· Dragging one leg (the right in my case)
· Trudging with feet scraping the floor (both feet)
· Swaying from side to side to try to reduce balance problems (try edging along a row in the cinema)
· Each step tentative, as if the pavement cracks are preparing to trip or swallow me
· Hands clasped behind me, like – God Save Me – Prince Philip
· Exhausted by the effort caused by all of the above
Other physical problems:
· Rising from a low seat or seat without arms
· Rising from a bed
· Tying a shoelace
· Looking up rather than down when walking
· Not smiling
· Getting in and out of small cars; eek!
· Carrying things, especially liquids, while shaking
· Falling asleep in the day (tiredness due to a mix of shaking, efforts to counter shaking, low moods and so on)
· Unable to reach toes to clip nails or put on socks or tie shoes: although I suppose I could get extending nail scissors or Velcro shoes / ties?
· Feeling stiff everywhere else
Etc, etc, etc……
SOLUTION? A PERSONAL TRAINER?
My wife swears by her personal trainer and my daughter bought me 3 sessions with her trainer as a gift, so under their prompting I eventually had to give the idea a try. The trainer’s name is Lee Hicks and he is a Movement Specialist, looking at an individual’s mobility and stability, anywhere from injury through to performance. However, I’m his only PD customer and at 69, I’m his oldest.
First he used my gift sessions to determine the relative success of my movement and stability; looking for potential solutions; and then he started to develop a fight back strategy against this awful PD monster.
My view was that almost a year after diagnosis of PD I was noticeably stiffer, weaker and less capable of conducting the Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) as the experts call them. I was being beaten by PD, was frustrated and short of energy to fight it.
Lee selected a simple set of exercises designed to:
· Increase strength
· Increase stability
· Increase length
· Increase mobility
· Improve balance in motion
· Overall to increase potential ‘pathways to success’
While we have to accept where I am now and that PD might be an inexorable, unbeatable opponent (i.e. it may not be beatable, whatever we do) we can at least assume PD can be defeated and tackle it in a positive frame of mind. The goal is to improve – not just stand still or manage a slow retreat towards morbid or torpid .
At first Lee assessed how I moved to create our strategies for success, gradually focusing on the areas where gains can be made e.g. on my trudging gait and weak right leg, also getting in and out of the car.
Lee also looks at the ADLs and for small gains that can be achieved through small changes and lots of repetition. He also keeps me focused (would I really put myself through all this without him? No!).
Now I’m still not sure of making the team in Rio, but I no longer walk like a Lego man and after a few hesitant steps, particularly first thing in the morning, can be taken for a normal walker. Strain on my hips has reduced and I can put my socks on more easily. I’m still not sure of beating PD, but am at least in with a chance!
THE SWIMMING BATHS
Talk was about the ridiculousness of Donald Trump and his view of Muslims, followed by a critical account of accompanying your wife on Christmas shopping trips. General lack of interest, having to play a role in decision processes being just two of the many negatives.
Then there was having to write individual messages on cards which already had the obvious ‘Merry Christmas’ on them. ‘Bah, humbug, Mr Scrooge’.
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