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Sentiments on Keep moving

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Parkinson’s is a movement disorder and affects a person’s ability to move in a smooth and coordinated way.  It effects people differently; people don’t share the same symptoms to the same degree.  For example, some people become stiff and cannot move, as if they are paralyzed.  Others experience tremors and shake uncontrollably.  Parkinson’s patients get caught in-between these two undesirable states.  They are continually using their medication to search for balance amid these two disagreeable alternatives.

I learned from my father that an unused car will deteriorate faster than a car driven every day.  As it turns out, a car left unused can suffer from maladies like: dead batteries, rodent infestation, flat tires, moisture in the fuel tank, dried out and cracked rubber hoses and belts, and worst of all, a seized engine.  A car that is used regularly will rarely succumb to any of these conditions.

The same is true for humans.  If we don’t use our muscles, they atrophy.  I remember after I had deep brain stimulation (DBS) surgery, the nurses wanted me up and walking around as soon as I could.  Moving about gets a person’s blood flowing which facilitates healing.

It’s important for me to keep moving physically.  Any exercise that is helpful to maintain health and strength is good – even if it’s just walking down to the mailbox.  I need to use my time wisely and be active as much as possible while my medication is working.  I do have my limitations, because when I’m out and about too much, I get fatigued and my meds don’t seem to work as well.  Being active requires energy and I must get rest and stay hydrated to feel my best.  I need to listen to my body.

I don’t have a coach, but I can see how having one would be beneficial.  A coach would push me physically and emotionally, past my comfort level.  A coach would tell me what I need to hear, not what I want to hear.

So, I function best when I have a plan for the day – a goal to reach.  I’m perfectly content to stay at home every day, but I must admit, it’s better for me to try to get out of the house each day.  I have found that volunteerism suits me well.  This helps me get out of the house and stay connected to people.  It gives me a purpose.  I’ve concluded it’s paramount for me to keep moving.

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Sentiments on Resilience

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Resilience is the power or ability to recover readily from illness, depression, or adversity.  It is the ability to bounce back after experiencing tragedy or loss.

Most of the Ten Sentiments relate to making a decision in your mind to apply one of its virtues to overcome adversity.  What sets resilience apart from the other virtues is that it includes the involvement of other people in your life.

Resilience involves relationships and openness.  People who are resilient depend on others in a healthy way.  They communicate their inmost thoughts and feelings – good or bad – and seek help in dealing with troubling thoughts.  As is share my hardship with others, I can be encouraged to be resilient in the face of adversity.

I think the best examples of resilience are found in those men and women who serve in the military.  Soldiers in combat see the most horrible things.  Perhaps the worst thing a Soldier can see, is the death of a ‘battle buddy’.  Although Soldiers aren’t physical brothers and sisters, when they go through hard times together, they can develop bonds between them that are stronger than with their own blood relatives.  Many times we hear of Soldiers who are injured in combat and how desperately they want to get back to their units to be with their buddies.  Why?  They love one another and would literally die for each other.

I have experienced this myself during my time in the Army.  Specifically, while deployed during Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom.  We lived in some horrible conditions in the deserts of Saudi Arabia and Iraq.  We’d joke that our living conditions were unfit for criminals imprisoned in the United States.  But that was how we dealt with those terrible conditions, we helped each other laugh and remember this suffering was only temporary.  We’d recall the good times and look forward to going home.

When a Soldier experiences the death of a buddy, it is devastating.  No training can prepare you for that.  I’ve never experienced such a loss and I never want to.  The Army has experienced high numbers of suicides in recent years.  Some were a result of losing a ‘battle buddy’ coupled with the inability to be resilient.  I am convinced that if these Soldiers had someone they felt comfortable to talk with about their feelings, they would be with us today.  Frankly, I hate to admit it, but there is a stigma in the military about seeking help for mental health issues, but the military is trying to remove that stigma.

My wife helps me to be resilient.  I can be open with my feelings with her because I know she cares about me.  I know she has my back and wants the best for me.  She is compassionate, understanding, and above all, patient.  I think that is what I need most, her patience.  I have good days and bad days.  I can’t do all the activities we used to do, but she doesn’t make me feel guilty about that.  She understand me, and I think that is something we all need.

The virtue of resilience has helped me overcome being afraid of asking people for help or needing a caregiver.  Getting help is not a sign of weakness, it is acknowledging my need for other people in my life and a part of being human.  We all need a little help some time, even Soldiers.

