Mr. Graves the reason your thumb is shaking…………is you have early onset Parkinson’s.
That sentence just kind of hung in the air for a few minutes. My first thoughts. Is that why my damn foot wants to curl up and play dead every time I go for a run. Is that also why I fall asleep almost immediately but can never seem to stay asleep for more than an hour or so? Wait. Muhammad Ali had Parkinson’s, I haven’t been hit in the head…. I don’t look that? Sure, my thumb is twitching or sometimes outright shaking…but I don’t look like Ali did. I can walk, Christ this week alone I biked 30 miles, I swam a mile, I even ran 5 miles (curled toes and all). Parkinson’s? What the hell? How could I have Parkinson’s.
That’s pretty much how things went at 1:45pm May 4th. 2017. There was more talk about timelines, expectations, medications, potential drug trials etc. Most of it very interesting and somehow boring at the same time. I’ll share more of that in future posts I’m sure. My overwhelming thought is about how I’m going to choose to respond. You see I’ve suspected this would be the case for about a month now. So, truth be told I wasn’t shocked. Maybe a little bit in denial but not shocked. I’ve tried ignoring the obvious, but it’s hard look past your left hand shaking like a leaf. It’s hard to miss noticing other people noticing it and politely not saying anything. Therefore, it’s important for me that others notice my response. It’s simply this:
I have Parkinson’s it does NOT have me.
That’s it. Short and to the point. I’m not living with a degenerative disease……Its living with me. That is an important distinction for me. Believe me, I’m not working under any allusions that this somehow isn’t going to suck! In fact, that’s just the point. Its sucks but I choose to live my life anyway. It’s this mindset that conceived what I’m calling the great 8. An endurance challenge I made up in my own warped, dopamine deprived mind. In the same calendar year, I’m going to do all the mainstream endurance races. As a big fat (shaking) middle finger to Parkinson’s I’m going to do a 5K, 10k, ½ Marathon, Marathon, Sprint Triathlon, Olympic Tri, 70.3 half Ironman and of course the 140.6 Full Ironman. I’ll do these in whatever order I can schedule them within a 12-month period, beginning this fall.
My objective is twofold. First, selfishly this challenge forces me to look forward and to focus on what I can do rather than focusing on my problems and obstacles. Second, and more important to raise awareness about Parkinson’s and perhaps change perceptions regarding the disease.
If anyone reading this is moved to train and do your own version of the Great 8 that would be amazing. You may choose to join me on this journey in any number of ways. Consider joining my fundraising page at Team Fox. The Michael J Fox foundation is a wonderful organization with lots of resources. This would give you an opportunity to raise money as part of MyGreat8 team. Here is the link that will take you to my page: fundraise.michaeljfox.org/mygreat8. 100% of the proceeds go directly to the foundations programs to speed a cure for Parkinson’s disease. You may be game for all 8 races, or maybe you just want to sign up for a local race or any combination of races that work for you. If you are so willing please share with everyone what you are doing with a post here on this page and tag it #Gr8.
Also, please know that I realize there are A LOT worse thing that happen to people than the news I had confirmed for me on May 4th. I want this page to be a place of inspiration, so by all means please share your story. I have faith your story will inspire many and it should be told. For me regarding this challenge…. Well there is the very big possibility that I may fail miserably, But that’s not the point. The point is trying and NOT laying down in the face of adversity. If my kids can learn that, it would have all been worth it.
“The miracle isn’t that if finished…It’s that I had the courage to start”. John “The Penguin” Bingham
Thanks for joining me!