Living With Parkinson's

A Rude Awakening

  “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” ― Lao Tzu.

     Have you had reason to visit hospital recently?  Perhaps for a one-off treatment, for something that requires some short- medium term care or, maybe like me, you may have a chronic condition or illness that requires you to attend for ongoing, indefinite reviews?  For me, the reason for my hospital visit was a review of how Parkinson’s Disease is progressing.  I was diagnosed in 2017, but I have been living with the symptoms of this disease at least as far back as my twenties and most likely before that.

     I met with a new neurologist, yesterday.  My usual neurologist had retired and so this was where I got to meet a new chap who would be taking a lead on my illness; though he was unsure whether he would be taking on the role as my permanent new neurologist or whether this was a temporary arrangement.  How do you feel when faced with a change in medical staff?  I was apprehensive about meeting him, but I am pleased to say that I came away from the appointment reassured.

     The outcome of the appointment was much like all of the reviews I have had every six months.  There was evidence that my symptoms have worsened and that Parkinson’s is progressing.  In fact, I was informed that the disease is progressing at a fast rate; faster than the medical team were happy with.  There was some good news in that I was told that my cognitive functions show no evidence of decline and so the likelihood would be that I will be one of the luckier people with Parkinson’s and may have little or no cognitive decline, long term.  If any, it may not occur until I reach old age.  So, that was good to hear.

     Physically, I was told that I do have advanced stage dystonia (cramping and rigidity) and that the bradykinesia (slowness) is not far behind.  So this means that I had an explanation for the worsened physical symptoms, of which there were many, and as a result my medication dose was increased.

     Effectively, there is no cure for Parkinson’s and so, alongside the medication, all that I can do is to try to live as healthily as I can.  This will help improve my life expectancy and quality of life, as it would for all people no matter the health status.  There can be an improvement in my symptoms, through maintaining regular exercise and so I would be mad not to make a change to living more healthily, now.

     I was weighed and frankly that was a little bit of a rude awakening!  I also had my blood pressure checked and it had become quite high.  This is a tricky aspect of health for a person with Parkinson’s, for we can be so very affected by blood pressure change caused by our medication as well as by the symptoms themselves.

     I made a decision.  I need to not only exercise more and cut out a few luxuries from my diet, but I also need to exercise and do so consistently as part of a whole way of life.  I am not unfit.  I am quite active and I do a lot of exercise but not every day.  This is where I need to improve.  I  need to make a part of each day, a time for exercise.

     Last night, I began by getting on my exercise bike and cycling for thirty minutes.  This was the minimum amount of cardiovascular exercise that my neurologist said would be of great benefit to me and is also a good guideline (though please check this for yourself) for most people seeking to make a decent impact on their physical well-being.

     Do you follow an exercise plan or regime?  Have you some exercise equipment that you use, or could resume use of, regularly?  Do you have an exercise bike, like me?  Do feel free to share some details of your own exercise activities, in the comments below.

     I have set myself a target weight loss of three stones in weight.  For those unfamiliar with stones….that is fourteen pounds per stone.  As for kilos…I never really learnt to use kilos, even though I was taught to use them at school.  My family always spoke in terms of stones and pounds and so that is what I stick with.   To approach this goal meaningfully, I am not going to make the weight loss my focus.  I intend for the weight loss to become a by-product of changes that I make to my diet and lifestyle.

     Perhaps you would like to try to become healthier, alongside me?  Each time I post an update on my progress, feel free to post a comment, below, detailing how you are progressing, too?

     Additionally, this change will be about seeking to help my blood pressure stabilise and not reach such high levels.  I am less likely to impact on whether or not my blood pressure falls low; this is a common experience for people with Parkinson’s, but I should certainly be able to make an impact on reducing the high level that my blood pressure can sometimes reach.

     Watch this space.  I will be back to share with you my highs and lows of putting change into place.  There is no end point to this work; for the intention is that the exercise will become a permanent way of life.

(C) Dean G. Parsons. 2019.


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