“There’s a brief moment when you first wake up, where you have no memories. A blissful blank slate, a happy emptiness.” Candace Bushnell
“Celebrate our brief moment in the sun” Lawrence M. Krauss
Introduction: There have been moments in the past when I felt “normal” without my motor symptoms being present. Have you had such a feeling where your symptoms are diminished? Can you remember those fleeting times?
I have repeatedly thought that Parkinson’s is tricking us into believing that its grip is all-encompassing, gaining total control of your life. Maybe, it’s true, but I still want to think there are glimpses into the past before Parkinson’s. However, it would help if you thought profoundly and hard to pull out those memories. They may only be snapshots, but with recollection and effort, you may put these images together to make a movie of memories of normalness. Below are a few examples.
“Spend your brief moment according to nature’s law, and serenely greet the journey’s end as an olive falls when it is ripe, blessing the branch that bare it, and giving thanks to the tree that gave it life.” Marcus Aurelius
When You Wake Up In The Morning: If I have had a good night’s sleep (that’s an entire blog post of its own), as I am doing a first-run-through inventory of muscles and such by stretching in bed, I can sometimes feel normal. It defies logic since my last carbidopa/levodopa dose was many hours earlier. But we are more than just dopamine. If this happens for you, cherish that feeling.
“We have to keep an eye on the future with a sense of the past in every passing moment of the present.” Amanda Harlech
Finding The Zen Moment Or That Moment of Bliss: There are times when you are relaxed, mindful, and fully aware of your body, brain, and environment. Whether this is your Zen moment or your moment of bliss, it matters not. So get to this point, and see how everyday stress makes things feel. See if being in the perfect place emotionally and physically can bring your body back to you.
We went to the beach the other day, and it was perfect as perfect could be. Sunny, hot, breezy, and the ocean’s roar was ever-present. But in those 5 hours, in this time of bliss, my body felt normal. The tremor was absent, stiffness melted away in an absolutely stress-free environment, and it felt like my Parkinson’s was gone for that short time. Therefore, the moral to this story, relieve stress, get to that perfect time where your body and mind are in perfect unison, and see what might return to your usual standard. The critical point is eliminating stress and anxiety from these given moments.
“The moment in between what you once were, and who you are now becoming, is where the dance of life really takes place.” Barbara De Angelis
The Optimal Exercise Workout: I remember when doing some form of exercise with Dr. Rebecca Bliss, my North Carolina-based Physical Therapist, that by the end of the workout, my body felt normal. I realize my exercise routines aim to improve flexibility, reduce tension, and strengthen posture, core, and the body. Reaching that goal allows your body to escape Parkinson’s grip, and normalcy can return, even fleetingly, but that’s still good.
“The passing moment is all we can be sure of; it is only common sense to extract its utmost value from it.” W. Somerset Maugham
Removing Stress: Standing up in front of ~200 medical students, committed to learning and likely far more intelligent than me, could be stressful. And stress exacerbates my motor symptoms. But breathing deep, trusting your knowledge and understanding of the topic, and knowing you’ve done this a lot, can suspend the stress. That diminution of pressure could make me feel normal during that lecture. The moral of the story, stress makes everything related to Parkinson’s worse.
“If eternity had a season, it would be midsummer. Autumn, winter, spring are all change and passage, but at the height of summer the year stands poised. It’s only a passing moment, but even as it passes the heart knows it cannot change.” Ursula K. Le Guin
Bounce a Ball While Walking: I am convinced some normal movement still exists in each of us. It is a matter of fooling the part of your brain with Parkinson’s by distracting it. For example, try bouncing a ball (get a lacrosse ball, it’s the perfect density for most typical walking surfaces). The distraction of bouncing the ball may normalize your walking cadence. As shown in this brief video, it helped. NOTE OF WARNING: This action diverting part of your brain to bouncing the ball while walking will undoubtedly increase the risk of falling (you are not watching where you are walking). If you attempt such an exercise, please do it under someone’s supervision and in a safe environment.
A deviation of the ball bouncing is to take a slightly larger ball (maybe a child’s basketball or something similar) and passing/move it around your body from front-to-side-to back-to other side-return to front. This allows you to watch where you are walking and divert your brain. Maybe your walk will become more natural, like before Parkinson’s. It will take practice, but please be careful.
A final suggestion is to buy the VibroSwing-System (see photo). My first attempt to use them was at a PWR! Retreat. The PT showing me how to walk with them, said, “Now you don’t have Parkinson’s.” It was true how walking with these devices indeed normalized my walk. The brain certainly believed it.
“I have the happiness of a passing moment, and what more can mortal ask?” George Gissing
Living With Parkinson’s Demands Effort: There is uniformity in describing the Cardinal Symptoms of Parkinson’s. Although each of us has our own novel derivative of Parkinson’s. It has been expressed and progresses at a rate unique to you. Thus, my description of normalcy above may or may not relate to your situation. However, we share the common denominator named Parkinson’s. Our realities are somewhat shared experiences.
My final thought is to remain positive, stay hopeful, and be persistent in our response to Parkinson’s. I hope this post will be a spark of resistance to shake you loose enough to recapture that feeling of normalcy. Remain on guard, and let those moments of normalcy through open doors. Good luck, stay healthy and keep moving forward.
“I guess what I’m passionate about is, I see so many things that I find that there’s no real solution to, and you’re only here for such a brief moment in time, even if you live to be a hundred years old. Yet, what happens within that time frame? So many things happen.” ~ Annie Lennox