Getting Parkinson’s Disease is like being the victim of identity theft. While we are going about our daily lives, something nefarious is lurking in the shadows. It is stalking us, learning our habits, thinking our thoughts, tapping into our spirits, and one day it becomes bold enough to take over our identity. And we look in the mirror, recognize the face, but something is different…really, really different…and wrong…really, really wrong. Initially, we deny anything is wrong. However, we need to accept that we have Parkinson’s so we can take the steps to recover. Acceptance gives us strength!
Parkinson’s hits us hard. My Parkinson’s self could not walk like I used to, could not talk like I used to, could not use the restroom like I used to, could not eat like I used to, could not think like I used to, and my face got frozen over time, and my body ached all the time, and I had no balance, and I had tremors all the time…I shook and shook and shook inside my body all the time. To a stranger, I may have looked like a regular guy. To me, I had lost my identity, my sense of who I was.
In the beginning of November 2009 when I was getting ready for my initial neurologist visit, I thought back on when “things” started going wrong. In February of 2009, I had a terrible pain in my left arm toward my elbow, and I realized I could not squeeze the gas pump or lift a pitcher of water. My response was to start using my right arm more. In March of 2009, a short while after turning 48, I dropped the dog food bowl with the food onto the floor three mornings in a row. I was using my left arm and we have a 7 pound dog, so it was not a heavy bowl with food. I remember thinking that my mother used to drop things and she got Parkinson’s when she was 48. My response was to quickly dismiss that thought and use my right arm and right hand hand for the dog food.
By April of 2009, the pain in my left arm was accompanied by a severe tightness. I became unable to do the morning brocade of Qigong exercises I had been doing for nearly a decade. My response was to stop doing my Qigong with the intention of starting up again after my left arm got better. I will spare you the physical degeneration that took place over the following months leading up to the day in September of 2009 that I realized I had internal tremors. The point I am trying to get to here is that in looking back, not only was I ignoring the signs on the path to Parkinson’s, but I was creating excuses for what was going on…I am pretty certain that this is what they call denial.
Denial is an interesting thing. For the eight months of “things” slowly going wrong with me leading up to tremors setting in, I kept thinking I must have hurt my left arm and I just need to rest it until it gets better. This sounds so ridiculous to me when I write it now and read it on my computer screen. Eight months of recognizable slow deterioration of my physical being and my only “thought” was I must have hurt my arm and I needed to rest it. This is why I say that denial is an interesting thing. It let me pretend that if I ignored my problem long enough, it would go away.
Instead, it stole my identity.
So, how did I get my identity back? Acceptance. Faith. Action. Accepting I had Parkinson’s defeated denial. It meant that I accepted I had the disease and I needed to do something about it. Faith was the unwavering knowledge that I would recover from the disease someday. It meant that I knew the actions I took for my recovery would be worthwhile. Action was the understanding that faith without action is meaningless for Parkinson’s recovery (by definition, one cannot recover from Parkinson’s). It meant that I knew in my heart of hearts and soul of souls that my actions would lead to recovery and that the conventional definition of Parkinson’s was incorrect. I think they also call this idea denial, but this kind of denial, denial that I could not recover from Parkinson’s, was essential in my recovery.
It took nine months of doing my Recipe for Recovery, and I got my identity back. In my 100% symptom free recovery, I got back the identity I had lost years before getting Parkinson’s. I got back the essence of who I am as a person. The Parkinson’s me was gone. The old me who was living life in a manner that it opened the door for Parkinson’s symptoms to come up to the surface was gone. The new me, original-me-essence-of-who-I-am-me, happy-from-the-inside-me, is what was there when the dust settled over two years ago fully recovered from Parkinson’s.
And, the new me, original-me-essence-of-who-I-am-me, happy-from-the-inside-me, is who is still here over two years after fully recovering from Parkinson’s.
Acceptance is very powerful. It gives us the strength to stare down the worst exacerbation of symptoms and say, “I do not care what you are doing, I do not care what you look like, I do not care what others are saying, my faith in my recovery is rock-solid and I FULLY ACCEPT that you are just something I will have to get through on my way to my full recovery. You do not mean anything more than that. I do not have to be afraid of changing symptoms. Fear is defeated by my faith, and with my faith, I can accept whatever comes to me.”
And it is with this level of acceptance that I learned that even the worst pain or stiffness or slowness never lasted more than a day or two. And each time I got to the other side of one of these exacerbation of symptoms episodes, my faith got stronger and stronger, and my resolve got stronger and stronger, and then my faith in my recovery became the reality of my full recovery.
Now it is your turn to get your identity back. Acceptance. Faith. Action. Recovery. You can do this!!!
You are worth it!!!
All my best,