I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. What now?

You won’t believe your neurologist. You will say they made a mistake….after all, it’s very difficult to categorically diagnose Parkinson’s disease. They will put needles in you with electricity and poke you, run CAT scans and MRIs. Do motor movement tests and smelling tests.  Analyze if you have poker face or if you are expressive. Finally, there will be a moment when your doctor will say….I am quite sure you have some form of Parkinson’s disease.

Some form of what?

That’s right, there are several types of Parkinson’s disease and Parkinsonisms including:

  • Corticobasal Degeneration (CBD)
  • Dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLB)
  • Drug-induced parkinsonism.
  • Essential Tremor.
  • Multiple System Atrophy (MSA)
  • Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP)
  • Vascular (Arteriosclerotic) parkinsonism.

I am not going to bore you rehashing or paraphrasing what other articles are much better at describing. This article will talk about the inner struggles, feelings and emotions that you will likely deal with once you are diagnosed with this disease.

My symptoms

About two years ago, I started dragging my left foot which led me to trip while I was walking on the street. I started to lose my balance and had difficulty getting up from the dining table. Suddenly, my left leg felt weaker than my right leg. My arm movements became less evident when I walked and it even seemed that I was not moving one side of my body. I started to have a slight difficulty to speak and even developed a stutter when trying to speak fast.

Like any good self respecting man, I ignored these symptoms for quite some time until my wife asked me to please get my condition checked out with a neurologist. After all the tests discussed above were done, my very respected neurologist said that I would be good taking medication for twenty years or so and at that time I would have to take Levodopa. That I should not worry because science was progressing by leaps and bounds. Sadly, this is the state of medical practitioners and their advice. My doctor said to me not to worry because my condition was in its early stages. She suggested I exercise regularly and take my medication.

I am here to tell you there are other things you can and should do to fight and beat this disease.

What should I do?

The first thing I recommend to do is make an assessment of your life and determine what is causing you stress and anxiety.

In my opinion, stress and anxiety trigger Parkinson’s symptoms and so checking what could be triggering these episodes of tremors, involuntary movements and other manifestations of the disease is paramount to keeping it in check.

There is a tried and proven method to reduce stress and anxiety and it’s a staple of this blog. At first it can be difficult to get the hang of it but like anything in life, if you keep at it, you will see results. I am talking about an ancient eastern practice that has been handed down for thousands of years. Its main element is stillness of mind and breathing. You probably guessed it by now. I am talking about Meditation.

Meditate

Meditation has several benefits. I would like to share some facts from a fascinating article I read at thegoodbody.com. Here is the URL of the original article: https://www.thegoodbody.com/meditation-facts/

  1. Meditation as a practice is thought to be around 2,600 years old.
  2. Meditation can help you manage your weight.
  3. Meditation can change your brain to improve memory and concentration.
  4. Meditation can strengthen your immune system.
  5. Meditation can increase your sex drive and libido.
  6. Meditation can help to delay the onset of Alzheimers Disease.
  7. If you’re pregnant, meditation can help you bond better with your unborn baby.
  8. Chronic pain can be positively impacted by meditation.
  9. You can reduce the symptoms of depression with meditation.
  10. Meditation can improve the quality of life for people with asthma.
  11. Meditation can help you sleep better.
  12. Psoriasis has been shown to be positively impacted by meditation.
  13. In 2016, 35% of employers offered mindfulness training.
  14. Meditation can benefit children living with autism.
  15. Research shows meditation can help to relieve lower back pain.

So how do I start meditating?

Initially, lay down face up on your bed and place both hands over your stomach. Take twenty deep breaths and watch your hands rise with your stomach. If your chest is rising instead of your stomach, you might want to focus more on sending the air down to your stomach. This is important because it activates a very important chakra in your body that is in the stomach area. This chakra is called the Solar Plexus Chakra. In sanskrit, chakra means wheel and when you activate a chakra you can literally picture a wheel spinning with energy. They represent the sacred parts of the body where the physical and the spiritual come together.

For a detailed guide on the Balanced Life Meditation method click on the previous link. Your meditation practice should be consistent. It does not matter for how long or when, just as long as you keep at it.

Eat a Plant and Fruit Based Diet

Most disease begins in the gut and is then transferred via inflammation in the blood to the brain or other parts of the body. A plant based diet has many benefits in the sense that it regulates your microbiome. According to molecular biologist Joshua Lederberg, your microbiome consists of microorganisms, bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and fungi, and their collective genetic material present in the gastrointestinal tract. Foods that cause inflammation can also cause permeations in the lining of your gut which further contributes to inflammation. This condition is known as Leaky Gut Syndrome.

Avoiding refined sugar, processed foods and foods with preservatives will also help your condition. A diet rich in plants and vegetables has several benefits: Plant-based diets reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, obesity, diabetes and cognitive disorders.

When having salads try and avoid seasonings or dressings rich in sugar. Instead, opt for a healthier alternative like cranberries, raisins or other fruits or a vinaigrette which is low in cream. You may want to add avocados, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives or other fruits and vegetables commonly used in a mediterranean diet. Red meat has been known to cause a series of health complications when consumed excessively therefore try and limit your intake of red meats and cold cuts.

