I have received very nice off-line feedback regarding keeping a positive attitude and how big a part this plays in fighting Parkinson’s or any other disease. It reminded me of an article I read months ago where the author said he noticed that if he spoke to somebody with cancer, they would refer to their condition as “I’m fighting cancer.” The author said that people with Parkinson’s would respond, “I have Parkinson’s Disease.” It struck a nerve with me when he concluded that cancer sufferers are fighters and expect to prevail over their disease, and that Parkinson’s sufferers accept the fact that they have an incurable disease and do not expect to prevail, so why fight it. This should help you understand the importance to me of the title of my blog.
On this point, I am going to explain the Parkinson’s symptom of rigidity and how it impacts me. First, here is a good definition:
•Rigidity. Rigidity, or a resistance to movement, affects most parkinsonian patients. A major principle of body movement is that all muscles have an opposing muscle. Movement is possible not just because one muscle becomes more active, but because the opposing muscle relaxes. In Parkinson’s disease, rigidity comes about when, in response to signals from the brain, the delicate balance of opposing muscles is disturbed. The muscles remain constantly tensed and contracted so that the person aches or feels stiff or weak. The rigidity becomes obvious when another person tries to move the patient’s arm, which will move only in ratchet-like or short, jerky movements known as “cogwheel” rigidity.
I have rigidity in my arms, legs, and upper back into my shoulders. Last week, a friend asked me to explain my rigidity so he could get a better sense of what I am experiencing.
1. My arms — the next time you sit down to eat, pick up some food with your utensil, and while holding your utensil just above the plate or bowl, flex and tighten every muscle in your arm from your shoulder to the grip on the utensil. While maintaining this, try to get the utensil with the food to your mouth. My arms are tight like this all the time.
2. My legs — stand as straight as you can and then put a little bend in your knees. Next, flex your calves and thighs. Now, try to walk. Or do this in front of the stairs and see if you can walk up the stairs without holding on. When you add the symptom of very poor balance to the formula, you can see why leaning forward when walking and holding on when going up the stairs are commonplace among those fighting Parkinson’s. My legs are tight like this all the time.
3. My upper back — it is tight and hurts all the time. I really do not have a good example for you to emulate.
Having a positive attitude is the key to everything. My mind and body have accepted the pain, so I am not consumed by it every waking moment. Deciding every day that fighting Parkinson’s drug free is a fight worth fighting is what keeps me going. Quite frankly, getting to spend time with Sally and the children to celebrate Mother’s Day yesterday is really what keeps me going.
All my best,