Total Pageviews

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Tin Man Tries for Gold, Wins with Silver

Back in May, I had a woman come talk to our Parkinson's Disease Support Group about the SilverSneakers® fitness program. The extreme Summer temperatures were already here and most of us had stopped doing outdoor activities, including going for walks. I thought it might be a fun way for my group to keep active and socialize, and all in air-conditioned comfort. SilverSneakers® is a fitness program for older adults and is offered as a free benefit through many insurance programs. 

My hopes were dashed when the overly-enthusiastic instructor started talking about "cardio" and "squats" and "lifting weights." By the time she left, she had scared the daylights out of our mostly sedentary group, myself included. I should have gone and checked it out, but I was afraid of falling or getting hurt. Trust me, there is nothing humorous about getting hurt when you have Parkinson's.  

In late August, I met an older lady at the Post Office. She asked if she could go ahead of me in line, because she was late for her SilverSneakers® class. She was using a walker and moving very carefully. Curiosity got the best of me and I asked how the classes were? She said they were great and she did the entire class sitting down. She proceeded to brag that she was the oldest in class, at 89!

Between the Summer heat and my foot problems, I'd been too inactive. My Parkinson's riddled body was beginning to feel like the Tin Man from the Wizard of
Parkie Tin Man
Oz; rusty and badly in need of lubrication. 
I decided to get some class info. It was a benefit of my insurance, and I could use all the facilities for free, not just the classes. My Wonderful Husband went with me to the first class.

Sara, the instructor (not the one who came and talked to our group) told us to do whatever we felt comfortable doing. If you need to sit; sit. If you start to feel pain; stop. She said there was only one rule: You must keep breathing! No one was allowed to stop breathing in her class. This made the others laugh. 

As it turns out, the "cardio" is moving our feet to music. Similar to basic line dancing steps. The "squats" are done hovering over a chair, not squatting down by the floor and the "weights" are optional and start at one pound. We do stretches and balance exercises. We squeeze rubber balls or toss them in the air and try to catch them. We alternate between sitting and standing. We concentrate on different areas of the body on different days, but always move our whole body every class. The various movements change as well as the music, so each class is different and doesn't get boring. 

So, we started. I was in the back row, right next to the 89-year old from the Post Office. It only took a few minutes to realize I have two left feet. What happened to the Disco Queen of bygone years? I kept tripping over my own feet! When she added arm movements to the footwork, I found I could NOT do both. I found myself holding on to the chair for balance and I sat frequently. But I made it through the entire class! NO ONE cared that I was slow, stumbling or sat down! The others were encouraging and friendly (even though I was obviously the youngest one there, except for the instructor).

Here is a video of me I made after the first class:


Classes are three days a week and I haven't missed one yet. My Wonderful Husband decided he'd rather do the more strenuous pool exercises, so he goes his way and I go mine and we meet up after.

After a few weeks of classes, my rusty Tin Man body is feeling much better. Sure, I had a few muscle aches at first, but at least I KNEW what caused them. It is much easier for me to get up from sitting. I am standing up straighter. The biggest improvement has been in my balance! Watch my after video:


All in all, I'd say I was definitely a WINNER! I've got golden hair, silver sneakers and bronze skin to go with my Tin Man body! 

Clicking on the colored words will open a new window and take you to a different story. 

To find a SilverSneakers®class near you, visit their website:

To watch all my videos, visit my YouTube channel:

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

YumaBev and Her Shoe Shopping Adventure

A few months ago, I diagnosed myself with plantar fasciitis. My feet were improving somewhat, but I went to see my Doctor just to be sure. She confirmed my diagnosis and added prescription strength naproxen to my daily drug regimen. Then she looked at the brand new shoes I was wearing and said, "You NEED to wear better quality shoes, or your feet will never heal."

Sounds simple, right? Wrong.

I have worn the same type sneakers for DECADES: Velcro, wide-width, plain white, boring and cheap. My feet are short, but they are also wide, so my current shoe size is 6.5 W.

Kmart sneakers

The name changed, but the shoe didn't
I used to buy Kmart brand. It was simple; walk in, grab my size, try them on just to be sure they felt okay, pay for them and I was done. Over the years the size grew a little larger and the "brand name" changed, but they were the exact same shoes. During our traveling years, I would buy them whenever we were near a Kmart. If they were on sale, I'd buy two. A few years ago, the closest Kmart to Yuma, which was 80 miles away, closed, and I was stuck. I could no longer easily get my beloved sneakers.

