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Adapting

I am 45 years old and have probably had Parkinson’s Disease since I was 17. I have had plenty of time to study this illness and put it in perspective. I would be lying if I were to say “PD doesn’t change your life”. Sure, it changes your plans, but it doesn’t have to ruin it.

I meet hundreds of people with PD a year. Most young onset patients accept that their lives must change and that they need to find good medical care. Many of the older newly diagnosed patients tell me how they had plans and now those plans have changed.

Nothing in our lives is for certain. Whether you are healthy or not, the one certainty is that things change. Plans change. The more flexible we are, the easier it is to adapt to change.  As much as we would like to believe that we are in control of our lives, circumstances outside of our control come about and we are once again forced to adapt.

Adapting does not mean you stop growing and learning. Transition is a natural process that we need not fight. Taking on this transition with a thirst for knowledge and a desire to improve oneself in mind, body, and spirit, will serve you well.

Try weeding out the stressors in your life that deter from your peace of mind. There are negative interruptions that bombard our minds, be it billboards, emails, talk radio, television news, or other distractions that upset our calm. Today, try limiting some of these outside influences and see what happens.

Just Let It Go!

It’s what you tell yourself when a thought or emotion comes up when meditating: “Just let it go!” Sure, saying it and the actuality of doing it is different but, it becomes reality, the more you do it. Meditation and the acknowledgement of letting go is a practice, and it is the benefit of  that practice that comes with the practice. So often in our lives, we are asked to let go, be it at the loss of a loved one, the breaking of a promise,  an unkind act, the releasing of a dream, resentment or guilt, or some deep seeded emotion or thought.  

Letting go takes practice, discipline, and intuition.  It takes timing. Knowing  what to keep and what to release  sometimes take a leap of faith into the unknown. It requires bravery and will.

In this New Year, whether you hope to shed pounds, bad habits, clutter in your life, or just the old of 2011, remember to let go of what you don’t need or just doesn’t benefit you. That’s what I’m hoping to do.

Happy New Year!

Stay Calm–It’s The Most Wonderful Time!

Happy Holidays And A Wonderful New Year!

As wonderful as this time of year can be, it brings stress with it. From decorating to other’s standards, to getting the house in shape, to finding just the right gift, I offer these 3 pieces of advice:

1. The gifts shouldn’t mean that much. Enjoy time with friends and family. Take time for you!

2. Try to get some quiet time. Parties are loads of fun, but take some down-time. Take time for you! 

3. Be kind to yourself. Remember to breath when the stress rises. Deep cleansing breathing works wonders. Enjoy yourself and keep hope for the New Year!

Happy Holidays from Karl Robb, Writer at ASoftVoice.com! Thanks for reading my blog!

Give & Take

I paid the price for trying to save some time on the return from my vacation to Seattle. In the hope of maximizing my schedule, I elected to take a red-eye, only to return with a nasty flu bug that has cost me a week of productivity, discomfort,  and general health. Even worse, my best friend and bride, Angela, suffered a more severe version of stomach flu, thus disturbing her digestion and resulting in a close call with severe dehydration. The dehydration led us to an urgent care facility. It was not a night to relish.

I avoid emergency rooms, clinics, hospitals, or any place that houses needles or scalpels. Needless to say, when my spouse began experiencing stomach cramps, backache, nausea, vomiting, severe thirst, loss of appetite, and diarrhea, I knew it was time to punt and call on the medical community. Angela no longer could hold fluid down without severe cramping and/or nausea or vomiting. After 2 days of no sustenance and minimal liquids, this was getting more and more worrisome. We both worried about the other’s malaise and colorless face. We tried to take care of one another in our stupors but neither of us barely had the energy to do anything but sleep and even that was a challenge, at times.

It was Friday night at 7PM when we arrived at the emergency care facility. There was a calm before the storm in the waiting room, for screaming children, bleeding noses, and paramedics would be by to join us shortly. There was no wait at the counter, as we explained why we were there.  We would explain at least 3 more times later to the doctor, nurses, and staff. Following the paperwork, waiting in the lounge, and watching a news story on an at large serial killer, I was anxious to see my wife experience some relief from her constant stomach and body aches.

After what seemed to be an eternity, we were called in and Angela received a gurney and sheet thinner than a tissue. She was unable to get comfortable and the staff did little to try. The gown was neither flattering nor thermally functional. Following several warnings to anyone who would listen, we explained that Angela’s veins even when hydrated were a challenge to locate, but with 2 days of severe dehydration, connecting with any fresh hemoglobin would take a detective with remarkable talent. After 3 nurses, 1 lab tech, and a doctor, Angela had bruises, needle holes, but no IV fluid bags that she needed so badly. Two hours of tension, frustration, and being in a hostile environment was enough for us.

We elected to scrap the IV, give Angela a dissolving anti-nausea pill so that she might take her own fluids at home, and get her resting comfortably back in her own bed. The pill broke the cycle and she soon was able to retain fluids and mended quickly. She still has the bruises from the needles that did her little good.  The bruises are slowly fading–the memory is still quite vivid.

