My name is Randy, I’m 65, and 3 years ago I walked like the Hunchback of Notre Dame, a limping shuffle, frozen shoulders, and no arm swing. If I was anxious or angry, my minor hand tremor turned into an arm swing 2 feet in amplitude, like a puppy dog’s tail. I worked in grocery deli and customers started asking what was wrong, I looked ill. My usually happy smile had turned into a frozen blank look. My slowness on the job had people asking what was taking so long and I didn’t know. Of course, it was Parkinson’s disease.
My slowness on the job had people asking what was taking so long, and I didn’t know. Of course, it was Parkinson’s disease.
Then I moved from St. Louis to Rockaway Beach, Oregon and met Parkinson’s Resources of Oregon. I had been taking Tai Chi before, I continued here with Oregon’s own “Tai Chi Moving for Better Balance”. Plus I could walk on the beach and in the hills. What really got me actively fighting PD was the library at PRO. I think I’ve read 30 books, each with their own preferences and opinions. So when enough books repeat the same idea, and I also like it, I ask my provider about trying it. She is open to letting me try new things. I presume it helps when I can supply medical references from the library.
So, about St. Helens. I got the idea in Portland at the WPC2016. Brian Grant had a video of his PD group climb and I thought, why not me? I worked harder at Tai Chi, I didn’t want to fall. I also took longer walks on the logging roads with a loaded backpack. Finally I ended up doing Tai Chi and aerobics with the backpack.
Then I asked Lindsay and Dan, (my daughter and son in law) for help. They had climbed on Mt Hood and done the Timberline Trail. They pick a series of training mountains for me of increasing height and duration. That allowed me to work out the timing of meds, what foods, and how much water to carry. Clothing too! We climbed: Neahkahnie, Kings and Larch at Multnomah Falls. We had plans for Defiance, but the fires closed it. So I went up and down on Kings Mtn until I had completed 90% of St Helens and had been climbing for 11 hours. I’m ready now!
PD Equals Slowness
PD equals slowness. We had planned for 12-13 hours, but I took 16. 7am to 11pm, it was quite dark for the last 4 hours. Besides Lindsay and Dan, two of their friends also helped me tremendously, Amanda and John. These four were skilled and I was lucky – no injuries. Well, I did have a sore backside from “sitting down” quite abruptly maybe 6 times. It’s funny, but the final ascent took an hour and a half to climb, but only 7 minutes to descend. It was deep sand and gravel so each step up slid backward. But down was like ice skating, each step slid forward.
This dream was made possible by Chris, my wife. Besides encouraging me, she had the very real job of parenting our fifth grader over the summer while I was training.