Why I Do it

headerimage-superwalk2

Last Sunday I ran my third Parkinson’s SuperWalk 10km.  My running buddy did it with me and my husband, bless his heart, did the 5km walk with our nine year old daughters.  Guess who had more fun?

My day started at 6:00 am when I dragged myself out of bed, pulled on my running clothes and crept out of the house.  I had volunteer to help with set up for the event and I needed to be at 2nd Beach in Stanley Park by 7:00.  Having never really been a morning person I was astounded at how many other people were on the roads at that God forsaken hour.  Had they volunteered too?  It was the only reason I could think of that anybody would be awake and out of bed at that time.

When I arrived a small crowd was huddled around a coffee urn at the event site waiting for instructions from the event coordinator.  Once she showed up things stared happening quickly.  If you have ever volunteered or worked on an event you will know that the start is typically organized chaos.  Instruction is given quickly and if you don’t get it the first time around you need to find somebody else who looks confused and ask them.  I’m not saying they will know what to do, but at least you will have company in your confusion.

One of the first announcement was that we were waiting on the park ranger.  The night before a beaver had chewed through a tree and it had fallen over the walk route.  There were some rumblings about finding said beaver and making a nice hat but it was quickly shut down and everybody went back to work.  Only in Canada.

parkinsons siwash rock

At 10:00 the walk/run began.  My shift of volunteering was over and we headed out into the route.  About 2km in we fell into pace with a nice man named Jim.  Jim’s wife Peggy has Parkinson’s and they both do what they can to volunteer and get involved.  The three of us spent the next hour running and chatting about running.  Good runs to try, how to train properly, what to eat.  You know, boring stuff that runners think is cool and the rest of the world could care less about. Oh, did I mention that at 18 degrees and sunny it was the penultimate running weather.

As we closed in on the finish line I thought, once again, about my mom.  How she struggles with daily activities because of Parkinson’s Disease.  Her life irreversibly changed.  She would have loved to be out on the seawall on a day like today.

liv-and-granny

That’s why I participate in this event every year.  To remember that I am fit and able and to bring awareness to the disease that cripples so many.  The Best Thing in Life is that participation and donations were both up this year.

Advertisements

Putting My Money Where My Mouth Is…..Again

parkinsons shirt

I posted this last year after doing the 2014 Parkinson’s SuperWalk.  This Sunday I will do my second walk/run for my mom who has had Parkinson’s for 15 years.  This year I also did some fundraising.  If you would like to donate you can access my donation site HERE.  Just put in my name (Susan Hardman) and the rest is easy.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about my mom’s battle with Parkinson’s. I ended the post with a promise to myself to get more involved. Last Sunday I took my first step towards that goal and participated in the Parkinson’s Superwalk 10km run. The event included a 2km, 7km and 10km routes in Stanley Park. I chose the 10km run, signed up and paid my registration fee. There wasn’t a lot of info on the web site so I didn’t really know what to expect. I didn’t know how big it would be or, well anything. Early Sunday morning I drove to Ceperely Park and looked for the registration area. My first impression was that everybody was very friendly and welcoming. It wasn’t a huge group but lots of families and groups supporting friends. The group registration line up was twice the length of the individual line up. I think this says a lot about the event. People weren’t just here to do a run and get a t-shirt without knowing what it was really about. People were here to support a specific individual and were happy to be doing it.

parkinsons siwash rock

The run itself was stunning. A gorgeous sunny Fall day in Vancouver never disappoints for runners. It was hot though, especially the first half around the east side of the seawall. The Coho festival was in full swing over at Ambleside and the annual pet fundraiser Paws for a Cause was rocking at Lumberman’s Arch. Inspiring to see so many great causes being supported. I did feel a bit envious though as Paws for a Cause provided their participants (by that I mean dogs) way more water breaks than my run. Seriously considered scooping up that water bowl for some much needed refreshment. I ran for a short time with another lady who was also running for her mom. It was nice to know that somebody else was thinking the same way I was. She mentioned that she had, at first, thought she would just do the 7km but pushed herself to do the 10km. “It puts what they endure every day into perspective”.

parkinsons seawall

I don’t typically run with my phone but I knew that I would want to document this experienced as the views would be outstanding. As you can see they didn’t disappoint. Aside from enjoying the scenery, the run gave me some time alone to think about how I can continue to support Parkinson’s over the next year. I know for sure that I will do the run next year but this time will register earlier and do some fundraising on my own. At the start of the race I ran into a lady who I have met before in my area. She works for the BC Parkinson’s Society and I plan on contacting her to talk about volunteer opportunities during the next few month. This run was just dipping my toe into the waters of the Parkinson’s society.