An Interview with Author, Jane H. Davis

 Jane H. Davis is the Author of the new book, First Aid For Heroes. The book is the compelling story of the challenges Jane experienced as a nurse at New York’s Ground Zero on 9-11, as a wife, a patriot, and as a care-partner. Gary, Jane’s husband, has Parkinson’s Disease and battled Cancer as well. I am fortunate to know them. They are true inspirations.  I was able to ask Jane a few questions, and here are some insights from Jane. Thank you, Jane!

 If you are looking for a book to inspire, might I suggest First Aid For Heroes by Jane H. Davis?

You volunteered to leave your home in North Carolina, as a nurse, to go to work in New York City right after the 9-11 tragedy. What compelled you to put yourself in this situation and how did your family react to this decision?  I was literally compelled to do more. It was something deep within me, a deep seeded feeling that I needed to help out on a much larger level. To watch the devastating news on the television all day or to answer phones at the local Red Cross Station, was just not enough for me. My family was incredibly supportive and very proud of me for choosing to do this. Gary, my husband, was incredibly busy at Fort Bragg (where we were living) as he was commanding the post hospital, Womack Army Medical Center. He understood my pull, as he had seen it many times before with my volunteering at every military post we had been stationed. It was a hard decision though, as I knew the assignment would be for at least three weeks. My life on the military post was a very busy one as I was involved with many organizations and they were counting on me. Everyone gave me their blessing. I ended up working/volunteering at Ground Zero for six and a half weeks.

 

For those of us who never visited the massive devastation of the World Trade Center but saw it on television can you describe what your first impressions of the sights and smells that you experienced? It was if I had gone from color to black and white, similar to the movie ‘The Wizard of Oz’ but in reverse. The noise of Midtown Manhattan was what I remember when I entered the subway, but it was a totally different city once I exited in Lower Manhattan. The hustle and bustle of the big city seemed to be hundreds of miles away, it could have been in another state, another country, and it was only a short subway ride away. The first thing I noticed is that people were talking in hushed voices and quietly sobbing. There was a stillness in the air, a quietness, not like the cacophonous sound of Midtown Manhattan. I had to force myself to observe the devastation of Ground Zero, I knew that I could not start my volunteer job until I made myself look. The vastness of the devastation was so powerful, it looked as if I was in the middle of a war zone. I realized that the television could not capture the enormity of it, as it was 360 degrees of tragedy. Then the overpowering stench assaulted my nostrils. It was a smell like no other, and one that is hard to describe. I can still smell it and did when I recently returned to Ground Zero to pay my respects after 9/11/11. I know it was only in my mind, but I am amazed that the smell has lingered inside me.

Your book, First Aid  For Heroes, is a true and very personal account of many of the struggles that you have experienced from 9-11,  the death of your mother, feeling threatened by a stalker, being sexually harassed by a boss, moving your family across the world 18 times, dealing with your husband’s diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease and Cancer, and you continue to move forward and thrive. Where do you find the strength to overcome the hurdles that you encountered? I joke and say I have no choice, as my blood type is B positive! But on a serious note, life its a challenge, we all have hurdles we have to overcome. It is how we chose to do it, how we chose to make our way in the world. I want my children and grandchildren to know me as a strong individual that can overcome anything that comes her way. I want my husband to know that I am there for him through thick and thin and no matter what illness he may have that I will be by his side to help fight the fight with him. Where does my strength come from? That is a good question and the best way to answer it is probably from all of my life experiences and growing up and learning what works and what doesn’t. I just saw this quote on Facebook and it is so appropriate: “Every person from your past lives as a shadow in your mind. Good or bad, they all helped you write the story of your life, and shaped the person you are today.” Doe Zantamata. I have made my share of mistakes, but I have learned by them and haven’t wallowed in the negative aspects…that gets me nowhere. My goal is to keep growing, keep learning and to stay strong and healthy. How can I be an effective care-partner, wife, mother, grandmother if I choose otherwise?

What advice do you have for others facing challenges in their lives? Get involved. Be proactive. Know that there are others out there that are also facing challenges…you are not alone. There are many organizations to get involved with in the care-giving arena. Find a local support group in your area. I found a local Parkinson support group for my husband and myself and from that some amazing friendships have blossomed. I have also became involved in the Well Spouse Association, a nation-wide group that supports spousal care-givers in staying physically and emotionally strong. I urge people to connect, learn and grow from others. I urge those facing challenging times to please take care of themselves, whether it is physically, emotionally, or spiritually. Caregivers face so many challenges and many end up facing their own illnesses. One study shows that 11% of caregivers report that care giving has caused their physical health to deteriorate. I believe that number is much higher. I reiterate, take care of yourself… do not become a care-giver statistic.

To learn more about Jane and her book, go to:www.janehdavis.com.

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