In March of 2017, I climbed Horsetooth Rock, a prominent feature of my home city, Fort Collins, Colorado. There I practiced yoga as a drone photographed me alone with only the wind and the sky.
MY PD STORY
My first non-motor symptoms of PD started in 2008 consisting of loss of sense of smell, severe constipation, bladder difficulties and dry eyes. My motor symptoms became apparent in 2011. They included stooped posture, loss of arm swing, tremors in my right arm and leg, a fixed mask-like face, slower and smaller movements, noticeable problems with balance, difficulty turning over in bed at night, smaller hand writing, loss of fine motor dexterity, and stiffness. Official neurological diagnosis came the following year, 2012.
My neurologist started me on Azelect and told me the most important thing I could do was to "exercise! exercise! exercise!" (THE BEST ADVICE YOU WILL EVER GET FROM A NEUROLOGIST!) I was already a jogger/walker. So I decided to increase my mileage and take up yoga. I went to my first yoga class the next day. It was life-changing. The following year I started high intensity interval training (HIIT also called Tabata).
I tried three medications over the next three months. The first was Azelect which is incredibly expensive and caused me a severe dry mouth. I quit it after six weeks. Next, Amantadine seemed to help my tremor at first but then it lost its effect. Finally, I tried Sinemet but didn’t notice any improvement so I quit after five days.
But then, six months after my diagnosis, I began to notice significant changes taking place; clearly unrelated to medication. My face returned to normal expressiveness. My strides were longer and my arm swing better. Tremors in my right leg began to diminish. I was more limber and flexible. Over the ensuing five years my symptoms have continued to improve. Most people are surprised when I tell them I have PD. They say they can’t see any sign of it.
I am convinced that I have experienced self-induced neuroplasticity with my mindful swift walking, yoga, and high intensity interval training. Believing I can help others with PD, I developed this program.