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When Life Gives You Parkinson’s podcast: Parkinson’s, parenting and the coronavirus pandemic

Larry and Rebecca Gifford on living life with Parkinson's during a global pandemic.
Larry and Rebecca Gifford on living life with Parkinson's during a global pandemic. Larry Gifford

In this episode of When Life Gives You Parkinson’s, my wife and partner in Parkinson’s, Rebecca Gifford, and I share how COVID-19 is affecting our family. From managing stress and PD symptoms to becoming accustomed to living well during a time of uncertainty, we are all learning many lessons. Here are five of the lessons that Rebecca and I have learned thus far.

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  • My Parkinson’s symptoms are less intense when I work from home compared to when I go to the office. This is a revelation that I probably would not have discovered without the pandemic forcing me to work remotely. I have already started discussing this with my company to figure out what my new reality could be when we are through the social distancing demands and most employees are encouraged to return to the office.
  • Telemedicine is long overdue. I didn’t “go” to my last neurology checkup, I logged into it from my kitchen table. I feel like I had the full attention of my doctor and there we no interruptions for signatures, questions or updates on other patients from the nurses. It was just the doctor, Rebecca and me. If you live hours away from a neurologist or movement disorder specialist or just have difficulty getting from your home to anywhere, telemedicine makes a lot of sense. I hope it is here to stay.

READ MORE: When Life Gives You Parkinson’s podcast — From rock bottom to ‘American Ninja Warrior’

  • Connecting with community can be energizing, supportive and inspiring. From one-on-one FaceTime video calls with family and friends to group video chats with colleagues and social media “friends” who, until now, we had only met through tweets and Facebook posts, I’m grateful for the time, attention and community so many people have offered with an open heart and open mind. I also love that so many free exercise, yoga and boxing classes are now being made available online to keep us active and exercising despite being cooped up inside.
  • Managing Parkinson’s symptoms has better prepared people with PD and care partners for COVID-19. The uncertainty of Parkinson’s forces us to approach life minute by minute, hour by hour, and day by day. We make plans with the best of intentions and cancel them more often than we would like because a symptom flares up or exhaustion overwhelms us. Most people are not accustomed to having so much lack of control over their life. Many are resisting the isolation, angry, frustrated, and desperately grasping for control of something. The Parkinson’s community can be role models for others on how to let go and embrace what comes in each moment.

READ MORE: When Life Gives You Parkinson’s podcast — The never-ending hunt for a cure

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  • It is exciting to see how when the world decides to make something a priority, government and regulatory red tape magically disappears and the finest minds of the world collaborate to solve a single issue. In this case, it is the race to create a vaccination for COVID-19. Now that we know it is possible, I propose that after COVID-19 is under control, we take this model and aim those global resources and all of that passion and urgency on to finding a cure for Parkinson’s… and then ALS, MS, Alzheimer’s and all the rest.

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In the podcast, we discuss these and many other lessons and observations COVID-19 has thrust upon us.

Please comment by leaving us a voice message here: https://www.speakpipe.com/WhenLifeGivesYouParkinsons.

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Twitter: @ParkinsonsPod

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Follow co-host and producer Niki Reitmayer

Twitter: @Niki_Reitmayer

Thank you to my wife and partner in Parkinson’s, Rebecca Gifford.

Our presenting partner is Parkinson Canada.

Its toll-free hotline is 1-800-565-3000.

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Follow Parkinson Canada on Twitter @ParkinsonCanada.

Find the new Parkinson Clinical Guideline at www.parkinsonclinicalguideline.ca.

Our content and promotional partners

Parkinson’s IQ + You — A free, series of Parkinson’s events from the Michael J. Fox Foundation

Spotlight YOPD — The only Parkinson’s organization dedicated to raising awareness for Young Onset Parkinson’s disease and funds for the Cure Parkinson’s Trust.

WPC2022 — Save the date for the sixth World Parkinson Congress, June 7 to 10, 2022 in Barcelona, Spain. The only inclusive scientific conference opens its doors to people with Parkinson’s and families.

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