I can't walk and chew gum at the same time. Really. It’s too much multitasking. I freeze up or sometimes even fall down. You see, I have Parkinson's disease (PD).
April is Parkinson's Awareness month. To honor it, you’ll see the Rochester city skyline lit up in blue on April 1, 7 and 8: Xerox Tower, Tower 280, Legacy Tower , CityGate and more.
If you have PD or know someone who does, this is the perfect time to learn what you can do. The National Parkinson Foundation of Greater Rochester (NPFGR) is hosting its annual education symposium on April 8 at the Hyatt Regency Rochester. (Go to npfgreaterrochester.org to register.)
NPFGR can connect you with support groups, wellness programs, education events, answers and opportunities. It can help you live your best life.
What does that mean? As a person with PD, living my best life means trying to rise above the daily frustration and anxiety that comes with this disease and working to alleviate the suffering of others dealing with it. The PD community is encouraging and compassionate: We understand just how tenuous "life as we know it" truly is.
With PD, physical bodies age at an accelerated rate and can result in stooped posture; a slow, shuffling gait; tremor; soft speech; depression and other cognitive impairment.
I have no tremor and do not suffer the debilitating effects of depression, but I do constantly battle “freezing.” Standing at the sink, for example, with wet hands and a towel only steps away, my torso swings round to reach but my feet don’t budge — they are “frozen” to the floor. My upper body’s motion overtakes my lower body while my feet remain stubbornly fixed in place.
I live my life in the face of unwelcome change and fear — fear of the unknown, fear of dependency, fear of falling.
With the support of my tribe, I actually practice falling. Learning how to fall is another step toward living my best life. It’s better than curbing activity, which can lead to a loss of muscle tone and balance — and maybe a more devastating fall.
I choose, each day, to live my best life — to exercise, socialize and benefit from the compassion I share with others.
I encourage those with PD, their care partners, and the larger community to step out in hope instead of fear, to live your best life.
Yvonne Hylton of Irondequoit is a former corporate spokesperson with RG&E. After she was diagnosed with PD in 2007, she became a certified yoga instructor and health coach.