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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.

Filtering by Tag: nutrition

New Health Plan

Terri Reinhart

It's been 6 months since I decided to change the way I eat. At the time, my body was in total agreement with me. About a month ago, that changed.

The Left Brain started questioning the expense of going to all natural foods. The Hypothalamus complained it wasn't getting the rewards it expected from the new diet. The Occipital Lobe had seen the large chocolate bar in the refrigerator. The Broca's Area said, “what the hell” and convinced the Amygdala and the Motor Cortex into picking up the chocolate.

This was just the beginning. The Hypothalamus wasn't content with just one chocolate bar. It insisted on chocolate chips and the occasional chocolate ice cream. The Nucleus Accumbens kept quietly insisting they deserved these treats. After all, they had worked hard for them. Soon my brain was ignoring the needs of the rest of my body and demanding more for itself.

Fortunately, there was still the Frontal Lobe to bring some intelligence into the discussion. It reminded them of the decision which had been made for the good of the whole body. Spending now would save money in the long run. It was okay for the brain to have to sacrifice some pleasures for the sake of health.   After all, the brain cannot survive without the body.

The Corpus Callosum announced there were serious issues in communication.

Systems began to break down. The Autonomic Nervous System began relaying messages to all parts of the body, spreading fear that the Frontal Lobe was trying to push a health plan which was too expensive and would take away all the good things in life. The rest of the body was confused. They were supposed to believe and trust in their Frontal Lobe, weren't they?

The Left Leg sided with the Nucleus Accumbens. The surge in dopamine after a sugar binge helped to make sure it could walk straight. The Right Leg accused the left of giving in to addiction. Arguments started between various groups of Organs and Muscles. There were debates about whether or not the plan was actually healthy and worth the cost. After all, each part should be able to pull themselves up by their own synapses – or tendons or blood vessels or other thingies, right?

I'm not sure what would have happened if I hadn't finally had a Gut Reaction and decided enough was enough. Worst case scenario, parts of the brain may have insisted on a governing body shutdown.

Thankfully, it didn't happen. I took charge and let the rest of the factions know who's boss.

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?