanos don’t act up.

These are just some of the possibilities for making PD an ally. Your particular proclivities will dictate what works for you. All it requires is some tactical thinking, a willingness to change, and a little bravery.

by Peter Dunlap-Shohl
NW Parkinson’s Blogger

“It is the work of the creative to be a prosthetic imagination for the distracted and the dull”
– Maxwell Hubert Maxwell, playwright, butterfly collector, amateur surgeon and snob.