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Sage Sojourns August, 2021

As the body changes, what is left is soul.

Something Takes Over

by Sage Bennet

I love boxing. The smell of leather gloves, the pitter patter rhythm of the speed bag, learning the names of punches—Jab. Cross. Hook. Uppercut—all connect me with something familiar, yet elusive. Where does this joy come from, I wonder?

Memory transports me to childhood and I am a tomboy growing up in Brooklyn. Life is grand--playing stickball, running bases, boxing--until Norman moves in. He is twelve, straight, red hair and freckles, I am nine, short and wide, with curls I try to flatten every morning with  brush and water.  One day we are choosing sides for stickball.

Norman looks down at me and snarls: “I’m not playing with a girl.”  Then he swats me away like I’m an insignificant bug.

I step towards him and try to look menacing. It does not work well; he towers over me.

“Get outa here, runt,” he says sliding his glasses up the bridge of his nose.

I refuse to move.

Then he pushes me, his right hand shoving my left shoulder.  This is bad.  I know I have to hold my ground. But how? Then something takes over.

“Put up your dukes,” I say bringing my fists to my face, legs apart, shifting my weight, side to side. No one is more surprised than I am.

Norman laughs at me and looks away.  I do what I have to do.  I swing at his face with my left, closed fist, thrusting my whole body into it, as if my life depends on it. Jab, Cross. He is not expecting the punch, and he underestimates me.

Red-faced Norman goes down. Not only does he fall to the sidewalk, but he also lands in a puddle. While everyone is laughing at him, I am thanking God my life is spared. Call it a lucky punch, a supernatural power, grace; I cannot explain it.

Six decades later my life is good.  I have a job, family, and friends I love. Then out of nowhere a Parkinson’s diagnosis hits me by surprise.  Jab, Hook.  Stunned, disoriented, I stumble around. Then something takes over. I join a Parkinson’s support group; I hear a speaker on exercise as medicine. I join her gym, Rogue Physical Therapy and Wellness. I befriend others who have PD.

I am a make-love-not-war kind of gal, who accompanies spiders out the front door on a paper towel. But on those days when it feels like Parkinson’s towers over me--my arms feel like noodles, my feet feel like lead pipes clamped to the ground-- I know how to fight back. Exercise.  In boxing classes, I hit hard at Parkinson’s, throwing punches like my life depends on it.  Strength returns to my arms, lightness to my steps, my inner boxer comes alive, and I am playing to win.

I do not look away or underestimate the power of Parkinson’s. Neither do I underestimate the greater soul power behind my punches. I have Norman to thank for that.

Jab. Cross.

Jab. Cross. Uppercut.

Hook.

____________

Bio

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.

 

Jump Start – An Online Event for Those Newly Diagnosed with Parkinson’s

jump start newly diagnosed

PD Buzz is honored to partner with Rogue PT & Wellness in Fountain Valley, CA to bring you an online webinar for those just starting their PD journey or not too far along into the journey.  Our afternoon will feature presentations by Movement Disorder Neurologist, Dr. Mindy Bixby, Physical Therapist, Claire McLean and founder of PD Buzz, Lauren Simmons.  You will also hear from Lauren Williamson at the Parkinson’s Foundation, hear inspiring talks from people living well with Parkinson’s and  learn about how exercise can benefit you along the way.

This program is sponsored in part by a community grant from the Parkinson’s Foundation.  We are grateful for the support they provide.  You can find out more about the Parkinson’s Foundation here.

Although we will be highlighting resources in the Orange County, CA area, this seminar is appropriate for anyone newly diagnosed with PD and/or their care partners.

Sign up here.

Sage Sojourns – February, 2021

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. swimAs 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 BennettBio

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.

 

Time to Speak Up

by Lauren Simmons

People with Parkinson's are often told to speak louder or speak with intention.  This is of course because Parkinson's can wreak havoc with our voices and make them soft and hoarse.  Maybe it is time for people with Parkinson's to get loud for another reason. Over 200 years ago, James Parkinson wrote his essay called  Shaking Palsy where he described Parkinson's.  Yes, scientists have been documenting and studying Parkinson's for a very long time.  We have been waiting too long for a cure or at the very least, a treatment that will slow this beast down or stop it in its tracks.  No one seems to know why it is taking so long. Other diseases have received more funding and attention and have gotten results faster.  No one is saying that the people with those diseases aren't deserving of treatments.  We all want health and healing.  I do wonder why funding for Parkinson's from the NIH is going down each year while the number of people being diagnosed is going up. In the book Ending Parkinson's Disease, the authors note that "by 2030, there will be a 10% higher risk of a forty-five year old individual eventually developing Parkinson's disease than there is today."

Dr. Ray Dorsey said, "We know how to prevent Parkinson's. We just aren't doing it."  Are you ok with the status quo?   If not, YOU should be doing something about it. Don’t wait for someone else to take care of it. They might be waiting for you to take care of it.  It isn’t hard to be an advocate and doesn’t need to take a lot of time.  If we all join together, we can make big things happen.

Here are a few things you can do to get started in being an advocate:

  • Read the book Ending Parkinson's Disease and then put into practice some of the suggestions in the book.  This book is a quick read and a fascinating historical account of how others took action to curb pandemics like Polio, HIV, and breast cancer.  (All proceeds from the book go to PD charities).
  • Join the PD Avengers and then attend their online meetings and volunteer to help!  The PD Avengers is a grass roots organization run by people with Parkinson’s who are tired of waiting.  “We are a global alliance of people with Parkinson’s, our partners and friends, standing together to demand change in how the disease is seen and treated.”
  • Download the Parkinson’s Advocacy Toolkit from the Fox Foundation.  The folks at the Fox Foundation will keep you
    updated on policy changes that need to be made in Washington.  They even make it a simple process to write to your representatives.  Change won’t happen if the policy makers hear from hundreds or even thousands of people. They need
    to hear from hundreds of thousands or more.  If every person affected by PD (patients, family members, friends) sent a letter, they would get millions.
  • Share information about Parkinson’s with others.  You can tell friends, neighbors, share on social media or whatever way you feel comfortable but get the word out.  Most people think that Parkinson’s is a disease that old men get that makes them shake.  We know it is so much more.

Together we can make a difference.  It is time to speak up.

 

                            Ending Parkinson's Disease: A prescription for action             PD Avengers      michael j fox advocacy