It was one of those “perfect storm” weeks, when everything came together in a cumulative effect to make life miserable.
Too much stress on my system makes it exceedingly difficult to use the conductor due to malfunctions. This only happens to me a few times a year, but it is disabling when it does.
The conductor is a mental construct in which I view my thoughts, feelings, and actions in a relaxed state, and then direct my reactions specifically to those thoughts, feelings, and actions.
When I’m in the middle of a perfect storm and being bombarded by pain, fatigue, over-the-top emotions, and an overwhelming urge to make it all go away, I really want to get up and escape. But movement causes me great pain. My muscles are rigid, and some are in a spasm. They move too slowly and don’t always obey my commands. It takes almost all of my energy to simply lie in bed and quiet my mind.
I try to practice the counting breath exercise, which I described in a previous column. Most of the time, I can do the exercise, but not in the middle of a perfect storm. This time I tried, but only managed to count to three.
I watched as I said to myself, “Why am I doing this counting thing? There are more important things to pay attention to.”
Perfect storm weeks are filled with events that have strong emotional value, like the story of my encounter with a neighbor’s dog, when I placed a sense of my own survival on an event. I do the same thing inside a perfect storm, and I knew I was headed into dangerous waters.
Most of the time, I can turn the rudder and redirect myself so that I don’t end up spinning into a whirlpool of anxiety and depression. But not this time. I had crossed over the threshold. It was a long night with the worst depression I’ve had since losing my vision.
The conductor doesn’t work well after crossing the threshold of emotional management. It doesn’t work well from inside the darkness. It doesn’t work well if I have used my energy reserves and don’t have enough to pause for the conductor. And it doesn’t work well if the brain areas responsible for its function are damaged.
These situations of conductor malfunction are dangerous. I have developed a new attitude toward recuperative rest and not doing anything. Yeah, that’s right, Dr. C is doing “nothing” as part of a plan to rebuild energy reserves so that I can return to brain conductor training.
It takes a day or two to recover from navigating through a perfect storm. During those recovery days, it may appear to some that I am doing nothing. Sometimes I feel like I’m doing nothing, and I’m not being productive in any sense of the term.
I don’t handle downtime well, and I equate “doing” with accomplishing something tangible. But that view has changed over time. For the first time since being a child, I understand the significance of recuperative downtime. I need the time to heal myself. It is too risky to walk around with a malfunctioning conductor. Plus, it just feels awful.
There is another risk: apparent apathy. Lying around sedentary for a few days causes a sensation of apathy to kick in. I call it “apparent” because there are sensations below the apathy, including motor hesitancy, difficulty with set-shifting (changing from one motor activity to another), thoughts of “I can’t do it,” and the discomfort of moving muscles that have been still. Parkinson’s disease can exaggerate all of these sensations.
But by using the conductor, I can strip away the illusion. Then, given that I am mostly recovered from the perfect storm, I can find something motivating to get me active again. I can get stuck being sedentary and feeling apathetic, but my conductor sees it as just another reaction to distorted brain stimuli input.
When a perfect storm happens, then my job is to heal from its effects, stop being stuck, and get back to my wellness map — especially conductor brain training and appropriate exercise. It becomes a commitment, something that is in my life every day.
It also is a sacred healing process, and I view it that way when I use it.
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, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.
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