Nothing Special

kitty fitton gazing off into space thinking

The last few weeks have been rather tough. In fact, rather tough doesn’t really even begin to cut it. Yet on we go. The world continues to turn for us, though sometimes it’s hard to understand how everyone else is out there living their lives like nothing has happened. Death has a strange way of making you look hard at your existing life. It left me wondering many things.  My life, how long I may expect and how much good quality of it I can reasonably expect.

You’ll be surprised to discover I don’t really like thinking about this. I have come to realise that Parkinson’s progresses in a strange way. One day you’re fine, the next you find yourself really struggling to bend down to perhaps dry yourself after a shower, or to pick up more of that endless stuff the children drop onto the floor. I caught myself thinking “oh that was difficult” then realising with horror that this was probably down to my condition and not age.

Some of my friends have slowed down / allowed themselves to relax a bit about exercise. In my ‘other’ life I perform stand-up comedy, (yes, really) and often hear lots of jokes about going to gym. Or rather, not going to the gym. It’s such a laugh, I bought a gym membership, one day I’ll visit it, hahahahahahaaaa. Whenever I hear these jokes I feel strange, empty and more often that not, angry.

Those of us with Parkinson’s don’t get a choice over doing exercise or not. Well. Clearly we do, but personally I like being able to walk, run and chase my children about. I have said this before, but I will say it again; I hate exercise. It’s annoying, takes up heaps of time up that I could have better spent reading / gardening / having fun, and I can’t do it well. Only this morning I attended a Pilates class (“Pilates is soooo good for Parkinson’s you know”) and had to blink back tears a couple of times as I struggled to contort my body into a strange shape and try to remain dignified.

 

kitty fitton gazing off into space thinking
What lies ahead? There's only one way to find out.

Yet still I go. At least once a week to Pilates and then twice more to some kind of rigorous class. Why? Because I can feel that despite my Parkinson’s I am making progress. I may even manage to roll like a ball sometime. I have a ‘hollow’ back and it curves the other way. Whilst everyone else (even the fat old ladies) rolls about laughing, smiling and having fun being silly, I jerk about maniacally, trying desparately to right myself.

I feel silly, I feel awkward. Ungainly and ugly. A stupid thing. What am I doing here? Look at that graceful beautiful creature next to me holding her feet with her hands as she does this roll-thing effortlessly. It’s hard. It’s so hard. I feel tears rising and I try to blink them back before anyone notices.

Yet. Afterward I feel wonderful. I keep going. Soon I can lift my taibone a little whilst everyone rocks. Perhaps… perhaps one day I will make it. But I won’t if I sit at home feeling sorry for myself.

Believe me. I have plenty to be sorrowful about. I am sad about the breakdown of my marriage. I ache for my children when they are not with me. I am financially unstable and try not to think about the future. Like so many others I was denied greiving with my family due to Covid-19 when my Mum died. I learned this week my friend’s husband has a cancer that is terminal. I took my children to a funeral of a classmate last week.

Then there’s this neurological disorder I have. It goads me. I realise sadly I do need more medication. This saddens me because I know it means things have got worse inside my body.

 

kitty fitton wearing glasses looking hopeful against a backdrop of clear blue sky and flowering jasmine.
Hope for more sunny days and nice flowers.

So I fight. I fight because I have no choice but to put myself through this daily if I am to survive this with quality of life. I fight because I want to dance with my children. I want to dance for myself. I sing, though my voice may be altered, I sing. It’s not always pretty but I refuse to be quieted.

On I go. I’m not special. I’m not a fighter or a warrior or anything particularly brave. In fact, I’m just a woman with a scary neurological issue that currently cannot be fixed. I just want more time, like we all do. Not a patient, not someone to be pitied. I’m still here. I want to be me.

kitty laughing into camera
Kiity Fitton - usually up to mischief.

Kitty Fitton is a motivational speaker, MC and comedian. She is also a full-time blogger and writer. She is mother to four small people and was very cross to discover she had Parkinson’s Disease.

Find out more at her personal site below. 

emma_k
Emma Kyriacou. Quite good at hitting things.

Emma Kyriacou is a real-life ninja. Taking up Karate to help fight her Parkinson’s Disease, she’s co-founder of Good Moves and is passionate about promoting exercise to improve mobility and neuroplasticity. (Is that a word? It should be.)

Find out more at her personal site below. 

Embracing Imperfection

drawing of a bucket with water in it pouring out of holes in the bottom.

I’ve had a radical thought, that I’m going to apply to my life and see what happens.

I’m doing to do the opposite of whatever it is I think I should do.

This radical idea pinged into my brain a couple of hours ago, as a result of a day spent musing about stress buckets.

The stress bucket model is a way to visualise what is causing stress in your life and to be aware of the things you can that work to release the pressure. Imagine you’ve got a bucket that represents your capacity to handle the stress in your life. Rain clouds above the bucket fill it with water (stress), and as the bucket fills up your ability to handle the jandal diminishes. An overflowing bucket for me is loud and messy crying face. The things you do to reduce your stress (rest, eat well, exercise, have a laugh, etc) cause holes to appear in the bottom of your stress bucket, thus allowing it to empty and avert meltdowns.

I drew this beautiful picture today of my stress bucket:

drawing of a bucket with water in it pouring out of holes in the bottom.
Beautiful drawing I know.

I know – I’m terrible at drawing.

And there I go again. Holding myself to some kind of impossible standard on everything.

I constantly berate myself for failing to achieve certain things, but it is starting to occur to me that I don’t even know who said these are things I have to achieve! I mean I beat myself up if I decide to put my feet up instead of cleaning the house. I stress out when I’m playing with my kids, because I’m not getting dinner ready, or doing something “productive”. If I’m stressing about something and it makes me cry and I need a bit of me time instead of doing work hours, then I find myself apologising to work colleagues for being a pain in the butt.