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Sentiments on Attitude

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Attitude is defined as someone’s disposition, feeling, or position toward a person, thing, or situation.  Our attitude is so important, it can be determining factor whether we live or die.  Viktor Frankl, a concentration camp survivor, summed up the importance of attitude this way, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing:  To choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s way.”

My attitude is controlled by my heart and mind.  As the proverbs say, “As a man thinks, so is he.”  It is necessary for me to develop positive mental habits, such as meditation and prayer, to change my thinking and attitude.  By practicing these, I can tap into a higher energy that can help me grow in my ability to maintain an optimistic attitude.

My attitude is directly affected by how much control I perceive to have of my life.  When I don’t think I have control in my life, I get emotional, frustrated, and angry.  Because of my ailment, I don’t have complete control over my body.  I gain inner peace when I release control of my life’s worries.

I’ve decided to have an attitude of acceptance about situations I can’t change.  For example, I can’t always get up and go wherever and whenever I want to.  The effectiveness of my medication plays a key role in when and what activities I’m going to engage in.  I have to carefully plan my day, watching what I eat, so I can be mobile when I need to be.  In the past, when I had to get dressed for work, sometimes my medication wouldn’t be working and I would get frustrated and stressed out.  I was afraid I’d be late to work, compounded by the terrible ache of rigidity that filled my body, I was miserable.  My attitude is different now.  I realize there is not much I can do if my medicine is not working.  The only options I have are to either take more meds or wait for what I have taken to kick in.  I accepted the fact I have limitations and I need to work within them.

A spark of the divine lives in everyone.  Knowing this encourages me to elevate my thinking from a physical level, to a spiritual one.  I strive to be made new in the attitude of my mind and trusting in the power that controls the universe.  And although I have limitations, these are not without purpose.

My attitude has changed toward my hardship, because I know that difficulty has a purpose – to strengthen my character and to make me a better person.  Struggling with difficulty is a necessary part of life, it’s unavoidable.  For it is through difficulty and overcoming adversity I find knowledge, light, compassion, and purpose.  Thus, Parkinson’s is a catalyst to change my attitude and help me grow.

Since my thoughts and emotions directly affect my attitude, I need to keep my thoughts focused on what is good.  The Ten Sentiments are powerful qualities to meditate on as I divest my mind of unworthy, negative thinking.  The Bible lists virtues I should instead set my mind on: whatever is true, pure, noble, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy.  When I fully embrace these wonderful virtues, I am able to grow in the most positive of all attitudes, an attitude of love.  Love is the most powerful force in the universe.

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Sentiments on Perseverance

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Perseverance is defined as a steady tenacity in purpose or a course of action – especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.  It requires determination to actively seek, and hold on to, what is good.  Perseverance is, in spite of slipping and falling or getting knocked down, having the internal fortitude to get back up, again, again, and again.

Perseverance is a virtue that can be developed.  If you are faint of heart, be encouraged, you can grow in your perseverance – but, understand this, it will not be easy.  For there is only one way to develop perseverance – and that is by enduring hardship.

Irving Stone has spent a lifetime studying greatness, writing biographies of such men as Michelangelo, Vincent van Gogh, Sigmund Freud and Charles Darwin.  Stone was once asked if he had found a thread that runs through the lives of all these exceptional people.  He said, “I write about people who sometime in their life…have a vision or dream of something that should be accomplished…and they go to work.  They are beaten over the head, knocked down, vilified and for years they get nowhere.  But every time they’re knocked down they stand up.  You cannot destroy these people.  And at the end of their lives they’ve accomplished some modest part of what they set out to do.” (Crossroads, Issue No. 7, p. 18.)  These people are some of the many great examples of perseverance we can use to encourage our spirits.

President Calvin Coolidge had an interesting quote about perseverance in Bits and Pieces saying, “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

According to Coolidge, the virtue of perseverance can solve the world’s problems.  Perhaps he’s right, but I can’t solve the problems of the human race.  All I can try to do is encourage people to persevere.  And if I’m determined, maybe I can have some positive influence in my part of the world.  To do so, however, I would need to have a strategy to help me persevere.

