You got to walk this way…(My job!!)

Hi All!! It’s Jack and I am back… Feeling good and enjoying another beautiful Irish summer (ahem!!) You will have heard about the 40 shades of green, well this summer is more like 40 types of rain!!! Horizontal, damp, wet, soft, etc… you get the idea!!

Jack - Mine (11-02-2012)

Having said that, I am enjoying lots of walks on the beach in the company of a revitalized Owner. His back is much better and his confidence in his mobility is higher than it has been for a long time. To be fair I am not claiming all of the credit I acknowledge that the recent change of dose in his meds was helped, so let’s leave it 95% down to me….fair enough? What’s my secret? Exercise and being smart about how we take it. A shorter walk 3 times a day is so much better for him than a big walk once a day. Sounds very simple and straightforward… I don’t pretend to understand everything that goes on in that head of his (if anyone does, then answers on a postcard please!!) But why has it taken him this long to figure out the exercise helps Parkinson’s?

He used to play rugby, swim and train 4 times a week and he enjoyed it. After he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease he gradually reduced the levels of regular exercise he was taking, when in fact he should be maintaining the exercise levels as high as he could. Lazy? I don’t think so. Embarrassment? Only natural to be a bit self-conscious of exercising in public whilst dyskinesia has your body demonstrating all the co-ordination of a new-born baby Giraffe. Depression, certainly was a small part of it. But what then?

The answer? Probably a little bit of all of the above, but most of all a massive dose of fear and denial. He was trying to convince himself that he was not sick, so he was certainly not going to do physical activity to demonstrate otherwise. Bizarrely (or not?) his denial drove him away from some of the very things that he loved and enjoyed so much. Fear that should he try to hit a nine iron and fail to make the shot, or ride a wake-board and wipe out, that this failure would confirm the inevitable decline of his physical abilities as a result of Parkinson’s Disease. If he was having difficulty enough accepting the diagnosis, then he was certainly not going to do anything to reinforce that diagnosis. (As I said before answers on a postcard please!!)

My Job? To get him up, out and exercising again. How? Took a while but, in the end the answer was very simple, relearn the enjoyment of physical activities. We simply do activities that we enjoy, not for the exercise value but for the pure enjoyment of the activity itself. Yes sure, there are some things that he may not be able to do, but with the acceptance of his diagnosis and a growing confidence in his own physical abilities he is now saying a natural “Yes” rather than the instinctive “No” of previous years.

It was small steps initially, but suddenly and without consciously planning to he surprised himself. He lost 8 kilos (17 lbs) and narrowed his waist size from a 36 to a 32. How? Walking to the village rather than getting in the car, cutting out junk food and doing his back rehab. Looking better, but most importantly feeling good about himself physically for the first time in a long time builds mobility confidence. Something that most people take for granted such as walking to a local shop, can be a daunting trek for others, but for him now, not so much. That is my reward, lots of walks and a happy family.

Although his golf clubs may have not been not picked up in 10 years and he had forgotten that he even had a wet suit, he is going to the driving range tomorrow with his son…..for the first time. (Ever !!)

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We all need somebody to lean on.

We All Need

I am 10. Which according to some very complicated human formula is supposed to make me 70 in “dog years”, whatever “dog years” are. In my book that still makes me 10, and looking good. One of my owners friends is in his 50’s (human years!!) has a wife and 3 children, and last week he told my owner that he had been recently diagnosed with cancer. His wife has been sick for a long time… sometimes we all need somebody to lean on.

So step up owner and friends… what did they do? They went to the pub on a Thursday evening, a school night!! In the privacy of the snug with 2 other friends they drank Guinness, so much in fact that Friday didn’t really happen (they really are not as young as they think they are!!). But they had a great time, they smiled, laughed, and in general didn’t take themselves too seriously, amongst friends that’s ok and is very worthwhile.

Gave my family pause for thought too, sometimes we need to step out of our normal day-to-day and realise that there are other families with much greater challenges to face than our own. They do so with inspirational grace, humour and steadfast belief. In a very quiet and dignified way they just get on with life, no complaints, no drama, no blame.

Our job? Is to remember that some days even superheroes wear their underpants inside their clothes and that on those days we all need somebody to lean on. So lean on me when you are not strong…

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Not a dog’s life… It’s a Mom’s Life!

Sometimes I wonder if there is more I could do… the girl and the boy are growing up quicker and quicker. They spend more and more time away from our pack (which IMHO should still not include the cat.) When they get home in the evenings be it school or sports, they are tired and hungry, they need fed and the day discussed, homework checked, then bed. By the time my owners finish their day, all they want to do is collapse into bed… they look at me and say “it’s a dog’s life Jack…Goodnight.”

It’s tough enough raising children, my poor mother had 9 of us to deal with, but that’s another story, tougher still if one person can’t carry a full share of the load. If the father is travelling with work, tired, or having a bad Parkinsons day, then it all falls on the Mother, most people don’t see it, but I do because I watch her.

From 6:30 am to 9:30 pm every day, she plans and produces school lunches, breakfast and dinner. She organises laundry, cleans the house… and then goes out to work!! She does not complain, she just get’s on with it. She is not the one that is sick, but she carries the largest load. Sometimes when she is alone she sheds a few tears, I put my head in her lap and she knows that I love her, she stands up and smiles and says “Jack Dog I love you”, I think to my self… not a dog’s life… It’s a Mom’s life, now how can I help her?

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