by Teresa LeYung-Ryan

This is 4 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

Agreement #4 Always Do Your Best. Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret….

From August to December of last year, I felt a great sense of accomplishment (after reading Dr. Norman Doidge’s book The Brain’s Way of Healing and learning how to ask Papa’s neurologist the right questions). Questions that led Dr. White to  order specific physical therapy to help Papa reverse the Parkinson’s “shuffling” gait and “freezing” gait as well as improve posture. Thank you, Dr. White!

Papa had learned new tricks (to retrain the brain) from Physical Therapist Brenda. I bragged about my being Papa’s exercise/walk coach.

During the same months, at my half-time day job, unbeknownst to me, my right hand was developing acute and chronic tendinitis. By mid-December my right wrist was in great pain, so much so that I was using my left hand for almost every task. Turning a key or a doorknob was asking for torture.

I no longer felt strong enough to “spot” Papa when he did his exercises. Thank goodness Papa’s new helper Mr. Chen walked with him and watched him exercise.

Over the next three months, I would still visit Papa and escort him to his appointments; however, instead of initiating “Papa, let’s walk stairs!” or “How about walking with walker down the block?” or “Show me your strengthening exercises,” I would ask him “May I watch ME TV channel?” Sitcoms like “Family Ties” (Michael J. Fox portrayed son Alex), “The Jeffersons” (Sherman Hemsley portrayed George) and “The Partridge Family” (Shirley Jones portrayed the mom) comforted me while a cold pack relieved pain and inflammation of my wrists.

On more than three occasions, I called Papa to cancel. I just did not feel well

It’s March (four months since Physical Therapist Brenda last saw Papa). She says: “Teresa, even though your father has been doing his exercises and he has good posture, his legs have gotten weaker and he has lost muscle mass.”  I want to cry.

The loving part of me says: “You have been showing up for Papa. You have to show up for yourself too.”

The judgmental part of me says: “You’ve been neglecting your duty as his exercise coach.”

Occupational Therapist/Hand Specialist Susan has taught me tricks to prevent re-injuring both thumbs and wrists. I too am exercising and healing.

It’s April. Wednesday evening I visited Papa. After we ate dinner (lamb and Chinese carrots over white rice for him; chicken meatballs and brocollini for me) and he watched news on a Chinese channel while I filled his pill boxes and updated his medical appointment list, I said, “Let me see your ‘fancy walk’ in the hallway.”


“Fancy walk” is:  his holding onto handrail with right hand; taking three steps forward (pick up feet); putting both hands on handrail to pivot (pick up feet); then, while holding onto handrail with left hand, take three steps backward (pick up feet); then putting both hands on handrail to pivot (pick up feet); repeat sequence until he gets to the end of the hallway. His legs tremor during pivoting; I say: “no hurry, pick up one foot.”


After that, we went downstairs to the mail room. Just a postcard for how to register to vote by mail. I said, “Let’s go to the lunchroom, slowly.” My heart was lifted seeing him pick up left foot, then right (his left leg is stronger than right). We walked through the lunchroom, down to the computer and stationary bike room. “Papa, why don’t you sit and rest? I’ll look at the birthday bulletin board.” To my surprise, he got onto one of the stationary bikes, put his feet into stirrups and began to peddle. I filmed him with my phone. Last year, he would have biked ten minutes. Tonight, three minutes. I felt happy – that he did not push himself.

Slowly we reversed our direction – down the hall, go through the lunchroom, and turn left.  As we neared the mailroom, he took his left hand off the rail and mildly swung his arms. “You go, Papa!”

He is doing his best.  I am doing my best.

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For other posts in my blog, please go to:

If you’re looking for my blog posts pertaining to our Beautiful Brains and Neuroplasticity…  look at right side of screen, you’ll see the category “Beautiful Brains Neuroplasticity”.  Please click on that category to get those posts.

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  helps writers build their platforms before and after publication

Teresa LeYung-Ryan is the creator and owner of the trademark LOVE MADE OF HEART



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