Dancing in the Rain: Lessons Learned on my Personal Journey with PD (more at www.PDPlan4Life.com) Copyright 2013-16 Sheryl Jedlinski
By Sheryl Jedlinski
My visits to Cindy, my Movement Disorders Specialist, are as much about my emotional and mental health as anything else. My most recent visit was no exception. It was prompted by my concern that my gait seems to have significantly worsened since I developed pneumonia a few weeks ago. I needed reassurance that this is just a temporary setback, and not a slippery slope.
Cindy came out into the waiting room, greeted me with a big hug, and told me how great I looked. Already, I began to feel better. Then she had me walk up and down the corridor outside her exam room without my “sticks.” Wanting to impress her, I did my best to maintain good posture, swing my arms, and take longer strides even if only for a few feet. My bottom line was to avoid the two dreaded “f” words: falling and freezing, which stops us dead in our tracks. Next was the “postural instability” test which measures how quickly we recover balance after a sudden, strong shoulder pull from behind. Like the immovable object, I didn’t budge.
Cindy told me that my test results affirm that my current difficulties walking are due to my recent bout with pneumonia and not to advancing Parkinson’s disease. Regaining my former strength, stamina, and quality of life can take up to six months after such a stressor. Cindy recommended giving my body a little more time to improve on its own, rather than adding another medicine that would bring it’s own adverse side effects into the mix. Still, she left the final decision up to me, giving me a prescription as a safety net, to fill or not fill as I see fit. Research shows that patients who fare best over the long term are actively involved in shared decision-making related to their treatment.
“I am not going to worry about you anymore,” Cindy told me. “You are doing fine.”
Those four little words are enough to hold me until my next visit. I left with a lilt in my step and the lyrics to Cat Stevens’ Peace Train filling my head:
Now, I’ve been happy lately,
Thinkin’ about the good things to come
And I believe it could be;
Something good has begun.