Parkinson’s Is My New Mountain

Parkinson’s Is My New Mountain

In the spring of 2006, I was with a cycling group that headed out for a ride up a mountain to the town of Lluc in Majorca, Spain. It was a beautiful day — warm and sunny with blue skies. In the distance, I saw ominous clouds moving in toward the mountains, but I didn’t give it too much thought since the weather was so perfect where we started our ride.

lluc
The road to Lluc. (Photo by Steve Tarpinian)

About 90 minutes into the ride, it started to rain and conditions rapidly deteriorated. The temperature was falling, I had no nutrition, and I was on a country road with no signs of civilization. The rest of my group was nowhere in sight. I had no idea how much farther it was to Lluc, so I decided to turn around and go back to the hotel.

The hardest part was yet to come

As I started down the mountain switchbacks, I was terrified. My bike was picking up speed and I was hydroplaning. The fear of crashing was ever present in my mind. My hands were numb from being cold and wet. The wind was increasing and the rain was hitting my face like icy pellets.

By the time I got off the mountain and onto a flat road, I was shivering uncontrollably. Cars sped past me, spraying me with water. With about 4 miles still to go, I arrived in a town and the weather eased up a bit. Because I was on the home stretch, I chose not to stop at one of the town’s restaurants to get food or to warm up.

When the going gets tough, the tough get going

Suddenly, the winds picked up again and the draft from a passing bus nearly knocked me off my bike. I decided it was safer for me to walk. The winds were so strong that I had trouble holding on to my bike. My legs were shaking and I tried to alternate between biking and walking, wondering if I would ever make it to safety.

Finally, I made it to my hotel. My hands were shaking so much that I struggled to unlock the door to my room. I stood in a warm shower and started heaving and shuddering. Realizing how dangerous that ride had been, I was so thankful I had made it back without injury. That day, I found a strength in myself that would not allow me to give up.

“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.” –Arnold Schwarzenegger

Facing the daily challenges of Parkinson’s

There are times in our lives when we go down a hole so dark that we must draw on our life experiences and the inner strength we didn’t know we had to pull ourselves back to the light. That cycling experience in Majorca was one of those times.

Once again, I feel myself going down a dark hole. I am experiencing a déjà vu of emotions (fear, terror, and loneliness) that I had more than 13 years ago. The memory of that trip plays in my mind as I fight my new battle against another formidable adversary. Just when I think I am making headway against this beast called Parkinson’s, it rears its ugly head with a renewed fury.

Extreme fatigue is making exercise more and more difficult. Almost daily, I must search for inner strength to pull myself out of my pity party.

The grit and determination I found while on that mountain in Spain are what I need to find once again to meet the challenges of Parkinson’s.

I am a survivor.

“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” —Oliver Goldsmith

***

Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

At the age of 62, I started writing to inspire conversation about mental illness and suicide after my life partner, Steve Tarpinian, took his own life in 2015. Seven months after Steve passed, I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. Now, in addition to Steve’s story, I am telling my own.
×
At the age of 62, I started writing to inspire conversation about mental illness and suicide after my life partner, Steve Tarpinian, took his own life in 2015. Seven months after Steve passed, I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. Now, in addition to Steve’s story, I am telling my own.

Average Rating
0 out of 5 stars. 0 votes.
My Rating:

10 comments

  1. I want to say how much I enjoy reading your newsletters and the the experiences quoted therein. I particularly like today’s post about the cyclist and his trials, and experiences while living with Parkinson’s disease. In a strange way it gave me comfort as it tells it as it is and I no longer have to feel so scared when I “fall into that black hole”. Thank you once again – keep them coming.

    • Jean Mellano says:

      hi carol, thank you for your kind words… yes, that black hole is something those of us with PD may be faced with in our journey. FY.. the cyclist in the story was me … i still remember the fear i experienced on that day like it was yesterday..

  2. Hi Jean – I just wanted to tell you that was a great article. You’ve got grit. You’ve got the determination to fight. I sense it in you through your writing. Our formidable adversary, as you refer to the beast (I call him Little Monster), is out to destroy us, but you must keep rising even through the challenges of this horrid disease. Don’t give up. Don’t give in. We are in this together and we do not stand alone no matter how lonely we feel in the midst of the battle. Sharpen you sword, polish your shield, set your helmet firmly on your head, cinch tight your belt and go forward with that determination you spoke of. I’m rooting for you because… you are a survivor, for sure. Hang in there. (I think I just thought of my next article!)

    • Jean Mellano says:

      Wow Sherri. Thank u so much for your encouraging words. This disease is so challenging in so many ways. I think what is hitting me hard now is that it is progressing. This is quite daunting as it will probably not be the only time my symptoms will worsen overtime and that the whole magilla of adjusting meds will have to be balanced again.

    • Mike Temple says:

      I to am a survivor.I ride bikes regularly and run . And I fall… but I will not be beaten buy Mr Parkinson. He sits on my left shoulder as my doplganger and is determined to frustrate my every move .
      I fell and damaged my ribs 2 Sundays ago at a 10 km run in Clumber Park …… I expect to compete in a qualifying event for 2020 European Standard Duathlon on 13th October at Bedford autodrome . Damaged ribs or not. I will never give up.

  3. Mike Temple says:

    I to am a survivor.I ride bikes regularly and run . And I fall… but I will not be beaten buy Mr Parkinson. He sits on my left shoulder as my doplganger and is determined to frustrate my every move .
    I fell and damaged my ribs 2 Sundays ago at a 10 km run in Clumber Park …… I expect to compete in a qualifying event for 2020 European Standard Duathlon on 13th October at Bedford autodrome . Damaged ribs or not. I will never give up.

    • Jean Mellano says:

      hi mike
      i love your determination! my late husband broke some ribs years ago at an XTERRA off road triathlon and he said it was extremely painful. Hood luck on 10/13! I am sure you will be an inspiration for many competing that day.

  4. PD Stevie Ray says:

    Great post Jean. Reminds us that we all have hidden strengths that we can call on when times get tough. Keep writin’ and keep fightin’!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *