You're Only One Swim Away from a Good Mood
by Sage Bennett
I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, PD, five years ago around Valentine’s Day. I am still coming to terms with what that means. Each day is a little excursion into the question: how can I live well with PD?
Before taking meds and exercising daily, I experienced limitations I do not have today. Shortly after diagnosis, I decided to swim a few laps after a water aerobics class. To my chagrin, instead of swimming without effort as I had done since childhood, I was a tangle of arms and legs awkwardly trying to coordinate a swimming stroke. It was as if my brain had forgotten how to swim. As I kept trying to swim, I breathed in water instead of air and coughed my way out of the pool, dejected and embarrassed.
Soon after I heeded my doctor’s advice: “Try this medication and follow these three best practices-- Exercise. Exercise. Exercise.” This prescription and the support of others in the PD community have helped me live more fully. Yesterday I enjoyed 45 minutes of carefree swimming. Even though the outside air was chilly the water was warm as I glided back and forth from one end of the pool to the other in effortless strokes of crawl, side, and then back stroke. I swam past pine trees on the left, palm trees on the right. Overhead a baby, blue sky held cumulus puffs of white. A brushstroke of long strands of cirrus clouds swept across the sky, as a rainbow of blue, green, and purple faintly appeared in its center, then disappeared. In the water my movements are fluid. Feeling at one with clouds, sky, and trees, I am grateful for these moments --and living well with PD.
Sage Bennet, Ph.D lives in Laguna Woods with her wife, Sandy, and their two dogs, Chloe and Freddy. She teaches philosophy and world religions online and is the author of Wisdom Walk: Nine Practices for Creating Peace and Balance from the World’s Spiritual Traditions.