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FU, PD.

I was diagnosed the day before Thanksgiving, 2020. Like that year didn’t suck enough.


I cried. My husband cried. I crawled into bed and did the ultimate doom-scrolling.

What I read – the images I saw – seared their way into my brain. My emotions swung between panic and despair.


DON’T BELIEVE DR. GOOGLE

But deep inside me was a small, rebellious voice whispering three little words:

EFF THAT SH**.


Fortunately, I’m a recovering alcoholic. I say fortunately because I knew the one thing I had to do was:

1) Ask for help.

2) Find people living good lives with PD.

3) Do what they do.

4) Okay, that’s three things. The point is, I had to deal with this beast the same way I dealt with addiction: by connecting with other people like me. 


CHANGING MY ATTITUDE CHANGED MY LIFE

I got lucky. I found Shakers Anonymous. I met amazing people who were climbing mountains, biking across Spain, running around the yard with grandkids. They gave me hope. And convinced me I could FIGHT BACK.




I DISCOVERED THE BEST ANTIDOTE TO DESPAIR IS DEFIANCE.

I started boxing. Every punch was a smack in the face of hopelessness. Sure, I read about

neuroplasticity and exercise science. More to the point, I felt myself growing stronger.


I got triceps! My stiff legs got…less stiff! For the first time in 20 years I could do “REAL” military-style pushups and run three miles without stopping.


It was hard for even the most fearful, hopeless part of me to argue with that.


There are still days when I stumble out of bed, legs stiff as broomsticks, exhausted from waking up every few hours, anxiety scratching at my thoughts like static. I want to flop right back down and sleep for a week.


But if there’s one thing I’ve learned in this crazy life, it’s this:


I can ACT my way into BETTER THINKING faster than I can THINK my way into BETTER ACTIONS.


Sitting on the edge of the bed worrying? Not gonna change a thing.



Smacking my punching bag? Immediately I feel fiercer, stronger, more capable.


Just clearing off a cluttered counter makes me feel better: what was messy, now is neat. I did something. I have power to make change.


I know Parkinson’s is trying to

bend me over

slow me down

slur my speech

mask my smile.

But I don’t have to take it lying down.

I work out like my life depends on it. (Because it does.) I volunteer for research studies. And I help run a support group for women with PD. We share tips and hacks about meds and doctors and all sorts of useful information. Best of all, we LAUGH.

And that’s my idea of being positive with ATTITUDE. I’m gonna fight this bully, and I’m gonna laugh in its face.


DROP A NOTE BELOW: How do you fight back?


How do you say "FU, PD"?


Xoxo

Kmac


Karen McIntyre joined the board of Parkinson’s Body & Mind after a successful 25+ year career as an advertising creative director. Her short fiction has appeared in the Lascaux Prize Anthology and various literary magazines. She lives in NYC with her husband and daughter.

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