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Constant Evaluation

It’s been about 13 years since I first noticed I was dragging my foot.

I can’t pinpoint the exact beginning, but I remember the first time I became consciously aware of it, and wondered if there was something wrong with me.

I was 30 years old, and my first baby Niko was somewhere between 6 months and a year old. We were staying with my Mum and Dad on their farm for a holiday. Niko was commando crawling around my parent’s living room when Dad asked me why I was limping.

Dad was the first to voice it, but as soon as the words left his mouth, I realised I had been vaguely aware of a slight non-responsiveness from my left foot. My husband Elia confessed he’d also noticed, and was also wondering what it was. If I concentrated my walking improved temporarily, but concentrating wore me out and I quickly got grumpy.

Being grumpy or anxious was pretty much just me as usual – given I’d hadn’t really slept much at all since Niko was born this isn’t really surprising.

A woman at a lookout in the bush smiling against a blue sky.
Young pre-baby Emma (at the look out at Bald Spur on a climb up Mt Te Aroha), 2003

It hadn’t always been that way. As a kid I was happy. I was really active – loved to play tennis and soccer and lots of other ball games, was a good runner, a bit of a dreamer, wrote poems, played the piano. I really loved learning and enjoyed school. I was a huge fan of nature and going into the bush.

Then puberty hit, and my motivation for physical stuff seemed to die. Running suddenly felt like a massive slog. I worked very hard to do well in school, but stopped writing and learning music. 

Obviously, I hated my body. I couldn’t decide anything – like what I wanted to do with my life. I had always wanted to write, but now I knew I was really bad at it, and what I actually needed was some way of earning money.

I didn’t think I would be able to handle the rigors of farming life. I was really keen on university but was told all my subject choices were awful. I ended up in law school, convinced I was going to fail.

Somehow though I managed to survive university and my 20s – although I didn’t end up with a law degree! But I graduated, I got married, and we (eventually) got reasonable jobs.

But I didn’t know if I was happy. I didn’t know if I was doing what I was supposed to be doing with my life. I was asking myself ‘is this it?’ I guess.

woman sat on a bean bag on the floor smiling.
Coping with being at work in 2015. Felt uncomfortable at my desk sometimes. On Sinemet by this stage, walked with a cane.

I had a lot of failures trying to fix this underlying malaise. I tried losing weight. It didn’t make me happy.

I worked hard to get promotions and pay rises. It didn’t make me happy.

We saved up money for an overseas trip, which was an incredible adventure, but over-all I felt much the same.

Got on the property ladder. Meh.

Maybe some anti-anxiety medication would help. Not really.

I know – lets have a baby! Yip having a baby was a wonderful adventure, and Niko the cutest baby in the history of babies. But being a parent added in new difficulties, and I still didn’t feel like I was fulfilling my purpose.

I started to drag my foot before Niko turned one. It took a long time to diagnose the problem, during which I worried that I had a brain tumour.

It wasn’t until my second baby Luka was about 18 months that I was diagnosed with segmental focal dystonia. Yay!! No brain tumour! No death!

 

I start taking Sinemet. Suddenly life is wonderful. I walk down the street amazed at my ability to walk and not trip up all the time. The doctors are sure about the dystonia thing, and are sure it is not Parkinson’s. It won’t get better I’m told, but it won’t get worse. Just keep taking the Sinemet. 

excerpt from letter in neurology dept
An except from a letter sent from Neurology to an insurer (who were trying to decide whether to insure my income or not)

As my “dystonia” got worse and worse over the years (answer take more Sinemet), I grew unhappier and unhappier. I struggled through life basically.

Skip forward a few years, and now I’m 42 years old. I don’t have a Dad anymore. I do have Parkinson’s. And three kids.

I’ve gone back to loving physical activity. The whole body and brain learning of karate is fascinating me. I write. I still work part time and largely from home. I am grateful to be able to use my skills. I get anxious sometimes. When I do I cry loudly and get very obnoxious to my family. I love philosophical conversations with my 13-year-old, snuggles and jokes with my 11-year-old, and singing and dancing to music from both Frozen soundtracks with my four-year-old.  I get mad sometimes and rage at things and people. Then I get over it and love people again. My marriage with Elia is now 22 years old (or is it 24? How old are we?), but we’re still learning new things about each other.

Life isn’t perfect. Life is fun sometimes, tiring sometimes. Sometimes it hurts.

It is awesome, it is shit. Life, and me, are constantly evolving.

a child and a woman playing football in a sunny garden.
Beginning to exercise, new to karate, post-Parkinson’s diagnosis

kitty laughing into camera
Kiity Fitton – usually up to mischief.

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_k
Emma Kyriacou. Quite good at hitting things.

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. 

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