Celebrating with Parkinson’s: Guest Post from Lianna Marie

This is a guest blog post by Lianna Marie, the author of The Complete Guide for People With Parkinson’s Disease and Their Loved Ones and Everything You Need to Know About Caregiving for Parkinson’s Disease.

This month we celebrate Parkinson’s awareness month, and that got me thinking. It’s weird to put the words “celebrate” and “Parkinson’s” in the same sentence, isn’t it? The truth is, in my experience, those two words can exist together, and the attached photo proves it.

Not only had I never seen Mom so happy, but she was also dancing—like, really dancing-—with no sign of that pesky Parkinson’s that had been invading her life for the past ten years.

It was amazing to witness because that same morning, Mom had needed her cane to assist her in moving around while we were prepping for her big day. Nerves had crept in (even though she was excited to be marrying Dave), so it was normal for her PD symptoms to show up and her mobility to be compromised. But once the ceremony started, Mom’s symptoms completely vanished. It was as though her disease didn’t exist!

Mom had always loved to dance, and for as long as she had Parkinson’s, she did her darndest to keep this favorite pastime in her life. She met Dave at a singles dance, and I remember her very happily reporting to us the following day about how great he was at cutting a rug.

It wasn’t unusual for Mom’s symptoms to disappear during times of extreme joy and excitement. We had witnessed this phenomenon at other celebrations, her retirement party being one of them. However, anytime stress or anxiety entered into the equation, she was snookered.

Most folks who have had Parkinson’s for any length of time have probably realized how much their emotions play a part in helping alleviate or exacerbate their symptoms. When we realized this to be true for Mom, our family made a very concerted effort to keep stress levels as low as possible in her house.

Mom also took any opportunity to celebrate whatever life had to offer. Weddings and birthdays seemed to be her favorites, but she’d take you up on celebrating anything if you presented it to her. My favorite celebrations with Mom came in the form of my post- swimming and pentathlon competition dinners out. She loved taking me to my favorite eatery and listen to me reflect upon the day’s events.

I treasure those times with her.

If you or your loved one has Parkinson’s, I challenge you to look for more ways to celebrate in your life. It doesn’t have to be as extravagant as a wedding or retirement party, either. Sometimes the simple act of getting together with an old friend can be just what your spirit needs to push PD to the back seat.

In closing, I want to point out that this picture of Mom, Dave, my sister, and me dancing was taken during the playing of Travis Tritt’s song, “It’s a Great Day to be Alive.” It was one of Dave’s favorites and an excellent reminder for all of us—with or without Parkinson’s—to celebrate every day we are given.

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