So, I started buying the Walmart brand, interestingly named "Betty" which was my Mother's name. They fit okay, not the same, but okay. They didn't last as long, but were half the price of the Kmart brand, so it was a good deal. Or so I thought. I was wearing these brand new shoes when my Doctor scolded me.  
Betty sneakers

I left the Doctors office in a quandary. I haven't shopped for shoes for decades. I didn't know how or where to begin. 

First I went to a store with the word Famous in their name. It was a Monday morning and the store was almost empty. There were shoes everywhere and to be honest, it was a bit overwhelming. I started at the far end and looked for shoes in my size range. The few boxes I found with size 6.5 on them were way up high, beyond my reach. I asked the only employee, who was busy gossiping with the mall security guard, if she could help me. She looked down at my shoes and said, "I hope you don't need Velcro, because we don't carry those." I assured her that I could tie laces, but needed wider width shoes. She went and got two boxes down from the shelves and went back to gossiping. I tried them on and both were way too tight. Since all the smaller sizes were way up high and I got no additional help, I left.

From the Famous store, I walked next door to Kohl's, but ran into a similar problem finding my size. I did try on one pair of Skechers at Kohl's, but they were too big. They didn't have any smaller sizes so, I gave up and went home.

The next day, I went shopping again. This time, I headed to the Skechers Outlet store. As I walked in the door, I felt overwhelmed once again. Too many choices can cause anxiety for some people with Parkinson's and apparently I am one of them. 

The Manager of the store came right over and asked if I needed help. I told her what I was looking for and my size. She said, let's go sit down and measure your feet to make sure. She then went and brought two pairs of shoes to try on. After I tried them on, I told her what was "wrong" with each pair. She then went and brought two more. Within 20 minutes, I had shoes that fit my feet perfectly! 

I really liked the brightly colored ones, but the only ones that fit my feet were rather plain. I had my choice of gray or white. Since gray is the color of the Parkinson's Awareness ribbon, I bought the gray pair. 

My Parkinson gray Skechers

The Manager said I could get a second pair half off within 45 days. After wearing the gray pair for a few weeks, I decided they fit better when I wore thin socks, so I went back and bought the second pair, a size larger, to wear with my thicker socks. The price was reduced, so by waiting a few weeks, I actually saved money! 

The shoes were not cheap. The gray pair cost about six times more than the Walmart Betty's, which would start to come apart after 2 months. I've been wearing the Skechers all day, everyday and 6 weeks later, they still are like brand new. 

2nd Pair of White Skechers

Now all I need is some colorful laces to brighten them up. Maybe pink for Breast Cancer Awareness? 

Clicking on the colored words will open a new window and take you to a different story. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Leaves: Leave Me Alone

There are many reasons we chose Yuma, Arizona, to be our home: warm Winters, 360+ days of sunshine, low humidity, no mosquitoes, and a supposedly maintenance free yard. Some people attempt to grow grass, others plant oleanders, bougainvilleas, and other non-native shrubs. They plant both native and non-native trees. Some make their yards look like a tropical jungle, filled with flowering plants, trees and shrubs. We, however, have taken maintenance free to an extreme. We have plants that require almost no pruning or trimming. Our total landscaping package consists of three golden barrel cactus and three agave plants. That's it! No bushes, shrubs or trees. We decorate with unique rocks and ceramic pots instead.

My front yard

So, how is it that EVERY day, I am outside filling up bags with leaves? It is Summer, not Fall, there shouldn't be ANY leaves in my yard, and yet, every morning and evening it's the same: leaves, leaves and more leaves.

This is just a weeks worth of leaves

The answer is simple: Wind and Winter Visitors. 

Most of my neighbors are only here from October until April and while they are here, they meticulously take care of their yards. They trim their bushes and vacuum up the leaves. During those months, the wind blows from the North; away from my home.

But after they leave for the Summer, the wind changes and blows in from the South. All the leaves from their shrubs, bushes, plants and trees, which grow like crazy while they are gone, end up being carried by the wind to the Northeast corner of our subdivision and right into my front yard.

Where all the leaves come from

So, every morning and evening, I go out and pick up leaves. I am lucky that they tend to collect in the gas and water line access cut-outs in the concrete and in the corner by the wall. 

I always wear thick gloves when picking up these leaves. Why? Well, first of all, some of the leaves have thorns, but the main reason is... 

you never know what might be hiding in the leaves! 

I should be furious, but I am not. I've been picking up leaves at least twice a day for a couple of months now and have noticed that my ability to bend over, to get back up from squatting, and my balance has improved. 

