ACTA BELLUM (WAR JOURNAL) – Week 1

Ben Howard – Oats in the Water

2/20/16 – My family got together today to say goodbye to step dad who died from a sudden, massive heart attack last weekend. His passing has been the spark I need for a new blog post to write, but not in a good way. His life was an example of what happens when a good man lets life’s difficulties break his spirit and just embraces the dark side of this experience. It’s true, life is struggle. Very often, the bad times do tend to overshadow and outnumber the good times by a wide margin. Rather than using that as an excuse to give up, I think it’s all the more reason to embrace what little light we may have. Look for a short post next week that will explore this and introduce and say farewell to my step-dad in a deeper way. He deserves that and I hope to turn the sad last few years of his life into something we can all learn from.

2/19/16 – Just some short thoughts for today. I finally made it back to the gym today for the first time in four days. I want to be open about this because I’m sure some people think that I train all the time, no matter what. It’s true to a certain degree. I was still fighting the general nausea from the medication and yet I managed to get my squats in. I even managed to avoid dropping the weight that I had scheduled so I’m still on track. These things are great and I’m happy I did them, but what I’m most proud of is what I didn’t do. Also on the schedule for tonight was bench press, landmine press, rolling triceps extensions and heavy weighted dips. I didn’t do any of those things. I skipped them because I’m finally coming to terms with the limitations of my body. The fact that I have been horribly ill for days would not have mattered in years past. I would have just powered through everything and broke myself down even more. While we do have to power through adversity, we have to temper it with wisdom and a touch of moderation. In short, we should constantly test our limits, not look to destroy them overnight. The key to maintaining constant long-term self improvement is not looking for rapid, overnight change but rather sustaining long runs of consistent day to day gains. This means that minimizing the down times is even more important than maximizing the up times. This is not coming from some spray tanned weekend warrior with a perfectly white smile and a certificate from a weekend class that says he’s a certified trainer. This is coming from someone who’s trying to deadlift almost 700lbs for an American record in five months. If I can give myself a break when I know I need it, you can too. Now go get ’em ladies and gents.

2/18/16 – Gunslinger's Requiem

2/17/16 – laughingheart

2/16/16 – Today I have to say a big thank you to everyone who has shared my favorite personal video, Live Your Life. I wasn’t even aware but it recently crossed over 500 views on Youtube alone. 100 of which have have been in the last two weeks. It was made right after the high point of my first 2 1/2 years with PD, and is paired with this blogpost: CULMINATION: This is what you can do with Parkinson’s . If you’re new to this site, these are a great way to get to know me and my mission. Things have been very tough since this high point, but seeing this message start to get traction lifts my spirits a bit. As soon as these meds are sorted out, I’m going to being making another drive to surpass even this milestone.

2/15/16 – If you’re looking for a PD focused exercise regimen, this looks amazing. Another thank you to Ray Brun for bringing it to my attention. I am always a bit hesitant to recommend my style of training (powerlifting) as therapy for PD. This, however seems like a great program

https://www.powerthroughproject.org/en/home

665 GOAL
665 – 2016’s goal: a national record (better just shoot for 700, new record is 666lbs!)

WILL = WAY
It really surprises me from time to time just what we can accomplish in spite of the roadblocks life gives us. Today was spent feeling like my body was divided in two. My right side, fully expressing all of my symptoms which seem to be growing in intensity while we try to escalate my Sinamet (and now Lodosyn) regimen. The stark contrast to my seemingly normal left side only adding to my perception of how strong they are getting. Yet here I am, after a day spent struggling with pill containers, stumbling over curbs and getting into cars, not to mention the hours spent lying still to alleviate nausea caused by the aforementioned pills which happen to be 90% ineffective so far (except for the side effects! Those are perfectly functional!), here I am, preparing to go to the gym to continue my five month plan to give me a shot at an American record in powerlifting. After all the struggles of today, I’m about to throw 345lbs across my back including 40 lbs of unstable swinging chains and squat all the way down, hold, and stand back up, repeatedly. Granted, the environment is controlled and the equipment is designed for the purpose, including my shoes, but the reality is that I know this will make me better. My low energy levels may challenge my ability to complete the work that I’ve painstakingly programmed for myself, but I will do all that I am capable of and that is always the right amount. The right hand that is even taking time off from typing will help push 255lbs off of my chest repeatedly and will in fact be the stronger of the two arms. This will not be fun, like it used to be, but it will make me better. The fatigue I endure tomorrow will result in my body not only repairing itself, but increasing it’s capacity to balance and coordinate movement as well as becoming just plain stronger. This is what it takes. This is what we do. “The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way, becomes the way.” – Marcus Aurelius.

Honesty amendment: After all the above pep talk, I ended up scrapping tonight’s workout due to last minute personal distractions and nagging nausea. It happens to the best of us. Hopefully able to make it up early tomorrow morning. When this happens to you, don’t let it be more of a speed bump than it has to. Just keep stepping!

