Persistence and Parkinson’s

“Nothing in the 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.”  Calvin Coolidge

Persistence: Besides remaining hopeful, being persistent is a good trait to have in dealing with Parkinson’s. Persistence is not giving up without trying, exhausting all available options, creating new paths if possible, and it requires dogged determination.

Persistence And The Borg (From The Star Trek Franchise):  While the physical changes in those of us with Parkinson’s are somewhat variable (rigidity, bradykinesis, tremor, and postural instability and gait problems), the process is both progressive and seemingly relentless. Having Parkinson’s made me think of the Borg from Star Trek.  Who? The Borg? Why?

The Borg are a fictional group of species that have been turned into drones (they appear in several of the Star Trek franchise TV shows and movies).  To read more about the Borg, go here: . For many, the favorite Borg quote goes as follows: “We are the Borg. Lower your shields and surrender your ships. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile.”

Clearly, with a lot of persistence, the Star Trek characters defeat the Borg and resistance was not futile.  Without  persistence, and like the Borg, Parkinson’s will begin to assimilate us. However, with persistence, the goal is that we can meet the ‘challenges’ of Parkinson’s.  Hopefully, our persistence will not be futile and the progression of Parkinson’s will be slowed and our lives enriched.

Persistence And The Bumblebee:  In a recent commencement talk, Earl Bakken said the following: “By all reckoning, the bumblebee is aerodynamically unsound and shouldn’t be able to fly. Yet, the little bee gets those wings going like a turbo-jet and flies to every plant its chubby little body can land on to collect all the nectar it can hold. Bumblebees are the most persistent creatures. They don’t know they can’t fly, so they just keep buzzing around. Like the lowly bumblebee, honored graduates, never give in to pessimism. Don’t know that you can’t fly, and you will soar like an eagle.” I love watching bumblebees and marvel at their high-level of functionality. Clearly, bumblebees are persistent.
Bumblebee-2009-04-19-01Unfortunately, Parkinson’s is a process one can have for decades.  Thus, Parkinson’s is not like a short sprint race, it’s more like a long ultra-marathon being run on a sandy beach. Like the bumblebee, remaining persistent to manage the long-term consequences of Parkinson’s is important.  And being persistent is not the same thing as being stubborn (well, I think they are different). Being persistent is mounting a challenge to Parkinson’s but we are also willing to change/adapt/alter our life’s plan in response to Parkinson’s (medication, exercise, nutrition, and other life-style changes). Be like the bumblebee, and persistence will enable us to successfully thrive in the ultra-marathon presented by Parkinson’s.

Persistence And My Parkinson’s: Today was a beautiful sunny day, and a good friend asked me to play golf.  For me, the new obstacle was to walk the golf course (using a push-cart not carrying my golf clubs). After golf, I had a challenging LSVT BIG session (I have wonderful PT’s who push me hard each day). Then I worked for 9 hours  (the career is still very important). I strive to be like the crew of Star Trek, battling the Borg, to show that being persistent offers resistance to Parkinson’s.  I also want to be like the bumblebee, gathering pollen, and use persistence to enable my life to proceed wonderfully while with Parkinson’s.

Persistence is paramount to dealing with Parkinson’s.  It is not a matter of physical strength that augments our persistence, it is maintaining a positive attitude that we won’t give up to Parkinson’s, ever.  Combine persistence with hope, courage and determination, and we can continue to focus on a life well-lived. You are still here and you are still you.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly….” Theodore Roosevelt

*Cover photo credit: Katie Smith.
**Bumblebee photo credit:

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