When adversity from Parkinson’s gets me down, sometimes I feel like giving up – one time I even wanted to hurt myself.  On this occasion, my medication was not working, and I was rigid and unable to move – almost paralyzed.  My muscles were tense causing severe discomfort.  I was in pain and I wanted it to stop.  I felt like there was no way I could live with this constant ache and stiffness.  I was telling myself the battle was too hard and it was too difficult to endure the pain.  I wanted to die.

But, I recalled a decision I had made earlier.  I was not going to make an emotional decision when I was physically not feeling well.  I told myself that, when I didn’t feel good, I would remember how well I felt when my medicine was working and how much I desired to live.  I needed to remind myself that life was worth living and that I had a lot to look forward to.  I know that these moments of suffering are temporary and will pass.  I must hold on to what is good.

So, this was my strategy, to not make any big decisions when I’m racked with pain.  I decided to make decisions only when I’m in the right frame of mind.  When I feel like I want to quit, to remind myself, I’ve already made the decision that I’m going to resist my negative thoughts and that I really want to live.  I decided to recall how much better I feel when my medication is working and that the pain is only temporary.  I need to go by what I know to be right, not by my emotions.  I won’t allow the physical pain of my disease or adversity to overwhelm me.

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The Ten Sentiments

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The Ten Sentiments:  thoughts to sustain you

        I do Persevere
        My optimistic Attitude sustains me
        I am Resilient
        I Keep moving
        I am Intrepid 
        I seek a New perspective
        I do Stay positive
        I do Overcome adversity
        I do pursue New beginnings
        I Stay strong

Copyright © 2016, William Wilson, All rights reserved
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Passion Flower

PF tea                        passion flower

I have completed an experiment with the herbal supplement Passion Flower*.   And after taking three 210 mg tablets a day, for 60 days, I’m experiencing some relief from the continual muscle aches that accompany Parkinson’s.   I usually experience an aching feeling in my body caused by muscle stiffness, which is one of the most common symptoms of Parkinson’s.  My regular medications provide some relief from this symptom, but I still feel “uncomfortable” most of the time.   Could the nutrients in Passion Flower be responsible for providing relief from muscle rigidity?

The Vitamin Shoppe’s web site states, “Passion Flower is intended to provide nutritive support for normal, healthy relaxation.  The German Commission E has approved the use of Passion Flower for nervous restlessness.”  It also shows Passion Flower used to reduce stress and anxiety, and to support and improve sleep, mood, pain management, and brain function.

Has anyone else tried Passion Flower?  What has your experience been?

In the past, I’ve written about the positive effects of coconut oil on improving absorption of the drug in one’s system, which reduces the medications ‘on’ and ‘off’ times.  I think the combination of Passion Flower and coconut oil can bring significant relief from the symptoms of Parkinson’s by reducing muscle stiffness and decreasing medicine ‘on’ and ‘off’ time.

Last, I was surprised to Passion Flower as an herbal tea.

*Be advised, I am not a medical professional and the information contained in this blog represent my personal point of view. Individuals should seek medical advice before starting an exercise routine or using any nutritional supplements.

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Parkinson’s mystery

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Parkinson’s mystery

Can riding a bike or dancing cure Parkinson’s?  I wish they could, but they can’t.  I have heard of occurrences when people with Parkinson’s possess the ability to perform some physical activity, such as boxing, that it leads one to believe this activity can heal them.  Their ability to perform such activity seems miraculous.

The bottom line is this – exercise benefits those with Parkinson’s.  And the lesson is to keep moving and to stay strong.  I have noticed a similar phenomenon in my life. When my medicine wears off, and my gait is reduced to a shuffle, as the man in the video presents – it is actually easier for me to run, than it is for me to walk. My ability to move has to do with maintaining momentum and making strong, bold motions. Michael J. Fox can perform a similar feat.  He can ice skate and play hockey with such skill that his Parkinson’s is almost unnoticeable.  I think his ability to do this because he has to exert himself to perform the task.

The Lee Silverman Voice Treatment program is based on a similar concept.  The idea that making a concentrated effort and pushing oneself to enunciate loudly can help Parkinson’s patients, who suffer with a weak voice, to speak clearly. It’s all about effort.  Those who suffer with the disease must understand, the best thing they can do for themselves is not to give in to the feelings of immobility and rigidity, but to stay active and to keep moving.  As Tom Petty wrote, “I don’t know, but I’ve been told…you never stop moving and you’ll never grow old.”