The Right Attitude

I think all of us are heroes

Barry Blaustein

Victoria Miller

In his book, The Seven Skills You Need to Survive, Thrive, and Accomplish More Than You Ever Imagined, Tim Hague, Sr. shows how we can all learn to persevere in the face of daily struggles – or even life-changing illness. Victoria Miller, one of this week’s Parkinson’s Heroes has that exact “Never give up, never give in” attitude. Her husband, Bob Miller, tells her amazing story. 

Victoria with her grandson David
courtesy of Bob Miller

Victoria has been on the Board of Directors of the Iowa Chapter of the APDA since 2013 and convinced Bob to be a part of it as well (he is now the President). Her primary function is to help Support Groups throughout the state (currently 53 groups). She has initiated leader gatherings, presented ideas on how to run better meetings, suggested speakers and even secured $300 worth of books and materials that were distributed to every support group. Victoria’s passion is to make sure every person with PD in the state — not just those in the larger metro areas — is represented. What is even more amazing is that she accomplished all of this while undergoing DBS surgery TWICE (infections complicated the first) over an 8-month period and breaking her ankle in two places after the second, without missing a single meeting (and even saw the musical Hamilton in Des Moines). She still has stiffness in her lower leg but she keeps moving, and participating in the local Delay the Disease classes and the local support group.

As Bob says, with some understatement, “What can I say, she’s a fighter.” And a hero.

Barry Blaustein

Barry with his daughter Kasey

Several months ago, I profiled Barry Blaustein, who is in my StoPD boxing class. In a conversation with Alex Montaldo, founder of StoPD, he named Barry as a Parkinson’s Hero because of his involvement with the greater Parkinson’s community. Barry, who has had a long career as a film writer and director, now teaches screen writing at a local university. His background has prepared him well to be an official spokesperson for the Parkinson’s Foundation. He now travels to speak at PD conferences around the country. His inspirational speeches help many with PD learn about the good things about having Parkinson’s. “It’s still awful having it, but if God gives you lemons, you got to make lemonade!”

Barry has spoken on behalf of the Parkinson’s Foundation to members of Congress to get sponsors for legislation that would cover mental health under Medicare. He is very proud of the fact that 2 of the 7 legislators that signed on as sponsors of the bill were people he personally spoke to. Now he is currently writing a one man show about having Parkinson’s. I can’t wait for the premier!

On Parkinsonsdisease.net this week

Keeping Your Sanity Under Quarantine

By Sharon Krischer · April 20, 2020

It is now Week 5 under quarantine for most of us.  Because we were exposed to COVID-19 two weeks earlier on a trip, Mr. Twitchy and I have actually been home for almost 7 weeks now.  And we are definitely getting cabin fever here.

One of the biggest problems we have had is keeping track of time.  When there is nothing to reference what day of the week it is or what time it is, everything becomes a blur.  To read the rest of the article, go to https://parkinsonsdisease.net/living/staying-productive-covid-19/

An Evening with Jimmy

No matter what you are faced with, if you make your body healthier, you are going to feel better.  Jimmy Choi

On a perfect Southern California evening a few days ago, Mr. Twitchy and I had the priviledge of hosting American Ninja/PD Warrior Jimmy Choi at our home, with the help of Alex Montaldo and Roberta Marongiu from StopPD, who co-sponsored the event. Over 30 fans with Parkinson’s came on short notice to meet Jimmy and hear about his journey from Parkinson’s diagnosis to Ninja Warrior.  They were not disappointed.

Jimmy Choi was diagnosed with PD at 27 and basically denied that he had this “old person’s disease” for 8 years, until he had a wake up call.   He stopped exercising because of the diagnosis, had gained over 50 pounds and was walking with a cane for balance.  This former athlete was not in good shape.  Parkinson’s was taking over his life.

This was definitely not the person who was sitting next to me.  The Jimmy Choi I met was musclebound, moving easily without a cane.  Confident.  Knowledgeable.  What changed his life so dramatically?

One day after he lost his balance and fell down a flight of stairs while carrying his son. He realized then that he had to do something to turn his life around.  He was becoming a danger to his family and he could not let that happen.

He started slowly, just walking,   First one block and then two, gradually increasing as his energy levels improved.  Eventually he started working out with a trainer.  He had started to educate himself about Parkinson’s and changed his diet.  Then, one day he boarded a flight for a business trip, and found a copy of Runner’s World that someone left on his seat.  There was an article in the magazine about a person with Parkinson’s running a marathon.  That was the “aha” moment that he needed.  He came home and entered his first 5K race.  Then a 10K race.  He quickly moved on to 1/2 marathons and then finally, marathons.  He has run over 100 1/2 marathons and 15 marathons since 2012.  His weight came down, he no longer needed the cane and eventually was able to reduce his meds because of all of the exercise.  His balance improved along with his gait.  He is living proof that exercise is the best medicine for PD.

All of this eventually led to his participation in American Ninja Warrior (ANW) competitions.

 

In the video of my interview with Jimmy, he tells his story and explains how he got involved in working with the Fox Foundation, (for whom he has raised over $250,000,) and ANW.  I think you will find him very inspiring and motivating.

My dear friend and PD pal, Sandy Rosenblatt came out of PD forced retirement to record and edit  this video which shows how amazing and inspiring Jimmy is.

 

Following Jimmy’s talk, we participated in PushUps4Parkinsons and in an obstacle course set up by StopPD.  Thank you to Jen Heath, who brought the project to us and created the video.  Watch Jimmy doing his pushups with first his daughter, then Alex Montaldo, on his back.  He is one impressive man!