THE BLOG

Parkinson's Is Persistent

13/06/2014 11:39 BST | Updated 11/08/2014 10:59 BST

The root of the problem, to put in a nutshell; Parkinson's sufferers produce insufficient amounts of dopamine, a vital chemical in the brain. It sounds so simple when stated like that, but anyone suffering from Parkinson's or a caregiver, will quickly confirm it's far more complicated. Symptoms and side effects of medications alter widely from person to person, and it's often hard for others to understand the complexities of what it's like living with this torturous disease.

Keeping strictly to a regime of medications your doctor prescribes is essential, and many patients set alarms on their mobile phones as a reminder to take pills carefully timed and spread out throughout the day. Just because you may have been living with Parkinson's for a number of years, don't assume you know everything. I was diagnosed just over eight years ago, and am astounded to still be learning new information and grateful for helpful tips that improve my quality of life. Much of this invaluable information has come from personal experience of fellow sufferers, and I'm beginning to wonder why neurologists are not informing patients of these simple but effective ways to live the best life possible. Is it the case of a doctor simply not having enough time to address these issues, for they're not strictly based on clinical trials or medical data of any official kind? Or do doctors not know about all the extra things one can do to help one's condition apart from medications?

If you are a regular reader of my articles, I apologise if I'm repeating myself, but recently I've come into contact with several Parkinson's patients who seem unaware of additional actions they can take to improve their situation. Just as I have learnt new things from other patients, I felt compelled to go over again and share several points that can help others keep Parkinson's at bay.

I've spoken many times of the "happy gene", which obviously does not exist, but is a term my family have adopted to explain my ability of keeping positive, cheerful and looking at the glass half full despite living with chronic ill health. If you can remain happy and retain a sense of humour (albeit sometimes dark humour) it will get you through the rough times, for laughter is like a good tonic, and will lift your spirits and all those around you.

Steer clear of anxiety or stressful situations, for this will exacerbate Parkinson's at an alarming speed.

Living with Parkinson's, regular exercise is vital in maintaining mobility. It doesn't matter how late you begin; doing something is better than nothing, and the more you can manage the better. The old phrase "no gain without pain" most definitely DOES NOT APPLY when suffering ill health. Seek professional instruction from a physiotherapist or a centre specialising in Parkinson's. If something hurts - STOP - DO NOT CONTINUE and immediately seek expert advice. Whether you do physiotherapy, walking the dog or using Nordic poles, Yoga, dance classes for Parkinson's patients, hydrotherapy or any other exercise you enjoy, make it part of your daily routine; the great benefit cannot be underestimated.

Eating a healthy well balanced diet, is not rocket science. I think we're all aware of what we should be eating and foods to steer clear of. It's important to know, one doesn't receive optimal benefit from certain Parkinson's medications, if eating protein too close to taking one's pills. If unsure, check with your doctor or pharmacist.

As Parkinson's progresses, many patients experience problems with their speech; unclear, sometimes hoarse and low in volume. Again, it is never too late to start voice therapy making it a part of your health regime. Check to see if you have classes in your vicinity, which you can ultimately continue at home on a regular basis, ensuring you don't lose your voice, the ability to communicate, with the added bonus of strengthening your heart and lung capacity.

Music and movement are closely related, helping with stiffness and rigidity, and general mobility. Listening to up-beat music you enjoy that has a strong base or marching beat will somehow reach a part of your brain, magically enabling you to move a little easier. It may sound crazy, but give it a try and see for yourself.

Lastly, one of my most recent finds, is going barefoot in the house improving walking and stability. Clearly one can't go barefoot when out, but many a Parkinson's patient kick off their shoes the moment they get home.

I cannot stress enough the points I have made above, for this is what can make a huge difference in your life. Parkinson's may be persistent, but then so am I!

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