Tenacity and Parkinson’s

“Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal. My strength lies solely in my tenacity.” Louis Pasteur

To succeed in life in today’s world, you must have the will and tenacity to finish the job.” Chin-Ning Chu

Definition of Tenacity: <noun te·nac·i·ty \ tə-ˈna-sə-tē \>  Tenacity can be defined as persistent determination”. Paul June defines tenacity as “strength with a purpose. It’s not just being persistent or stubborn or obstinate or refusing to give up. Tenacity is keeping the forward momentum going with a game plan, a strategy, and the determination to keep your dreams alive even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.”

The Battle Is You Versus Your Parkinson’s: Recently, I had a conversation with a colleague and good friend about my depiction of living with Parkinson’s as a battle. She wondered about whether other people-with-Parkinson’s would agree with the use of the word in the context of living-with-Parkinson’s. I have been thinking about that conversation, and what keeps coming to the forefront is the word “tenacity”. One way to describe tenacity is as follows: Tenacity is the quality or fact of being very determined. Much like our armed forces going into combat, I do believe we must bring tenacity alongside with us as we confront our Parkinson’s. The idea that it is a battle makes sense to me because Parkinson’s will never rest or take a break. Parkinson’s will slowly advance, never retreat. Parkinson’s will never relinquish its stronghold on you without some effort on your part. Successfully navigating life-with-Parkinson’s takes persistent determination, in other words, tenacity.

“Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.” Abraham Lincoln

Trying Something You’ve Never Done Before: A few days ago I was reading a blog post from someone who had forced themselves to exercise regularly in their effort to help control the progression of their Parkinson’s. Importantly, this is from someone who grew up not liking exercise but now had incorporated it into her daily life [This is so different from me because I grew up exercising on a daily basis; it was an important part of my life for many years.]. This is someone who had decided “I will use exercise (a lot of exercises) to face my Parkinson’s head-on.” The descriptive word that came to my mind in thinking about her starting exercise for the very first time was a strength of purpose or tenacity. Another way to describe tenacity is as follows: Tenacity is the quality or fact of continuing to exist. Regardless of our experiences with exercises (including likes and dislike), we should all try to use exercise to help control the slowly evolving Parkinson’s.

“To make our way, we must have firm resolve, persistence, tenacity. We must gear ourselves to work hard all the way. We can never let up.” Ralph Bunche

A Parkinson’s Warrior: Recently, I was called a Parkinson’s Warrior and Advocate; it made me smile. Of course, there are several ways to define warrior, including: “1. One who is engaged in or experienced in battle; and 2. One who is engaged aggressively or energetically in an activity, cause, or conflict.” The use of warrior (and battle, above) are clearly metaphors, which add some dimension and detail to how we might react to a medical issue like Parkinson’s. We seem to easily endorse metaphors for various medical maladies, for instance, “The war against cancer”. Susan Sontag said, “Cancer was never viewed other than as a scourge; it was, metaphorically, the barbarian within.” She added, “cancer is the ‘killer’ disease; people who have cancer are ‘cancer victims.”’ Dr. Sherwin Nuland described malignant cancer cells as a “disorganized autonomous mob of maladjusted adolescents, raging against the society from which it sprang.”

Combining metaphor and personal strengths blend together nicely as written by a dear friend for this blog several years ago: “The Heart of a Warrior: Persistence in the face of adversity; courage to face the unknown; purposeful intent to live wholeheartedly; courageous exploration of one’s weaknesses and strengths within the context of personal integration and consistent evolution toward personal growth.” You would expect the warrior to possess courage, determination, and steadfastness, which all relate to tenacity. Whether you agree or not with the warrior description, you hopefully recognize that having tenacity as you go up-against-your-Parkinson’s will be a huge asset.

