My new mantra that I say daily in my head. Adapt and Overcome. Each day, each year, each year life throws us challenges and obstacles. They come from nowhere, they are big, small, hard, easy, emotional, physical. We never know when or where or why. That is just life, and we, as intelligent thinking people, need to adapt to these everyday challenges and overcome them, or, we become a body of stress, depression, guilt and sickness. We need to consciously make a decision on which way we want to live our life.
We all probably heard about the Veteran Marine who crawled over the finish line at the Boston Marathon a couple weeks ago (https://www.cnn.com/2019/04/15/us/micah-herndon-boston-marathon-crawl-finish-trnd/index.html ). If not, please check it out at this link. This man taught me my new mantra. Jessica Cox, who was born without arms, is the first and only ever aviation pilot with this disability ( https://www.jessicacox.com/about-jessica-cox/ .) She is the epitome of adapt and overcome. These two examples may seem extreme cases, but they are just normal people like all of us. They don’t have any special super powers, no more dollars, no extra anything except the power to “adapt and overcome.”
These powerful words are a great way to begin each day. We get up in the morning with no idea what may be thrown at you that day. We have plans for the day, whether it is to go to work, see a friend for lunch or have a basketball game to play. Other than the plans of the day, what else will happen? Will I forget my lunch on the kitchen counter, will the weather be rainy on my wedding day, will I get hit from behind while driving home from school, will I win the lottery, or will I be diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease at 40 years old? We don’t know. So how can we be ready for all these things? We can’t, but we can train ourselves to be ready to “adapt and overcome”.
When diagnosed with PD twelve years ago on a sunny April afternoon, life handed me Parkinson’s Disease. It is a day that me and my family will never forget. I remember very clearly how I felt and how me, Karl, Krista and Kyle all reacted. It was surreal in a wait, it took a while to sink in. I was waiting to wake up one day and be told it was all a mistake. I didn’t understand it. I am healthy, active, have young kids, was in the middle of my career and this PD thing is for old people. “I am 40, that’s not old,” I said to myself. I had a lot of things to do in my life. I don’t have time to be sick. When I tell my story of my journey living with Parkinson’s, I tell it with confidence and faith that I will be ok. My life will continue to be full and happy. I will be the same mom, wife, daughter, sister, teacher and friend as I was before my diagnosis. I believed, in my heart, that I would be ok with this disease. I will figure it out, I will adapt to this new life, and I will learn how to continue living the great life I had before the diagnosis. How will I do this, I wasn’t sure exactly, but I was determined to do it.
As I reflect upon my 12-year journey since 2007, I have come up with two skills that have driven me to remain healthy, two skills that have enabled me to “adapt & overcome.” Firstly, I think positively. Yes, I know we hear that cliché all the time and it has almost been overused and lost its impact. Saying it and doing it are two different concepts. I actually do it. I realize the possibilities for my future with PD, but I don’t go there. I think about today and tomorrow and how I am doing now. I visualize myself being strong and healthy. I distance myself from negative people, negative events and any other stresses. I only allow my mind to take in the positive view of myself in 20 years and the positive energy from other people. Karl and Kyle sometimes used to chuckle at me when I told them to visualize themselves shooting a foul shot and say to yourself, “I’m going to make it” five times in your head. And guess what, it worked for Kyle one day he was shooting 2 free throws to win a big game. After numerous little stories like this, I think they finally believe me. Positive thinking generates positive actions which then generates good things to happen in your life.
Secondly, I love to problem solve and see the end result. In today’s world, we can get quick answers through emails, texts and the internet. If we don’t get the answer quick enough, we get frustrated and either quit or ask for help. No! Figure it out yourself. If there is a will, there is a way. Look at the problem from a different angle, pick it apart, do it a new way because the old way isn’t working anymore. To problem solve is to look at the situation, brainstorm possible ways to handle it, pick one, try it, evaluate it, repeat until the problem is solved. This is adapting and overcoming. And this process can be done at different levels for all challenges and obstacles. With my diagnosis of PD, me and my family needed to problem solve ways to deal with this and we are still problem solving. Never did I plan on being where I am today. We researched and studied the disease. Then we tried therapies where some failed and some worked. We readjusted things in my life to fit my needs. And we continue to research and make changes to my regimen all the time.
I continue today to think positive and problem solve each day. Some are better days than others, and I have not mastered the overcome part, but I will keep working at it. Me and my family keep problem solving and adjusting parts of our lives with the hope of overcoming this PD road block in my life. So far, so good. Let’s Believe that I will continue down the same road for a very long time.
Adapt and Overcome-MH