by Teresa LeYung-Ryan
This is 3 of 4 of my blog posts entitled “Parkinson’s Disease, My Chinese Papa, and My practicing The Four Agreements”
I didn’t know that I would be enjoying my new part-time job as my father’s exercise coach, appointment escort, and advocate OR that I would be practicing The Four Agreements (from Don Miguel Ruiz’s timeless book).
Agreement #3 – Don’t Make Assumptions
Extraordinaire Physical Therapist Brenda had taught my papa how to retrain his brain to turn Parkinson’s shuffling into “pick up foot” and “heel first, then toes” walking. Papa works hard at this. He holds onto the handrails outside his apartment when he practices what I call “fancy walk.” However, when we leave the building with his walker, his walking regresses to shuffling. I assumed that Papa was uncooperative. That is until three days ago…when I put myself in his shoes.
[ According to http://www.parkinson.org/understanding-parkinsons/what-is-parkinsons/ Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative brain disorder that progresses slowly in most people … a person’s brain slowly stops producing a neurotransmitter called dopamine. With less and less dopamine, a person has less and less ability to regulate their movements, body and emotions.]
If Papa is pushing a walker (one type of movement), how does he concentrate on picking up his feet (another type of movement)? I asked Brenda to step out onto the sidewalk with us and teach new tricks.
She said to Papa: “Relax your arms on the walker. No need to strain yourself. Do concentrate on heel first with each step. I’ll put tennis ball slider feet on the rear legs of your walker to reduce the friction.”
This was Brenda’s last session in this round of physical therapy ordered by Papa’s neurologist. What other concerns to tell her? Oh yes, Papa coughs when he takes his pills. Aiy yah. I assumed he was being Mr. Macho, downing four pills at the same time. Brenda had the answer. “Drinking water when taking pills, coughing? Water is going down the wrong pipe. Add a thickening agent to liquids to reduce the risk of choking. And, sit in an upright position. Do NOT tilt head back.” I must ask her what kind of thickening agent.
[ According to https://www.michaeljfox.org/foundation/news-detail.php?swallowing-and-parkinson-disease …. Difficulty swallowing, called dysphagia, can happen at any stage of Parkinson disease. Signs and symptoms can range from mild to severe and may include: difficulty swallowing certain foods or liquids, coughing or throat clearing during or after eating/drinking, and feeling as if food is getting stuck. As the disease progresses, swallowing can become severely compromised and food/liquid can get into the lungs, causing aspiration pneumonia. Aspiration pneumonia is the leading cause of death in PD. [....]
Because Parkinson disease is progressive, swallowing abilities can change over time, underscoring the need for early intervention and frequent follow-up. Sometimes the signs of a swallowing disorder can be subtle, so it is important to be vigilant. If you think you have difficulty swallowing, ask your physician to refer you to a speech language pathologist for a swallowing evaluation.]
Gee, Papa is doing hard work. I’m very proud of him. My practicing the four agreements is also hard work. I do believe that Mom is proud of me, and, if Papa knew how much I’m learning, he would be too.
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Author & Fanbase-Building Coach Teresa LeYung-Ryan says: “Reach out, not stress out. Enjoy your writer’s journey.”
Teresa LeYung-Ryan is the author of:
· Build Your Writer’s Platform & Fanbase In 22 Days: Attract Agents, Editors, Publishers, Readers, and Media Attention NOW (workbook);
· Love Made of Heart: a Daughter Finds Herself Through Witnessing Her Mother’s Mental Illness (novel used in college classes, recommended by the California School Library Association and the California Reading Association, and archived at the San Francisco History Center);
· “Talking to My Dead Mom” Monologues (the first monologue received an award from Redwood 10-Minute Play Contest and was staged at the 6th Street Playhouse in Santa Rosa, CA);
· Coach Teresa’s Blog (which attracts tens of thousands of writers) at http://lovemadeofheart.com/blog/ helps writers build their platforms before and after publication