Like a Stiff Toy Soldier

Parkinson is the ultimate “mindfulness.” I need to think about every movement I take, at least if I want to do it right.  So, for example, when I walk, I must consciously pay attention to what I’m doing and tell myself, “Lift the foot, step BIG, swing the arm…” and if I don’t, I end taking  walking stiffly with tiny steps, like a rusty toy soldier.

And because all our muscles become stiff and we lose the ability to use them, we must exercise all parts of our body. In our Monday morning speech therapy session, the therapists instructed us to move our tongue all around our mouths, and then stretch it to the side. We looked so silly, and it seemed so futile, but it’s really lifesaving. That’s because our tongues are basically one huge muscle. If we don’t exercise it, it becomes stiff, and as a result, we are more prone to inhaling food and liquids, which is the leading cause of death among people with Parkinson. 

So the name of the game is awareness and concentration. But it’s not easy.