I’m trying to Beat Parky

If you have been wondering what I have been up to this past year, I would say in a nutshell: swimming.

Of course I have been doing a ton of other things like basically running a Homestead, but prioritizing my health had to take precedence.

My tie-dye and resale business was just crushing me physically and financially, so I had to make some changes late last year. After a number of falls, a concussion and an embarrassing event where I couldn’t lift myself off the grocery store floor because I couldn’t feel my legs. Right then I decided ‘enough of this bullshit’. Parkinsons or not, I could not accept where my body was at, I felt terrible.

I had to do something. Tennis didn’t work. I fell and broke my hand while running. Running and walking is frustrating for me. I tried a group Parky fitness class over zoom and while that was fun I wasn’t there with the group so I couldn’t fully engage. I decided it was time. It was time to jump back into the water.

I was a competitive swimmer growing up in the 70’s and 80’s, and at the peak of my career, my family moved to Upstate New York where there was no pool nearby. I prematurely retired, and over the years I was drawn back into the water with the occasional practice and Master’s team. I found it to be very frustrating because as Monty says ‘you Wilsons always have to try to be the best at things, why can’t you just do the things and enjoy them’.

With Monty’s advice and the advice of my Doctors I decided it was time to get back into the water no matter how awful I felt, how bad a shape I was in, I had to do something to take control of my health better.

I’m not going to lie, the first few months were brutal. I felt like I was slogging an enormous amount of weight with every stroke but over time I became excited to get back into the pool.

I started noticing that I didn’t notice my Parky symptoms as much while I was swimming. It was like I was in my ‘old me’ body and it was glorious. And I was getting stronger.

It’s not without difficulty. I experience a lot of pain breaking down scar tissue from my mastectomy, and my entire left side of my body swells like a balloon after I swim. There is nowhere for the lymphatic fluids to go once they have built up after a workout since I have no lymph nodes on the left side. It’s painful and it stings, and usually Monty will help move the fluids around so that my other lymph nodes will do the work.

But I am full circle back in the water and happy. I love how my body is getting stronger. I love the water surrounding me. I love the little community of swimmers I say hello to and have a little chat with before we all jump in and go on our individual swims.

As a swimmer in my 50’s I am a ‘Master’s Swimmer’, and with classified disabilities I am also a ‘Para Swimmer’. And as a Para-Master Swimmer I am training for the Canadian Master’s Nationals next May in Windsor. I don’t know which events I am swimming yet, but I will be there, hopefully. Things happen but I will try very very hard to be there. I will also be fundraising for Parkinsons Canada while I am training, to help raise money for their continued research and patient support. My goal is to Beat Parky. I may not ever be cured from it, but I will do my best to do things in my life to Beat it, create awareness and hopefully inspire you.

My regional pools are closed for the next 4 weeks. So I am trying to get myself in better cardio shape and take care of family, and prepare for a fun winter. The best way to follow along is via Instagram, but I will also be sending out blog updates via email every month as well.

I hope you are doing well, and thanks for your continued support. See you soon! Pamela

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