Thursday, March 23, 2006

physical dichotomy

I had my yearly physical with my primary physician a couple days ago. I've been doing the yearly thing for many years now, always at the same time of year and always with the same doctor. I only see him on, thankfully, rare occasions during the year whenever some debilitating malady strikes that requires a prescription to bring under control. That has been a rare thing the past few years. Why? Because I am ridiculously healthy due to watching my diet, getting regular exerecise, and observing moderation in all things.

You might ask, "how can someone with Parkinsons Disease consider himself ridiculously healthy?" The fact is, it's because of the PD diagnosis I got three years ago that I began watching my diet and began a regular exercise regimen. One of the best ways to counteract the effects of PD is exercise. People with PD have difficulty engaging their muscles to do the simplest tasks, like walking, and perform many normal movements slowly. Muscle spasms are common and result in involuntary movements of hands, arms, and legs. Because of the diffuculty in getting those muscles to move naturally, Pd patients often stop using those muscles, which then become weak from disuse, exascerbating the condition.

I have found that the daily exercises I perform are what keep me functional. I ride the stationary bike, do some weight training, both on a machine and with free weights, walk on the treadmill, and have a regular yoga routine for stretching and maintaining flexibility. They allow me to perform normal day to day tasks and to pursue my woodworking passion, and to continue to paly golf (badly, but I still play). Granted, I don't do anything very quickly and sometimes need to just sit down and take a break, but at least I can still do the things that need to be done.

The irony of my situation is that now that I have PD, I am in the best shape of my life. I am stronger than I have ever been and I will probably live longer, and healthier, than if I had never gotten PD. I feel that I can keep the disease at bay for a long time with exercise and proper diet. I do have to take regular doses of medication each day, which is a small but necessary part of managing PD, but I really feel that my lifestyle has as much to do with my continuing to function at a decent level.

In a couple weeks I go to see my Neurologist for a regular checkup. I am going to go with the knowledge that I am doing all I can to manage my condition. I hope to impress him with my continuing efforts and to add to his data base about the benefits of physical activity being a key to functionality for PD patients. I don't mind setting an example if it benefits others with the same fight on their hands. Bring it on.

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