The spaces within us are immense. Like whole worlds, universes unto themselves. Researchers and scientists seek to look inside and understand, and through a long process of doing this have been able to uncover incredible details about the inner workings of the infinitesimal within. But we can’t look inside and understand what is happening within our own bodies, our own brains. Would it help if we could? (Is it any of our business?!).
I don’t know how much we can see inside, and what proportion of that we can explain. When I look out into the universe, the amount that I know about it, as a ratio to the whole, is many miles back from zero and the decimal point. So far away its not worth writing home about.
When I look inside, turn my eye inward, the amount that I know about what is going on in my body, my brain, is just as small. Sometimes I dip into the research on Parkinson’s and have a read. It’s fascinating and vast. And incredibly slow-moving. Studies can take years, examining a tiny fraction of the bigger picture. There is a lot of talk about how far we’ve come and how much more we now know. People get excited about small studies that show some benefits for some people some of the time. Researchers try to dampen this enthusiasm, to give new studies a better chance of unbiased results.
But the more I know the less hopeful I feel. Especially when I stumble across gloomy sentences like: “nothing slows the progression of the disease.” And the lovely: “Its a terrible, destructive disease that takes a toll on all aspects of life.” Experts advise people with Parkinson’s to be informed and know as much as we can about the disease that dogs us. Information is power. But man, reading about Parkinson’s really bums me out.
Balance. Balance is critical. Be informed, but don’t deep dive. Spend time just being (not doing). Admire the scent of the orange blossoms that are in bloom, stop thought looping on a well-worn worry.
The fact that exercise is something that can slow progression does give me hope. I no longer have a choice about it, I must exercise, I must prioritise exercise. It is more important than any of my jobs paid or otherwise. It is life, it is time, it is a possibility. The more different types of exercise you do the better – mix it up, challenge your brain. Do as much as you can, whatever that means for you.
This is one of the many reasons why karate is awesome – it mixes up strength building, with flexibility, with working on power and amplitude. It is intense (cardio tough), and makes you think (which side of your body moves and when). Crossing the centre-line of your body with your limbs strengthens the left-right brain connection. It works on memory and, uber important for PWP, your balance.
At home, I’ve started utilising a multi-tasking method to get the exercise done. I used to believe that I had to save exercise for times when the boys are occupied and Maia is in bed. But the fact that this leaves me hardly any time to do anything has caused me to do stuff with them. It is the only way. And in doing this I have discovered my 10-year-old Luka is a talented personal trainer. Teaching/coaching/tutoring is something he is passionate about – it doesn’t matter what the subject or context is. I asked him to exercise with me, he said: “Shall I put together a work-out session?”. Sure why not I said, thinking how bad can it be.
It. Was. Awesome. He got me doing a combination of cardio/intense/sweat and breath-hard stuff (e.g. running, skipping, side-stepping) with strength and power (press-ups, burpees, squats, sit-ups etc), with body coordination. For body coordination (his main goal for my workouts), we did a lot of dribbling around cones with a soccer ball, throwing rings and balls. He also throws in maths – I have to solve an equation to find the answer to how many star-jumps or chin-ups I have to do! Aside from being challenging, it’s been fun and not boring, and it’s very cool to not have to figure out what to do myself.
Shadow is inextricably interwoven with light. Somehow my neurons started to die and nothing will stop them, they will die and die and I will lose and lose. I ask them why they die and they whisper they don’t know.
The bright side of this is I don’t spend time anymore dwelling on the fear I’ve had all my life that I’m not good enough, I don’t do enough, I’m not doing the right things with my life, there is no point to me.
Maybe I haven’t seen any signposts at the ends of research articles telling me a break-through, a cure is near. But I’ve discovered searching outside of myself for happiness is pointless. I have it already within.