“If your plan isn’t working, adjust your plan. Never give up.” Matt Martin

Tenacity and My Parkinson’s: Now that summer has arrived, the days are much longer, and it gives me more time to practice my golf game.  I am convinced that playing golf is good for someone with Parkinson’s and that it’s partly due to axial spinal mobility, cognitive function and many other features (more on my golf-Parkinson’s connection later).  As I have been developing my own golf-plan, I watched an amazing story entitled: “Comeback: Gary Smith battles Parkinson’s disease with golf ” (click here to view video).  He uses daily golf practice at the driving range (Top Golf in Chicago) to resist the progression of his Parkinson’s (his medication has not changed in several years).  How? He hits 100 golf balls/day (~1000 golf balls/week).  If you ever go to the driving range, the typical basket of balls has maybe 40-50 golf balls.  In the past week, I’ve added hitting ~100 golf balls at the driving range to my routine ( I’ve now done it 4 times).  I’m playing better is one thing; practice is good for a golfer. I will try to do this the rest of the summer, as schedule/time permits (the goal will be to hit ~600 balls/week). Where does tenacity come in?  I’m very sore (but energized) after hitting so many golf ball at a single time.  Thus, hitting ~100 golf balls/day takes stamina, strength, determination and persistence; truly, this requires tenacity.

“I’m neither giving up nor giving in.” Charlton Heston

Tenacity and “The Wizard of Oz”: You already know that your journey with Parkinson’s will be long, arduous, and challenging. Here’s an analogy for you to imagine (well, it may be a poor one but it came to my mind). Do you remember the first time you saw the movie, the Wizard of Oz? Do you recall being unsettled when the Wicked Witch of the West gave orders to the flying monkeys? Do you remember how scared you were when the flying monkeys stole Toto the dog from Dorothy? And finally, do you remember how hard Dorothy worked, how well she and her team worked together to get the broom from the Wicked Witch? I really think her tenacity helped her to get home to Kansas [I know, it’s only an old book and movie.]. Here’s the analogy: the Wicked Witch of the West (think of her as Parkinson’s disease); the flying monkeys (think of them as the bad polymerized alpha-synuclein); and yes, Dorothy and her wonderful friends represent us. Now close your eyes, think a moment about these assigned roles and what happens in the movie. This is the effort you’ll need to counter the attack of the deranged bad polymerized alpha-synuclein (flying monkeys) who’ll only answer to the evolving Parkinson’s (Wicked Witch of the West). Maybe the pictures below will help with the story (analogy); pictures credit here and here.

“Patience and tenacity are worth more than twice their weight of cleverness.” Thomas Huxley

Fight For/Of Your Life: The final metaphor in this post is ‘fight”; your attempt to resist both the symptoms and progression of Parkinson’s. A constant theme in this blog has been to be educated before you act; to remain positive, even as time goes by; to be hopeful that you will get healthier; to persevere and be wholehearted. Here we add tenacity to help support your fight against Parkinson’s. Tenacity is the degree you can persist in your encounter with Parkinson’s and to relentlessly stay focused and poised in this fight (okay, let’s call it a quest) against this disorder.

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act. The rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life and the procedure. The process is its own reward.” Amelia Earhart

A View of Tenacity: Credit for the quote and left picture below (Click here) and for the quote and right picture below (click here), respectively.

“During difficult times I often turn to a gospel song called “Stand.” In it, songwriter Donnie McClurkin sings, “What do you do when you’ve done all you can, and it seems like it’s never enough? What do you give when you’ve given your all, and it seems like you can’t make it through?” The answer lies in McClurkin’s simple refrain: “You just stand.” That’s where strength comes from—our ability to face resistance and walk through it. It’s not that people who persevere don’t ever feel doubt, fear, and exhaustion. They do. But in the toughest moments, we can have faith that if we take just one step more than we feel we’re capable of, if we draw on the incredible resolve every human being possesses, we’ll learn some of the most profound lessons life has to offer. What I know for sure is that there is no strength without challenge, adversity, resistance, and often pain. The problems that make you want to throw up your hands and holler “Mercy!” will build your tenacity, courage, discipline, and determination.” Oprah Winfrey, What I Know For Sure

Cover photo credit: https://gallery.yopriceville.com/Backgrounds/Sea_Beach_Sunrise_Background#.W0HFuX4nZ-U

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