Again I’m forced to let go of something I truly love. I’ve reached a point in my Olympic Weightlifting journey where there is no safe place to step forward and I have exhausted every resource that I can to try and force my body to perform these movements. Actually, to me, the term “movements” does the Clean & Jerk and the Snatch no justice. To me they are kinetic artistry and the ultimate expression of what our miraculous bodies can do. To me, they are a window on who I used to be and maybe what I could have been.
I’m sorry to say that window is closed. Every attempt that I’ve made over these last six months to finally learn this art has been denied by either this body or this disease. I joined a truly great program from Barbell Shrugged that provided the best instruction and support available to me. I have spent months receiving sometimes painful Active Release Therapy to try to regain the mobility needed and while I have benefited from it greatly, it hasn’t allowed me the ability to securely lock any real weight out overhead. The real decision to surrender this pursuit is that it has stopped being healthy for me. The extreme violence with which these lifts must be performed is my favorite thing about this Art that disguises itself as a sport. If that violence is not contained and controlled by perfect timing, balance and technique, the body will tear itself apart. For me, with my greatly diminished coordination and range of motion, that is now happening with the empty barbell during warm-ups. My theory going into this still seems sound. As PD takes away balance, coordination and mobility what better pursuit to fight it than the sport that demands the highest levels of those attributes?
As People with Parkinson’s (PwPs), we will have things taken from us. That is the nature of this disease and we must not flinch when we stare that reality down. Our fear of this fact changes nothing. What we have to do is fight for every inch that we can win while grudgingly stepping away from the battles that would waste our time. We have to accept who we are and hold onto that person with everything we have. I am still a man, a son, a brother and most of all a father and my children will never see me give in to fear. I am also still a Powerlifter. In that much simpler and more brutal sport I am still armed and dangerous. This does nothing to deter me from that calling and I will continue to use that battlefield to show What you can do with PD…or anything else
We must accept both sides of who we are. Last Saturday I was the man who set his all-time personal record with a 585lb Deadlift. On Sunday I was the man who failed on the porch steps for his first ever all-time PD related fall. I am a man who is afraid of how this might end. I am also a man who accepts his fear and consumes it, for it’s only use is to be burned as fuel. The late stages of this life do not have to be spent in a chair or a bed. I accept the fact that that is one possible future, and the fear that comes with it burns white in my forge. Every day I live and every moment that I enjoy are my victories, and I lay claim to them all.