In my early thirties, I made a major life change. I went from being in poor physical shape to being incredibly active. I biked parts of Europe, the most difficult being crossing the Alps. I also biked in Great Britain, the Highlands of Scotland, the Lake District, and Wales. When I was home, I was leading bikes rides for my local bike club in New England. I led as many as 17 rides a season, many of them cross country. I also was a member of Cycle America and went on three tours with them. During one tour with them, I rode from Minneapolis all the way to Massachusetts so I could attend a wedding! I thought I could do anything.
After I retired, I decided to move to Boulder, Colorado. Life was perfect. I was doing everything I loved in a place that I loved. But in 2013, things really changed. I started to notice changes in my body. Little things at first. I would stumble while I was hiking. I blamed myself for being clumsy. I had trouble keeping up with my biking group like I used to. I thought I must not be pushing myself enough. I was just in denial. But, gradually, it became worse. One day while hiking, I just couldn’t keep up with everyone else at all. That was the last day I went hiking in a group. I knew something was really wrong.
Soon after that, my balance became an issue. I couldn't even step off the curb without help. I was scared and confused. I finally went to a neurologist, who sat me down in a room. On the table next to me was a box of tissues.I knew the news couldn’t be good. But when he told me that I had Parkinson’s disease, I was relieved. I had a direction to go in. I could finally move forward.
Despite my diagnosis, I still pushed myself to do the things I loved. One of those things was trekking in the Himalayas. I did it twice more after my diagnosis. I hate to think I won't be doing them again but reality is reality and I don't know what the future holds. Something that has kept me motivated has been the relationships I’ve formed through the many organizations I’m involved with. I’m fortunate to live in a place where I have access to so many great programs focused specifically on helping people with Parkinson’s disease. Things like dancing, boxing, singing, and so much more. I’ve made lifelong friends through these groups. I’m also really lucky to have the support of the Parkinson’s Association of the Rockies and the Davis Phinney Foundation.
Yes, my life is different now, but I’ve become very strong. Parkinson’s has made me realize that I have this inner strength to draw on. Time goes on and life changes, but I keep going. Being physically active and staying socially engaged is what I rely on.
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