If I Can Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, why can’t I brush my teeth

“You have Parkinson’s disease” transformed Nan Little from a Person into a Person with Parkinson’s, setting her squarely on a life path leading inexorably to physical and mental deterioration marked by increasing disability and a painful, possibly demented, end. Although never considered an athlete, upon hearing this diagnosis in 2008 at age 62, she became physically and mentally stronger by setting, and meeting, unexpected goals. Mitigating her symptoms through fast cadence cycling, she has climbed mountains and cycled thousands of miles. One doesn’t heal from Parkinson’s; one chooses how to live with it. Unlike most “athlete overcomes adversity” books, IF I CAN CLIMB MOUNT KILIMANJARO, WHY CAN’T I BRUSH MY TEETH? COURAGE, TENACITY AND LOVE MEET PARKINSON’S DISEASE chronicles an older woman’s unorthodox approach to managing PD. She tells stories, encouraging patients to draw from her experiences points that are relevant to their own lives. She doesn’t hide. Hallucinations, constipation, compulsive behaviors, and loss are all part of the picture. So is the emotion of standing on the roof of Africa, dipping her bike wheel in the Mississippi after cycling across Iowa for seven days and paying careful attention as her two year old granddaughter explains how to stop her “dancing hand”. Each story is laced with courage, tenacity and love. “Nan shows how even the most challenging obstacles life puts in front of us can be stepping stones to something greater than we ever dreamed!” Linna DossettPatient efficacy, having some control over her personal Parkinson’s path, distinguishes this book from other medical memoirs. Nan encourages patients to take action based on scientific research with measurable outcomes. “You have Parkinson’s disease.” Those few words throw a person on an ice sheet with no ice axe to arrest the slide. Nan’s story can be an ice axe.An estimated 1-1.5 million Americans live with Parkinson’s with an additional 50,000-60,000 diagnosed each year, numbers growing as the population ages. Globally, this chronic neurodegenerative disease currently affects about 5 million. Although this book is about her experiences with Parkinson’s, it is appropriate for any person who endures a neurodegenerative disease, and those who work with them or care about them.“Nan gives honest and raw insight into the process one goes through after being diagnosed with a neurodegenerative disease and how our biggest trial can give us our greatest life lessons.” Brandis Gunderson

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