How To Get Through Days When You Can’t Fight Parkinson’s Anymore

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Illustration from Parkinsonsdisease.net

Originally published by Parkinsonsdisease.net By Sharon Krischer · November 19, 2020

We have all been there. After a bad night you give up and drag yourself out of bed. It’s 4:30am. Yes, 4:30! You are restless and you just have to get out of bed. You know you should exercise, but that is the last thing you feel like doing. You stay in your nighttime pajamas because you just don’t feel like getting dressed.

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Tennis Anyone?

I played tennis for the first time in almost a year this week. First, my regular game for the past 25 years temporarily fell apart when one woman left the group and another was on the disabled list for 2 months. By the time she was ready to return, we were on lockdown for COVID 19 and all of the tennis courts were closed.

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I started playing golf last spring with my husband at the golf club we belong to and now it is a running joke that I have played more golf there in the last 6 months since the golf course re-opened than I had in the previous 35 years we have been members. I have taken a few lessons, got new clubs to replace my Neanderthal clubs and get out on the course with Mr. Twitchy about once a week. I found that I usually fall apart after playing 6-7 holes. I would suddenly get tired and it would be harder to concentrate. I would forget how to swing the golf club and my shots went all over the place.

Running out of energy

Back to tennis this week. We had a tennis clinic with one of the pros at the club and then played doubles. I was surprised that my game was better than I thought it would be after such a long time. And then, after about 1 hour and 15 minutes, my legs suddenly turned to jelly and moving was getting harder and harder. The only thing I had in my bag was a small box of mints. I downed about 1/2 of them and the sugar helped me survive the last 15 minutes of the game. The tennis pro suggested that I keep power bars or something in my bag for times when my energy level drastically drops.

This energy drop is consistent with what I have noticed over the years. Because of Parkinson’s, I will suddenly become so tired that I cannot move, like I did playing tennis. This will happen at any time, not just with sports. We can be spending an evening with friends and Mr. Twitchy, who often sees it coming before I do, tells the other people we are with that I am “melting” and it is time to take me home.

This morning, we went to play 9 holes of golf, and sure enough, my game started to fall apart on about the 6th hole. Concentrating was becoming difficult and I could not hit the ball. Fortunately we were close to a spot on the golf course were I could get a snack. Within minutes I started playing better again.

Snacks are a good thing

The bottom line is that for me, I need to keep some kind of snacks nearby when I am playing tennis, golf or any activity that goes on for several hours. I have to be able to recognize when I start to fall apart and get something to eat before I start having real problems. When I was a teenager, my grandmother used to say that I would get really quiet when I needed to eat. Now, with Parkinson’s, I not only get quiet, but it becomes harder to move and to concentrate on anything. The energy drop is faster and much more dramatic. Hopefully, by recognizing this I can be much more pro-active so that I can keep my energy levels more even throughout the day.

It is an easy fix for an annoying problem. Too bad something this simple doesn’t work for our other PD symptoms.