living with parkinsons

July 19, 2009

Trudy, Trudy, Trudy

Who doesn’t remember when you learned to ride a bike? A number of studies report on the benefits of exercise – paticularly bicycling. And while it seems an innate talent, PD’s balance issues can keep us out of the saddle. If you’re eager to pedal but stymied by staying upright on two wheels, meet Trudy:
August 4, 2009

I’m In

Watching my inbox for a message from the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation (PDF) felt reminiscent of days, way back when, awaiting college acceptance letters. For both, I’d wondered if I’d be invited to learn from those who dedicate their lives to study, and take that knowledge into the work I do with others.  Somehow, this time it seemed even more crucial a role. Approval of my application arrived yesterday. I now have the honor of participating in the 2009 PDF Clinical Research Learning Institute. I’m in.  So, why did I stare at the message and cry? For me, staying balanced – physically and emotionally –  with PD can sometimes mean disregarding that I have it. It’s not a denial, not an escape from reality. Rather, it is simply part of the balancing act. Timing when my meds are on, for example, has become second nature. I know when I can go […]
August 12, 2009

Parivrtta Svanasana, Turning Dog Pose

It is said that the asana limb of yoga began when ancient yogis emerged from their meditation caves creaky and stiff from long stints of sitting still. They discovered that some movement enabled them to recenter and return to their blissful states. These newly flexible yogis titled a handful of poses after legendary gods. They derived others from their observations of the natural world, naming some after legendary dogs. These faithful canines likely woke from their cave naps just as my dog today rises from her cushy bed, reaching first into upward-facing dog directly into downward-facing dog. Up dog opens the front body, a real tail-wagger to anyone with PD who’s feeling that forward curl in their posture. Down dog, a favorite among practitioners today, stretches and strengthens the back and shoulders, lengthens the hamstrings and calves. It’s an all-around good dog, as is its half counterpart. As I emerge […]
September 15, 2009

Yoga Teacher Training

On November 7, I’ll be part of the team who will lead a workshop for yoga instructors on working with Parkinson’s patients. I am so looking forward to sharing. I know that as I will gaze around the room at the collected teaching experience, I will be thrilled, humbled, honored. I don’t propose to have the answers. If I did, the medical staff and I wouldn’t be there – there’d be no Parkinson’s. What I do hope to share is my experience with other instructors so they can help people living with PD truly benefit from yoga practice. It is not a matter of simply introducing a chair to the mat, or adjusting a student more often. Certain positions – and adjustments – can trigger tremors and spasms, overheating can happen rapidly. It is a matter of understanding the disease and its effects. Yoga is no cure. It is, however, […]
September 30, 2009

Atlanta Braves

Thank you, all of you who braved the weather and the stresses of travel, for the opportunity to share some yoga together at the ST/Dystonia conference in Atlanta. I so enjoyed meeting you and being part of your weekend’s events. Speaking of events, the one going on simultaneously in the meeting rooms before ours displayed racks of gowns, untold wigs, scores of sparkly shoes, mounds of makeup and more. The true beauty, however, emanated from the faces I saw when I stood upon the mini stage with my yoga mat and looked out at all of you.
October 21, 2009

Riddle Me This

When the photo arrived in my inbox, I clicked on it and thought: The image is like a riddle. What is colorful and varied yet single-minded; laughing yet quite serious; shaking and quivering yet not afraid? The answer smiled back at me in the picture of my fellow graduates of the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation’s (PDF) Clinical Research Learning Institute. The men and women who came to immerse themselves in all that is PD came from all walks – literally and figuratively – each with our unique gait and each with our story. A dancer, a doctor, a physicist, a pharmacist, an architect, an artist . . . mothers, fathers, grandparents. We came from as far west as California and Washington, and east from Rhode Island and North Carolina. There were southerners from Alabama and Texas and northerners from Massachusetts and New York. Despite our varied backgrounds, we had one focus: […]
November 22, 2009

Nuts and Raisins

I need to cut nuts out of my diet. Cheese, too. Sadly, red wine as well. Ditto on the avocados, soy products, vinegar, dried fruit. If I included any of the above in meals or snacks, a monstrous migraine ensued. This recent phenomenon of light-sensitive, eyeball-searing pain was a tag-along side effect of one of my meds. I hadn’t expected such a severe reaction to what was considered beneficial to take. Emerging from a particularly nasty skull-exploding episode, I shuffled into the kitchen, slumped at the counter, hungry, drained, and wondering what I could possibly eat that wouldn’t, quite literally, go to my head. Crackers? No, there are nuts and soy it the ingredients list. PB&J? No, the protein in the peanut butter would battle with my meds, not to mention nut’s place on the anti-migraine list. I boiled a pot of white rice and daringly added a touch of […]
March 28, 2010


April is Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month. Any of us with Parkinson’s are already well aware of the disease. That must mean that April is our stretch of thirty days to publicly whine and curse and . . . Oh, wait. No. I’m thinking that this month might be better spent finding ways to: – share treatment and support information with those who are newly diagnosed. – focus on exercise, nutrition and well-being for ourselves and our families. – educate others about the disease to help dissuade misconceptions and fears. – learn about the latest research: knowledge is power. – consider taking part in a clinical trial. – maintain a sense of humor. – keep practicing your yoga. – stay connected to one another. An occasional whine is okay, too. Namaste.
May 1, 2010

The Art of Yoga

If, a year ago, someone told me that I’d be spending my Wednesday mornings sketching nudes, I’d have pleaded to mow the lawn instead. Maybe take out the trash. I’ve never been a student behind an easel, never even stood at an easel for that matter. The mention of a charcoal pencil sent my mind into a chatter fest of excuses not to draw or, heavens, paint. I remember I trembled. And worried. How could I possibly produce something that wouldn’t be clumsy and inept? When my first symptoms of PD grew too strong to hide, I became that frightened student again, wishing for another diagnosis the way I’d preferred to have done chores. Again, I trembled and felt clumsy and inept. Four years later, something magical has happened. I picked up a paintbrush and it felt good. I now grin the entire time at an art store replenishing yellow […]
August 21, 2010

Mirapex, Here a Vex

At my last checkup with my neurologist, he ran through the standard office visit litany of tests. I touched my nose, I puffed my cheeks, I walked to the end of the hall and turned and walked back. When he turned his wrists and said, “Show me how you change a light bulb,” I smiled. My arms at my sides, I replied, “I ask my husband to do that.” Though he didn’t laugh out loud (I did notice, however, perhaps a slight effort to remain his serious self), I still like him. I believe it’s important to have a good relationship with my doctors, where I can trust that they are not only listening, but truly hearing what I’m saying. No joke. So during the appointment, when I mentioned that sleep (or lack thereof) ranked highest on my list of disruptive symptoms, he nodded. He asked a few questions. He […]