No Walk in the Park

It was 13 years ago — almost to the day — that Bill received his Parkinson’s diagnosis. It was a blow, there’s no question about it. But in the way that Bill has faced every obstacle in his life, he accepted his future and began learning how to manage it. Me too. Except not with as much grace as he did.

Still, we’re always learning. What we have learned over the years is that for every symptom of Parkinson’s, there is a way to handle it. Most often, you can’t make the symptom go away, but there are ways to manage things so that you can continue to live an active life.

Bill’s most recent symptom is one that is very common for people with Parkinson’s: freezing. I’m not talking about always being cold, though he is that too. I’m talking about the feeling that both of his feet are stuck to the ground and won’t move. The symptom is obviously annoying, but it can also be dangerous. As you try to move your feet to walk, you can instead fall down and break your crown.

We had Bill’s semiannual check-up with his movement specialist last week, and we mentioned his newest symptom. No problemo, she said. (Well, she actually didn’t say those exact words because I’m not sure I would want the medical professional treating my serious ailment using slang.) She scribbled on a sheet of paper and handed me a prescription for him to see a physical therapist who treats people with movement disorders. “She will help you learn what to do when you freeze.”

Yesterday was our appointment with the newest member of our Parkinson’s team, the physical therapist. She examined Bill’s movements and abilities and flexibility. Her determination: He is pretty amazing for having been diagnosed 13 years ago. She also told us something I had never known before. Parkinson’s Disease affects the part of your brain that handles automatic responses. So, things like blinking, and smiling, and walking are no longer entirely automatic. It’s why people with PD often have somewhat emotionless facial expressions. It’s also why many people are unable to stand up from a chair and begin walking.

Her examination and analysis took most of our hour, but she taught us one specific thing to help with his freezing. When he stands up, instead of trying to immediately walk, he should take a second and shift back and forth a bit, giving his brain time to work and giving him some momentum to take the first steps. From what little we have seen, it really seems to work.

In the future, she will be working on his flexibility, his gait, and his balance.

On a lighter note, yesterday was our 30th wedding anniversary!

3 thoughts on “No Walk in the Park

  1. Good to get some helpful advice from a specialist as sometimes no help is offered.
    Congratulations on your wedding anniversary.

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