NWPF

PD Community BlogRead Blog

Take a Hint from PD

Tuesday June 24, 2014

It’s March, 2000. I’m lost in the Spandex of the Tour of Anchorage pre-race crowd. I gawk at all the super-fit athletes around me and try to reassure myself I’m prepared to cross-country ski 50 kilometers through the middle of town. As our pod of racers starts, I notice that they seem to be pulling ahead of me. It’s as if an invisible force is gently but inexorably drawing them forward. Or is it holding me back? Later as I chug up to an aide station, a woman watches with concern, and asks if I’m alright. No problem. I’m fine. Why would she even wonder?

I struggled on to finish hours later, blissfully unaware that in a little more than a year I will be diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

One of the hallmarks of Parkinson’s disease is slowness. Not just the slowness of the patient, but also the snail-like progression of the disease in most people. Of course, that is a good thing. With a disorder’s description includes progressive, disabling, and incurable, you don’t want to see words like rapid, swift,​or sudden.

But try selling the benefits of slowness to the rest of the world. Slowness is at best old-fashioned, at worst, obstructive. Anybody out there want a slower connection to the Web? How about a car that does 0 to 60 in under five minutes? Or a burger and fries in under half an hour or your money back? We live with a blur of newness that leaves even the healthy with heads spinning, gasping for breath.

Which is where we with PD shuffle in, bradykinetic, (slow-moving) and bradyphrenic, (slow-thinking.) ​As we labor along trying to stay up with the traffic in the Brady lane, the rest of the world seems to be pulling inexorably ahead of us, like my fellow ski racers pulled away from me. Soon it will beyond the bend ahead, and out of sight.

We try to keep up. That’s when we pay the price in falls and frustration. We stutter out words in rushed whispers which are often unheard, let alone understood. But, just maybe, we are unintentionally onto something.

I have a rule about traveling: The slower you go, the more you know. Speed over a place in an airplane, and what do you learn about it? Zip through a town in your car, and what do you know about its textures, sounds? What do you appreciate of the rhythms and people who make it distinct? Ride your bike and you’ll be surprised at just how steep that grade is that you roared up in your truck, or how beautiful that view is that you glimpsed from behind the wheel. Slow to a walk, and you will have time to admire the way the light strikes a building, or decode the meaning in why a tree leans the way it does. Go slowly enough, and you’ll see the forest and the trees.

It’s a hurry-up-get-it-done-yesterday-twenty-four-seven-pedal-to-the-metal-breakneck-brave-new-world that we rush through today. And speed for its own sake can be joyfully intoxicating. But when we wake up the morning after, heads throbbing, and hung-over, the virtues of slowness have their appeal. Having Parkinson ’s disease gives us permission to live at a slower, more human speed.

Maybe all of us, the healthy and stricken should take a hint from PD. Slow down! Our time here is short. It would be a waste to rush through it.

Peter Dunlap-ShohlPeter Dunlap-Shohl
NWPF Blogger

Recent Posts

How Could I Be So Wrong?
Taking the Park out of Parkinson's
Medicine and Cognition
Northera and Dizziness
Re-Prioritizing Hopes

Archives

2014 2013 2012
Most popular posts of 2012
What are you grateful for this holiday season?
How can I tell whether medications are wearing off or Parkinson’s disease is progressing?
Can a person with Parkinson’s give blood?
When is the right time to start Levodopa?
Can acupuncture help PD symptoms?
Support the Caregiver in your Life
Power of the mind to move treatment further
Top 10 Foods for Parkinson’s (and counting!)
How can I prevent dizziness?
What can you tell me about laser light therapy and Parkinson’s
What is music therapy?
Should I take Coenzyme Q10 for my Parkinson’s?
How do I treat my cough at night?
Parkinson’s fitness programs need to be tailored to the individual to get results
Carrying the Olympic Torch for Parkinson’s today
Coffee reduces risk of Parkinson’s. What about other foods?
How can I find a good doctor who is knowledgeable about PD and is caring as well? My doctor does not always listen.
Facts about depression
Help for constipation
Sex, Intimacy and Parkinson’s
Does DBS affect speech?
Walking and balance can significantly impact quality of life- but is treatable.
Depression is common with Parkinson’s
Ode to Parkinson’s- Poem from Member
Music Enhances Brain Activity
How does posture change with Parkinson’s?
What is important to you?
Are hallucinations caused by Parkinson’s?
Hot Off the Press – Neupro approved by FDA
How do I find a Parkinson’s physical therapist to keep me exercising?
Does Azilect slow disease progression?
Manage nausea from medicines
Is delaying medication harmful?
Advice for newly diagnosed
Is Parkinson’s Hereditary?
Medication Timing
Is gambling a side effect of medicine?
Medication Assistance
Does stress cause Parkinson’s?
When to see a physical therapist
Coconut Oil
FDA approves DATScan
Protein’s effect on medicine
Restless Leg Syndrome