More Than Getting By

A few years ago, a very good friend of mine, Gary Brown, forwarded to me, a beautiful little video titled, Present Moment. The central character, Gary Vallat, discusses his acceptance of Parkinson’s into his life and how he deals with the diseases’ progression. 

He explains how his medication has become a new companion in his life and his limited energy has restricted his lifestyle. 


It’s quite a remarkable approach to the acceptance of a life-altering brain disease and how he reflects on each passing day. I try to watch that film at least once a week to put my outlook on life in perspective.


Meanwhile, over the past couple of years, I’ve had the pleasure of communicating with or following the work of others who, dedicating their valuable time, are expanding the Parkinson’s awareness community as advocates, by either broadcasting, writing, painting, performing, fundraising, teaching or interviewing – sharing their feelings, thoughts and experiences as they also live with Parkinson’s.

It’s quite remarkable.


Allison Smith (Perky Parkie), Mike Q and Mike A (2Mikes Radio Show – Radio Parkies), Heather Kennedy (Kathleen Kiddo), Wayne A Gilbert, David Sangster, Tim Hague Sr, Dr Gary Sparkes, Bill Bucklew, Davis Phinney, Gavin Mogan and most recently, Kevin Whitaker. I know there are others, just as dedicated and driven within the PD community, however, those whom I’ve mentioned have made and are making a significant difference in my life.


The difference, I see, is how they approach each day. These everyday people do more than ‘get by’ each day – stepping on the secure footing of the stones below the surface of each day’s turbulent water. They wade through the deepest, fastest moving currents outside their comfort zone. These individuals are driven; fuelled by an inner will to give their best.


Back in the Summer of 2016, I took a more structured and focussed approach at treating my PD by enrolling with Rock Steady Boxing Toronto – a high intensity program of drills and activities with the intent of assisting its ‘boxers’ to live well with Parkinson’s….at its core is an ever-present feeling of ‘community’. It’s serving its purpose and I’m convinced it’s been the key to my approach…it’s not easy, you’ve got to work on it. At the end of the Rock Steady Boxing class, you know you’ve worked hard alongside your classmates to accomplish your own “little victories” (thanks Davis Phinney).


One catch, I can’t ‘fight’ or have the mindset of a fighter all the time, everyday, all day. Not that I don’t have the will nor the ability.


After reading the thoughtful posts of Wayne A Gilbert, I have taken another look at how I can address my Parkinson’s.I’m not ruling out my aggressive ‘fighter’ approach when I’m in the gym with my affiliate members at Rock Steady Boxing Toronto, however I’m not going to allow my body, my energy, nor my mind, to be as Wayne has said, to be that of a warrior or a battlefield … instead, “my body will be the site of compassionate care”.


So, as I reflect on Gary Vallat accepting his altered life companion – plus I think of those that do more than ‘get by’ and I think deeply of Wayne’s perspective –  my opportunity to build from there, welcomes me.


A couple of months ago I made a decision to reduce the level of stress I was experiencing in my life. I’d been driving 45 minutes ( one way)across the city, in rush hour, 3 days a week, to participate in the Rock Steady Boxing class. As my PD was progressing, I came to realize it was a very stressful commute and a definite contributor to depleting my energy.


So, knowing I had to make a change and not wanting to lose the benefits of the boxing/group fitness PD programs that were now more readily available, I was most fortunate to connect with Still Kicking Fitness (SKF), 5 minutes from my house!

Being someone who strives to live well with my PD, I advocated for myself, for the energy I count on every day, and enrolled in the SKF program.


Stresses reduced, I’m so pleased I took action. 


I see my path that awaits, as I learn to accept and take action, thinking and acting constructively, effectively rationing my precious energy to cradle acceptance, compassion, and care.


If you’d care to join me, please do. There’s bound to be some interesting times ahead, along this journey.



Used by permission of the author.

Shane McPhee

Diagnosed with Parkinson’s (PD) in October 2011, Shane, since then,  has found a growing interest in writing stories or poems ...more