Does that mean I enjoy picking up everyone else's yard trash? NO! 

It just means I've found a silver lining in an otherwise unpleasant task if you live in Yuma, Arizona, year round. 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

You've Gotta Learn to Walk This Way

Exercise is a necessity if you have Parkinson's disease and walking is a great way to keep moving. One of the realities of living with Parkinson's disease is that your gait will change. These changes happen so slowly, you may not even notice that your arm no longer swings or that you walk like you have a ten pound weight attached to one ankle. 

Medications can reduce the rigidity, but if you've been walking this way for a long time, it can be difficult for your brain to learn a more normal gait. 

Prior to diagnosis, I had a very distinctive gait. I lurched. Neighbors could tell it was me from four blocks away.  

My right leg was very rigid, my right hand was always clenched into a fist, my right arm didn't swing and my right foot seemed to thud down as I walked. People, including medical folks, thought for sure I had a stroke. 

After diagnosis and medications, my gait slowly changed, and I lurched only when my meds wore off. One of these times, made for a humorous story involving a dance contest

As the disease progressed and I began to take more and more medications, my gait changed again. My movements became slower and my left foot would cramp. Gait changes can cause pain in your knees, hips, feet, back, neck and even shoulders due to postural misalignment and in my case, I had left hip pain that woke me every morning along with occasional charlie horses. Not fun.

Fortunately, the last foot cramp I had was the morning of my DBS surgery and as the settings got optimized and I reduced the amount of medications I was taking, my gait slowly changed again. The charlie horses disappeared but I now added left knee pain in the mornings. I would get out of bed and within ten minutes, I'd be out walking. It seemed the only way to relieve the hip and knee pain.

Sometime in the last year or so, I realized that my left knee and hip had stopped hurting and therefore, I was sleeping longer. Yippee! Hooray! 

However, I began to notice something new a few months back. When I would first get out of bed, the bottom of both feet would hurt for the first three or four steps I'd take. Since walking seemed to relieve the pain, I began walking even longer distances. But each morning, the pain was worse and then, throughout the day, if I sat for more than 15 minutes, the first few steps I took were very painful.

I considered going to a foot doctor, but decided to ask others with Parkinson's first. They came up with a possible answer: Plantar Fasciitis. It seems my gait had changed again and my feet were slapping the ground as I walked instead of rolling normally from heel to toe. The more I walked, the more I aggravated my feet. 

I had my DBS settings adjusted, bought brand new walking shoes, reduced the amount of time I walked and paid close attention to exactly how I took each step. If I get distracted, I begin slapping my feet again, especially my right foot. It's been a few months now, and my feet are slowly getting better, but I am still walking.

Here I am, at age 55, trying to learn how to Walk This Way.

Clicking on the colored words will open a new window and take you to a different story. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Parkinson's Humor Blog gets an Award

When I started this blog almost four years ago, it was a place for me to put down the wacky thoughts and humorous musings of my sleep deprived, Parkinson's prescription drugged mind. So I was rather surprised when I got an email informing me that my blog was named as one of the Best of 2015.
It all began because I was wide awake and alone with my thoughts at 4 am. There isn't much you can do in the middle of the night, without waking everyone else up. You can't vacuum or wash clothes and there's nothing on TV, so I would go online to find another Parkie to chat with. I would share funny stories with these strangers on the other end of the World Wide Web. I was amazed at how many people from other countries could type in English and somewhat embarrassed that I can barely type English. I learned to say G'day Mate and what "made redundant" & "knackered" meant.

Sometimes they would say, "You should start writing these stories down" so I started this blog. And soon, some of these strangers became friends; comrades in this reluctant war we were all fighting called Parkinson's. Over the years, I've been lucky enough to meet some of them in person. 

Soon people began asking if I could put my stories into book form, so they could share them with relatives or friends. That is how the Parkinson's Humor book got published.

My blog was being viewed by people all over the world and my stories slowly began to change. I began to write about ways to cope with the various symptoms and ways to help get the most out of your Doctor visits. I had the ability to decipher the medical mumbo jumbo and translate it into a language we can all understand.

Then I began my DBS surgery journey and my stories changed again. My life changed as well. I was no longer wide awake at 4 am. I was back to sleeping alongside my Wonderful Husband, until he woke up. I had less time to spend in the chat room and less time to write. I was busy enjoying the new, more active life the DBS surgery gave me.

The chat room where I had spent so many sleepless nights decided to shut down. But Facebook was becoming a global phenomenon, and soon I belonged to dozens of Parkinson's related Facebook groups.  

