Well, the countdown of the 7,447 has finally started. I have reached a point where my enemy’s assault has put the slightest dent in the rim of my shield. Specifically, my walk has degenerated to a point where I catch people looking and trying to figure it out. Other scratches in my armor include new tremors from restless legs at night, my almost frozen right arm that does nothing when I walk, occasional difficulty swallowing and, my favorite new one, a softening of my voice. For me though, the darkest of all has been my recent inability to fully recover from training. I’m currently doing an extended deload, but I’m starting to suspect a nervous system that is under attack. My apologies to those who are new to this story and unfamiliar with 7,447. Please read on.
Shortly after my diagnosis in March of 2013 the concept of 7,447 days was born. It’s a combination of numbers that have always had various meanings to me but when I combine them into my personal Prime of 7,447 you get a number of days that is equal to just over twenty years. That is the time that I vowed to dedicate to resisting this disease at all costs as well as striving to be an example of how to really LIVE with an affliction like this. For the next two decades I would take this fight to my opponent. I looked at this decision as My Thermopylae, a delaying action to buy time for my life and my loved ones as well as those I wanted to inspire. For this time I would dig my feet into the stony ground of the Hot Gates and give or beg no quarter. At the end of my two decades, if the medical community had not marched North with reinforcements, then I would begin to adopt a more accepting approach knowing full well that by that time I would be exhausted and ready to rest. Please don’t misunderstand, this metaphor has nothing to do with death, this disease doesn’t offer that end on it’s own. It simply means that for 7,447 days I will be unreasonable and unrelenting. I will deny my reality in an attempt to forge one more to my liking.
Does it make sense to try to learn the Olympic lifts with a movement disorder that limits everything that is required to perform them on any basic level? Not at all, but the effort and training to even attempt the feat has had many benefits for me and I believe for my teammates in the Flight Program. How reasonable is it to keep pursuing Powerlifting records that continue to get further away? Is lifting that heavy at my age and with my injuries even healthy? At this point the Deadlift and Squat records in my age and weight class are 661 and 551 respectively with a Total of well over 1500lbs that I will attempt to reach despite having an injury weakened Bench Press. This may be foolish in the extreme, but it has already had the inspirational effect that I wanted.
At my last meet, a fellow PWP* actually came to the event to meet me on his way to a Parkinson’s Boot Camp! Tragically we never crossed paths, but Ray, if you’re still with me, please reach out any time. I would love to have you up to my gym and hear your story.
What I’m doing with these 7,447 days may not be the safest course of action and I’ll bet that many psychologists would try to dissuade me from it and, in fact, I have recently been told by a very good friend that I probably need therapy. I’m sure I could benefit from it, but this Kamikaze-Spartan strategy is having the IMPACT that I’m after.
While it may be true that the countdown has now officially started, this is only the first battle. I am entrenched for many more and while Leonidas may have never held out hope for reinforcements to arrive, I always will, and even if they never do, the IMPACT of the fight itself will serve it’s purpose for those who witness it.
Go tell the Spartans, Passerby,
That here, obedient to their laws, We lie. –Simonides, Epitaph for the Spartans who fell at Thermopylae
*PWP: Person With Parkinson’s