The Frozen Man

Tales of the Frozen Man… Chapter 2- Lake Lynn

Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing themselves.                                                                             -Tolstoy

In the summer of 2011, I was living about a mile from Lake Lynn in Raleigh, North Carolina. The lake is long and narrow in design, about five times longer than its width when measured from its northern perimeter to its southern boundary. The rich diversity of trees and vegetation along with the abundance of water gives shelter and food to a number of birds such as heron, hawks and assorted ducks, geese, and swans. I’ve seen deer that will eat out of your hand after winning their trust.  The lake is an idyllic place to sit or walk at the closing of the day.The trail around the lake is 2.2 miles. Most days I would stroll from my apartment and walk around the lake twice. It was on these daily walks that I first noticed stiffness in my right thumb along with a slight tremor. I would walk with a rock in my right hand to alleviate the discomfort I felt. I play guitar and work with my han55ds so I assumed it was from constant usage. A friend joined me one day and commented on my thumb but I brushed it away; I was fine, just a bit of arthritis.

About six months later I awoke one morning to extreme pain running down my left leg. So much pain that I could hardly get out of bed as it seemed to hurt more from lying down. I finally was able to get up and after a minute the pain subsided leaving just a faint reminder of its former self. But showering and getting dressed proved a challenge and the clincher was trying to tie my shoes… I was going to the emergency room.

The diagnosis was a pinched sciatic nerve in my lower back. I was given steroids for the pain and told to keep walking, stretching, and be aware of my posture to ease the pressure on the pinched nerve. After the steroids, ibuprofen became my drug of choice. Sciatica can cause chronic pain in its worse state. And although my pain was far from being chronic, it was just enough to keep my mind off of my right hand which had begun to shake even more in a quivering kind of motion. It was as though my hand was waving at someone.

As the pain of sciatica subsided I slowly began to notice other physical irregularities; a period that seemed like a fog for me as I was taking enough medication to create a constant state of unawareness… later I was to learn that my cognitive processes were also beginning to fail.

The first thing I noticed was my handwriting… it was getting smaller, so small in fact that I couldn’t read most of what I wrote. When I walked my feet constantly shuffled and skipped causing my shoes to wear out faster than normal. I walked as though I was shrinking…

My right arm had lost its natural swing so all the movement was in my hand. I had to constantly remember to pick up my feet and swing my arms to walk properly. All these things linked together as my posture and gait suffered causing me to feel off-balance and dizzy. I looked like I was drinking.

In my way of thinking at the time, I assumed or more appropriately convinced myself that my issues were a result of my pinched sciatic nerve. Of course, there was only one way of being sure and that was to see a neurologist. In a moment’s serendipity, I googled ‘neurologist’ and the first thing listed was the National Parkinson Foundation. I had thought of Parkinson’s disease but like I said I was in denial even though my hand was begging me to reconsider. As I pressed enter and the screen opened, the NPF’s homepage came into focus and I saw the phone number for the helpline. Without a second thought, I dialed the number as though I didn’t have a choice, and I didn’t. The woman at the other end was extremely helpful and though she couldn’t answer all of my questions, she was able to put me in contact with a neurologist in Raleigh who would have answers. I found out that he is one of the 50 top specialists on Parkinson’s in the United States. I called Raleigh Neurology, surprised that I didn’t need a referral from my primary physician. This was almost too easy; it was like a path had opened without any interference. While on the website I clicked on a page entitled ‘10 Early Warning Signs of Parkinson’s Disease’ and not to my surprise I had at least five of the signs.

©jc2017-9

*For Chapter One see: 

Tales of the Frozen Man… PD and Me

*Image by Pexels

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Published by

JC

I was officially diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease on October 29, 2012. These are my thoughts on Parkinson's and a variety of subjects.

9 thoughts on “Tales of the Frozen Man… Chapter 2- Lake Lynn”

  1. Walking around this beautiful lake you carried with you the beginning of
    a disease that was to change the course of your life.
    How many would join you in understanding as each day we could face a truth we would rather deny. May each day give courage and light the way.
    miriam

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Miriam… Yes, it seemed that so much revolved around that lake when I started this adventure. I know it sounds weird calling a disease an adventure but I beleive a different mindset is appropriate in many battles w ae have with health issues… jc

      Liked by 2 people

  2. One can either sink or swim in the pool of life. I’m very impressed in how you do what needs to be done and not sulk around in a gray cloud. I believe this writing of your life will help others, as well, and I’m not just talking about the ones with Parkinson’s, but rather, for all who are facing health challenges. Invaluable words, JC. xo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the kind words. I’ve seen too many others stuck in that gray cloud and its effects to ever not want to fight. And to turn compassion into something positive for others.

      Like

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