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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.

Eating well - finally

Terri Reinhart

There wasn't much I could eat for dinner, so I had a spoonful of almond butter, a couple of carrots from our garden, half an avocado, and some salad without dressing. I glared at my family, graciously, as they ate their spaghetti, and lettuce dripping with raspberry vinaigrette.  I was coping quite well until my husband brought out the Moose Tracks ice cream.

It wasn't fair.

Three months ago I decided to watch my diet. What I saw was a lot of carbohydrates and sugary stuff. There was a decent amount of good food, too, but the carbs and sweets side of the scale was a wee bit out of balance.  And so was I.  I hadn't been feeling too good.

It seems eating sugar, lots of sugar, will release dopamine. Cool. Instead of upping my meds, I could just have some fudge or ice cream or a Snickers bar.  It worked quite well. My doctor hasn't insisted on an increase in my medication for the last several years. 

When others have suggested special diets to me, I only half listened. Like all helpful remedies and cure-alls, I know what works for one person won't work for everyone.  If standing on one leg for an hour a day makes you feel better, go for it.  I'll pass.  I've been told to drink wheat grass juice, go vegetarian, stay away from gluten and carbs, don't forget aerobic exercising, don't eat protein after 3 pm, and have I ever heard of the Paleo diet? 

Outside I may be smiling and nodding, but inside I'm saying, “I don't HEAR you.”

Until three months ago. Only, it wasn't anyone else telling me I had to change, it was my own body. Every time I said, “I don't hear you,” I would be knocked on the side of my head.  It was getting tiring and my head hurt.  Eventually, I was too tired to do much of anything. My blood pressure had gone up, my tummy ached, and my sinuses burned all the time.  The docs couldn't find anything really wrong, so they blamed my Parkinson's.  I get it. I do the same thing.

I was miserable enough to try anything.  Throwing all my diet and health suggestions into the air, I came up with the following:

No sugar

No gluten

No carbohydrates

No dairy

I would eat meat, lots of vegetables, some fruit, almonds, and walnuts. Actually, the choice was made consciously.  My symptoms started to sound more and more like systemic yeast issues.  It wouldn't hurt to try the yeast diet. I decided to try it for a few weeks then gradually add other foods back in.

Within 48 hrs, I felt good. The symptoms went away, I had energy, and my blood pressure was down to my normal.  I wasn't hungry and I didn't crave sugar.  COOL!  I can do this!

Then, of course, my dear husband brought home the Moose Tracks ice cream. 

I was not led into temptation, but held my ground and ate a few almonds.  It's been three months now and I still feel good.  I've lost 15 pounds, too.  I'm starting to add in a few foods and have, only on occasion, splurged with a small bowl of ice cream.  Granted, there was the day I ate a full bag of chocolate chips. Life can be stressful and chocolate helps.  I don't make it a habit.

This has been a good wake up call for me and I know I have to pay more attention to having a healthy diet. My body has shown me exactly how it will react when it is off balance. I've gotta listen to what it's telling me.

I'm not going to try and convince people with Parkinson's to change their diet. It's not a cure-all.  I still have Parkinson's.  In fact, some of my symptoms actually have gotten worse since I cut out all the sugar.  My body is missing the extra dopamine.

It's okay, though.  I'm feeling good.  If my PD symptoms get much worse, I suppose I could increase my medications.  Until then, I'm okay. 

After all, how normal do I have to be?