Boxing and Coping: My mom’s journey with Parkinson’s

What was it like? Alison estimates that it was ten years ago and I’ll go with seven or so when my mom started showing. Her hand would shake when it was wine time. Eventually she went to the doctor and we found out what we had thought all along: Parkinson’s. I didn’t know much about it and I still know little. She was told by her doctor that she got it late which is good and that it won’t get better but she could keep it steady by exercising and taking care of herself. She started a study at Vanderbilt that had her getting scans before and after the 12 weeks and she also would go to boxing classes. I had an opportunity to come up and attend a class so I did this today. First not great sign: mom went to the wrong location. We were in the right shopping center, wrong office. When we arrived at the location, there were like 20 young women there. It was a gathering of the Belmont university occupational therapy first year students. They were there to watch the proceedings and in some cases, help out. We got in and my mom put on the fingerless boxing gloves. Was she going to duke it out? Kind of. The warm up reminded me of a beach body class with repeated movements and the teacher up front being very detailed on what to do next. I kind of sort of followed along. After the warm-up period it was time for the stations. There were multiple stations around the room and pairs of “fighters” would go through them one at a atime. There were doctors and assistants helping out. Real quick: this studio is specifically for Parkinson’s patients. It’s funded by a grant and the participants don’t have to pay. The point of all this is to connect the brain to working out. The fighters have to do something physical and something mental at the same time and that’s supposed to help the brain. I said that my mom looked good and she said that she’s the smartest kid in special ed. It’s a simple knock oneself down technique, something I am familiar with. The first station was a stationary bike but you didn’t just pedal. You held what looked like a stress ball in the left hand and a rubber band in the right and you flexed. You also answered questions from the doctor while pedaling. That takes my podcast listening/scrolling through Twitter/working out technique to the next level. The next one was her at a boxing station and the student said top, middle and bottom in random patterns and the fighter had to punch at the top, middle or bottom in response. One station had six colored circles in front of people and the student said two of the colors randomly and you had to walk/shuffle to them in order. There were ropes and you had to swing them either light, medium, or hard. There was a final station where they pulled a resistance band with hands while listening to instructions and moving the left or right foot forward or backward at the same time. Everyone I met said that she was making good progress from the first class. She’ll continue this for 12 weeks then go to class once or twice a week probably as long as she can. She’s a tough so and so.

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