Finding Wisdom from an Unexpected Source

Finding Wisdom from an Unexpected Source

“I looked ahead and could not see a future I wanted to live.” 

These were the words of Chris Norton, co-author of “The Seven Longest Yards,” as he lay in his hospital bed and the truth of his condition sank deep into his soul. 

Quadriplegic. The day before, he was playing football for Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. Now he was trying to grapple with the fact that his chances of ever moving anything below his neck were 3 percent.

Not very encouraging.

Chris Norton’s story isn’t about Parkinson’s disease (PD). But those of us with PD would do well to heed his wisdom.

What some called a tragedy became multiple blessings for Chris and his wife, Emily. But those blessings came at a price. Their perseverance, faith, and steadfastness were tested every step of the way. And step by what felt like impossible step, they continued to move forward.

Imagine working out day after day, hoping to be in that 3 percent. Imagine going to the gym every day knowing there’s a 97 percent chance you will never get better.

Sound vaguely familiar in a different sort of scenario?

Those of us with Parkinson’s know we are not going to heal ourselves with exercise. We are trying to maintain our current status on the PD scale. At best, we hope to improve to some degree. It is that “some” that keeps us going. 

A big difference between Chris and many people with a chronic disease whom I have met is attitude. Our attitude can determine how well we will live with Parkinson’s. 

The power of attitude hit Chris strong. In his book, he writes that he wondered why he was feeling sorry for himself when he could be doing something to get better.

“… Everything changed when I switched my focus to what I could do. … I realized that my attitude had the power to change my reality. … I didn’t dwell on the laundry list of things I couldn’t do. I focused on what I could do.

There were dark days for Chris, especially when Emily struggled with depression. Her story within this story is worth the read for anyone struggling with mental illness.

If you long for an encouraging word by someone who can relate — even if on a different level — the Nortons’ book won’t be a disappointing read.

As Chris writes: “Your circumstances do not determine your future. Your responses to your circumstances do. … Don’t focus on what you can’t do. Focus on what you can do.”

Great words for all of us.


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.

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