Around October 2007, while on a visit to Utah with my wife Leisa, her brother noticed something about me that caused him to ask her if everything was okay with me. Apparently my arm would not relax and I would hold it up. Then after returning home to Arizona, someone at church asked me if I had strained my back. Apparently I was not moving as easily as I normally would. Well, it was then that I decided to have it checked out. After going to a primary care doctor, who referred me to a neurologist, this being around Jan-Feb 2008, I received the first diagnosis of Parkinson's Disease. That doctor encouraged me to get a second opinion, which I did, and of course then it was confirmed. My movement, my gait, body tightness and rigidity, dexterity, handwriting, all of it was being effected by what I learned was a shortage of dopamine cells being produced by my brain. In easy terms for a simple minded guy like me, I compare that to like an engine not running on all cylinders, or lacking the spark, or connecting the dots, or the brain and the nerves being short circuited causing me not being able to freely move. Crazy! What next?
Well, I remember being told that this was not a death sentence. It was a life sentence of having to deal with a chronic illness that would slow you down amongst other things.
So, what impact has this had on my life?
It has taught me to never take your ability to move for granted. You may never know when something will effect your body in such a matter that it hinders you from moving partially, completely, or not at all. Too many people take into their bodies things that knowingly can hurt them. Not me....I need every bit of my body to move! I have too much in life that I want to experience in life and not have it effect me with something someone else like Michael J. Fox or Muhammad Ali has.
Since being diagnosed I have probably done more that I ever would have done had I not.
It has opened many new doors to meeting new people and having great experiences. It has made me appreciate my family better for their love and support, my church family, my work family, my neighbors, and even strangers. Strangers? Strangers are no more when they approach you asking if you need help, and you take the time to explain what is wrong and before you know it you have made a new friend. It is awesome!
My life has been effected by my desire and ability to take better care of myself through eating better and exercising more. I have completed three sprint triathlons, taken up road cycling, which has led me to participate twice in The El tour de Tucson, the Tour de Safford, twice in The Copper Triangle, rode with three different excursions as they rode bikes across country for PD awareness and fundraising, rode my first 100 mile ride with the Friends for Phinney and part of it was over Wolf Creek Pass, and most recently rode with POPS Ride, my good friends who in 2011 rode from St. Augustine FL to San Diego CA, and this year we did Vancouver BC to San Diego in 27 days!
I am involved with the Baehr Challenge, which is a 5K/obstacle course fundraising event for the Michael J. Fox foundation, I serve on the activity committee for the Muhammad Ali Center, and am very involved in the Parkinson's Disease community.
I hike, cycle, do yoga, swim, and stay as active as I can because when I move I am free!
I thank my family, friends, employment, therapists, etc. for all that you do to help me live better each day with this disease. What impact has PD had on my life? or maybe it should be rephrased...
What impact am I having on PD?!
- Carl Ames
- My cycling friends who joined in support of my 50th Birthday
- My son Jordan and I participating in the Copper Triangle, a 78 mile, high elevation, three mountain pass, alpine cycling event held at Copper Mountain Ski Resort near Vail, CO.. This ride benefits the Davis Phinney Foundation, which is a foundation dedicated to helping people live better with PD.
- A good friend, Joe Berman, and I, created a non-profit foundation called Bikes and Balls for Kids, and we are able to solicit donations and volunteers to help give under privileged children a brighter Christmas.
I met up with the Friends for Phinney in Durango CO, and rode with them for a day, my first 100 mile ride.
Truly something to celebrate!
My daughter, Torie, and I riding tandem in an event for the Oktober Fest held each fall in the Phoenix area.
A local bridge crossing over one of the major loops in the Phoenix area is fun to ride across and I found the structure of it, though not exactly like the Victory sign given by the Davis Phinney Foundation, who encourage us with PD to celebrate even the small victories we accomplish, a upward rising acknowledgement of victory!
I love the opportunity to spend time with my grandchildren, I currently have 3 grandsons and have a granddaughter due in July. My oldest one here, Brigden, and I are playing a game of what is called "Whack the Cracker", where a saltine cracker is attached to a string around your waist, and each player has a rolled up newspaper and you attempt to break the opponents cracker. Brigden and I also have a fun game that we like to play when I can't walk well. If he happens to be visiting and I come home and I can't walk well, he lies down on the floor, creating an obstacle for me to walk over, I step over him, and he keeps moving across the floor with me stepping over him until I get to where I need to be. He loves it, I love it, and I love him!
I am on the "Walk The Fight" 5K Run/Walk committee for the Muhammad Ali Center located in Phoenix. Each year at the Tempe Town Lake we host it. I am able to participate in not only the planning but the actual run/walk. A great way to keep in shape.
These are just a few of the examples of the positive impact PD has had on my life!