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My Parkinson's Journey

In which Terri shares a humorous look at her journey with Parkinson's disease and Dystonia:

For me, illness and health are not opposites but exist together. Everyone has something that is challenging to them. Mine just simply has a recognizable name. My life will take a different path because of this but that's okay. Everyone has changes in their lives that create their path.  I'm learning how to enjoy whatever path I'm on.

Miracle Cures

Terri Reinhart

4/29/08

I was shopping the other day at my favorite natural foods store. We do our best to eat good healthy natural food, of course, all the time. And with the exception of the occasional burger from the fast food restaurant, milkshakes, anything that is chocolate and mmmmm… those jalapeno bites from Arby’s with the red sauce that looks like transmission fluid, I do pretty well. As with everything in life, it is nice to have a balance.

I meandered down one aisle, looking closely at everything and feeling pretty good. I was doing the good mom thing and buying natural organic food. Then I went around a corner and was immediately accosted by an older woman (okay, she was maybe a little bit older than me) offering me samples. Would I like a sample? I asked what the samples were but before she answered, she looked at me closely and asked, “Are you in pain?”

“Uh, no, I’m just moving slowly.”

“But are you in pain?”

Okay, now I figure it’s easier to just explain it right out than to risk any more inquiries. “No, I’m not in pain. I have Parkinson’s disease. I just move slowly.” How could I have known what would happen next?

“Did you know that this is the number one diet supplement for Parkinson’s?” She began. And she went on and on about her product, about which she was obviously very passionate. I learned an awful lot! And after several minutes I was quite ready to believe that it stops pain, cures the common cold, helps hair to grow, makes our bones strong, stops the moodiness of menopause, and helps prevent global warming. She had me hooked. It is fun to listen to anyone who is enthusiastic but a fanatic can be irresistible! It’s very possible that I would have even bought some of her miracle supplement, except for one thing. She was just a little too confident and suggested that I try the sample, walk around the store for ten minutes and then come back to let her know how much better I felt. I had the picture in my mind of the crippled child throwing away his crutches and wondered if I’d rip off my leg braces and dance through the aisles of the store. But no, ten minutes after taking the supplement, I felt no different than I had before. Well, that’s not entirely true. My legs were aching and my speed was approaching that of a geriatric turtle. I was too embarrassed to go back.

Once home, the more reasonable parts of my brain kicked in. How many miracle supplements, remedies, and therapies had I been presented with in the last ten years? I’m actually not knocking them at all. I believe very strongly in natural, wholistic medicine and have often consulted with doctors who practice wholistic medicine. There are so many different products out there that I am more than happy to allow my doctor do the recommending for me. He’s also an M.D. so I know he’ll understand my prescription medicines and how things might interact, too. Letting him be the expert makes less work for me and is ultimately less expensive. As with any medicines, what works for one person doesn’t always work for others. Even at best, it can take time to find what’s right. When we do find something that works well for us, it’s tempting for us to become the fanatical salesperson telling others about our wonderful miracle cure-all.

Here are my magic remedies:

1. Hot baths. I am a firm believer that there is nothing that isn’t helped by a hot bath. If need be, you can even take three or four in a day. The only side effect is wrinkly fingers and toes.

2. Naps. I’m up to two a day. When my body says go to sleep, I say “Sure, why not.”

3. P.G. Wodehouse. Having my husband read passages out of Wodehouse’s novels can be nearly as good as the meds. But it has to be my husband reading them! It’s not just the words, you see. It’s his presentation. As I said before, an enthusiast is fun to listen to, a fanatic is irresistible!

4. Chocolate. This is best when shared with my 14 year old daughter.

5. Late night conversations and scrabble games with my son.

6. Going out to the coffee shop with my good friend. I’m not going to divulge his name. I don’t want him to be suddenly deluged with invitations for coffee. He’s hyper enough as it is. But he makes me laugh and even if I forget to take my meds, I will be symptom free for a couple of hours.

7. Diet pop. I know, those who promote natural healthy foods will say that diet pop is poison. But in reasonable doses and shared with a dear friend, there is therapeutic value.

8. And last but not least, those jalapeno bites from Arby’s. Don’t forget the transmission fluid.

I’ll tell you what. Try one of these remedies. Walk around for ten minutes and then come back and let me know how much better you feel.