I really enjoy watching the You Tube contributions of Dr. Sarah King, PT, DPT, who is a Parkinson’s physical therapist (and owner of Invigorate Physical Therapy and Wellness). She wrote a letter called Things I Wish I Could Have Told You the Day You Were Diagnosed with Parkinson’s – the letter is here; the video here. I recommend it for everyone – it could have been written for anyone recently diagnosed with “aging.”
To believe we are not broken, that a future is still ours to create, and that we can get where we want to go with small changes applied with urgency is important for everyone.
I like the way Chris Ballard wrote about the basketball great, Brian Grant, in this 5/2/18 article on SI.com:
“the disease is both everywhere and nowhere, because while 60,000 people are diagnosed every year, and roughly 10 million live with Parkinson’s worldwide, most do their best to hide it. Until they can’t. Then they hide themselves.”
A visual depiction of your health might be this: a clean, neat chain of DNA pulled taut, a chain that is tugged on and pulled at by all kinds of outside factors during your long life. The chain gets dirty, and stretched thin in places, and that is aging. If however, the chain breaks, you have yourself a disease that can be acute (like a cancer) or chronic (autoimmune, or neurodegenerative) disease. A disease that our allopathic doctors continue to treat with the same tools that may have enabled the disease in the first place.
What broke my chain of health? Was it an intervention like the thyroid my doctors recommended be removed via radioactive isotope? Or a long-term treatment, like the statins I took for years? Was it something more systemic like all the food I have eaten that’s been raised with glyphosate, or meat raised on factory farms with antibiotics and growth hormones? Was it the inflammation caused by too much manufactured “food” and not enough of the fresh nutritious stuff, or by the sugar that was a true addiction for me for most of my life? I have drunk a lot of good wine, used a lot of commercial skin and beauty products, flown a lot of miles exposed to high altitude radiation. I have let stress run my life. I have gone whole years without serious exercise. Any of these stressors could have been the tug that broke my health chain.
My goal in this thing we call retirement is two-fold: first, to learn everything I can about whole health and apply these lessons to myself so that I don’t break my chain of health in another spot, and second, to sound the alarm to those who can hear the bell.
I found this video today and recommend it to anyone considering a ketogenic diet as part of their strategy to fight Parkinson’s. It describes a limited study, done with a group of five patients who moved to a ketogenic diet for a period of time. The results were very interesting.
One commenter asks whether the diet is “worth it” given the significance of food in his life, describing food as his/her last pleasure in life. I have heard people make comments like this before and I would say that if food is your last pleasure, then your food is eating you. If you aren’t sure what the difference is between you eating your food or your food eating you, I’d recommend a 30 day immersion into the ketogenic diet so you can feel the meaning.
There are so many pleasures in life; food is just a distraction (a huge cultural one, but a distraction nonetheless).
One obvious truth I am realizing as I learn more about health is this: I’m in charge here.
I spend all day in this body. I’m not powerless, in any way, and I have to believe that I CAN guide myself to greater health. It takes continual learning and experimenting. It takes tuning out the naysayers who think I am merely on a weight loss diet or that the changes I make are temporary. It takes the realization that no one else can, or will, push me forward, and that there are no miracle easy fixes, like a new drug or medical procedure, on the horizon.
The work is mine to do. Or not. The outcomes are mine.
So if I want to take a passive approach to the chronic disease I have been diagnosed with, that is an option. But if I want to learn about metabolic biochemistry, the impact of insulin and too much protein, about mitochondria function and mTOR metabolic signaling, I can do that too.
It’s a choice. About my life.