My name is Suzann Rew and I am 59 years old. I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD) in June 2009. It broke my heart.
I started grieving for all the things I thought it would take from me. One of those was hiking. My husband and I like to take vacations to National Parks and go hiking; get out and see nature. How was I ever going to be able to hike again? Most of the parks that we’ve visited are in the mountains. Not exactly a walk on the beach.
I’m not sure when my attitude changed, but I decided that I wasn’t going to let this disease win. I would do what I could to continue to do the things I loved. In September 2010, we took a vacation to Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. I was able to still do my hiking, but I noticed my arm not swinging and realized that I would need hiking poles in the future.
In September 2018, on what I thought would be a simple 1/3 mile hike in Northern Minnesota, I fell and broke my arm. I learned my lesson. Any time I thought the ground might be uneven, would mean use hiking poles.
My Parkinson’s has progressed, and occasionally, my left leg does not want to move.
We planned a vacation to Rocky Mountain National Park. We agreed upon a very popular, beautiful hike that we’ve done before. It is two miles to the end of the trail, where Emerald Lake is surrounded by mountains. We’ve done part of this hike three times, but only once had we gone to the end of the trail. I was bound and determined to make it this time. With a few stops, and the help of hiking poles I made it!
I didn’t go as fast as I had in the past, and yes, I had to use hiking poles (there were a lot of other people on the trail using poles too), but PD didn’t win this time. I adapted to my abilities, used tools to help me and I showed PD that I am still able to hike!
My advice to others with PD: don’t give up on doing things that you like to do; find ways to adapt. Just because I had to use hiking poles, did not make the hike any less enjoyable. They allowed me to make it to a beautiful mountain lake, and gave me the confidence that I can do it again!
For tips on daily living and other articles about living with Parkinson’s, visit Parkinson.org/Blog.