Psychologist by background and training, storyteller by nature, Parkinson’s patient by chance, along with my artist-wife Dianne Frost, I have the very good fortune of being an annual La Jolla winter visitor. Convinced as we are that if exercise were a pill, it would be considered a miracle drug, one of the first things we do upon our return to La Jolla is resume our exercise routine. For the past two and one-half years, boxing has been part of my mix of aerobic and strength training exercises. Twice per week, La Jolla Sports Club personal trainer, Danielle Swaby, ably guides me through multiple boxing training rounds. It may come as something of a surprise, but with its inherent timing, movement, coordination, and balance challenges, boxing turns out to be good therapy for those with Parkinson’s disease. At my current of age 75, an equally valued boxing benefit is my still beautiful wife’s restored perception of me as attractively vigorous.
Along with my personal determination to live well with Parkinson’s disease, I’ve authored a book in hopes of encouraging others to also live well. Written for my fellow Parkinson’s patients and those who love and care for us, Keepin’ On: Living Well with Parkinson’s Disease chronicles a life of love, loss, longing, work, sports, travel, friendship, and intimacy—all against the backdrop of this progressive disease. Twenty chapter-scenes explore the frustrating unpredictability of prescribed pharmaceuticals, loss of function, hope and inspiration, overcoming challenges, generosity and kindness of strangers, helpless concern of friends and family, expert medical care, comic relief, and more.
Keepin’ On offers intimate entrée into a world alien to most, where each morning begins in semi-paralysis. As a daily cocktail of medicines takes hold, near normal mobility results, only to revert by day’s end to the immobilized state in which it all began. And though there is nothing funny about Parkinson’s, some of the manuscript’s scenes do relate laughable moments. As my personal version of a condition that varies widely in symptomatic expression among the millions who share the Parkinson’s diagnosis, the narrative recounts binds, grinds, and occasional triumphs encountered in continuing quest for a fulfilling life despite Parkinson’s disease.
Ultimately, Keepin’ On strives to inoculate Parkinson’s patients against corrosive, soul- savaging, hopelessness and despair, and to comfort friends and family—awash in feelings of worried impotence—who love and care for us. In the end, it relates a refusal to surrender to Parkinson’s and encouragement to fellow Parkinson’s patients to keep on keepin’ on.
Scheduled for release March 11, 2018 (Nighthawk Press, Taos, New Mexico), Keepin On: Living Well with Parkinson’s Disease will be available for purchase in mid-March at select local bookstores and online through Amazon. All profits from book sales will be directed to Parkinson’s research, education and support.
// Robert J. Silver