One of the two most important things anyone has ever told me came from my neurologist, when he said, “this is not your dad’s Parkinson’s.” My father’s Parkinson’s disease (PD) was really difficult for him and the entire family. When I heard my diagnosis I could’ve gone south real fast, emotionally, but I didn’t. I was diagnosed with PD on Valentine’s Day of 2013. My husband, David, and I imbibed more that night than we originally planned, getting lost in conversation about how we were going to get through this.
I made the mistake of Googling Parkinson’s. The millions of results all seemed so negative. I had a difficult time reading about it at first and over time I taught myself how to carefully pick and choose articles. My husband started researching Parkinson’s for my benefit. Which leads me to the second most important thing anyone has ever told me, “we’ve got to get you moving,” David said.
Once he read that “exercise can improve gait, balance, Involuntary shaking of the hands, arms, legs, jaw or tongue. The typical Parkinson’s tremor is “pill-rolling” – it looks like holding a pill between thumb and forefinger and continuously rolling it around. Some people report an internal tremor, a shaking sensation inside the chest, abdomen or limbs that cannot be seen. Most Parkinson’s tremor is “resting tremor,” which lessens during sleep and when the body part is actively in use., flexibility, grip strength and motor coordination” on Parkinson.org we were convinced. I came up with a fitness plan and became committed to taking care of my body. At the time I was a teacher for children with special needs, many of them non-ambulatory. While I loved my job, it was physically demanding. I retired because I didn’t want any new PD symptoms to interfere with the care of my students.
For five years I drove past a gym on my 45-minute commute to school and one day I finally went in. I began exercising and met my trainer, Harley Farris, who had never trained anyone with PD. Fast forward to today, he makes me count out loud and backwards to help me exercise my brain and voice at the same time. We also work on intensity training as well as weight bearing, stretching, balance and non-contact boxing.
I began riding my bike and noticed that when I did, my tremor improved. I joined a yoga studio. With hard work I ended up losing a significant amount of weight and became an advocate for moving! My “PD and exercise” Google searches always led me to Moving Day®, but there were never any in my area. When NPF announced that Moving Day® was coming to Texas, let alone only an hour away from me I was just ecstatic.
I immediately contacted NPF to ask how I can support Moving Day® Dallas/Ft. Worth (DFW). I started my own Moving Day® DFW team and began educating people about PD. I just want to help other people in my PD community, myself included! I wanted to become a PD advocate and Moving Day® is my vehicle.
Moving Day® DFW isn’t until November 5, 2016, but I’m already learning how wonderful my friends and family are. I put a link to my Moving Day® DFW team page on Facebook and with their donations I quickly became a top fundraiser! I’m incredibly blessed to have so much support.
Through the fundraising process, I’ve discovered that I have a competitive streak. I find myself following up with all my friends who have not yet committed to going. I take flyers to my gym and yoga studio because I want a lot of people to know about Moving Day® DFW. I want to see everyone I know show up and move with me. If they don’t show, that’s okay, but I want either their prayers or their money (to benefit the Parkinson’s community, of course).
It’s been three years since I’ve been living with PD and I feel extremely blessed that I really just have a tremor in my right hand and sometimes I have a hard time getting words out the way I want them. Exercising helps with my symptoms. Surprisingly, my tremor gets really bad when I am doing what I love, which is singing in my church choir, but I just tell people it’s the holy spirit moving me.
Come out to Moving Day® DFW and join me in moving for PD. Visit my team page at http://www3.parkinson.org/site/TR/MovingDayEvent/NPFHQ?px=1218917&pg=personal&fr_id=2472.