Living Well with Parkinsons Disease

Dancing in the Rain: Lessons Learned on my Personal Journey with PD (more at www.PDPlan4Life.com) Copyright 2013-18 Sheryl Jedlinski

Rolling safely down the “off” ramp

By Sheryl Jedlinski

My wake-up call came one Saturday night when my husband, Tony, and I were leaving a trendy  Chicago steakhouse. One minute I was fine, the next my Parkinson’s medicines stopped working, and I froze, unable to take a step or stand on my own. Acutely aware that neither Tony, my signature walking sticks, nor the wall I was leaning against, could keep me upright for long, I yelled for someone to bring me a chair. Sitting in the hallway, waiting for Tony to return with our car, I imagined how Cinderella felt watching her carriage morph back into a pumpkin.

My meds no longer wear off gradually. I am either “on” or “off”, like a light switch, and my “on” time gets shorter and shorter. When “off,” painful foot cramping, toe curling, and the malpositioning of my feet stop me dead in my tracks. I feel as if my feet are suctioned to the floor. The cost of denying my disease progression has become too high, I told Tony on our drive home. My body’s inability to perform reliably when I have only walking sticks for support greatly increases my risk of falling. I have worked too hard to allow myself to be taken down by vanity.

I googled mobility aids as soon as we got home from dinner. I quickly discovered that the right walker could be as empowering as my walking sticks have been, enabling me to go most anywhere I desire, significantly improving my quality of life. Monday morning, following personal training, I test drove my top choice at a local mobility device store. On Wednesday, it was delivered to my home, and on Thursday, I took it to Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center for my appointment with my Movement Disorders Specialist (MDS). She was glad to see me actively working to regain control of my life, rather than waiting for new prescriptions.

My new mobility aid is the “Tesla” of walkers, incorporating the latest in innovation and design. A European style, upright, four-wheeled rollator, it boasts (among many other features):

  • Larger, 10-inch front wheels for optimal steering and comfortable rolling even on rough surfaces.
  • Bicycle style handbrakes that can be applied gradually to slow your descent on hills.
  • Carbon fiber frame weighing in at a mere 12 pounds.

The best walker for you is the one you use daily. It cannot prevent falls if it never leaves the trunk of your car or if it is pressed into duty as a clothes drying rack. The type of places you frequent and the activities you enjoy, as well as the limits of your insurance/Medicare/Medicaid coverage will dictate the features most important to you.

Your best bet is to consult with a professional to ensure that you choose the best type of walking aid for your needs, it is adjusted to fit your body, and you are trained to use it properly. Relying on devices that provide more support than you require can negatively affect your long-term mobility, activity levels, and overall health. This is one reason I didn’t by-pass rollators and go right to power scooters or electric wheelchairs.

Although I’ve only had my rollator for a few days, it already surpassed my expectations when put through its paces on a day trip to a resort city in Wisconsin. I strolled the downtown area with ease, navigating narrow doorways and aisles inside shops crammed full of merchandise; climbing up and down high cement steps; and sharing rough pavement with children, pets, strollers, and bikes. Without my new mobility aid, I suspect I would not have been comfortable enough to attempt this trip.

Once again, I found my way around the latest obstacles life put in my path. Though I still have Parkinson’s disease, Parkinson’s disease does not have me.

 

 

2 comments on “Rolling safely down the “off” ramp

  1. Marsha
    July 23, 2018

    Sorry for your struggles, but you are an amazing woman who knows just how to use the resources!!!!
    We are having our own issues with Parkinson’s and Mike. It’s been a tough road.
    Take care Sheryl! 😍😍😘😘

    • mydancingintherain
      July 23, 2018

      Sorry to hear about Mike. If there is anything I can help you with, please call or write to me. I’ve been thinking about you guys a lot lately. I’d like to walk for Jo-Ann in Naperville on Sept. 8 with a team of friends (that would be you).I’ve had too much loss in my life this past year and need to reconnect with those still here. Are you in?

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This entry was posted on July 23, 2018 by in Back to Normal, Exercise, Falling, Family Life, Parkinson's symptoms, walking sticks.

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Read more of Sheryl’s humorous stories and helpful tips at PDPlan4Life.com

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