Parkinson’s symptoms can make going on trips seem less like a fun time away and more like a nightmare. But as tempting as it would be to just hide away in the comfort of my own home, I’ve managed to get away on a quite a few trips this summer. From day trips to local points of interest, weekends with family or friends, or most recently, eight days in Puerto Rico, my family has been on the road a lot this summer. But whether we were touring old town Frederick in Maryland, hunting for Fossils at Westmoreland State Park, VA, or racing RC cars with Grandpa in Seaford, VA, my Parky symptoms were an ever-present nuisance. But you know what? The fact that I was able to get out and have those experiences, despite Parkinson’s, makes it all the better. That’s not so say there have not been difficulties.
Sometimes the difficulties affect only me. Like when we were in Ashville, NC visiting my brother. Ashville also happens to be a Mountain Biking mecca. I was with my wife and two sons in Dupont State Recreational Forest getting in some Mountain Biking. For those of you who don’t know me, Mountain Biking is one of my favorite things to do. Especially when I get the chance to do it with my family. We had been mountain biking for a couple of hours and had reached what was to be the highlight of the ride: a nice long and fast decent to the parking lot on the “Ridgeline” trail. It WAS an amazing descent. But unfortunately, my right leg went “Parky” on me and prevented me from riding as aggressively as I wanted to. Instead, I had to slowly pick my way down the trail, taking breaks along the way to give my aching right leg a rest. As frustrating as that was, the gleaming smiles on my wife and kids faces as they enjoyed the trail more than made up for any disappointment on my part.
Sometimes though, the difficulties don’t only effect me, but also those around me. Like recently during our vacation in Puerto Rico. We were visiting a cave along the northern coast. I’ll spare the details, but to get everyone safely in and out of the cave ended up being being a lot more of a challenge than we expected. In fact, I was very concerned about our safety. The experience left me extremely drained. Drained to the point that I could barely move. The combination of the physical exertion, the adrenaline rush, the heat, and the fact that I was due to take my Parky meds made it VERY difficult for me to move. Walking, was out of the question. Instead of continuing on with our tour of the cave system, my family had to go fetch me water and meds from the car while I tried to sit and recover. I was a bit slower than usual for the rest of that day.
For the most part though, my Parky body worked pretty well this summer. Some of the activities I was able to do would have been unthinkable a few years ago. The regular intense exercise, coupled with medication, good diet, patience, and a good attitude have served me well.
I hope that someday, my two boys will remember those tough times for me. When I shuffled through the airport, had to take a Parky nap, or needed to wait for my meds to kick in. But I hope they will also remember all the good times we had together. I hope they will appreciate that i chose to live my life, despite Parkinson’s!