2/14/16 – My first entry in the new format: A simple link to the best motivational video I’ve seen in a long time. It’s the latest from Mateusz M, the man most responsible for me taking up video editing as a way to tell my story. (I am working on a new one that actually gets back to me and my training. Hopefully ready in a couple of days.) The poem read is actually a beautiful rearrangement of two great poems, Roll the Dice and The Laughing Heart, both by Charles Bukowski. (at least two, I need to go through it line by line and see if he used more than the two that I recognize.) It’s worth it to read Mateusz’s comment to his fans on the long wait between his videos, but I will provide my favorite quote: “I put my tears, sweat, blood, time, effort. Like for real, if I don’t cry, if I don’t have shivers working my video then it’s a crap – I need to start all over again.” That dedication shows in the quality of this great video. Enjoy and be inspired.

2/14/16 – This is my latest attempt at keeping a journal, something I’ve been trying to do, unsuccessfully, for about 30 years (I’m 41 chronologically but 26 in my mind). In it, I hope to provide some small token of daily inspiration, be it my own writing in short(ish) form or links to some treasure I’ve found on the miracle that we call the internet. It will be written as an ongoing page that I will update daily between 9 and 11pm Pacific Standard Time with a new page started each Sunday night to be the set as the front page of this website. Expect an ever-evolving amalgamation (a wordsmith way of saying smash-up) of motivational music, quotes and videos (not all mine, I will pillage the net like Blackbeard himself). I will also use embedded music players to help set the stage. Farewell Life by Arn Andersson & Nights Amore

Don’t expect the thunder I run through my earphones while I’m training, instead I’ve discovered through my new hobby of video editing that there is a wealth of cinematic theme music out there.

I will still do my longer-form writing that has been the majority of this blog to date, aiming for a new piece every week or two as inspiration strikes. The longer blog posts will accessed through the INSPIRATIONAL MUTTERINGS tab at the top of the page and will also be linked on this front JOURNAL page.

At the bottom of each daily edit will be a personal PD entry, Doogie Howser style. There are many reasons for these updates. First will be to accurately chronicle the development of my symptoms as well as my outlook on them and, hopefully, my strategies for overcoming them. I do this publicly so that other people struggling with these symptoms know they are not alone. It won’t always be pretty, but it will always be true. I will share my times of doubt and darker moods in order to maintain an honest accounting and to let others know that it’s ok to have these times, they are a part of the process of living with and conquering any affliction. From time to time you can also expect milestone updates on my training as I continue my quest to pinnacle in the sport of powerlifting in spite of this cursed disease. These will be short and succinct and will understandably not be of use to everyone, you can take them or leave as you will.

My hope for this new process is to turn this website into a daily source for motivation and inspiration for anyone, whether afflicted or blessed with good health, as well as a source for any interesting information I find on Parkinson’s Disease. Please bookmark, follow or drop-in regularly and always know you have free reign to share anything that I write or post here. It will not be a constant source of sunshine and rainbows (I’ve never been one for blowing smoke, literally and figuratively, much to the disagreement of my brother and most of my friends if you know what I mean. I know, I know, it would make me feel so much better…). Instead of constant rainbows and pretty pictures expect the inspirational imagery of a stark mountain standing defiant and unmovable against a storm. That is more my style. There will at times be harsh imagery and I won’t shy away from harsh language when I believe it’s punctuation is necessary to deliver a message.

As always, thank you for reading, let’s do this thing…

11 thoughts on “ACTA BELLUM (WAR JOURNAL) – Week 1

  1. I admire you for working out when you feel nausea. How do you do that? I am going to visit you at your gym some day. I have got to see how you manage all this adversity.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Truthfully Ray I don’t always overcome. My nausea is uncomfortable but when it doesn’t have me laying still and on my back I take advantage. Actually Ray, I would love to come and hike your trail with you. I understand if that’s a lot to ask, I know it takes a lot out of you, so please, only if it would be good for you. I’m thinking of having a friend or two join to film it. It would make a monumental addition to one of my videos.

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  2. I love to hike it with you, Josh. And I have added hill intervals to my walking program so it is getting more manageable. Best time of year is March or April when there is water in the lake. Eight years ago, we built our home against Rockville Hills Regional Park, Fairfield, Cal. with my plan being to hike it daily. (Worked great for few years but Mr. P had other plans!) It is actually a mountain bikers park. They have a trail just a hundred yards from my backyard 73 foot waterfall ( you can tell I love nature). Time for me to quit laying around my waterfall and get back to real nature! Email me, Josh and we can see one another’s recovery centers.
    Don’t worry about me walking it. I have to do 2.5 hours walking a week regardless. That is my commitment to my online exercise team I call Shakers and Movers. We all are committed for 10 months. This is part of the World Parkinsons Congress iniative headed by former NBA PwP Brian Grant and sponsored by the NBA . We all meet in Portland week of Sept 19 along with a few thousand other PWPs,docs, and researchers to slay the dragon. Go to http://www.powerthroughproject.org for more info. You will see a picture of me and a few pages story about me and my Crossing the Rubicon Moment. I credit both you and Megan in the write up as being inspiration to me. Nothing would be better than to see both you and Megan at the WPC in September (http://www.worldpdcoalition.org). I know Megan was at The Montreal one. May be last one in USA for twenty years, way too long for me. What do you guys think?

