30 Days of PD: My Quest for an Exceptional Life

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by BNS Staff |

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Chris Kustanbauter | Parkinson's News Today | photo of Chris Kustanbauter

Chris Kustanbauter, left, is shown with his wife, Mary, and their dogs, Hazel and Duke. (Courtesy of Chris Kustanbauter)

Day 16 of 30

This is Chris Kustanbauter’s story:

Flashback 12 years, I’m sitting in my neurologist’s office and I hear, “Chris, you have Parkinson’s disease.” My life as I knew it is over right? I’m sure this thought has gone through many people’s minds when they received their diagnosis.

I was 46 and thought I was too young to have Parkinson’s. I worried I’d be a burden to my family and friends. But this way of thinking was short-lived. “You’ve always been an athlete and never gave up, so don’t give up now,” I thought to myself.

So I have not looked back and felt sorry for myself. I developed a plan that was going to keep me active and involved, four strategies that would be my guideposts on my Parkinson’s journey. I focused on these strategies like a laser. The strategies are Attitude, Exercise, Nutrition, and Community.

I start my day with three things I’m grateful for and this attitude sets a positive tone for the rest of the day.

I developed an exercise regimen that I follow religiously. My program includes Pilates-Yoga (PiYo), swimming, spin cycle, boxing, and strength training. The key is to keep moving! This program has kept me active and engaged in my community.

I try to eat a healthy, balanced diet that includes fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and whole-grain foods to keep my weight in a consistent range.

Maintaining a sense of community can keep us from becoming isolated and lonely. It’s important to join groups and get involved. I participate in the local Jewish Community Center Momentum Program for Parkinson’s. The facilitators are knowledgeable and caring. I’ve gained many new friends and am a part of a big community. We realize we are bigger than ourselves and our diagnosis. We support each other.

I’m a positive person, but I still have days where I say, “Did someone get the number of the bus that just ran over me?” Keeping a positive attitude makes my day better — and those around me have a better day, too.

My Parkinson’s journey has not always been smooth. The motor symptoms pose a challenge most days. But, it’s just Parkinson’s tapping me on the shoulder reminding me it’s there. My mantra is: I own Parkinson’s, it doesn’t own me, it’s along for the ride.

Make your quest spectacular! I know I have and I know you will, too.

Parkinson’s News Today’s 30 Days of PD campaign will publish one story per day for Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month in April. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more stories like this, using the hashtag #30DaysofPD, or read the full series.