There has been a lot of publicity and hype over the ALS ice bucket challenge this summer. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great way to spread awareness and raise money for a great cause. However, when my son did it and then challenged me I told him I wouldn’t do it. “What? Why?” He couldn’t believe I would be so lame. (His words, not mine.) The reason I didn’t want to do it was simple. I have chosen my charity and want to be able to support it. We are not lacking in money at this point in time but there have been times in the past when giving to charity just wasn’t an option. I made a decision at that time to be selective in my donation dollars. There are so many amazing causes to give to. Cancer research, AIDS, MS, ALS and the list goes on. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to support them all? Perhaps we could redirect some professional sports players salaries to cover what we can’t?  The Best Thing in Life would be to have enough money to support everybody who needs it but for now the Parkinson’s Society of BC has my full support.

parkinsons finish

Support Parkinson’s Disease

This September I will join 14,000 Canadians who take part in the Parkinson SuperWalk. It will be my second year participating in this great event.  Want to join me in the 10KM run?  No? How about supporting me with a donation?

Donate Here

I will be running for the third time to support my mom.  This is her story.

As I creep past fifty I’m starting to think a bit more about aging. Frankly, I think I’ve aged pretty well (give or take a few crows feet). When I do think about aging, I tend to look to my parents. My mom and dad are 84 and 87 years old respectively. My dad has never let anything slow him down. Ever. My mom has slowed down a lot. She hasn’t had a choice. She has Parkinson’s Disease. Parkinson’s is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system with the most common symptoms being motor related. Shaking, rigidity, slowness and difficult walking. She is fighting it every step of the way but inevitably the disease progresses and life has to change.

She was diagnosed about 16 years ago, but honestly, it hasn’t been until the last two or three years that it has seriously affected her day to day life. At the beginning, the only noticeable symptom was a slight tremor in her left hand. When she originally told us I didn’t know much about the disease. All I could picture was Michael J. Fox, who I had seen interviewed on TV, who sometimes couldn’t control the tremors in his body, jerked violently and occasionally found it difficult to get a full sentence out. I was a bit freaked out. Fortunately, her symptoms were nothing like that. For a long time, to look at her, you wouldn’t even know she was sick. For many years she has been able to carry on with no noticeable changes to her life.

m&d wedding

Lately, though, I’ve noticed things have changed. A few month ago she was involved in a small car accident. My mom is no stranger to hitting things in her car but it has been mostly light poles and parking lot walls. There wasn’t much damage, nobody was hurt, but it was very obviously her fault. It was raining and there was a lot of traffic around. Her reactions are just not what they used to be. Fortunately, I happened to be driving by at the time and was able to help her with calling a tow truck and dealing with the other driver. She was a bit shaken and I’m pretty sure having me there was a huge help. Her biggest worry? ICBC might force her to take a road test. Losing her license would mean losing her freedom.

In the last three months she has needed to change from using a cane to using a walker. It may not seem like a big change to you and me, but to her it has been a huge adjustment. There have been a few falls leaving her bruised and sore so it really needed to be done. She had been using the cane to stand with both hands in front of her and her feet wide apart. Like a precarious tripod. We have always teased my mom that she was a bit like a weeble. You know, they wobble but they don’t fall down. Yes, it was kind of mean but she knew we were only joking and really she knew it was true. Mom wasn’t the most stable person to start with.

mom skiing

My mom was always active when we were younger. As a family we hiked, camped and skied a lot. Fitness wasn’t really a priority in the 70’s but I remember mom going to a fitness class at the local Y when I was little. Now she has a Life Call necklace that she wears all the time. It alerts a call board of she falls over. I know that she gets scared sometimes. She’s gotten better at asking for help. She’s come to the realization that there are some things she just can’t do. The biggest thing she now knows is that she can’t push herself. She has to make sure she is well rested to avoid the risk of injury.

So here I sit. An active fifty year old, with some extra time on my hands. For too many years I have THOUGHT about getting involved in the Parkinson’s Society. Work, kids, life…….excuses really. No more. My mission again this Fall is to find a way to give some time and energy to help people with Parkinson’s. To try and find a way to help people with Parkinson’s that maybe haven’t been as fortune as my mom. And who knows, maybe they will find a way to ease my mom’s symptoms too. The Best Thing in Life is being able to make a difference in something that matters to you, personally.

Call Your Mom

mom boat

Just before Christmas my dad called and said that he had taken my mom to the hospital. She was having trouble breathing so they were running some tests. She was on oxygen and feeling okay by the time he left to go home. He was really calm and matter of fact so I assumed there was no huge emergency. I had an appointment close to the hospital that morning so I stopped by with a couple of magazines for her to read. She was off the oxygen, sitting up in bed and looked normal. I left the hospital and called my dad to tell him that she wanted her cell phone. She went home later that day and we waited for the outcome of her tests. Congestive heart failure. Not great news, but manageable and we all enjoyed a happy holiday season. Small sigh of relief.

