When I was diagnosed with P D three years ago I wasn\'t shocked because my mother had also had Pd and I had suspected for sometime that I was displaying PD symptoms. But I was very upset and worried about the implications for the future, particularly the impact it would have on my family, my dear husband, Dermot, and my two sons and their families. However, now that it was official and out in the open, I realised I would have to deal with it in the most proactive way I could.
I had known John through Rotary when we were living in Springs and I knew he had written a book about his own experiences in dealing with PD so I contacted him. As luck would have it he was about to pay a visit to Plettenberg Bay within the next few weeks. Seeing John as a living example of how one could take charge of one\'s condition was my first point of inspiration.
After reading his book on how to \'Reverse Parkinson Disease\' I became committed to a comprehensive regime of walking. I was also lucky enough to see a neurologist who insists on biokinetics for his PD patients, so I added this to my exercise regime. I also focus specifically on improving my balance and co-ordination while performing my daily activities. For example, standing on one leg while cleaning my teeth or waiting in queues, typing with my left hand (my left side is my weaker side) when playing bridge on the computer; using my left hand when working in the garden or going about household chores, exercising my voice and my facial muscles while driving, walking on the white line when on the road. Here I must add that I live in a nature reserve so there is very little traffic. I try to eat healthily and take frequent short rests whenever possible in order to maintain my energy levels. I also try to improve my concentration by playing bridge, painting and doing Sudoku. So my \'therapy\' has become a way of life and not a separate entity.
According to my neurologist I have not deteriorated in any way since I first saw him three years ago. In fact I have gained more control in some areas of movement The second time I saw him he was very excited, making me repeat some of the tests over and over again because I had improved so much. The third time he merely said that whatever I was doing, to keep at it, as it was working so well.
A number of my friends remark on the fact that I look perfectly normal to them and Dermot agrees with me that I don\'t appear to have deteriorated. My left side, particularly my hand still shakes, especially when I\'m under emotional pressure or I\'ve indulged in a cup of coffee e.g. but I simply tuck it away.
At times I find it difficult to stay focussed and committed, but then I think about what I’ve achieved and what the alternative could be, so I reassess and press on. Through all this I count my blessings.
I live in a beautiful part of the world. I have the unstinting support of a patient and generous husband and family. And I am extremely fortunate to have John’s support. All these factors combined have given me the courage to take charge of my future.