Fighting Parkinson’s, and 18 months symptom free

Today, December 12, 2011, I am 18 months symptom free. I like looking forward, not backwards, and it is what I advocate for all of you. However, every now and again, a little reflection on life’s events doesn’t hurt. I will post here some excerpts from a previous post I wrote about balance…physical, mental, and spiritual…and share with you how I see those concepts today, in hindsight.

“Parkinson’s likes to hang around and make us feel like we have to have it forever. It knocks us off balance physically, which leads to knocking us off balance mentally (anger, frustration, depression), which knocks us off balance spiritually (we give up hope). We have to reverse the order to beat Parkinson’s at its own game.

Think about this: Physically, you are off balance. You move slowly and cautiously, often looking down instead of forward. What does that do? It puts your body in a posture that makes it virtually impossible to walk balanced. Your neck is bent, your spine is bent, the fluid in your semicircular canals is moved, and your visual frame of reference (important for balance) is your legs or the floor, and you acquire what is often referred to as a Parkinson’s gait. Mentally, you then become off balance because you are afraid of falling or freezing, and you are afraid of the future with Parkinson’s. This is right where Parkinson’s wants you…not living in the moment, but instead living in the past (getting Parkinson’s) and being fearful of the future (life with long-term Parkinson’s). Spiritually, you give up hope that you ever will get better. At that point Parkinson’s is winning.

Essentially, when you stare at your legs and feel unbalanced, you are looking at the past. When you feel unbalanced, you fear the future (walker, wheelchair, etc.). How can you move forward in life in a balanced manner if you are staring backwards and it makes you fearful of where you are going? Hope. But hope is not enough. You have to KNOW. You have to know in your heart of hearts and your soul of souls that you will get better.

I knew I would get better. I knew it as fact. I did not know when, but I knew I would get better. I got my body ready, I got my mind ready, but spiritually, I was still looking outside myself. I had the order incorrect (first, heal the soul, and the mind and body will follow). Ultimately, to heal my soul, I had to go to the scariest place of all and look inside.”

The reason that was the scariest place of all for me was that I was an adrenaline-driven, perfectionist, over-thinker, and the Parkinson’s inside me knew it. Looking inside meant I had to face myself and rely on myself and have faith in myself to “do” the right things, not think about them…and, as all of you know, Parkinson’s was a very worthy opponent. Parkinson’s constantly challenged my faith and challenged my resolve and challenged my “doing.”

It wanted me to stop what I was doing and “think” about it. It wanted me to “think” about Parkinson’s being considered incurable. It wanted me to “think” about how barely anybody outside of Sally and our children felt I was doing he correct thing. It wanted me to “think” it was not possible to succeed. It wanted me to “think” because with “thinking” comes fear and worry and anger and frustration…and that is where my Parkinson’s could thrive.

What my Parkinson’s did not realize is that my faith was bolstered by my secret weapon…Sally. Every time I would say, “I am thinking about adding this to the Recipe,” Sally would remind me, “Don’t think about it, do it.” And I would do it, add it in for a month and see if there was a benefit. Over time, “doing” became natural, and over-thinking became a thing of the past.

So, yes, it is very scary to look inside yourself and say to yourself, “I am not going to think about this…I am just going to do it because it feels right and I have faith that it is right.” However, it is the doing that leads to recovery. The doing is how we develop into our new selves, the new, Parkinson’s-free selves. We leave our old selves behind. One of the attachments we have to let go of to become balanced in our lives and balanced in our recoveries is our attachment to our old selves, you know, the adrenaline-driven, perfectionist, over-thinking old selves that currently have Parkinson’s.

Yes, at times it was a scary adventure to reach full recovery. But, wouldn’t you agree it was worth it? Now, how about you? Aren’t you worth it?

All my best,



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10 Responses to Fighting Parkinson’s, and 18 months symptom free

  1. Laurie Diaz says:

    Right you are! And I’m DOing the ‘extra’ neck exercises…including additional rotation in a circular/or arc-like motion. I can’t believe how much it helps.

    Another help…a warm wheat bag, ten minutes on back of the neck. Laurie in NZ

    • Bhavna says:

      dear howard,
      i want to share something remarkable you did with my mom too.
      her ankle swelling has gone completely with jin shin jyutsu

  2. Howard says:

    Hi Laurie,

    It is wonderful to hear that you are DOing the extra neck exercises! Thank you for the warm wheat bag on the back of the neck suggestion…it sounds inviting.

  3. Teri Rye says:

    Congratulations, Howard! 18 months symptom-free is wonderful! I plan to join you and Marie in recovery sometime soon. Until then, I am doing qigong, neck exercises, eating a vegetarian diet and cultivating positive thoughts. I believe it’s working, even though I don’t see much progress on the outside. Thank you for your encouragement!

    • Howard says:

      Thank you, Teri. I appreciate you kind words. You are doing the Recipe, and it is working…slowly on the inside, the healing is taking place. Even though you are not seeing much progress on the outside, please remember that this is a disease that by definition sees no progress on the outside, only digression. So, any progress is proof you are recovering. Good for you!

  4. Congratulations, Howard! – How absolutely wonderful it must be to be 18 months without PD symptoms. You are so inspiring and so very supportive with your recipes, advice and the experience you bring. I agree that the busy perfectionist mind chatter is our biggest challenge …. I think recognizing and owning that is half the battle – if I recognize the negative mind stuff, I can shift my attention to my heart where wellness, gratitude and purpose direct my actions instead of negativity and depression. And then the exercises, including the new neck exercises (thanks for these) are a meaningful extension of my heart…

  5. Howard says:

    Thank you, Penny. You paint a beautiful picture of how you transform the negatives of Parkinson’s into an opportunity to open your heart. Opening your heart is a wonderful way to help the flow of your dopamine. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

  6. Helen says:

    Hi everyone thank u for your stories. Recently I have been feeling more energy and easier leg movement for the last few days and happier until last night. I was with a family member who I am close with who told me how unhappy he was in his marriage. I felt for him and his pain and worried all night. Today I worked and felt drained, difficulty walking and had a stress attack. I know I can be of help when I am strong and clear which I wasn’t feeling. I need to learn to separate myself and others emotions from others close to my feelings. And take real care of myself so I can stay in my heart and share kindness and love. That’s my lesson, don’t take on others stuff. I hope to not do this and feel freer. I am tired now so will meditate and try and get back on track. I find I cry easily especially when I see love shared. Does anyone else feel that too? Goodnight Helen

    • Howard says:

      Hi Helen,

      Thank you for sharing your story. Yes, you are right on point — our emotional reaction to “others stuff” can make our symptoms worse. Also, our emotional reactions to “our stuff” can have the same negative result. Please take a look at

      It is part of my adoption of the “okay” attitude toward events in life. Example: Something happens and I do not like it. Instead of allowing anger, frustration, anxiety, fear and worry take over my life at that moment, I say “‘okay,’ it happened; I am not happy it happened, but it already has happened so I cannot change that it has happened. What I can change is how I am going to react to it and what I am going to do about it.” This is how to turn emotional dis-ease into emotional ease.

      And, yes, I found that I cried in the same manner as you — that is a good thing — it is your heart opening and experiencing joy again…your dopamine faucet is starting to open again. This is very good!


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