Use Supplements

This section could be an article in and by itself. I will just go ahead and list the supplements that I take on a regular basis.

  • Vitamin D3 with coconut oil
  • Fish oil or Omega 3
  • Oregano oil in capsules
  • Black Walnut in capsules
  • LiverCare by Himalaya
  • Brain Liquescence (T6) by Professional Health Products
  • Neuro T Support Liquescence (T19) also by Professional Health Products
  • Memory (C43) by Professional Health Products
  • Mucuna Pruriens in powder form mixed in smoothies, coffee or juices

Please do not consider this a replacement for medical advice. These are just the supplements that I take and I believe have helped me improve my symptoms. You must consult with a licensed physician or doctor before taking any supplements as everyone’s condition is different and some supplements might not be recommended for certain conditions or for individuals with allergies or pre-existing conditions.

It is also important to educate yourself on the uses and potential side effects of taking any medication or supplements. After all, educating yourself and then seeking professional advice will make you ask more intelligent and relevant questions and your appointment with your primary care doctor or physician will be more productive.

Tai Chi and Chi Kung

Tai Chi and Chi Kung (also called QiGong) are ancient Chineses practices using slow movements of the body in a predetermined repetitive pattern. If you do a search on Youtube for Tai Chi, Chi Kung and Parkinson’s you will find that there are at least a dozen if not more videos on specific routines you can and should do to improve your motor symptoms, balance and posture for Parkinson’s disease.

The basic premise is that “Chi” or the life energy force has blockages in the body which does not allow it to flow correctly thus manifesting the symptoms that we have all grown accustomed to with this disease. It is really quite remarkable to listen to the testimonials of people who assure that by regularly practicing Chi Kung or Tai Chi, their symptoms have improved greatly.

I have gone for a few Chi Kung classes and can honestly say that after the one hour sessions, I am much more relaxed and ready to meet the demands of the day. Your sessions do not have to be an hour long. You can start with five minutes and gradually work your way up to an hour if you are so inclined.

Both Tai Chi and Chi Kung are focused on flowing movements and not on muscle building therefore these exercises are simple and adequate for any level and age of Parkinson’s patient from those exhibiting mild symptoms to those more advanced cases.

Other Exercises

It is highly recommended that you engage in at least 20 to 30 minutes of physical activity every day. This is not only good for managing Parkinson’s symptoms but is generally good for everybody. The number of recommended weekly minutes engaging in physical exercise varies per individual however a good rule of thumb is that you should spend at least 150 minutes a week exercising. If you spread this over five days it works out to 30 minutes a day.

Like many types of exercise, boxing can improve several PD symptoms. A 2011 study in the journal Physical Therapy showed improvements in walking, balance, performance of daily activities and quality of life in six people who boxed regularly.

The best exercises for people with Parkinson’s are:

  • Riding a static or regular bicycle;
  • Boxing;
  • Swimming; and
  • Walking briskly moving both your arms.

Having said this, start of slow and vary your routine so you don’t get bored. They key to achieving most things in life is consistency.

Affirmations

I firmly believe that any persons present condition is a reflection of their thoughts and of what their mind is focused on. In my case, I have rigidity and some tremors on my left leg. For this reason, I consistently and constantly repeat the following affirmation in my head:

Every second of every day my leg is healing

You could try a variation on this affirmation. One that is commonly used is the following one:

Everyday and in every way, I am getting better and better

It doesn’t really matter what affirmation you choose to repeat, just do so tirelessly. Your affirmation should be one of the most prevalent thoughts in your mind. Repeat it at least one thousand times every day. Let it be the last thought before you drift off to sleep and the first thought in the morning. Let this thought invade your conversations and be reminded of it while eating.

Equally important is to catch yourself engaging in negative or counter productive thoughts. If you really believe you are getting better (which you will!) then catch yourself and avoid thinking thoughts of self pity and other negative thoughts. These will reverse the effect of your affirmations and neutralize your positive thoughts. You must be full of positivity and constantly visualize yourself getting better. After a prolonged period of time of doing this, the affirmation will be ingrained or recorded in your subconscious mind after which your body will execute on this command. You will get better!

Sleep

I often find that sometimes my Parkinson’s symptoms flare up. When this happens, especially during the time I spend at home or on weekends, I will take a quick 15 to 30 minute nap. Often times, the body just needs to rest and re-energize. After my nap, I notice that the symptoms have calmed down a little. Sleep helps us to quiet our mind. After all, it is evident that stress, anxiety and emotional reactions trigger my symptoms, then to counter these reactors I often use sleep. I understand that not everyone can take a nap in the middle of the day however, it is important to listen to the cues that your body is giving you. If sleep is an impossibility, sit in your chair and close your eyes for a few minutes and focus on taking deep long breaths inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth as if blowing out through a straw. This will trigger a relaxation mechanism in your brain that will mimic the effects of having taken a short renewing nap and should help reduce your level of anxiety and stress.

Everyone’s journey is different and requires an individual holistic approach.

What works for me might not work for you.

I am sure there are several other effective ways that people cope with Parkinson’s disease and carry on with their lives.

Please share your experience in the comments section below. I would love to hear from you!

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