“It’s one thing joining a gym – it’s another actually going.” She was a wise bird, our old GP: retired now, alas. Of my pregnancy with the InfantPhenomenon, she said: “a summer baby, how lovely! You’ll be able to sit in pub gardens.” Not my first thought but she had four children so knew whereof she spake.
Anyway, back to the gym thing: this week, I signed up at the local leisure centre, which makes it at least the fourth – possibly fifth – time I’ve joined a gym. The first three – or it is four? – times were at the local, fairly swish and rather pricey, Healthsporta. I was lured there initially by Mrs Berry telling me about their fluffy white towels, the free Guardians and the café. What a bad influence that woman is! For a while, I’d meet ActorLaddie or Mrs Berry in the café after work; sometimes we’d make it to the swimming pool and gym, quite often not. Eventually I calculated that each lap of the pool was costing me a quid, and it’s not even that big a pool.
When I was diagnosed, Mrs Berry was one of those friends who did lots of reading about PD, for which I was very grateful as I couldn’t face looking online at that time. She came across some articles about the benefits of exercise on Parkinson’s and actually offered to pay my gym fees, which wasn’t necessary but was very, very sweet of her. Anyway, back to Healthsporta, as having a progressive, incurable condition would – surely – be sufficient incentive to go. It wasn’t.
Then, retiring from full-time teaching dangled the chance of off-peak membership and bags of free time which I would use exercise to my heart’s content. Those of you studying my blogs for GCSE will remember the disaster that was my first try at Healthsporta’s Zumba class. But working in the garden is so much more fun and – inevitably – squeezing in exercise between cover work and tutoring and socialising … well, you know the rest.
The truth is, of course, that I’m just not a sporty kind of girl. Reasonably active – walking, gardening and so on but sport? No thanks. At school, poor eyesight combined with being smaller than the average bear didn’t make me first pick for any team. The only time I remember shining was when the teacher seriously misjudged the size of ladder for the obstacle race, and I was only one who could make it through the rungs – happy day! Generally, though, Sport equates to standing on the cold, damp wing of a hockey pitch, and I can live without it.
Except that now, I can’t. What has made the difference in my own Gym-Joining Groundhog Day is that the PD has just tipped from “completely dealt with by meds” to “meds wears off before the next lot are due,” and the effects of this are sobering. Last week, I found myself – briefly – not being able to write or text because of the tremor: a familiar story to many Parkies, I know, but new to me. In many ways, I think I’ve been playing at having PD because my symptoms have been so effectively controlled; now it feels real.
There are options, of course. There’s still plenty of scope to increase the doses, and that may happen. But I’ve been thinking about Jeannie, who’s on the same committee as myself at the Royal Free. She, you’ll remember, is a passionate advocate for exercise and is living proof that it works: you’d not guess she was a Parkie unless she chose to tell you. The message is coming at me loud and clear from all directions, and it’s time I listened.
So, even though it’s horrible outside and ActorLaddie has laid the log fire and I have a new library book, as soon as I’ve posted this blog, I’m off out. This is going against my particular grain, so if you’ve actually managed to stick to an exercise routine, Parkie or no, I’d very much welcome any top tips.
Also this week, we drew the names out for our family’s Secret Santa – or “Secret Satan”, as one of my nieces called it, which adds a certain something. If you’re also starting to think Christmas presents, don’t forget GiveAsYouLive will you? So far this month, Amazon have had to fork out a mighty 66p to the Cure Parkinson’s Trust in respect to my online shopping. Brings that cure a little closer and then I can stop exercising. How about putting a link on the bottom of your Christmas list? You can use this one, if you like: GiveAsYouLive