I was 41 years old when diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2002 and was just a young man. Today, I am 59 years old and while not as young, I am not that old. If you do the math, that’s more than 18 years since my diagnosis and I don’t remember life without PD.
Parkinson’s is such a strange disease. There are times when I have no symptoms like when I am able to speak “normal.” Side note: when this occurs, I get funny looks when I park my 2-seater convertible in a handicapped parking spot. I never know if my symptoms may return before I return to my car.
Recently, on the other extreme, I have experienced the full range of symptoms. This includes not just physical motor issues like inability to move my arms and legs, but also emotional and mental issues like depression and anxiety. The frequency of these symptoms have increased over the years. The list of how PD has disrupted my life goes on and on and needs to be relegated to an article in and of itself to do it justice.
One of the many things that I have learned in dealing with, adjusting to, tolerating, and living with this disease is that staying engaged is crucial to maintaining the best quality of life possible. You may ask, “How does one stay engaged?”
If you are still working, one way is to keep doing whatever you can to continue to do your job, including taking whatever intermittent leave you when needed (can be requested in hour increments when fatigue associated with PD occurs). Or, if you are no longer working, you may want to consider a hobby. Yes, I said it, a hobby.
Here are some of John’s beautiful sprouts!
What am I talking about? I have found that it is beneficial to just keep moving. This does not just include motor or physical movement like boxing and yoga, but doing something mentally challenging like crossword puzzles. It also includes doing something that you are, or have become, interested in.
For me, of all things, I have enjoyed growing sprouts. Yes, sprouts! Why sprouts? Well, I think that I just like to say the word “sprouts.”
Why sprouts? It is easy to do. You can not be bad at it or wrong. And, most importantly, you get to eat the fruit of your labors – plus, they taste good and are good for you. What more could I ask for?
Whatever your hobby, whether it has to do with PD patient advocacy or just is for fun, keep moving. Stay engaged. Find your passion. Reclaim your positive perspective. Continue to live life to the fullest!