Dancing in the Rain: Lessons Learned on my Personal Journey with PD (more at www.PDPlan4Life.com) Copyright 2013-20 Sheryl Jedlinski
My 15-year honeymoon with Parkinson’s disease ended unexpectedly when my new physical therapist, Mia, completed a three-hour evaluation and recommended I start using a walker. Her words hit me like a ton of bricks, as I was totally unprepared for this conversation. For me, moving to a walker signified the beginning of the end. It was my line in the sand, a turning point in my body’s assault on me, and my first significant loss.
Seeing tears welling up in my eyes, Mia quickly assured me that her suggestion was based not on worsening Parkinson’s symptoms, but on cascading orthopedic issues, including spinal stenosis and sciatic nerve pain, that pose the greatest threat to my long-term mobility and independence. Surely we can try something other than a walker to address my gait issues, I pleaded.
Mia said nothing more about it until after our moderately paced walk up and down the corridors in her building. I got winded quickly and my gait fell apart, leaving me to limp back to where we started. “I had no idea your stamina was so low,” Mia told me. “You do a very good job of hiding it, but now you’re busted.”
Using a walker just for six months or so, she said, will help stabilize and preserve your spine, get you in the habit of taking longer strides, and increase your stamina – all critical to normalizing your gait. To illustrate her point, she had me repeat our walk using a walker. It was definitely easier, but I still wasn’t ready to go that route. At the same time, quitting has never been an option for me, and losing the fight even less so. That’s what prompted me to call in the “cavalry” to begin with. Mia is known for looking beyond isolated symptoms, “connecting the dots” to reveal the big picture, and formulating treatment plans to shore up and compensate for weaknesses. We agreed that I would first try increasing my stamina by walking the treadmill. Going to a walker would be a backup plan. I am certain the treadmill will work.
Listening to the news on my drive home, I was suddenly grateful for the options available to me, even if I felt I was playing with a deck stacked against me. The 298 people aboard the Malaysian passenger jet shot outof the sky that day had no options.
AWESOME! You put it all in perspective for yourself, as well as others facing this crossroads in their lives. Without knowing her personally, I love Mia….her attitude and that she is helping you physically, and ultimately, mentally…the treadmill will work…but the idea that if you need to use the walker until you build up your stamina does keep it in perspective…not a permanent thing…you would wear a cast if you broke your arm until it healed…same thing…it would be used to staighten your gait and help reconstruct your walking pattern….then, you can give it to me and I will use it to support the tomatoes plants now taking over our yard….great blog! As always, you managed to share it on a personal, yet practical and heartfelt way…you go girl! You are the best! tem
Just think of it as your to go shopping cart!😊
Now that’s an idea I can work with.
Leave it to you to use this post as an opportunity to add social commentary. Sounds like you’ve got a good plan for moving forward–literally and figuratively!
Always relevant social commentary!
My reaction to your blog article, was “Me too…. me too ! ” I am working on similar gait related and spinal issues. Also trying to increase my walking stamina, and balance.– ,with another fantastic physical therapist . She and the other therapists I worked with in the hospital and rehab have literally given me my life back . Physical therapists are my favorite people these days — If I can’t do a certain task, she responds with — Yes you can, — and eventually I realize myself that I can
I’ve been using a walker for a few years now. and at first it was difficult to accept, but now with the other alternative being a wheel chair. the walker started looking very good to me. In PT we also are trying some walking , without a walker , which was scary, but it’s slowly getting easier. But you have to be patient. I’ve learned these types of changes, especially if the nervous system is involved usually take a lot of time .
How come you never told us this.We kow that you will do well no matter what choice that you make.lots of luck in your new venture with The Michael j Fox foundation
You’re post has once again inspired me to not let a day go by without using my tread mill. Well, maybe just one day, occasionally, to rest and feel “normal” again. Stamina is definitely something to work on for all of us, not just PD people. Happy days to all.
Thank you for giving us a broader look at perspectives and choices. Yes, we could be better, but we are great at fighting and have options other people don’t. You have crossed a milestone, bravely, gracefully and exemplary to us – the ones on the same road.
Thank you, Claudia. I just try to pay it forward in recognition of all those who have helped me over the years. The journey is much too difficult tp go it alone.
Keep fighting. We are all behind you.
Ron & Diane. ( R2D2)
I admire your willingness to share your true feelings, Sheryl. I admire your tenacity! Keep on fighting!!! 🙂