Dealing with Major Life Changes
“What? You’re moving again? Are you insane?” Neo exclaims. (Neo is my brain’s neocortex, which I’ve mentioned in previous columns.)
“I’ve been called many things, yet still retain my sanity. I hope to do so through this very stressful process of moving,” I respond.
“How do you plan to do that? You’re giving up your sanctuary!” Neo continues.
“The beauty of this physical sanctuary can be recreated, and we carry the rest with us,” I reply. “Yes, there is a sense of loss that is made more difficult by the recent changes in my physical abilities. But the move is necessary for creating a higher quality of life for my partner and me.”
I put on my protective winter gear as I brave the snow and head for the ice-covered trees. Time to feed our menagerie of wild birds. The chickadees swoop and dart to the feeders so close to me that I can hear the beating of their wings. The still remoteness allows the soft symphony of feathers in the wind to fill my ears and soothe my soul.
“Dr. C” found his voice within the stillness. It was a time of introspection, contemplation, and fear of the future confronted by the courage to accept the progression of a chronic disease and a debilitating loss of vision. After all that good healing work, is now the right time to move?
There will always be doubts. I love this place. It will be hard to leave this serene sanctuary. Here my mind came to understand the challenges so many people face with chronic disease. It was a time to learn to write and communicate the fears, hopes, challenges, and possibilities. Now is the time to be closer to an area that can help “Dr. C” share the message with more people. It will be stressful.
Neo hesitates, pondering. “So this move is about Dr. C?”
“Mostly,” I reply. “It is also about moving where it is warmer, where garden time is longer. The garden sanctuary here is only available for a limited time. I need more sanctuary time to diminish the effects of this disease progression.
“Access to healing resources also will be severely limited if we continue to live here,” I say firmly.
With a partner who also has a chronic disease, the effort to maintain good health takes a toll on both of us. We spend as many days in “recovery” as we do scheduling, rescheduling due to weather conditions, driving, attending appointments, and returning home completely exhausted. We lose several days of what could be dedicated to productive projects just surviving these ordeals. We need to be closer to medical services.
We also have found that support from the community is important. “Dr. C” cannot simply think about what rambles around in his own head. He needs to be out in the community to help others, and to find encouragement and caring. Relationships with others are what bring about Dr. C’s voice in this column. The move will help Dr. C’s healing circle expand.
Neo scoffs at that notion. “Given the number of moves you and your partner have undertaken, you would think you would be experts by now! What, you think there are obstacles you haven’t faced before?”
“Yes, Neo, and you should know them as well,” I say. No longer are we able to consider a house without access and safety features. We are learning that we must allow ourselves double or triple the amount of time to do anything strenuous. And a lot of movement is strenuous. It takes a toll because stress is experienced more intensely due to heightened emotional input. It’s not easy to justify needing additional time to rest. It is too easy to “push through it,” an approach that doesn’t work anymore.
Emotional thresholds that overwhelm us are easily reached during the stress of moving. The move heightens everything that Parkinson’s disease patients face. The best tip is to take breaks often. Meditate as soon as moving stressors begin to show their ill effects. Repeat as many times as needed during the day.
Reference material addressing the needs of Parkinson’s patients who are moving to a new home is hard to find. We put together a list of links to help. Neo and I will chat again, sharing more tips, as we get closer to arriving in St. Louis, our new urban home close to our granddaughters.
Do you have moving tips that help to reduce stress? Please share in the comments below.
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.
Derek C Marshall
I understand the botanical urging...it is very healthful, and annoying to have seasonal limits. That is why I have a small greenhouse attached to my house where I can grow tropical plants that think they are in New Guinea (if I am successful...) Flowers in the deep of winter are very comforting to me.
This and a vista of the mountains and a good view of the starry heavens at night go a long way to finding gratification in this sometimes imperfect world.
Karen St. Clair
Planning, planning, planning. And good organizing. When we recently moved into Independent Senior Living we marked the room for each box. We also realized we could not "have it all"! We had a huge Estate Sale and sold most of our beloved antiques (too big), lots of books & cds, household/kitchen items (I don't have to cook any more) and yard implements (maintenance is included in our new home). My husband, who has had PD for 20 years, says he feels like he's on a cruise!
So do I. And I don't have all the headaches of worrying about our huge home and acreage.
It is what it is isn’t a very helpful approach for me. I know that, neo, but why is it what it is?
I’ve been diagnosed with PD for a couple of years, But I think the disease has been approaching all my life. The shaky hands of my youth have become the trembling hands of my old age, and the diminished stamina that makes me have to have a chemical heart stress test instead of a tread mill test shouts PD to my struggling soul.
I don’t like you, PD, you are not welcome in my life. But here you are, and it is.....
So, I’m glad I live in a warmer place, I appreciate my wife who helps me tremendously, and I combat this disease as best I can. Therefore I box, stretch, pedal, row, play piano, sing, go back into my math studies (recently retook Calc II, speaking of struggles), write, etc etc.
But I still have times when just enduring is all I can do. That’s when I am so appreciative of the PD community. We are a band of sufferers, holding on to each other, and SO glad for all the research and support.
If it has to be what it be, then I’m glad it be this.
Hello David ~ I feel that if I can do anything to change the course of the disease, I will. Adapting to the "new normal" is the "it is what it is" and doesn't mean that we give up. We remind ourselves that trying to do our best is easier on some days than others. But we continue to take each day as it comes. If it's a bad day, then "it is what it is" and we adjust ourselves to accepting that. We often remind ourselves that "this too shall pass" and we will come out on the other side just a little bit stronger. It sounds like you are doing all sorts of positive actions -- although I'm not sure I would challenge myself with Calc II again! Keep the positive attitude, the strong will to do everything you can, accept those things that you cannot do with a gracious and forgiving attitude towards yourself. I appreciate your reading the columns and checking in with the community at BioNews. It means a lot to know folks find a glimmer of truth and hope in what we all share.