A new regimen of endurance training, a new movement disorder specialist, and tweaking the timing of medication makes a world of difference
I had been seeing the same movement disorder specialist since I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2007. I approached Carol Walton, CEO of The Parkinson Alliance and Executive Director of the Unity Walk, when I was ready to explore other options available to me in the Washington, DC area. I just turned 40, and I felt like my doctor focused too much on treating me with medication and not enough time looking at my treatment holistically. Carol referred me to a new movement disorder specialist that she described as “no nonsense,” which was perfect for me. I work an exhausting schedule in public relations for a defense contractor, I travel a lot, I’m a stepmother to two beautiful girls, and my hobbies take up the rest of the hours in the day that I’m not sleeping – and I don’t sleep much. So, I was ready for someone to approach my treatment more proactively. Carol’s assessment was spot-on, and I love my new movement disorder doctor.
In our first meeting, she changed the timing of my meds. Not the dose, just the timing. At first, I was concerned about whether I’d be able to stick to the strict schedule. I didn’t think about it long. Within a week, I started sleeping better and my energy came back – enough energy to take on an endurance challenge at my gym. I had read about the benefits of working out, and I’d been a member of the gym for a while. But I finally had the strength to really push myself. And I did. Very, very hard. The results, as you can see in the VIDEO, were stunning – and that’s only six weeks into the program. Today, I’m more fit, stronger, and have more energy than I ever did before.
My goal is to spread the message that you can have a life – a vibrant, healthy life – while you balance the demands Parkinson’s places on your body. Working out, endurance training, pushing yourself to the limits … it’s all about reclaiming what Parkinson’s begins to take away, piece by piece. I won’t always be in this shape, I know that. But as long as I can hold on to the quality of life I’ve been able to achieve today, I’m going to fight for it every step of the way.
Bettina Chavanne Team Captain, Team Bettina