With the Facebook groups, people could ask a Parkinson's related question and have two dozen answers from around the world in a few hours. I started my own Parkinson's Humor Facebook page and shared links to my blog stories on there.

I don't write as many stories as I used to, but I personally answer emails from people and contribute to the Facebook groups. I run our local Parkinson's support group. I also speak to groups and medical school students about Parkinson's. In other words, I keep busy.  

I was honored and surprised to have this blog voted as one of the top Parkinson's blogs of 2015.

Thank you very much.

Yuma Bev

Clicking on the colored words will open a new window and take you to a different story. 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Friendship and Fun with Davis Phinney

I've attended several Parkinson's disease conferences and they all have similar formats. Most of the speakers are Doctors, Neuro-surgeons, and Researchers. They have technical slide presentations and use fancy terminology they learned in medical school. They speak way too fast for our dopamine deprived brains to absorb what they have said. Some attempt to add humor, but mostly they forget they are speaking to Patients, many of whom can't recall the name or dosage of their Parkie meds much less understand these type of slides:

The Davis Phinney Victory Summits are different. I've been lucky enough to attend two of them; in Phoenix, Arizona, during a rainy day, in January of 2013 and a few weeks ago, on Feb 7, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The theme of these seminars is Living Well with Parkinson's and most of the speakers give practical advice on how to do just that. Some still have complicated slides and some still speak too fast, but I've not seen anyone fall asleep.

They have planned Movement Breaks in between each speaker and attendees are encouraged to get up and move. The afternoon sessions are divided into smaller groups (Nutrition, Speech Therapy, Fall Prevention, DBS, etc.), so you have a choice of what you want to learn about and can get a more personal discussion going. 

My Las Vegas friend, Kip and I were invited to be part of the DBS session as a panel members and we were more than happy to answer questions regarding our DBS experience. After all, who knows more about DBS from the perspective of the Parkie than a Parkie with DBS? 
YumaBev and Kip discussing DBS 

Because I was a panelist, I was invited to a reception the evening prior and that's when I finally got to meet Jill. She and I met several years ago, in a Parkinson's Chat room in the wee hours, when we were awake and everyone else was asleep. Jill lives in British Columbia, Canada, and we have kept in touch via Facebook ever since. Jill was attending as an Ambassador for the 4th World Parkinson Congress.
YumaBev and Jill 

One of the best parts of the Victory Summit was getting to meet other Parkies. I got to re-connect with some I've met before and I got to meet, in person, some I've only interacted with online, either through this blog, Facebook, Twitter, email or the old Parkinson's Chat Room.

David & YumaBev
YumaBev & Heather 

Carl & YumaBev
Cidney & YumaBev
YumaBev & Michelle
YumaBev & Jill 

If there is a Victory Summit near you, please go. I can almost guarantee that you will leave inspired to Live Well with Parkinson's. And be sure to tell Davis Phinney I said hello.
Davis Phinney

Clicking on the colored words will open a new window and take you to a different story. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A Quarter Million Laughs

My little Parkinson's Humor blog hit a big milestone recently. The number of people who have logged in and looked at my stories is now over 250,000. Most people find my blog stories by doing internet searches, not by following links I have posted on Facebook or Twitter. The United States, United Kingdom and Canada are still the top three places where my reader's hail from. This makes sense as they are all English speaking countries. In the last few months, France, Russia and Ukraine have been very active, so I want to welcome all of them to Club Parkie, the club no one wants to join.


It has been quite a while since I had a party for this blog. The last one was almost three years ago when I was at 10,000 so I was overdue. We booked the big room at Da Boyz, our favorite Italian restaurant, and then had to change the date/time several times to accommodate my guests weekly events such as Bingo night, Jeeping day, and the Camera Club meeting. We finally settled on Monday at 2 pm.

The guest list was an eclectic group consisting of Parkie friends, current and former neighbors, Camera Club buddies and one or two other friends. We picked up the cake I ordered and headed down to the restaurant to meet everyone for a lunch.

One of the first things to greet me was a florist carrying flowers from one of my Parkie friends who had a bad cold and couldn't be there.

Do you like my Happy Parkie shirt???

Then friends came pouring in, carrying balloons and roses and congratulatory cards. Introductions were made, hugs were exchanged and we settled down and ordered lunch.

My Wonderful Husband made a small speech, several others did, too. I thanked everyone for helping us through that rough period a year or so ago.

Then we did what we do best. We ate and laughed. After lunch, we ate cake and laughed some more.

