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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.

Living Simply isn't Easy

Terri Reinhart

Our life is frittered away by detail... simplify, simplify
— Henry David Thoreau

It's one of those things that happens on a regular basis. On the New Rating Scale for Parkinson's disease, I'm at Stage 8. Time to yell D0 OVER at the top of my lungs, take a deep breath and get to work.

This time, I'm trying to simplify everything: my house, my schedule, my cooking, my craft work. If you don't quite believe me, I understand. You either know me well or you've been reading my blogs. Simplifying is not easy for me. I'm a little scattered. This means I'll start half a dozen projects and audit a class at the university and invite family for dinner. It means I inherited my organizational skills from my father which means I can eventually put my hands on whatever I need, but no one would guess that by looking at my desk which, incidentally, used to be my father's desk.

I also inherited my father's tendency to say yes to everything and to volunteer for everything else. I heard someone call it a "martyr syndrome", but it's not really that at all, at least not with my father and not with me. It's more of an impulsive, not really thinking of anything except what's happening in the moment kind of thing: "Yes, that sounds like fun! Of course I can!" 

Lately, too many obligations have made me realize I have to cut back. What's the most frustrating symptom of Parkinson's, besides the loose spigot which turns the tears on when least expected? Lack of stamina. I have to finally admit to myself I don't have the energy to do everything I want to do and everything I need to do. It's time to prioritize.

Time - my biggest priorities now are helping to take care of our grandchildren and helping to take care of my parents. Since Mom and Dad are in assisted living, I'm not as on call as I once was, but I still take them to doctor's appointments, pick up their prescriptions, and take them shopping. The grandchildren are with us on Fridays and everyone comes for Saturday dinner. Anything I do above and beyond this will have to be considered carefully. Keeping up with parents and grandkids takes most of my energy. 

Crafts - At this point, I'm not as interested in pursuing every craft out there. When I see something handmade, I don't immediately start to figure out how to make it. I just think, "that's cool!" I've narrowed down my craft work to something I can take along and do while waiting at doctor's offices. I'm knitting. I've also kept my bookbinding supplies. Everything else had to go.

Which brings me to stuff. Slowly, but surely, anything we're not using is being given away or recycled. Everytime I take another box or three to the thrift shop, I feel oh, so much lighter. Stuff has to be taken care of. I have enough caregiving to do without having to take care of unnecessary stuff. It's my mother-in-law I look to for inspiration. She gave so much away before she moved into a nursing home, it took about ten minutes to divide the rest between her children. 

It's not something that will happen overnight, but I'm determined. The craft stuff is gone, I go through my clothes regularly and pare them down to the minimum, our little free library is visited often and books find new homes, and slowly closets are becoming a little less crowded. 

To my kids - if there's something you want, better let me know! Mom is on a roll.