Now its February and she is back in the hospital. Her heart was the original concern but after some preliminary testing they are doing more tests on her digestive system and monitoring her heart. She also has Parkinson’s Disease. Just to complicate things. She’s been in the hospital for almost a week now and I’m kind of having a hard time with it. I feel confused and scared and I just want it all to stop. I want the doctors to figure out what’s wrong with her and fix it damn it. Okay, so maybe add angry to that list of things I’m feeling. What if the results are bad? What if she needs surgery? She’s 82 years old and surgery would put extra pressure on her heart. What if her heart can’t take it?

mom skiing

So I’m doing what I typically do when I’m avoiding something bad. I’m cleaning the house. Top to bottom, bathrooms, floors, kitchen. Anything to stop thinking about it. The hardest time is trying to get to sleep at night. As I lie in my cozy bed I can’t help but think about my mom lying in the hospital. Uncomfortable bed, noises from the hall and nurses station, monitors glowing above her and side effect from the medications she is on. She’s putting on a brave face but I know how miserable she is and I want to help her. She was the one who always made me comfortable when I was sick. She’s the one who brought down all those high fevers I suffered from. She’s always been the one to make me feel better. I have taken her cookies, a crossword puzzle book, some sushi but it all seems so futile. I want to make all the icky stuff go away like she used to do for me.

In a lot of ways all of this would be easier if I was a religious person. I would have an outlet for my feelings and somebody to pray to. Maybe I could resign myself to the fact that this was God’s plan. And if it was serious, and she did pass away, I would know that she was in heaven and at peace. But I’m not religious and I don’t really know how to handle it. I’m a black and white person. I like things in neat packages and I like having all my questions answered. And not with “we don’t know yet”. I don’t have anything to turn to and make this earlier. I don’t have answers and there really is very little that I can do. Now I know why some people drink.

So this is what it all boils down to. The fact that it’s totally out of not only my hands, but anybody’s hands. It’s just that I’m not ready for this. I know she’s not going to die today. Probably not even this week. But this is the first time I’ve thought that it could happen. I can’t help but feel like this is the beginning of the end. I don’t want to feel that way but I do. She could very well be around for another ten years. But even that’s just not long enough for me. I don’t want her to die. There I said it. She drives me crazy sometimes but I’m not ready for her not to be there to drive me crazy.

So in the words of recent Oscar winner J.K. Simmons…..call your mom. Go. Do it now.

A Shaky World

mom b&w

As I creep closer to fifty I’m starting to think a bit more about aging. Frankly, I think I’ve aged pretty well (give or take a few crows feet). When I do think about aging, I tend to look to my parents. My mom and dad are 82 and 85 years old respectively. My dad has never let anything slow him down. Ever. My mom has slowed down a lot. She hasn’t had a choice. She has Parkinson’s Disease. Parkinson’s is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system with the most common symptoms being motor related. Shaking, rigidity, slowness and difficult walking. She is fighting it every step of the way but inevitably the disease progresses and life has to change.

She was diagnosed about 15 years ago, but honestly, it hasn’t been until the last two or three years that it has seriously affected her day to day life. At the beginning, the only noticeable symptom was a slight tremor in her left hand. When she originally told us I didn’t know much about the disease. All I could picture was Michael J. Fox, who I had seen interviewed on TV, who sometimes couldn’t control the tremors in his body, jerked violently and occasionally found it difficult to get a full sentence out. I was a bit freaked out. Fortunately, her symptoms were nothing like that. For a long time, to look at her, you wouldn’t even know she was sick. For many years she has been able to carry on with no noticeable changes to her life.

m&d wedding

Lately, though, I’ve noticed things have changed. A few month ago she was involved in a small car accident. My mom is no stranger to hitting things in her car but it has been mostly light poles and parking lot walls. There wasn’t much damage, nobody was hurt, but it was very obviously her fault. It was raining and there was a lot of traffic around. Her reactions are just not what they used to be. Fortunately, I happened to be driving by at the time and was able to help her with calling a tow truck and dealing with the other driver. She was a bit shaken and I’m pretty sure having me there was a huge help. Her biggest worry? ICBC might force her to take a road test. Losing her license would mean losing her freedom.

In the last three months she has needed to change from using a cane to using a walker. It may not seem like a big change to you and me, but to her it has been a huge adjustment. There have been a few falls leaving her bruised and sore so it really needed to be done. She had been using the cane to stand with both hands in front of her and her feet wide apart. Like a precarious tripod. We have always teased my mom that she was a bit like a weeble. You know, they wobble but they don’t fall down. Yes, it was kind of mean but she knew we were only joking and really she knew it was true. Mom wasn’t the most stable person to start with.

mom skiing

My mom was always active when we were younger. As a family we hiked, camped and skied a lot. Fitness wasn’t really a priority in the 70’s but I remember mom going to a fitness class at the local Y when I was little. Now she has a Life Call necklace that she wears all the time. It alerts a call board of she falls over. I know that she gets scared sometimes. She’s gotten better at asking for help. She’s come to the realization that there are some things she just can’t do. The biggest thing she now knows is that she can’t push herself. She has to make sure she is well rested to avoid the risk of injury.

So here I sit. An active, almost fifty year old, with some extra time on my hands (given that the current teacher’s strike ends soon). For too many years I have THOUGHT about getting involved in the Parkinson’s Society. Work, kids, life…….excuses really. No more. My mission for this Fall is to find a way to give some time and energy to help people with Parkinson’s. To try and find a way to help people with Parkinson’s that maybe haven’t been as fortune as my mom. And who knows, maybe they will find a way to ease my mom’s symptoms too. The Best Thing in Life is being able to make a difference in something that matters to you, personally.