“Give your life a destination.” Debasish Mridha
“We’re all a beautiful, wonderful work in progress….Embrace the process!” Nanette Mathews
Précis: This post is a review of my public journey and life-steps with Parkinson’s in the 2nd year of the blog: i) rationale for the blog; ii) quotes/highlights from selected posts between March 2016-March 2017; iii) overview of service activities/events; iv) research and the 4th World Parkinson Congress; v) some of the people that make a difference in my life, and vi) six favorite cover photos from the past year.
Update on I’m Still Here: Journey and Life with Parkinson’s
A thought from Day 01: On March 9, 2015, I began my journey and Parkinson’s-life-story with this blog. The first blog post ended with the following comment: “I am trying to live life well and authentically, and not be defined by my PD. With the help of family, friends, colleagues, and personal physicians, my goals are to stay positive and strive to keep focused on what matters the most…I am still here!”
Foundational themes of the blog: The overall goal of the blog is divided between these topics: (a) to describe living with Parkinson’s (“Life Lessons”); (b) to present emerging medical strategies for dealing with Parkinson’s (“Medical Education”); (c) to provide a support mechanism for anyone with Parkinson’s or another neurodegenerative disorder (“Strategy for Living”); and (d) to give an overview of the scientific aspects of Parkinson’s (“Translating Science”). I really appreciate your continual support, feedback, critiques, and suggestions for future topics (here’s an example): “I enjoy reading your informative blog posts. I believe that addressing the many frustrations of living with Parkinson’s as you are doing with such “matter of factness” and then with a plan of action, must be inspiring to others dealing with the same. All the while working so hard to maintain your positive outlook…the mental exercise! The other side of the overall challenge in this competition with Parkinson’s Disease to live your present life fully.” If there are some specific topics/life aspects of Parkinson’s you’d like for me to research and present here, please send me the topic(s). If there is some format change in presentation you’d like to see to improve the readability of future posts, please send me a suggestion.
Quotes and highlights from selected posts from March 2016-March 2017:
- “As a long-time educator, I feel that my daily lesson plans are partly derived from my life-experiences and that my syllabus is the sum of my life’s journey.” From Parkinson’s and the Positivity of Michael J. Fox (click here to read post).
- “A regular aerobic exercise program likely helps to promote the appropriate conditions for the injured brain to undergo neuroplasticity.” From Déjà Vu and Neuroplasticity in Parkinson’s (click here to read post).
- “We are identified by our characteristic symptoms of our unwanted companion named Parkinson’s. We are all in this together, united by our disorder; held together by those who love and care for us.” From Update on I’m Still Here: Life with Parkinson’s (click here to read post).
- “While we wait for the potion that slows progression, we exercise and remain hopeful. While we live with a neurodegenerative disorder, we strive to remove the label and we stay positive.” From Parkinson’s Treatment With Dopamine Agonist, Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM), and Exercise” (click here to read post).
- “Living with Parkinson’s requires you to adapt to its subtle but progressive changes over a long period of time; you need to remain hopeful for many different things.” From Chapter 1: A Parkinson’s Reading Companion on Hope (click here to read post).
- “This disorder robs you physically of mobility and flexibility, so maintaining physical strength is really important. This disorder robs you emotionally and this deficit is bigger than the physical defects; thus, to thrive with Parkinson’s demands several character strengths.” From Chapter 3: A Parkinson’s Reading Companion on Strength (click here to read post).
- “Life with Parkinson’s is best lived in the current moment without either focusing on the past or dreading the future.” From Chapter 8: A Parkinson’s Reading Companion on Mindfulness (click here to read post).
- “The journey with Parkinson’s requires effort, teamwork, awareness, and a heart-fueled positive attitude to keep going.” From Chapter 9: A Parkinson’s Reading Companion on Journey (click here to read post).
- “Consider your disorder, you must be able to embrace this unexpected turn in your life and manage the best you can. Personalize your disorder and understand its nuances on you; then you will be able to successfully navigate life in its daily presence.” From 9 Life Lessons from 2016 Commencement Speeches (click here to read post).
- “I truly believe that the effort most people are using to handle their disorder puts them in a healthier and better lifestyle to manage their symptoms. An emerging predominate picture of Parkinson’s today is a person striving to live strongly.” From The Evolving Portrait of Parkinson’s (click here to read post).
- “Believe in Life in the Presence of Parkinson’s”: Every thought expressed here matters to me (click here to read post).
- “Your home may change many times over the coming years. Let your heart tell you where your home is.” From 2016 Whitehead Lecture: Advice, Life Stories and the Journey with Parkinson’s (click here to read post).
- “Here’s a simple mindfulness experience/moment: simply be aware of the steam leaving your morning cup of coffee/tea, clear your immediate thoughts, then sip, focus and savor this moment.” From 7 Healthy Habits For Your Brain (click here to read post).
- “You’ve played 17 holes of golf, and you approach the 18th hole to finish the round. This is a long par three with a lake between you on the tee box and the putting surface. Your three golf buddies have already safely hit their balls over the lake; you launch the ball over the water and safely onto the green (this is a big deal). Without Parkinson’s, your facial expression and your exuberance are so obvious. With Parkinson’s, your joy and exuberance are still over-flowing inwardly yet it is displayed in a more muted manner.” From The Mask of Parkinson’s (click here to read post).
