I need to stop nagging myself. With Parkinson’s (PD), I have become both the nagger and naggee. It is demoralizing.
When my neurologist scrutinizes my gait, I force myself to swing my arms, unclench my hands and stand up straight.
When walking, I order myself to flex the front of my foot and let my heel strike first to avoid shuffling.
When I’m at my yoga class, I remind myself to push my shoulders blades together, straighten my back and “don’t forget to breathe”.
When I’m performing with my dance group, I tell myself to get rid of that PD frozen facial mask by smiling to the audience and pretend that I’m having the most fun of my life.
When I am driving, I reprimand myself to focus entirely on driving. I turn off the music in the car to avoid distractions.
When I speak to others, my internal chatter warns me to speak loudly and enunciate my words.
When I concentrate on making my handwriting bigger and more legible, I suddenly have nothing to say.
Why is multi-tasking so difficult?
According to Joseph H. Friedman, MD, author of Making the Connection Between Brain and Behavior: Coping with Parkinson’s Disease, people living with PD have trouble doing two things at the same time because of the loss of the “automatic pilot” mechanism due to PD. It's as if the program to the brain that previously allowed us to do many complex tasks without thinking about them, has gone on strike.
Dr. Friedman elaborated further about the PD brain which “says to blink less, swallow less, write small, talk softly, stoop the shoulders, shuffle, and while all of these problems can be overridden, they can only be overridden consciously, that is, while people are thinking about one particular problem. Unfortunately there are lots of other things to think about.”
This self-flagellation has become just too much. I need to cut myself some slack and keep on walking, talking, dancing and exercising as best as I can, for as long as I can.