Pillars of self care

For me, there seems to be 4 main “pillars” of self care for PD. Other People with Parkinson’s (PWP) may have other philosophies on self care but this seems to work for me.Medication, Exercise, Diet, Stress Management. A few words on each below.Medication – For about the first year after being diagnosed, I purposely took very little medication to see if I could recover through exercise and diet. I initially didn’t like the idea of taking medication. When I found I wasn’t really making any headway, I started working with my Movement Disorder Specialist (MDS) in earnest to find a good mix of medications for me. Now I take three different medications. Selegeline is a pill I take twice a day. It acts to promote more efficient use of the dopamine in my brain. I also take Carbidopa/Levodopa (C/L) every 3 hours. C/L helps replace natural dopamine that my brain needs to function normally. It’s actually amazing to experience taking a dose of C/L and have PD symptoms almost magically melt away. Finally, I wear a patch called Neupro, which provides a constant stream of medication 24 hrs a day. Since starting it a few month ago, My “off” times are much less frequent and less severe. Note that there are many Parkinson’s medications and what works for one PWP doesn’t necessarily work as well for another PWP.Exercise – I have found that exercise is every bit as important as medication in reducing my symptoms. It is almost as if the medication enables me to move but exercise retrains my body HOW to move. Strength training in particular seems to retrain my nervous system how to be aware of my muscles and move more smoothly and efficiently. Many times I’ll walk into the gym feeling achy and stiff and moving poorly. Then when I come out, the achiness and stiffness are gone and I’m moving well and feeling great! Diet – I’m very sensitive to what I eat. I eat what makes me feel good rather than what tastes good. The meal that seems to make me feel my best seems to be poultry with a variety of vegetables and some fruit. Sugar and alcohol make me feel terrible. I only eat a little red meat. Snacking throughout the day on fruit, nuts, and vegetables helps keep my energy level up and feeling better.Stress Management – This is also another huge part of self care for me. I, like many Parky’s find that stress causes my symptoms to worsen considerably. The effect is so profound that i can go from walking pretty decent to dragging my leg in an instant! So I’ve had to adopt a more relaxed mindset. Before I was diagnosed I would fight my symptoms. As I’ve mentioned before though, that only makes them worse. Now, instead of fighting them, I just accept them and adapt. For example, if I want to go for a walk with the family but I find I’m just not moving well, I either just ride the electric scooter or reschedule the walk for later when I’ve had a chance to rest and may be moving better. When you have PD, you are almost constantly aware of your symptoms. I think that it is for this reason, and the knowledge that they only worsen over time, that many Parky’s (including myself) seem to be on a pretty much never ending mission to figure out how to get better. Happily I’ve been successful in doing so so far. In about two years I’ve gone from being in constant pain, miserable, anxious, and barely being able to walk at all to being to being able to function close to normally the majority of the time. Seeing how far I’ve come in those two years is encouraging!PD is confusing and difficult to describe even to those afflicted by it. Also it seems that every time you think you get it figured out it changes on you. So in some ways my descriptions are overly simplistic and don’t quite do it justice. I haven’t even gone much into the non-motor aspects of the disease, which are very significant for many PWP. Nonetheless, I hope you continue to find these insights into the life of a Parky educational!

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