What’s it like to be headed on a “destination unknown” adventure in the Rushton family? That’s what my husband Dave and I did with our family every year around Christmas — planned an adventure where only we knew the destination. What fun and excitement! This tradition has now continued on through the years into our extended family, which has grown from five to 14 of us!
In 2009, we headed into a new “destination unknown”, one which we did not plan for or know how to navigate — called Parkinson’s disease (PD).
As Dave continued his life occupation and love, being a pastor and teaching the Bible, changes started to affect his thinking, motions and ability to continue. He retired from ministry in 2012.
In 2013, he underwent deep brain stimulation surgery (DBS). At the time, the implanting of the electrodes in his brain helped to compensate for the lack of connections in his nervous system. The stimulator, along with a gifted neurologist, seemed to bring some of the side-affects from medication under control, along with the progression of PD.
Dave, loving all kinds of sports, continued to play basketball (until he could no longer head down the court with accurate enough balance), was an avid kayaker, bike rider and loved to take on any sport where people were involved. Activities in any way help everyone, not only physically, but mentally and emotionally. So, we began tandem kayaking, Dave started cycling with an Ice recumbent trike equipped with a set of “helping hands,” which helps with balance when getting on the trike, rock steady boxing, walks in the park and just taking a drive “anywhere.”
As our destination unknown continues — we say “our” as we are in this struggle together — we are a team. Parkinson’s dementia has now become a part of this journey but we continue on, trusting those with the ability to share their knowledge of the disease, reading and trying to navigate through the many articles of information available, staying as active as possible and creating a support group of family and friends around us to help. Many times, we just throw the wheelchair, walker and cane into our car and head out for a day together, sometimes it’s just another “destination unknown.”
For now, it is one day at a time — sometimes one hour at a time, as things can change so quickly. Some days are easier than others. We try not to focus on the “what was” and live in the “what is” of life, the joys and blessings of what we have together now.
We hope to share that joy with others as we have organized a day called “Hope In Parkinson’s — A Day Away.” It’s a day planned of fun, relaxation, laughter along with Dave and I sharing our story, our “destination unknown,” of life with Parkinson’s. If you are near Wisconsin, learn more about the event at phantomranch.org/events.
For more caregiver resources, please visit Parkinson.org/Caregiving.