No, I am not drunk. But I just look and act like I am.
I never acquired the taste for alcohol. I always saw a person who couldn’t control the amount of alcohol they ingested as weak, and I’ve always had a need to be in control.
My choice of drink is Mexican Coke made with real sugar. Mexican Cokes are available in 12 oz. glass bottles and they don’t go flat, so one bottle will last me about three days. I can enjoy a soft drink without feeling guilty, because it’s prescribed by my doctors. My Movement Disorder Specialist instructed me to drink a sweet, sugary, acidic, caffeinated beverage when my dopamine level drops too low.
I was diagnosed with “idiopathic” Parkinson’s Disease on April 4, 2011 when I was 55 years old. All I remember is shock and disbelief. Then my Daddy passed away. There was a lot to cry about! I had searched ten years for a diagnosis. My symptoms are the same as a person who has had too much to drink; poor balance, slurred speech, loud non-stop talking, and shuffling your feet. My medical alert card states, “I am not drunk, please call my doctor or my family.”
Parkinson’s is an elusive disease. It’s always one step ahead of a cure. And it is progressive. Every morning when I awake, I tell myself, “Today will be the best day of the rest of my life.” Yes, Parkinson’s is a daily challenge, every day is different, and no treatment plan works for everybody but I never asked “why me?” Why not me? I’m one of ten siblings and I wouldn’t wish this on anyone else. I inherited Parkinson’s Disease from my Granddaddy Caleb. He lived to be 81 years old and like me, he didn’t have a visible tremor. I thought he was just an old man shuffling his feet.
My biggest fear is that I’ll pass it on to my children or grandchildren. If that happened I would be heartbroken, even though I know it’s not my fault. It’s out of my hands. God is in control.
If you or someone you know has Parkinson’s, I have compiled a list of helpful tips I’ve learned along the way. Maybe a few of them will help you or someone you love.
- Keep moving! The old phrase goes ,“Use it or lose it!” That is so true.
- Be your own advocate. Question your doctors. Bring someone with you to your appointments and have them take notes.
- Learn everything you can about Parkinson’s Disease. Knowledge is power. There’s a wealth of knowledge online.
- Ask for help if you need it. There’s more than one way to do things. The end result is the same. Use what works for you.
- Have a plan for every day. Keep a pad and pen by your bed. Before going to sleep, prioritize a to-do list. Don’t be too hard on yourself. What you don’t finish one day, just carry over to the next day.
- Don’t stay home because your meds are off. By the time you arrive at your destination, you’ll be back on.
- Take time each day to do something you really enjoy. Allow yourself some me-time and get lots of sunshine.
- Take your meds on time, every time. I’m on a rigid dosing schedule and have to eat six small meals a day. It’s a job! Do your part and your symptoms will be much less.
- Plan ahead. When you leave your house always carry extra meds, water, and a snack. You never know how long you will be gone.
- Slow down. This was a big challenge for me. I’m a fast walker. After falling 100+ times, I got it. My knees hit the ground but I bounce right back up and keep going. I don’t know why I haven’t broken one of my knotty knees.
- STOP! If your legs wobble and you feel off balance, just stop and start over before you fall.
- EAT MORE ICE CREAM. Written by my beautiful mother, LaRue Winslow