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Moments of Victory® – Debbie Flamini Chooses Joy (and Yoga) to Live Well with Parkinson’s

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Moments of Victory® – Debbie Flamini Chooses Joy (and Yoga) to Live Well with Parkinson’s

What has your life been like since your diagnosis?

It was a cold, gray day in January 2010 when I finally heard the words I knew were coming, “You have Parkinson’s.”

With this diagnosis came a lot of soul searching and personal growth. Who was I now? I was always strong, healthy and athletic. Was I still that person?

I suddenly felt vulnerable, fragile and weak. My confidence was shattered. I felt like damaged goods. How could I ever feel proud of anything ever again? I was always an optimistic person, so it was hard to share these dark thoughts. Writing poetry helped me sort out my feelings and vent my anger. Then one day, about a year later, I had an epiphany. I could live a joyous life with Parkinson’s or be miserable. Either way, I would still have Parkinson’s. I chose joy, and I truly do live that way nearly every day! “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain”, said Vivian Greene. So, let me tell you about my dance!

How do you live well each day?

Debbie Flamini Yoga Davis Phinney FoundationThere is a great gift that comes from a diagnosis like Parkinson’s. It’s called gratitude. I have an abundant appreciation for things that I would have otherwise taken for granted. When I go hiking, I may not hike as far or as high, but when I reach my destination, I literally cry with joy that I’m still able to see this beautiful world of ours and share these moments with my husband.

I make sure to plan lunch dates with friends, and I often have the family over for no particular reason, just to enjoy their company.

I live well because I have a family I love so very much. I don’t want this disease to become who we are so I do everything I can to still be a “whole” person. That means I get out, I exercise, I keep learning and I set goals. Six months ago I set a goal to become a yoga instructor because yoga has been so helpful to me. Soon I hope to start teaching a Parkinson’s yoga class and inspire my students with my strength and optimism. And the truth is I AM proud of myself, probably more often now than before I was diagnosed. And my husband? He thinks I’m the strongest person he knows!

What do you wish you would have known when you were diagnosed that you know now about living with Parkinson’s?

I wish I had known that life goes on and that happiness is still achievable. I was worried I would become stagnant and boring, when in fact I have grown in ways I would never have without the diagnosis. Several fundraisers (I have raised over $80,000 in seven years) have put me in the spotlight, and I have learned to speak in public, even in front of a TV camera! Originally I felt my self-esteem plummet. Today I know that Parkinson’s has given me the chance to be an inspiring role model, and I feel really good about that!

Debbie Flamini’s Philosophy

What do you wish everyone living with Parkinson’s knew about living well? 

I wish every person with Parkinson’s knew that if they truly embrace joy, their life will be filled with it. You can live well with Parkinson’s, but you need to allow it in!

Share Your Victory

Each month, we spotlight someone from our Parkinson’s community who embodies living well today – what we call Moments of Victory®.

Your story, like Debbie’s, could be featured on our blog and Facebook page so others can learn from your experiences and victories.

Submit Your Moments of Victory

3 Comments on “Moments of Victory® – Debbie Flamini Chooses Joy (and Yoga) to Live Well with Parkinson’s

    • Sandra Perri

      June 2, 2018 at 5:46 am Reply

      I truly enjoyed reading Debbie Flamini’s, Moments of Victory. Thank You
      Itcame at at the perfect time for me. I hope to soon write of my own journey with Parkinson’s since my diagnosis in 1991 at 34 years of age.

      • Alex Reinhardt

        June 7, 2018 at 1:50 pm Reply

        Thank you for commenting, Sandra! We hope you submit your own Moments of Victory and share your personal story of living well with Parkinson’s

    • Debbie Flamini

      February 12, 2020 at 3:25 pm Reply

      My doctor had talked to me about DBS before, but this time I listened with more interest. I’d been thinking about more recently, as my off times were happening more frequently. I listened as she explained the process. I would first go to clinic to learn the realities of DBS and if I was still interested I would meet the doctor who would insert the device. I was interested so we went to clinic and then met with the doctor. We liked him, and the fact he had done 1600 of them with very low complication issues. I gave him the thumbs up. I was astonished by the support I got from everyone. My yoga friends, step class group, my retired work buddies. People volunteered to prepare meals for us and were praying for me left and right! The day arrived finally, and I wasn’t nervous at all. I knew I made the right decision. The last thing I remember is saying goodbye to my husband at the elevator. I don’t remember the cage (they screw to your head) the MRI or the procedure. My husband took me home 2 days later. I do remember the next 4 weeks. Horrible. I felt worse, as I could no longer walk. For me, antibiotics are not my friend. They kill my gut flora and make my PD meds totally worthless. But they were needed to prevent infection. So one month later even turn on day was anti-climatic. But the following day it all came together! I walked out of my bedroom into my kitchen and started dancing with my husband! This is just a week ago! Every day has been like that! Would I do it again? Absolutely! I have so much more living to do, and now I can! Yoga, hiking, biking, and doing all kinds of things with my husband and grandchildren! If you are hesitating, don’t! If your doctor is experienced like mine was, he or she will know if you are a good candidate. Not everyone is! But if you are go for it! You may have a whole new life ahead of you!

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