Different Routes

Different Routes – vertical ways to let people cross the road

Let’s start with a definition of the word “route”

noun   a way or course taken in getting from a starting point to a destination

I reflect back to my teenage years and think about how I imagined my route from teenager to adult and my journey through life.  My goals, my hopes, my fears, my dreams.

You know that some things won’t be as you imagined but many things have been.  I never had a major life-changing medical condition in my thoughts.  In fact I spent nearly forty years with this mindset.  So when things changed the word “route” changed from being a place to being an action.

verb    send or direct along a specified course

And so my Parkinson’s diagnosis was to send me along a specified course.  It was going to be “different” from the one I had imagined.  It was going to be time to cross the road!

adjective        not the same as another;  distinct;  separate ; unlike in nature.

Back to my teenage years.  It was during those years I developed a love for the mountains and hill-walking.  Throughout my life I’ve continued to do so.  The challenge both physical and mental.  The navigation and re-evaluation of routes.  The sometimes seemingly never-ending upward heave.  The exhilaration of reaching the summit.  The companionship and shared purpose.

We all face mountains – whether they are physical or metaphorical.  So the last four years have seen many roads crossed as I navigate the different routes.  My good friend Darren helped me cross the road in style in 2013 and continues to do so.  He has #uppedhisfriendly.  How will you #upyourfriendly today?

sunrise over Africa from Uruhu peak 5,895m - 06-Feb-2013

sunrise over Africa from Uruhu peak 5,895m – 06-Feb-2013

My thoughts this morning are with everyone in Nepal affected by the earthquake including many people drawn to the high mountains and all those who work to support their climbs.

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A cheeky mid-weeker?

Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological condition caused by the loss of some nerve cells in the brain.  It means people with Parkinson’s don’t have enough of a chemical called dopamine because died.   Without dopamine people can find that their movements become slower so it takes longer to do things.  Only after significant loss of nerve cells in the brain do the symptoms of Parkinson’s to appear.  Parkinson’s doesn’t directly cause people to die, but symptoms do get worse over time.

My symptoms vary from day-to-day and week-to-week.  Sometimes I feel very tired and needs lots of rest and frequent recovery breaks.  Sometimes my right  hand side is hard to move or manipulate things.  I walk with an odd gait as I have to heave my right leg.  Other times my tremor is bad and affects my confidence and inner feeling.  It feels massively amplified to me and is very off-putting.  Tremor is also amplified by being tired or cold or when adrenaline surges.  You constantly worry that people watch, people stare, people comment under their breath.  It is something that erodes confidence and you just want to be “normal” and “one of the crowd”.

So when I’m out in the pub with a group of friends for a “cheeky mid-weeker” that’s exactly how it feels – being “normal” and forgetting what I’m dealing with and it’s such a great feeling.  They are being fair to someone as the #uptheirfriendly.  Having friends that understand this is important as you attempt to be the master over the derailing effects of the Parkinson’s.  How will you #upyourfriendly today.

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Check someone’s OK

A really powerful moment happened a few months ago when a colleague at work sat down next to me with the sole intention of checking in on my health and well-being.  I’ve found in general when I talk about my Parkinson’s that people feel more comfortable and able to have a discussion with me.  Perhaps people worry about broaching the subject?  This wasn’t the first time anyone had asked about how I was but what made it different was how that colleague made time in a hectic schedule to come and sit next to me at my desk and started by saying “I haven’t come to talk shop, I’ve come to see how you are doing”.  It helps that this person had a relative with Parkinson’s so I guess there is a connection.  We had such an excellent conversation that afterwards I sent them an e-mail to say thank you.  They really did #uptheirfriendly and check someone’s OK.  How will you #upyourfriendly today?

Posted by steady in #upyourfriendly, #upyourfriendly, 2015, Parkinsons's Awareness Week 2015, 0 comments