Written by Lorraine Wilson, Professor and Davis Phinney Foundation Ambassador
I've been thinking lately about all the opportunities I have had due to Parkinson's. I can imagine your questions and sense your doubts while typing this but hear me out.
Perhaps I can best explain what I mean by looking at Parkinson's as it was a coin. The front side (obverse) features all the obvious and not so pleasant facts about Parkinson's. We'll call this side "heads" because it features a prominent person's head. I picture a profile image of Dr. James Parkinson on my Parkinson's coin.
The backside (reverse or "tails") is where a smaller image or information about the coin's value resides. I am no numismatist (coin specialist), but I know several coin collectors and enjoy seeing ancient and modern coins and learning about them. Since I can make this Parkinson's coin anything I want, I will put multiple doors on the backside. Each door represents an opportunity related to Parkinson's.
The premise of a coin toss is to break a tie between two choices of somewhat equal value. Surely you have seen a sporting event begin with a coin toss that determines which team goes first.
When I imagine a Parkinson's coin, I can also imagine a coin toss at the doctor's office. If it's heads, you're diagnosed with Parkinson's. If it's tails, you're still diagnosed with Parkinson's, but you choose to open yourself to learning about it and from it. Try to look for the value of the coin (diagnosis) and opportunities that enhance living with Parkinson's.
"Tails, I get to pick!"
- Meet people with Parkinson's by visiting a local support group
- Start a support group if there isn't one near you or start one for your age/stage of Parkinson's if your visit to a local group wasn't the right fit
- Exercise to reduce the effects of your Parkinson's symptoms as much as possible
- Already exercise? Lead an exercise class!
- Learn about holistic living and incorporate mind-body-spirit activities because Parkinson's will try to thwart your mind, body, and spirit
- Travel with a Parkinson's tour group to explore a new place or try a new adventure (perhaps not during this era of social distancing)
- Explore making art! No previous art endeavors required. Parkinson's sometimes unleashes the artist in you
- Already an artist? Lead an art class!
- Explore making music! Again, no previous musical skills required. Learn something new.
- Already a musician? Lead a music class!
- Become an advocate for people with Parkinson's. There are many ways to get involved in your community or with a Parkinson's group or foundation
- Participate in research studies and clinical trials
- Raise money for foundations and research studies
- Attend Parkinson's special events like a webinar or the World Parkinson Congress
- Speak at local special events
- Write as a way to share your Parkinson's knowledge and experience with others, especially the newly diagnosed
- Write a poem, story, or book
- Share your Parkinson's life openly with your family and friends
- Put the spotlight on Parkinson's during Parkinson's Awareness Month each April
Pay it Forward
Our society functions by using money in exchange for goods and services. Your Parkinson's coin may look different than mine. The value of your coin may be different than mine. Your opportunities may be different, as well.
Invest your coin wisely. Make it a coin valued by others. Maintain its value by taking advantage of opportunities that help people with Parkinson's live well today.
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