Beginning the Journey Back to Health

Beginning the Journey Back to Health
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Hell on earth, that’s what it was. I was shocked by becoming legally blind in addition to worsening Parkinson’s symptoms, including what I call SEM (surges of exaggerated mood) attacks, chronic pain, and fatigue.

People used to say, “You don’t look like you have Parkinson’s.” But recent external and internal stressors have increased my symptoms. At the same time, darkness consumed me, made worse by a sedentary life and poor eating habits (sugar and fast foods) driven more by craving comfort than common sense.

This is the state of ill health where my journey back to good health begins. It’s a tough starting point. At times, it feels impossible. But I have packed some things into a sacred backpack to make the journey easier.

It’s not a heavy sacred backpack, as I barely have enough energy to motivate and move myself a few baby steps along the new health path. But it contains the essentials.

The promise of a healing relationship not only showed me what the well-being experience is like, but also gave me a map to find my way back. The wellness map has been expanded throughout the years, including with the recent addition of what I call “little things practice,” or attending to the little things that support the healing journey.

I also have the machete of the mystic scientist to help clear the weeds of confusion.

The sacred backpack provides for all my material needs, so I can focus on the perils and wonders that lie ahead.

The path looks overwhelming, with barely a gap between the trees where I can begin the journey. It starts with an unwavering commitment to starting. It’s not just any garden-variety commitment, but rather a sacred commitment following the promises given with the healing relationship. Using the healing relationship, I know with certainty that viewing the healing journey as sacred will improve the possibility of a positive outcome. I make the sacred commitment to begin, and then take the first little step.

Routine helps me take that first step. At the start of the healing journey, I focus on the three things that create the most distress on my physical system: a malfunctioning conductor, lack of exercise, and poor diet. The conductor training is a regular part of my daily routine now. I don’t let my mind go out wandering alone anymore.

Routine is so helpful at the start of the journey back. Because something is “in my schedule,” it becomes regular, routine, and anticipated. It does not require thinking about it — I just do it. And in just doing it, I again discover my “little things practice.” The conductor training, exercise, and diet become sacred activities — mindful, deliberate, and revered.

Other columns speak to the importance of exercise for people who have a chronic illness, especially Parkinson’s. When beginning physical activities with Parkinson’s, people tend to encounter motor hesitation. I find it helpful to engage in a form of exercise that I enjoy, such as gardening. I look forward to getting outdoors in the green space and working on creating a new sacred sanctuary. There are many opportunities for “little things practice.”

Diet has been a topic I have avoided because it is outside my scope of expertise. The literature about its influence on the probability of positive outcomes for those with Parkinson’s is often contradictory and confusing. For example, eating chocolate might be beneficial, but consuming sugar is more of a habit than a nutritional necessity.

Returning to my favorite scientific diet research, “The China Study,” I am again certain that eliminating sugar and high-fat meals will increase the possibility of a positive health outcome.

Sugar is the first to go, but gradually, over a six-month period. It’s not about perfection, but rather slowly making the switch from sugar treats to fruit treats, including fresh fruit and protein supplements.

Sugar has an addictive quality. Decreasing its consumption includes dealing with cravings. I don’t fight it. Instead, I recreate in my mind the physical memories of being sick when I consume too much sugar. Holding onto that thought, I confront my cravings and say, “Fifteen minutes of feeling good is not worth 15 hours of suffering.”

The journey back to health has begun, with three little steps: conductor training, exercise, and a healthy diet. It is framed as a sacred process, like a sacred tea ceremony, using my wellness map.

Not only have I discovered many more opportunities for “little things practice,” but in doing so, I have discovered an everyday calmness. It’s not like the bliss moment of being caressed in calmness. Instead, it is a soft, gentle, cooling breeze that is present for several days.

It sounds impossible, given where I started. Amazing! It feels like I have a protective shield now.

***

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.

I am a retired professor and research scientist along with being an artist, philosopher, writer, therapist and mystic. I am also a husband, father, grandfather, master gardener and Vietnam Vet. All of these roles influence how PD interacts with my life’s journey.
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I am a retired professor and research scientist along with being an artist, philosopher, writer, therapist and mystic. I am also a husband, father, grandfather, master gardener and Vietnam Vet. All of these roles influence how PD interacts with my life’s journey.
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  • depression, mouth, exercise, chemical hazards, coping skills, frustration, relationships, things, what ifs, shut in, toilet paper, serenity, laughter

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4 comments

  1. All things being equal, I agree that doing something that takes physical energy, such as gardening, is far superior to empty exercise for the sake of exercise, which leaves no evidence of accomplishment that you can visualize.

    • Dr. C says:

      Hi Derek ~ Thank you for the comment. Nice hearing from you again. Accomplishment is nice, but mindfulness is better!
      Dr. C.

  2. Annette Walden says:

    Fighting apathy an actual symptom of Parkinson’s is vital to access all the possibilities to engage in the ‘tug of war’ with this progressive disease. During the summer months insomnia has meant very early morning walks watching the sun come up over Ashdown Forest Winnie the Poo territory. I startled three deer the other day my reward for being up at silly o’clock. I practice ‘one to one’ Yoga with a wonderful human being who is helping keep me upright and on my feet. I have walked this journey for 12 years now with my wonderful husband who still loves me. We are celebrating 45 years of marriage this year. Reading your articles always spurs me on. So thank you.

    • Dr. C says:

      Hi Annette ~ And I am spurred on by reading your testimony. You are doing so much and then to hear that my columns add to your outlook, is humbling. Look forward to hearing your voice more! Thanks for reading my columns and checking in on the entire BioNews website.
      Dr.C.

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