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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.

Goldie Goes Dancing

Terri Reinhart

I took Emma to the thrift shop so she could look for some nice tops to wear to school. That's all we were going to do. However, Goldie decided to come along and look at clothes, too, and that's always a challenge. I see practical cotton tops to wear with jeans. Goldie sees sparkly shirts with sequins. Once I found a lovely pair of flats made out of dark gray wool. Goldie found a pair of metallic gold oxfords. We compromised and bought both pairs.

The gold shoes are for dancing.

My doctor keeps getting after me to exercise more. I don't blame her, because we all know how exercise can be more beneficial to us folks with Parkinson's than just about anything else. It's been a journey to find just the right kind of exercise I can (and will) do which has a group meeting at a time I can attend. 

I loved the Yoga for Parkinson's and Dance for Parkinson's classes and went to those for a long time. Then my days filled up with being a caregiver and grandma, and the classes had to go. It was good timing as I was ready for a new challenge. That's when I started with the Rocky Mountain Rainbeaus and fell in love with Square Dancing... and fell in love with the Rainbeaus.

One of the first party dances I attended had the theme, "Gaudy is Gorgeous". I found a sweater at a thrift shop which had been spray painted gold. It was perfect... perfectly gaudy. I wore it with my red and white striped pajama pants. One of my fellow dancers, Fritz, christened me, "Goldie Lamé", and Goldie has been a part of me ever since. My alter-ego is quite friendly and mostly harmless - unless I go shopping.

Last weekend, I went dancing. The event was hosted by The Wilde Bunch, our sister club in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and was my very first experience at one of these weekends. The gold shoes came along, too, and was admired by everyone. We danced. And danced. And danced... Friday night, all day Saturday, and Sunday morning were filled with music, dancing, and lots of laughter. We danced to the calls of Bill Eyler, Kris Jensen, Scott Amspoker, and Anne Uebelaker. We did traditional squares, hexagons, and a wonderful, but very challenging kaleidoscope dance. With Scott, we even did some line dancing. Zorba is my new earworm.

My neurologist will be very happy. 

Chris made me promise to pace myself. He didn't want me flat on my back all this week. I think I did fairly well, considering just how much dancing there was. I was in bed by 9 pm every night, not staying till the dancing ended at 10 and not going to play games till midnight. Still, by the end of the party on Sunday evening, my dystonia had started to kick in and it was a struggle to walk to the car. My friends helped me to the car and made sure I got up the stairs and into my room. Then they checked on me in the morning.

(Oh, if any of the other dancers saw me - I wasn't drunk. Really. I even have my certified, "I am not drunk" card in my wallet. No, it's not for sale. My gold shoes aren't either.)

This trip was a gift in so many ways. First of all, it literally was a gift. One person had to change her plans at the last moment and she donated her registration fee so someone else could come. I found out 3 days before we left for Albuquerque that I was going. (Jackie, Kelly, and all, you didn't know it, but that was 2 days after my birthday. What an amazing birthday gift!)

Lately I have experienced and witnessed so many acts of generosity:  A man in our Parkinson's and Dystonia Facebook group hand carves and gives away canes and walking sticks to any member of the group. Wonderbound Dance Company has open rehearsals in their warehouse building studio and invites anyone, including those who are homeless (they are very close to the homeless shelters) to come in, sit on their couches, and watch the rehearsals. An old friend and classmate of mine, Milton, donated one of his handcrafted mandolins to a Colorado band whose instruments were destroyed in a fire. 

At the end of the weekend, the Wilde Bunch donated $100 to the Ralph Lorier fund in our club to help those people who couldn't otherwise afford to dance. Ralph, a much loved member of the Rainbeaus, died from cancer earlier this year. I didn't know him well, but I remember sitting and talking with him one of the last times he came to dance. From what I do know, he lived a life of quiet and constant generosity. 

What an amazing way to start my new year! 

Me dancing and looking like I'm trying to figure out my right from my left. 

Me dancing and looking like I'm trying to figure out my right from my left.