Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve noticed my symptoms getting slightly worse. The disease seems to be spreading to the left side of my body which was previously unaffected. It just reinforced to me more than ever, that Parkinson’s is a degenerative disease, relentless in it’s appetite for destruction. Think of a bucket of water that has a small hole in the bottom. Water will leak out this hole on a continual basis unless the hole is filled. In medical terms, the water represents dopamine which can be replenished through medication but it doesn’t fix the problem of the hole, which will only get bigger with time. The above analogy is a very simplified version of the problem facing people with Parkinson’s and medical professionals. Unfortunately, the reality is much more complex than just plugging a hole.
So how do we fix the hole? Well, if we knew the answer to that little riddle, Parkinson’s wouldn’t exist. And what do you do with a problem that nobody knows how to fix? You do the next best thing, which is to figure out a way to live with it. And that is the hard part, because for each person with Parkinson’s, their “hole in a bucket” is unique and what works for one person may not necessarily work for someone else. For me, it was first accepting that I had Parkinson’s and then using positive thinking to reinforce the belief that it’s ok to live with this illness and there are much worse things out there that I could have been afflicted with. This includes looking at the bigger picture and being grateful for the things I can still do. However, mental strength in itself is a fragile entity that can easily be broken, so I need to do more to reinforce my “bucket” to make sure the hole doesn’t get bigger. That way, I’ll have a back up on the days where I sometimes struggle to stay positive.
If your “bucket” is made of the right material, it will last longer and the great news is that we all have the ability to reinforce our bucket with the right material. That material is of course food, so it is essential to eat healthy. Easier said than done! I already eat quite healthy, but am a demon for the chocolate which doesn’t help me. So, I have to constantly remind myself that what I eat could directly affect my symptoms. That way, I think twice about eating certain foods. Not only is it important that I reinforce my bucket with the right “material” but I also have to look after and maintain it the best I can. That’s done through exercise as exercise to the body is like cleaning to the bucket. The more often it is done, the stronger and better the bucket / your body will look. That’s why I cycle every day and try to do other types of exercise as well. But like some of you out there, the thought of having a lazy day is sometimes just too tempting and as Oscar Wilde famously said “I can resist everything but temptation”.
So, why have I babbled on about the above? Because I want people to know that through a combination of positive thinking, healthy eating and exercise it is possible to live a good life with Parkinson’s and I’d like to finish up with another quote whose origin I’m not sure of but I think it’s quite apt for people with Parkinson’s “It wasn’t always easy. It wasn’t always fun. But it was always worth it”!