How a Diagnosis Can Turn into Motivation
What if you were diagnosed with a disease and were told to “Just keep running and exercising. It will help with your symptoms.” This is the advice I was given in February when I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.
It all started when I experienced a cramp-like curling of the toes in my left foot while running. If you ever ran with me, you most likely heard me complain about it. After changes in shoes and various inserts, I received physical therapy. After one session I was told to see a podiatrist. He could not find anything and referred me to a neurologist. The neurologist heard my complaint and immediately said it was dystonia which is a symptom of Parkinson’s. “You have Parkinson’s Disease” she bluntly informed me. A million thoughts raced through my head as she told me that it was an incurable degenerative brain disease. After she told me about the medications, she discussed the benefits of running and exercise to slowing the progression of disease and/or relieving symptoms. As shocking as it was to hear the diagnosis, the idea that running would help made it less painful.
When I tell people that I run, I usually hear comments such as, “You still do that after all these years?” and “Doesn’t that hurt your knees?” When I talk about Parkinson’s they usually say that they knew someone old who had it and then they died. I have learned that you don’t die from Parkinson’s; you die with it. Not to sound cliché, but it has truly changed my life. Since retiring, I spend my time exercising (doctor’s orders) and running (thanks for the motivation, fellow Striders.) I also volunteer with various Parkinson’s organizations in addition to helping at the local food bank. You never know what surprises life has in store for you, but the motto “Just keep running” will get you through a lot.
Written by Mike Bigman, fellow strider
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