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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.

Consistently inconsistent

Terri Reinhart

Whenever I need advice, I always go to my good friend, Mike.  He's a wonderful listener and I can talk to him about anything.  No matter how complicated my problems, he always has something thoughtful to say.  He has a solution, too, for every one of my life challenges.  It's always the same.  He'll look at me intently, nod his head slowly and say, "I think you should watch a movie."  He's very serious and even offers to loan me one out of his collection.

Of course, in trying to find ways to live healthy, feel good, and develop all my life coping skills, I have also been listening carefully to the health professionals with whom I spend much of my leisure time.  They have plenty of advice for me.  I've learned, however, that it is rarely consistent.

After my daughter's birth, nearly 17 years ago, my doctor told me that I had lost a lot of blood and I should have plenty of red meat in my diet.  Just a few weeks later, this same doctor told me to stop eating red meat altogether.  It seems that my lab tests showed an increase in my cholesterol levels. 

My first neurologist was convinced that I had spinal stenosis and needed spine surgery.  The neurosurgeon did not agree and sent me back to the neurologist.  They played ping pong with me until I finally went to a different neurologist who diagnosed my Parkinson's disease. 

It's just as bad when you begin to look at all the articles about nutrition and healthy living.  Drinking lots and lots of water is good for you but drinking lots and lots of water can kill you.  Take Vitamin E because it's a powerful antioxidant, which is a good thing, but don't take too much.  It can kill you. Exercising is good, and running, so one article says, helps to prevent heart attacks, the common cold, cancer, and mild depression.  Yet another article states that running, over a period of time, will cause our organs to drop down, landing on our bladders and causing them to leak.

Considering all these inconsistencies, imagine how shocked I was when I found there was one thing all my health professionals agreed on.  I was even more amazed to realize where it was that I was failing.  I was not including time for the most important health activity of all: watching television.  Mike was right after all.

Come on…  I have a very busy life.  Between solving the cryptograms in the newspaper, baking chocolate chip cookies, and going out to coffee with my husband or friends, my schedule is packed solid.  So, when the dental hygienist asked if I had been flossing my teeth every day, I responded by telling her that I do what I can but I don't have much free time.  Her response?  "Do it while you're watching TV".  My doctor has told me that I need at least thirty minutes of aerobic exercising every day.  I threw up my hands and told the doctor that my day is booked, my week is booked, and my year is booked.  "No problem", said the doctor, "you can always exercise while you watch TV." 

My therapist suggests doing stretching exercises during sitcoms, my hairdresser tells me to rub conditioner and moisturizer all over my scalp, leaving it on while I watch my favorite hospital drama, and a local minister insists that commercial breaks are the perfect time to give thanks to God. 

I added up the time needed to do all the healthy activities that I had been neglecting.  All in all, I would have to spend at least 5 hours a day watching television, just to keep up.  I wasn't pleased but I was ready to admit that I had been horribly mistaken.  From now on, I will tend to my health.  Where's the TV guide?

Taking a deep breath, I humbly shared my new plan with my husband, who was reading the daily newspaper.  He smiled at me.  I knew he was proud of his wife.  He had married a woman who could admit her mistakes and carry on.  I waited for him to tell me how wonderful I was.  Instead, he handed me the newspaper and pointed to an article. 

The headline said, "Watching television can kill you."