I began my last four posts with this: Is Parkinson’s curable? My answer is Yes, Parkinson’s is curable! This is what you need to know in your heart. In part 4, I said I would discuss alleged weakness in my next post. That is today’s topic.
On the day of my diagnosis, when I explained to my neurologist the history of what had been going wrong with me physically, three of the things I mentioned were these: 1. When I went to squeeze the pump at the gas station, I had no strength to squeeze the pump with my left hand; 2. After picking up the dog food bowl from the kitchen counter using my left hand to move the bowl to the floor, I dropped the bowl three days in a row; and 3. After grabbing the water pitcher handle with my left hand, I could only lift the water pitcher off of the counter with great difficulty and much pain. (By the way, when these things had occurred months earlier, I was in such denial that anything was wrong with me that I simply started using my right hand and arm for these tasks).
My neurologist explained to me that the cause of this apparent weakness was not weakness of the muscles. He said that, in part, what gives the muscle you are trying to use strength is that the opposite side muscle relaxes. With Parkinson’s, oftentimes, the opposite side muscle gets an incorrect message from the brain and it tightens. As a result of this tightening of the opposite side muscle, the muscle you are trying to use appears weak. And, the harder you try, the tighter and “weaker” the muscle gets.
Also, my neurologist explained that there was confusion in the cross-over with the left side of the brain working the right side of the body and the right side of the brain working the left side of the body.
I pretty much knew I had Parkinson’s in September of 2009, so while I was awaiting my November 4, 2009 neurologist appointment, I already had begun doing the Recipe. Armed with this new information, I decided I needed to make a couple of adjustments in my strategy.
Click here to read about my adjustment in strategy, or what I called my “less is more” theory of Parkinson’s movement.
Also, with myself, I noticed that if I tried to walk to quickly or take long strides, my legs would tighten, my posture would become very stooped, and my strides would become tiny. As a result, I practiced shuffling with small shuffles, slowly lengthening them, and then learning from the experience how far I could stretch my distance until the back of my leg would begin to tight (rigidity setting it). I would then ease up on my stride and the rigidity in the back of my leg would disappear.
This caused me to pay attention to my walking and shuffling with two important rules: 1. No fast walking; and 2. Never push my Parkinson’s movement to the limits of it would allow and the rigidity would never set in and freeze my walking. IT WORKED! When I walked, which was primarily shuffling, I always got where I was going. Yes, I was very, very slow, but who cares? I did not freeze, I had no fear, and I always got from point A to point B with complete confidence.
If you look at the dynamics of walking, it is actually your knee that lifts up to take a step. This is why you get stuck or you freeze. As you are attempting to use the front of your thigh to lift your knee and take a step, the back of the thigh tightens and results in a situation people have described to me as “my feet get stuck to the floor.” This is why shuffling works…your feet do not leave the floor and you are not creating a back-of-your-thigh tightening problem.
I decided that it was more important to get where I was going fearlessly than to be concerned about how I looked, so I opted for shuffling. If you focus on what is the purpose of your walking instead of “what do I look like to the other people,” then you can do this too.
As far as arm strength, I paid careful attention to what I was trying to lift and trying to carry. I realized that if I reached out and grabbed something to pick up (see above issue with water picture), I had pushed my Parkinson’s to the limits and the rigidity would prevent me from lifting the thing.
For example, getting a dinner plate from the table to the kitchen sink. If I grabbed the plate and squeezed it to lift it, lifting it became a near-impossible task. Instead, I would slowly lift the plate with both hands and then slide them underneath to allow it to rest on my open palms. By not squeezing the plate, I had ample strength in my arms to carry the plate.
Click here to read more on my “less is more” theory of Parkinson’s movement.
As you can see, the more you pay attention to what you are doing and what you are trying to accomplish, and the less you pay attention to what other people might be thinking about how you are moving, the MORE you can do with LESS effort. And then, you will realize, “Oh, I am not getting weak. I have rigidity that I can control.”
By utilizing the “less is more” theory of Parkinson’s movement, you not only gain the ability to do more things with less effort, but you will suffer less fatigue because every movement will not be a fight against yourself and your rigidity. I say “fight against yourself” because when people freeze they become angry, frustrated, and fearful…and this leads to more freezing. A rigid mind feeds a rigid body. A fearful mind is paralyzing to the body.
A joyful heart opens your dopamine flow.
You can do this!
Is Parkinson’s Curable? Yes!
They say incurable. We say, “YES, IN CURABLE!”
They say impossible. We say, “YES, I’M POSSIBLE!”
So, embrace the Recipe and chant with me:
“Parkinson’s is curable.
I am my own Parkinson’s cure.
I am halting, slowing, and reversing the progression of my Parkinson’s.
I am extraordinary.
I am recovery.
AND, I AM WORTH IT!!!”
All my best,