How did your dreams, personal goals change after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s?
When I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s on January 8, 2014 at the age of 54, it felt like all the hopes and dreams I had flew immediately out the window. It was a major blow and it took a while for it to become my new normal and to realize I didn’t have to let go of all of my dreams.
As I began doing research on Parkinson’s, I learned that cycling is one of the most beneficial forms of exercise for those with the disease. Fortunately, I loved cycling and it was an activity my wife and I often enjoyed doing together.
In October 2015, I bought a Peloton indoor stationary bike to ride in the wintertime. Soon my goals and determination took me to a place I never could have predicted.
Before I knew it, I was active in the “Official Peloton Rider” Facebook community where I began sharing my story of being diagnosed with Parkinson’s. And as I became more involved in that community, my goals grew bigger and bigger.
So, when my brother-in-law called me and asked if I wanted to ride the Copper Triangle in August 2016, I didn’t hesitate to say yes. Well, not until I looked up the mileage. Then I thought, ‘What have I gotten myself into?’
Despite my apprehension, I kept getting on my bike and in 2016 I rode over 4500 miles and finished the 79-mile Copper Triangle. Definitely a “Victory that Counts!”
It wasn’t easy though and when I stepped off my bike after the ride I said, “I’m never doing that again.” However, when 2017 came around, I felt a strong pull to stay focused on a big goal. I told my wife I needed to sign up for the Copper Triangle again so I had something else big to shoot for.
During the 2017 ride, I rode hard and felt good for the first 60 miles. But when I hit the town of Vail, it felt like the wheels were starting to fall off. My goal was slipping away and my gas tank was on empty. Just then Polly rode up beside me and said, “Look who’s with me, Davis Phinney.”
Davis and I pedaled beside each other, talking about the ride and the challenges that make us fight to live well with Parkinson’s. Then he put his hand on my back – definitely an energizing moment – and said, “It doesn’t matter how far you go. Just look at how far you’ve come.” Those words and his energy helped me make it over Vail pass and on to the finish line. That’s what I call “DREAMING BIG”.
Being involved with the Davis Phinney Foundation and Victory Crew® has encouraged me to set even bigger goals for myself and to give back to the Parkinson’s community in ways I never would have imagined. For example, before being diagnosed with Parkinson’s, I never would’ve stood in front of a group of people and talked about my life, but I did! I talked about the Every Victory Counts Manual® to our local Parkinson’s group.
What would you say to a fellow person with Parkinson’s who might be afraid to “dream big”?
I know Parkinson’s plays out differently for everyone, but if you have Parkinson’s and are struggling, here are some of the things that I’ve done that have helped me to stay positive and move forward:
- I’ve surrounded myself with family and friends. My wife, kids and friends have been beside me all the way.
- I do the activities I love and when I have a bad day and can’t do them, I know a better day is just around the corner. Staying active is key and every little bit counts.
- I don’t hide my Parkinson’s and I’ve been consistently grateful and overwhelmed with the responses I’ve received from the people I’ve shared my story with.
- I’m always thinking about new adventures I want to have and feats I want to accomplish. It keeps me excited and by looking forward and expecting a lot of myself, I’ve accomplished more than I probably ever would have without this diagnosis.
I hope your 2018 is full of Big Dreams! Do it all and enjoy life. Every Victory Counts.
Read the rest of the stories in this series here.