I am blessed with two beautiful daughters, who could not be more opposite of each other in their personalities. Samantha is a busy bee with a brain that I don’t think ever shuts down. She’s not quite 8 yet and does math problems for fun, I can assure you she does not get that trait from her mother! Four year-old Izabella on the other hand is very smart but also very lazy. When doing any kind of learning or work with her she often after a few minutes gets bored and will say “I can’t do it, it’s too hard”. Her junior kindergarten teacher I’m sure has had some frustrating moments with our spunky little girl. But one thing she always stresses with her is: “We don’t say can’t, we say I’ll try”! Wise words from a teacher of little ones don’t you think?
Such a simple little phrase that we should all adopt in our life, especially those of us with Parkinson’s. All too often I speak with people with PD who have in a sense or in some capacity given up. It angers me, frustrates me and makes me extremely sad. Don’t get me wrong I have my give up days too, we all do and we’re all entitled to them. But what’s important is that we do not allow ourselves to stay in that place for very long. Those pitty parties will always come & go along with the hissy fits and perhaps even some major anger moments and you know what? It’s ok. We have a lot to be angry over. However this attitude that I “can’t” needs to be always overcome with “I’ll try”. The thought process that you used to do something but now it’s just too hard so you give it up needs to get drop kicked out of your mind. Yes, it may be harder, it may take longer but just keep trying if you love it enough. The assumption that something you’ve never tried before can’t be done shouldn’t be there, because you just don’t know until you try. This applies in all areas of ones life, socially, physically, mentally. And not just for people with Parkinson’s.
Recently our Parkinson’s group tried a boxing class for therapy, it was very well received by the group and 11 people came out to literally kick some Parkinson’s ass! And that they did! From young onset like myself right up to senior with severe tremors and every single person gave it their all! Some that were there hadn’t done any real form of exercise in ages and they worked their butts off. I’m always preaching about how the studies prove that exercise is the only proven way to slow the progression of PD. If you are told there’s this miracle fix that can ensure your body works the way it does (or maybe even better) and despite your degenerative disease stays where it is for a long time to come wouldn’t you beg me for the secret? Well, it’s no secret, you just have to get up and move the more the better. If you say you “can’t” run anymore “try” walking. If you say you “can’t” do aerobics “try” water aerobics. “Can’t” handle impact on your feet “try” biking. Your balance is bad and you say you “can’t” because you’ll fall, then try a stationary bike with a good seat, or chair yoga!
The thing is we all CAN exercise in one form or another. The key is to being open to trying new things. Boxing isn’t for everyone but those 11 people came and they “tried” and I bet you that many of them were worried they couldn’t do it, but they did and they all want to do it again! It’s awesome and I shed some tears on the drive home that day because I was so very proud of all of them. I horseback ride once a week for therapy, it works on my balance, leg strength and posture. All serious issues with PD, so my instructor and I are planning a “Parkie’s and Ponies” day soon. It won’t be for everyone but just “try” it. Do not assume that you can’t do it no matter how far along you are in your progression. There are some super lazy horses out there that you can hang out on!
The reality is that many of us tend to get bored of exercise. If you’re that type of person than you simply have to “try” more. And you know what, some things even if you love them are GOING to be hard, way harder than they ever were pre PD, but it does not mean you cannot do it, you may not do it as well, but just do it to the best of your current ability. I am back doing bootcamp again and every time I register for a round of it it’s harder than the last. However I refuse to say I “can’t”, I have to modify all kinds of exercises because my body just isn’t able to do certain things but that’s ok. It’s hard, really hard but when I do it and stop saying I can’t the benefits far outweigh how tough it is. I feel better, my mind is less forgetful, my sleep has a slight improvement, my body works better and my medication seems to last longer so I have fewer crashes. It’s hard as hell but it IS worth it. In fact since finally listening to my movement disorder neurologist & adding a second medication of Pramipexole to my Levodopa I have been able to get back exercising harder like before, something he told me would happen. I struggle with listening to my doctors advice sometimes because I hate pills and I hate progression so I fight both sometimes not to my advantage. I’m working on that. But between that & exercise I was able to go from a 2 on the stages scale (which is about where I was at last summer 5 being the worst) back down to a 1 as of my assessment last week! Whoop, Whoop to that! So do not tell me you “can’t” improve because if you work hard & “try” you absolutely can! I’m not saying you should all go sign up for a bootcamp, no it’s not for everyone but find something that is hard for you but that you CAN do because you are determined to not give up and you’ll try, try and try again…
Variety can be the spice of life and as long as you are not giving up and you keep trying than you are a success story! Trust me your body, your mind & that damn old friend you never wanted Parkinson’s will thank you for it!
Be your own success story….
Inspire someone else to ‘try’!
Keep trying new things, think outside the box!
Natasha McCarthy – follow Natasha’s blog, A broken body’s journey