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Life's a Lot Better with NWPF

Monday August 29, 2016
AC Woolnough

 

Tell us how your life has changed since you became involved with NWPF. 
NWPF has provided me the opportunity to be brave. Social isolation and timidity are two of the more common [symptoms of] PD. I was asked to be on a panel at last fall's NWPF HOPE Conference®. Although I have spoken to over a thousand high school students in a gym during an assembly, I had never spoken to a large group of adults - and certainly not since my diagnosis. Despite my misgivings and fears, I not only agreed to participate, I did! Since then, I have decided to share my story, thoughts and feelings with others--both as a writer and a speaker numerous times and in other venues. In fact, NWPF graciously accepted my offer to participate in [HOPE Montana in Kalispell]. 

As a result of the NWPF's encouragement to be with others and to live well, I have begun a mission to advocate and to educate. For example, I have agreed to be a guest lecturer in a local high school pre-nursing class. This summer, I will be addressing some marketing folks at a pharmaceutical company in the near future - helping put a face to PD; to make it more personal. I have chosen to learn about all aspects of PD (including research) and to share this knowledge. I met with our county commissioners and persuaded them to declare April as PD Awareness Month. This degree of activity, unprecedented in my early retirement years, was helped to come about by the folks at NWPF.

 

How did NWPF programs help in changing the "relationship" you have with your PD?
My relationship with PD changes frequently. At times I hate it and resent it and fear it. At other times, it's almost my friend. As a result of PD, I have rediscovered my enjoyment of writing. I now write a monthly column in a local newsmagazine, NWPF has even shared some of my writings in their [blog]. As I participate in advisory councils and advocacy groups, I rely on the essence and purpose of NWPF - to be healthy and maintain the best quality of life possible. Although I don't dance or sing, I exercise - treadmill, walking, biking, kayaking, and golf. The weekly updates from NWPF provide encouragement. Seeing all of the activities available in Seattle supported the creation of a support group in our small town on the lake.

What are some of the most important life lessons or skills you've learned from being involved in the PD community?
Laugh, love and treasure what you have. Laugh often and loudly. Laugh at yourself. Laugh at PD. In fact, why hasn't someone written a book of PD jokes? Love one another, but don't forget to love yourself as well. Take special care of your caregiver and those that support you. Treasure family, friends and what you have. Someone else will always have more things, but each of us has the opportunity to be grateful every day. Wouldn't it be wonderful if everyday was Thanksgiving? With or without PD, one ever knows when it will all end--live each day to the fullest extent possible.

How much of your life and your energy is tied to NWPF right now? Tell us about your current involvement, or how you wish to become involved.
When I retired almost 6 years ago after 37 years in public education, I became lazy, bored and aimless. Being diagnosed with PD was, to say the least, a turning point. NWPF and other organizations provided the education and support I needed to make changes. My primary non-motor symptom is apathy. Not lazy, but apathetic. No matter what name you give it, it looks pretty much the same in real life. At least now, I had a name and something to beat. I am highly competitive, so I treat apathy as an opponent to beat. 

I have chosen to be involved in national organizations, and to a lesser extent regional groups like NWPF and the Parkinson's Resource Center (Spokane). Now that they [have merged], I can focus more energy and time in the Pacific Northwest. I would like to be more involved. Knowing the folks in both organizations confirms, for me, that they are committed and dedicated. I am willing to help as needed.

What would be your single message for other PWPs who are trying to reach out to NWPF for hope and support?
Both Nike ("Just do it") and Yoda ("Do or do not; there is no try") know the answer for PWPs reaching out to NWPF for hope and support. Call them with questions, get on their email list, participate in their activities, go to a conference or read the blogs--or all of the above. Simply put, make the decision and it will happen. 

A.C. WoolnoughA.C. Woolnough
NWPF Blogger

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