A usual feature of Parkinson’s conferences is The Inspirational Speaker. I have to admit that I find these speakers….um, inspiring. The latest speaker I encountered (at an APDA seminar) was Stephen Bergenholtz , just ending his time on the board of the Pacific Northwest Chapter of American Parkinson’s Disease Association.
Stephen introduced the concept of discipline in managing a chronic disease like PD. He came up with eight disciplines, which he lists in a blogpost on Michael J. Fox Foundation website. As our dopamine declines, so does our initiative and motivation. He writes, ” (A) substitute for loss of motivation is simply discipline. The word “discipline” may have negative connotations, but all it means is regular repetition of an activity until eventually it becomes comfortable, even pleasant.” He ended his talk with the lovely quote from Colette, the French novelist: “What a wonderful life I’ve had! I only wish I’d realized it sooner.” You can follow the link to see what his eight disciplines are.
Mine are a little different, and I would expect everyone would have different areas to work on. (Yes, “work on” — if you think I’m carrying out all these disciplines with ramrod posture and precision….well, look at my posture in the photo. If I keep working on it, someday I will be able to play Scott Joplin like a real ragtime player. I’ve been practicing now for oh, forty years or so.) Let me know what disciplines you’re working on – and your victories!
- Exercise – This is my daily job: half-hour floor exercises, especially core exercises (situps, planks) plus at least half-hour aerobics (walking, swimming, elliptical, stair climber, etc.)
- Try new stuff – I will examine when I hear myself saying “I can’t do that.” Is that a rational judgment (sky diving) or should I give it a try (tango)?
- Commit to activities – If I’m going to try new stuff, I need to not just dabble but commit to get to at least a comfort level. I need to maintain interest in existing activities (singing, skiing, piano playing) by consciously striving to get better.
- Gratitude – Be grateful every day..
- Maintain and grow relationships — Get out of myself and take an interest in others’ lives. Be a support to friends, a contributor to the community.
- Get out of Parkinson’s – No need to dwell on PD symptoms – there’s much more interesting things going on.
- Get into Parkinson’s – It takes a village to kill this disease. My little contributions are to participate in research and write this blog at least once a month, and preferably, two or three times a month.
- Keep track of Parkinson’s — I am CEO of my body. I need to partner with my medical team to observe and report symptoms. I will try different strategies to manage symptoms. and track results.