I have just returned from a Pilates class. I’m supposed to be completing a blog post for kittyfitton.com but I have got back, showered and changed and feel that this is more important. I’m approaching a kind of turning point in my Parkinson’s journey and I don’t like it.
I was diagnosed about five years ago. In June it will be five years. We all know that in reality this means you’ve had Parkinson’s longer, but we just had no idea this creeping sickness was leering over us. I did what I think a lot of people do. I tried to ignore it. Then I realised with mounting horror that this wouldn’t work, so I began to try different things. I’ve never been much of a fad diet person. I don’t think platefuls of kale and a side of carrot juice is going to do much to fix a neurological disease. I do, however, believe in positive thought, and a ‘can do’ attitude.
I did LSVT Big. I am not so great at doing this daily, and got bored of the exercises quickly. However, I’m still a huge advocate of this, and am certainly of the opinion that physiotherapy like this should be investigated and funded for people. It was very confronting for me personally, and was my first terrifying introduction to how my body had actually been affected by Parkinson’s. Yet it also taught me that I can adapt, change, and still wear pretty shoes. I began to feel a glimmer of hope.
I have waxed and waned with exercise. Sometimes I’ll be great. I did almost a year of (near) daily visits to the gym. Then as we all know 2020 happened. You have to be living under a rock to not realise I’m talking about pandemics, Covid-19 and lockdown. I always like to go one better and added a marital separation, moving house twice and to cap it all off my new boyfriend went and almost died on me. (You can read all about that here.) Let’s say exercise and self-care kind of went out of the window.
But as we all know Parkinson’s never lets up. You don’t get ‘time off’ for good behaviour, and it is relentless. No matter how many pills we swallow, or how often we follow our daily physio, we will always need more.
It’s so unfair right? Especially for someone like me. I know I need to exercise more, but don’t we all? I know I need to be more dedicated about going to the gym, I know I need to eat better, drink more water and cut back on the chips and wine on an evening. We all do. But doing it is another thing altogether.
Which brings me back to Pilates. I joined a gym back in January and have been rubbish about going. My dark companion has been taking advantage of this. I have been limping earlier in the day and my left hip has been aching and causing me the odd issue. Is this Parkinson’s or is it being older, fat and lazy? Who knows. I know what I need to do though.
It’s been my third Pilates session and my hips and body feel fantastic afterward. It is not an easy thing to walk into a class full of thin, bendy people and instead of doing a beautiful roll-up or roly-poly thing backward and forward, lie on your back holding your legs as you attempt to rock forward and backward like a trapped bug. I literally almost cried with frustration at one point. As when I did the LSVT BIG stuff, there was a particular movement, I can’t recall which one, but my left leg was particularly hard to move. It hurt a little, it was heavy and unresponsive, but I made that sucker move anyhow.
I felt tears welling up in my eyes, and was grateful I was lying on my tummy and nobody could see. I felt like I was going to cry, but took some deep breaths instead and steeled myself for the remaining 20 minutes.
I made it through the session, and I will return. In fact, I’ve vowed to attend at least twice a week, and perhaps throw in a yoga or standard exercise class. I have to make myself do this though, and not allow myself to be distracted. It’s easily done. I have blocked out the time in my diary and now tell myself it’s part of my new regime, my workplace routine if you will.
I realise more and more that this thing we call Parkinson’s will not give up on us, regardless of how much we would like to give up on it. We must keep pushing onward, and be as determined as it is to ensure not just our survival, but our quality of life. We all want to be unencumbered by this awful thing. I for one will steel myself once again and resolve to be better, and hopefully continue to live my best life despite Parkinson’s.
Kitty Fitton is a motivational speaker, MC and comedian. She is also a full-time blogger and writer. She is mother to four small people and was very cross to discover she had Parkinson’s Disease.
Find out more at her personal site below.
Emma Kyriacou is a real-life ninja. Taking up Karate to help fight her Parkinson’s Disease, she’s co-founder of Good Moves and is passionate about promoting exercise to improve mobility and neuroplasticity. (Is that a word? It should be.)
Find out more at her personal site below.