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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.

30 Day No Sugar Challenge

Terri Reinhart

I often think about adopting a healthier lifestyle and diet.  I know it would be good for me and it would undoubtedly help me to feel better, too.  There are people out in the world who say they have recovered from Parkinson’s through a combination of good diet, exercise, meditation, and taking some sort of miracle supplement that has had amazing results.  As usual, I ponder these ideas while eating chocolate truffles or ice cream with Bailey’s on top.  If I ponder too long, I usually get a headache.

Most of the claims about supplements or miracle drugs, I take with a large grain of salt.  I’m not discounting this totally; it’s just that what works for one person won’t necessarily work for another one.  This is true of the conventional drugs for Parkinson’s.  I’m sure it’s also true for natural supplements. There are so many claims out there, how would one decide what to try?

I could say that this is the reason that I haven’t tried more of these miracle remedies for Parkinson’s. I could say this, but it’s not true.  The real reason is that most alternative therapies  also require you to make major changes in areas of your life, such as diet.  Diet changes are not easy!  One web page said that you must stop eating wheat.  My grandfather was a wheat farmer.  I have wheat genes.  Cutting out wheat would be like …like… cutting out chocolate.  A healthy diet often insists that you stop consuming caffeine.  I don’t know for sure what would happen if I cut out caffeine completely, but I don’t think it would be safe.  When the lab wants to test me, they find I have Chai tea running through my veins.  Take away my Chai and what’s left to circulate?

Then there is sugar.  It is cruel to add this to the list of don’ts, right after the Christmas holidays.  I love to bake.  I bake cookies, pies, and we also make chocolate truffles.  My chocolate truffles are good… really good.  I have perfected the technique over the past several years.  My friends’ mouths start to water when I mention them.  I cannot imagine anything crueler than to have someone tell me to eliminate truffles from my diet.   

There are other aspects of creating a healthy lifestyle that I am trying hard to accomplish.  I have started exercising.  I don’t do this as regularly as I would like but I am riding the exercise bicycle and going to my yoga class.   Chris and I have a joint New Year’s resolution that we will do yoga at home every day.  It hasn’t happened yet.  I’m still dawdling, which was, of course, my New Year’s resolution last year, so I’m at least sticking to that commitment.   I am also determined to start meditating again.  Meditation does make a difference. 

Another suggestion for a healthy lifestyle was to laugh a lot.  This is one area where skimping is not allowed.  My New Year’s resolution would not be complete if I didn’t resolve to spend time with people who make me laugh and to learn to bring laughter more into our home.  How else do I cope when I start careening across the kitchen, crashing into Chris, or suddenly find myself walking backwards on my tip toes?  Finding ways to laugh at myself and my challenges encourages my family to laugh at me, too… or something like that. 

I guess if I look at everything all together, I’m not doing so badly.  I am taking responsibility for my own health and making the changes I need to make so I can feel better and function well for as long as possible.  I owe this to my family. 

The only area where I’m stuck is on diet.  Even there, I don’t do too badly, except when it comes to sugar.  I kind of overdid it this year. Between the truffles, the cookies, the pies, the ice cream, and the Bailey’s Irish Cream, there is a little more of me than there was last year.  I don’t mind this so much except that it’s hard enough for me to get around.  I don’t need extra pounds added to my daily workout.  I’ve also been having more migraines.  Unfortunately, these are the kind of headaches that put me flat on my back for a couple of days.  The headaches increased with all the tasty sugary desserts.  As much as I don’t like to admit it, something has got to change. 

So, as of tomorrow, I will be giving up sugar for 30 days.  We’ll see what happens.  Luckily I will have a partner in this endeavor.  My friend, Andrea, had already made the decision to give up sugar for a 30 day challenge.  We’ll do this together and encourage each other.  I have a lot of motivation to keep to the goal.  I would rather give up sugar for the next decade than to have another migraine.  I feel healthier already, just saying this!

Better keep me away from the truffles, though.  I might just decide that they’re worth the risk.