- “We must remain hopeful that advances in Parkinson’s treatment are being made and that our understanding of the science of Parkinson’s is continuing to evolve.” From 2016: The Year in Parkinson’s (click here to read post).
- “Since receiving my Parkinson’s diagnosis, my opinion of exercise has changed. With Parkinson’s, I’m now exercising as if my life depends on it.” From 9 Things to Know About Exercise-induced Neuroplasticity in Human Parkinson’s (click here to read post).
Service and research:
Service- I was most fortunate to be able to participate in 2 ways for the 4th World Parkinson Congress (WPC), first as a member of the Communications Committee, World Parkinson Coalition; second, as the Co-Editor, Daily Parkinson eNewspaper for the 4th WPC. And it gave me an opportunity to work with the very talented Eli Pollard (Executive Director WPC). A truly amazing Editorial Board was assembled of PD advocates, researchers, experts, PwP, and just a superb group of people devoted to Parkinson’s (click here to read the Editorial Board Biographical Sketches). This was a meaningful experience to have worked with the Editorial Board, a real honor.
Being part of the Planning Committee, Moving Day NC Triangle, headed up by Jessica Shurer, was such fun. This was my first year on the committee; however, it was my second year to organize a team for Moving Day.
PWR!Moves® Instructor Workshop Certificate. Spent a weekend in Greenville, SC to participate and get certified in PWR!Moves (PWR = Parkinson Wellness Recovery). To sum it up is easy, truly an amazing event. I was fortunate to have an experienced-talented instructor and a group of personal trainers committed to working with PwP (click here to read the blog post describing the PWR! experience). Although I was happy to contribute as the person-with-Parkinson’s and go through the exercise routines for everyone, it was even more fun getting trained and certified in PWR!Moves.
Research- One of the new directions in my life is a shift in the focus of my research away from hematology and to Parkinson’s. I keep asking myself, why? and keep answering why not! The process is just like everything else related to research and grant applications; you read, plan, write, submit, and wait. However, I am pleased to say that CJ’s fellowship entitled “Localization of Proteases and their Inhibitors in Parkinson’s Disease” was funded by UNC-CH. It’s a start…we begin gathering data next month. And I am so proud of CJ for seeking (and obtaining) funding to get us started in the science of Parkinson’s.
“Life is like a roller-coaster with thrills, chills, and a sigh of relief.” Susan Bennett
The people that make a difference in my life: Collectively, everyone here gives me strength each and every day of my journey with this disorder.
Above- Barbara, the best care-partner/best friend/best everything; I can’t imagine being here and doing all of this without your never-ending love and support.
Top and bottom right panels above- lab/research group [especially important are CJ (currently working in the lab) and Mac (a long-time collaborator) and Chantelle, Savannah, and Jasmine (no longer working in the lab but still are great friends and vital to our success)]; middle panel- nothing more valuable than family, with my sisters (Tina and Kitty), and bottom left panel- my all-important golf buddies [Walter, Kim, Nigel (not pictured) and John].
Panels above- undergraduate classes from SP ’16, FA’ 16 and SP ’17 inspire me every day to keep teaching and fuel my inner-core to keep going another year.
Above panels- medical students (all 180 students/class) enrich my life and challenge me to keep working hard and stay happy.
Besides attending a Parkinson’s Congress, getting certified in PWR!, publishing a book, and walking for Parkinson’s; it was all made easier by my PWR! Physical Therapist and gifted teacher Jennifer (top right panel), expert medical guidance from my Neurologist Dr. Roque (middle panel), Parkinson’s-education-awareness from the best movement disorder center social-worker Jessica (bottom middle panel), perpetual energy and role model of a PwP-advocate Lisa (bottom right panel), and Johanna and Katie (not pictured above) who make my day-job such a joyful experience. And I apologize to many others who are not pictured here because you do really matter to me.
6 favorite cover photos from the past year (links to photos at the end):
Thank you! Thank you for your support during the second year of my journey with this blog. As always, live decisively, be positive, stay focused, remain persistent and stay you.
“I want to be in the arena. I want to be brave with my life. And when we make the choice to dare greatly, we sign up to get our asses kicked. We can choose courage or we can choose comfort, but we can’t have both. Not at the same time. Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.” Brené Brown,
Noted added in proof: For a day or so, a preliminary version of this post appeared in 200 Years Ago James Parkinson published “An Essay On The Shaking Palsy” (click here to view). Together, this combined post was substantially longer than my usual blog post. Therefore, I separated them and decided to present this year-end-review in an expanded format.
Cover photo credit: farm4.staticflickr.com/3953/15575910318_ec35ebb523_b.jpg
Photo credits for the 6 favorite cover photos for 2016-2017: top left http://epod.usra.edu/.a/6a0105371bb32c970b015438c5312a970c-pi; top right: : http://vb3lk7eb4t.search.serialssolutions.com/?V=1.0&L=VB3LK7EB4T&S=JCs&C=TC0001578421&T=marc ; middle left wallpaper-crocus-flower-buds-violet-primrose-snow-spring-flowers.jpg; middle right : http://az616578.vo.msecnd.net/files/2016/03/19/635940149667803087959444186_6359344127228967891155060939_nature-grass-flowers-spring-2780.jpg ; bottom left : http://www.beaconhouseinnb-b.com/wp-content/uploads/dawn-at-spring-lake-beach-bill-mckim.jpg ; bottom right : http://www.rarewallpapers.com/beaches/lifeguard-station-10678