PFNCA Program Participant Rick Vaughan shares his observations from a PFNCA Exercise for Parkinson’s session he recently attended:
As far as Monday afternoons go it really didn’t seem any different than last week or, for that matter, the Monday before that. The same dozen or so of us were there, mostly people with Parkinson’s plus a spouse or two. After several years of coming together on a weekly basis, we do kind of know each other, at least we think we do. We meet at OneLIfe Fitness in Reston, VA for a one-hour exercise session with our personal trainer Sam, who is always fun, light, congenial – emphasizing balance, strength, flexibility and agility, physical activities designed to make life with PD easier; to forestall further deterioration.
The Parkinson’s Foundation of the National Capitol Area (PFNCA), which provides our exercise sessions (and many others), had held its annual symposium just a few days earlier; Sam thought it would be a good idea to spend a few minutes reviewing what those who had attended the symposium had learned that might be of interest to the rest of the group
An hour later we were still talking about Parkinson’s. Something remarkable has happened!
We had laid out the chairs in a circle. A few who had attended the symposium shared some items they had found interesting or useful with those who had not. Like the discussions on non-motor Parkinson’s symptoms, the importance of staying active, new medications and current research activities.
In no time at all others were contributing – asking questions, sharing stories about themselves, asking others in the group to corroborate their experiences, confirming that they too had experienced similar adverse reactions to a certain medication, describing short face-to-face doctor-patient appointments, expressing concerns about long term treatment plans, and on it went.
People who barely spoke most Mondays were suddenly talking about end-of-life decisions and living wills. We talked about drooling and constipation and off periods and which drugs did what, and can you really take too much levodopa?
We shared and we learned. We learned more than we could from attending the symposium and more than we can from visiting our neurologists two-to-three times a year. And, although this impromptu gathering of minds was not intended to be a support group, in fact that is just what it was.
We have always been a team of sorts, this exercise group of ours – talking sports at Sam’s urging, singing the words, guessing the artists and reminiscing about the oldies from Rick’s iPod, understanding our common enemy.
But this one Monday we learned what and how much people with Parkinson’s can learn from each other if they are just willing to talk and listen and contribute. And that learning is, for sure, a lot.
— Rick Vaughan, April, 2019
To learn more about PFNCA Wellness Programming, please call (301) 844-6510.