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  3. Meg and Josh, Practice principles of Kintsugi along with faith and don’t be surprised if you do turn your brokenness into a living miracle. That is my hope for you.

    Josh, I just have to respond to your not being able to pick up the foot. I can say the same when I walk sideways or backwards. However, forwards, I can walk with near – perfect gait, full stride, even if it is more tiring and slower paced!It is simply the result of hundreds of hours of nueroplasticy (science)and Kintsugi (art). Far be in for me to advise a world class athlete, but training balance between strength and walking is a question I would have to you. Instead of advice, let’s consider this a sharing of inspiration I credit to Meg Bernard, a small girl with Parkinson’s blog:

    Lets talk about an amazing Japanese art, Kintsugi, that dates back to the fifteenth century which turns ugly breaks into beautiful fixes. They use gold resin to honor and celebrate repairs and scars! In our disposable society on the rare occasions when we repair things, we always try to hide the brokenness. State Farm used to say, “We make things the way they were before .” My challenge to you is, “ How about making things better than they were?”
    The awe-inspiring, Meg Bernard, who writes a blog “A Small Girl with Parkinsons “, helped me see the value of brokenness with new eyes by introducing me to Kintsugi. I also learned that if I just look for physical improvement, I will be terribly disappointed. Well-being encompasses all our parts, not just the physical body. When our emotions are in turmoil or our mind is bombarded with obsessive thoughts our health is compromised. So it is important to create balance in your life by nurturing your whole person, mind, body and soul. That includes spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical needs.

    When I was finally diagnosed with PD a couple years ago, I needed major emotional, mental, and spiritual healing, not just physical healing. I had been sleeping 4.5 hours a night and dealing with bouts of moderate anxiety, sadness, anger, boredom, and mood swings. Mind, body, and soul, I was shattered to pieces. I knew the solution was that I just needed to get moving. But I could not get past what my body was telling me 24/7,”Stop Moving.” Then guilt for slacking set in, and I felt even worse. The less calories burned, the more overweight I was. More guilt.

    I realize now that I was like the baby elephant whom was trained by being chained to the stake. Later on when the chains are released, the mature elephant still stayed in the same area. It never even thought about testing the limits! I could not hike our backyard mountainous nature park that had become my daily joy in life, or do intense workouts anymore because the chain (my beliefs about PD) stopped me in my tracks. Even after the chains apparently had been released(the impacts of Sinamet), I found myself in my slacker comfort zone- exercising regularly, but at an easy pace. Since my legs are always flat, tight, and slow, it was easier to not test their limits. I always knew I need to do intervals and aerobics to replace serious deficits in dopamine, but I did not think it was worth the exhausted feeling. At that time, I was really stuck. However, I had no idea of the surprising ride to follow, or that this experience of managing life with PD was actually an unimaginable gift!

    Eventually, I was released from the mental shackles that limited my physical healing. I discovered that by powering through the fatigue, I could still hike the beautiful mountain bike trails again! My neighborhood deer and lakes were back! I could also do steep hill intervals and circuit training.

    Each time I am back in the cardio-zone, I imagine the dopamine being produced converts to the gold resin that will be used for repairs. There is nothing like the gift of neuroplasticity to create and fix neuropathways that will be lined with streaks of this gold!

    From the time PD started to join me, completely unknown to me, my body has been repairing broken neuropathways just as my existing neurons were in the process of dying like crazy. These neurons signal my legs to to stride it out while PD wants me to shuffle my feet and stumble and fall. I was hiking almost daily in 2012 when symptoms like a frozen shoulder and unexplained fatigue and falls started. I still had enough left to be hiking a few times a week in 2014 when I was diagnosed. Since then, until recently picking up the intensity, it has been more like moderate 2-3 days of flatlands walks. But at any rate I know I have achieved neuroplasticity because of all that walking. How do I know?

    Seven different movement disorder physical therapists have commented on my walking stride and pace being outstanding (relatively to others with PD). That is interesting because I look every bit like someone who has lost 90% of his dopamine production as I struggle to get up and get started or to walk sideways or backwards. But once I get moving forward,I forget all about PD and I can hang with many healthy seniors. The process may have taken years and several hundred hours of work, but it gives me new-found hope that I can keep fixing the broken neurons all over the body!

    Not to understate the physical repairs, but that is such a small part of this process. The real transformation has been in the total body. That part, I save for another blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I am so excited about Portland and a picture of Josh, Meg, and Ray together, the three PD Dragon Slayers! He has taken so much from us, including our typing hands, but he can’t get the power of our written words!

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