Before Parkinson’s (any chronic illness, we all “lived like water flowing down a hill..going in a single direction until we splashed” against a rock which has forced us to find a new path.
A Relationship by definition is the way two or more people are connected but more importantly how they behave towards one another. As long we live in this world, we will always have relationships some of which are closer and more intimate than others. These latter ones are the ones that become more deeply impacted and can be totally uprooted by our behavior, the choices we make and the things that impact our lives.
We know that no two people are ever alike and the fashion in which we deal with stressful situations is no exception.
This is the time when boundaries will be pushed to the limit.
So it should not be a big surprise that when major life stresses occur in our life’s any and all relationships will be put to the test. The hardest hit are always the ones closest to us like our immediate family and close friends.
I too have lost relationships of decades because the person I thought would understand my shortcomings would understand. Although, the losses hurt and the relationship mourned I had to come to terms that my health was more important.
How do we keep our most valued relationships from becoming part of an UN-salvageable shipwreck?
Setting appropriate boundaries.
We can’t expect to have good relationships or understanding of our needs; much less be able to tell our friends and family what we like to get from them to help us continue being the friend, partner, lover, sister, and mother. Although, these will have to undergo some type of modifications to allow for life’s changes in both parties.
Discuss gently with the people you love, the specific issues you have and then try to find ways to get around these issues. For instance, I tell my friends and family that in order to protect my limited energy/time that may be needed for a higher priority, I reserve the right to cancel a commitment especially if I am not well.
Sometimes however despite our best efforts casualties will occur and we must learn to let go.
When we set boundaries saying what we will and will not accept in our lives it forces the other person to evaluate their own boundaries.
How you handle these strains depends on the intimacy of relationship and how valuable that friendship etc. Some relationships can’t be dissolve such as familial ties but can become estranged with lack of communication.
I am sure all of us have experienced strained relationships during our lives particularly after receiving a Parkinson’s diagnosis. At times is hard even for us to accept our own illness much less for others who are mere spectators to fully understand our condition as outsiders.
For instance, my close friends know that my life changes day to day and so in making social plans we have learned to give each other leeway in changing plans last minutes as long as we both get the same opportunity. Equally we are all open to spontaneous planning to gather. In my case, people that have trouble accommodating to this my new life and insist on making plans way in advance and or in getting upset if things change last minute have been for the most part excluded from my social circle. Similarly because of my ups and downs and loss of voice along with all my other demands, I have adopted communicating with my special friends and family members for the most part via text. This way we are constantly in communication. However, there have been those that insisted and got upset if I was not able to speak directly with them at the time they need me without understanding my own issues and did not want to compromise as to how and when we spoke. These types of demanding behavior even from long term friendships have resulted in breakage of a friendship. But like a bad hair do you must simply accept it and know that you will get another chance to try something new and perhaps even better.
Because we don’t live in a vacuum all of our actions have consequences. You must speak up and let the person know how you feel and is up to that person to respond positively or ignore your circumstances. If that person makes no effort in meeting you half way perhaps is time to rethink that relationship.
Develop healthy boundaries say YES to good things and NO to bad things! Speak your mind gently without feeling guilty but remember that those around you have the SAME right to decide what they deem BEST for them!
all rights reserved by Maria De Leon MD
Have you ever heard your loved ones complain or say that when you are up and about in public you seem different? They may describe you as lively, happy, and energized but moving better even. However, they gasp, as my husband often does, asking why can’t we simply have that kind of motivation when we are at home rather than just sit around like bumps on a log?
Not long ago when my family and I traveled to Hawaii for vacation my husband finally put a term to this positive effect of well-being that ensues when confronted with something utterly delightful to us. The ‘Kamehameha effect’ as my husband lovingly has coined it, is the end result of a natural boost of dopamine in our brain’s when confronted with pleasurable, enjoyable things. After hours of touring the island, there I was barely able to walk, shuffling, feeling stiff all over particularly in my lower back which was beginning to hurt down to my feet. I was choking on my own saliva and was beginning to lose my voice. When suddenly we came upon the current Supreme Court of Hawaii – also known as Aliiolani Hale building which has in its courtyard a statue of King Kamehameha I which is facing Lolani Palace. At the site of this grand structure I became so ecstatic since it happens to be the headquarters of Commander Garret and his Hawaii 5-0 unit. Seems like within minutes, I was no longer stiff, shuffling or choking. Husband was astonished at the effect calling it the ‘Kamehameha effect’ and still teases me about this every chance he gets.
He insists that this effect is purely is psychological and wishes I could summon it at will. However, although it has a psychological component is not that easy. It is instead a chemical reaction that takes place in our brains once ignited by exterior forces. The ‘Kamehameha effect’ is one that can be seen even in groups of Parkinson’s people at the same time if united by same outside force as was the case in New Orleans when the Saints won the Super bowl in 2010. According to Dr. Georgia Lea, a neurologists and assistant Neurology professor at the Oschsner Institute in NOLA, that during the super bowl championship all her PD patients who were fans of the SAINT’s suddenly were cured for hours to days!
This is the ‘Kamehameha effect’ at its core – ignite our own happy endogenous neurochemicals to bring forth dramatic improvement in our PD symptoms.
Although, this effect is not a switch which can be turned ‘on’ and ‘off’ at will, there are things we can do to promote the repeated occurrence of this phenomena by doing things which brings us joy, passion, love, gratitude and satisfaction. As one of my favorite literary authors Gabriel Garcia Marquez would say; “there is no medicine to cure what happiness cannot.”
Go ahead find your passion and unleash the ‘Kamehameha effect’
all rights reserved by Maria De Leon