Then came the big surprise that no one was expecting. We picked up the check for everyone there. It was the least we could do. These friends have been there since before that first blog story, cheering me on, lifting me up, nagging me to walk, making me laugh, giving me much needed hugs, treating me like their favorite sister/daughter/niece. We are truly thankful for each and everyone of them.

And I am truly thankful for each and everyone of YOU who takes time to read my stories. Have a Happy Parkie Day!  

Friday, January 9, 2015

Parkinson's Disease; Fall in Winter

A few weeks ago, my Wonderful Husband and I were sitting on our back patio when we spotted something large and orange in the desert behind our house. We sat there trying to figure out what it was. We came up with some humorous possibilities, such as a discarded prison jumpsuit, or an inflatable Halloween pumpkin or perhaps a child's swimming pool. Whatever it was, we decided to go get it and put it in the trash. 

I was extra careful climbing over our low back wall and my Wonderful Husband held my hand as we negotiated a steep ditch created by runoff water. All that was left was a very shallow secondary ditch. The next thing I know, I was lying in the sand and my glasses were a few feet away. 

The steep ditch
The shallow ditch 

I was okay; I just had some scrapes on my leg and the palm of my hand, but my glasses weren't damaged. I was achy for a few days, but at least I fell in soft sand and not into rocks or on gravel. But why did I fall?

I've been replaying the fall over and over in my head; there was nothing for me to trip over and I was watching what I was doing, so how did I end up in the sand? The answer I have come up with is ... brake failure. 

Yes, brake failure.

It seems that if I get some forward momentum, I can't stop! Since the fall, I've noticed that if I step off a curb, due to the forward momentum, it takes a few extra steps before my gait returns to normal. The same thing happens if I walk down an incline. I have trouble stopping. No brakes! 

So, that's what happened when I tried to navigate the shallow ditch; my brakes didn't work and I fell forward into the sand. Now that I realize my brakes don't work, I adjust how I handle steep driveways, curbs and ditches. 

The large orange thing out in the desert? Yes, we went ahead and got it. It was a section of temporary construction fencing that probably got swept away in a rainstorm. We untangled it and put it in our trash. Just because I took a tumble, didn't mean we shouldn't pick it up, right?

Monday, December 29, 2014

New Songs for People with Parkinson's

I haven't written any new song parodies lately, but I have come up with some very good titles:

Drooling on Myself
Restless Legs
18 Pills and a Dozen Snoozes
I Wear My Mouth Guard at Night
Walk like a Drunk
Moving and Grooving 
Tossing and Turning all Night
A Lesson in Freezin'
Before the Next Time I Fall
Standing Up is Hard to Do
By the Time I take my Next Dose
I Wish I was Dreaming
Are You Ever Gonna Make Up Your Mind
Do You Smell What I Smell
I Can't Stop Tremoring
I've Got that Shaky Feeling
My Feet Keep Sticking to the Floor
Help Me Roll Over in Bed
Shuffling Along
Tiny Footsteps

You can listen to all of my song parodies on my YouTube channel.

Parkinson's Humor on YouTube

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas in My Neighborhood

I live east of Yuma, Arizona in an area known as The Foothills. My neighborhood is called Arroyo de Fortuna, which is the Spanish name for the Fortuna Wash which lies just east of our subdivision. There are 123 homes and our demographics include a couple families with young children, a few middle-age working people and the rest are retirees. Most are in their 60's and 70's and a few are in their 80's or 90's. As far as I know, I am the only one with Parkinson's disease. I would say about 25% stay year round and the rest only come here for the Winter (four to six months). Quite a few are from Canada and the rest come from the Pacific Northwest with an occasional mid-westerner thrown in for good measure. 

When it comes to Holiday decorating, it's an interesting mix. It seems like the Canadians tend to do the most, maybe it's because they enjoy being able to put the Christmas decorations up without having to trudge through snow. The ones who go back North to visit family for Christmas tend to do the least. Almost everyone has something, even if it's just a Poinsettia in a pot or a wreath on their front door.

Poinsettia in a pot

You've got the ones who decorate the cactus. 

The ones who put out the lighted snowmen and Santa.


The ones who have a sense of humor.

The minimalists.

The creative ones.
Snowman made from Tumbleweeds

And my favorite, a fellow who lives here year round puts out this one every year.

His next door neighbor happens to live in North Pole, Alaska during the Summer.

As I walked through the neighborhood this Christmas morning, I waved and said Merry Christmas to everyone. And a special Merry Christmas to all of you!