No-one ever seems to need my apologies or even think they have any value or meaning!

Where did this endless self-flagellation come from?!

This must stop. From now on, I’m going to embrace imperfection. I mean, doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is mean to be insane behaviour right?

So, this is what the new me looks like – the picture below is from a gratitude journal I was given for Mother’s Day. The task I choose to do on the day in question was to draw the most delicious thing I’d eaten, so I proudly, carefully, lovingly recorded the fact I had enjoyed my favourite candy. Only I managed to instead create a new word, which is now slang in my house for stuffing something up.

Maltesers logo spelt incorrectly as Maltersers.
Nailed it! Perfect.
emma doing a child's pose from yoga in front of a cat
Emma’s desperate attempt to impress the cat fails utterly
kitty laughing into camera
Kiity Fitton - usually up to mischief.

Kitty Fitton is a motivational speaker, MC and comedian. She is also a full-time blogger and writer. She is mother to four small people and was very cross to discover she had Parkinson’s Disease.

Find out more at her personal site below. 

emma_k
Emma Kyriacou. Quite good at hitting things.

Emma Kyriacou is a real-life ninja. Taking up Karate to help fight her Parkinson’s Disease, she’s co-founder of Good Moves and is passionate about promoting exercise to improve mobility and neuroplasticity. (Is that a word? It should be.)

Find out more at her personal site below. 

Time Waits For None

woman leaning forward looking purposeful with her right arm in a salute at her forehead.

I’ve been thinking a lot about time. It’s something that exists and does not exist. A construct of humankind to measure ourselves and give meaning. Yet it moves forward, always, and we are carried along in this stream marking our path and filling our days with what we feel is productive activity.

Learning I had Parkinson’s made me think that perhaps I might not have as much time as I first thought. Happily Wikipedia was incorrect when I first read its article on Parkinson’s way back in 2016. It cheerily decreed that the average life expectancy following diagnosis was between 5 and 10 years. It’s on the internet, is it not true? Thanks stupid Wikipedia. I also now know that Parkinson’s should not adversely affect my lifespan, but it could well hamper my ability to enjoy life to the full.

We always think there’ll be a ‘later’. We can do this when we’re older, when the kids are a bit bigger, when we retire.

Do them now.

 

woman leaning forward looking purposeful with her right arm in a salute at her forehead.
Here's looking at you! Take Action!

Regardless of your health, wealth or even your physical ability, get out there and live. The one thing I have learned as I get older is that life is too short and so many people seem to hold regret. I don’t want to regret a thing. Well, maybe that awful corkscrew perm I had back in the 1980’s…

People with Parkinson’s are often told to live in the ‘now’. We need to wear the best clothes from the back of the wardrobe, choose the pretty shoes (that goes for you men too) and dance (and sing) like nobody’s watching. I refuse to believe that I have to slow down, stop being crazy or be more sensible. If anything, this has taught me to love people around me, do the craziest things and try to have as much fun as possible.

At a time when I’m finding being happy very difficult, I think about my StepMum and know that she would wholeheartedly agree.

What are you waiting for? Go out there and live it!

Until next time, Kitty.

clear blue sky and the branches of a tree in full blossom.
Take time to smell the flowers, or admire the trees.
kitty laughing into camera
Kiity Fitton - usually up to mischief.

Kitty Fitton is a motivational speaker, MC and comedian. She is also a full-time blogger and writer. She is mother to four small people and was very cross to discover she had Parkinson’s Disease.

Find out more at her personal site below. 

emma_k
Emma Kyriacou. Quite good at hitting things.

Emma Kyriacou is a real-life ninja. Taking up Karate to help fight her Parkinson’s Disease, she’s co-founder of Good Moves and is passionate about promoting exercise to improve mobility and neuroplasticity. (Is that a word? It should be.)

Find out more at her personal site below. 

May The Fourth Be With You!

two women dancing in front of a garage door.

This blog is all about making good moves to promote your own health and wellbeing. I write about things I’m learning in the process of living and creating me.

One thing that is talked about a lot in the context of people living with neurological conditions like Parkinson’s, is motivation, or a struggle to maintain motivation even to do essential things or things we love and are passionate about.

This affects me too. Even though I know I’m better when I exercise, I can easily find excuses to not do it.

My latest excuses are that I’m busy as it is school holidays and there is so much to be done to keep the kids active, and do the household chores (the laundry alone is a monumental daily task). Although I’m not working for a whole two weeks, these “holidays” are almost more stressful than regular school term time. This is partly to do with having a four-year-old who is incredibly active.

Running around playing with Maia is on the one hand really great for me, but at times I get really wiped out, exhausted, completely energy drained, especially on the days when I’ve struggled to sleep the night before.

My family has also been blessed with visits from family these holidays. It has been awesome to see everyone, and we’ve had great catch ups, but there is also an energy draining element to hosting.

 

woman smiling sitting on a grassy bank holding a baby on her knee.
A regular sized Emma (29) and Niko (4 months), January 2008

The other factor I am dealing with is my ongoing struggle to stop losing weight. This is a weirdly taboo subject for me. The large majority of my family and friends are battling the opposite problem, whereas I have been worriedly weighing myself everyday and wondering why the number keeps slowly ticking down.

In order to stop losing weight, I need to maintain a delicate balance of:

  • eating the right amount of the right kinds of foods, at the right times
  • doing the right amount of exercise – not too much, not too little
  • taking medication at the right times.

Not one thing has to change – there are a range of factors operating in a complex system. Getting the mix right is hard!

This need to maintain balance drives my intrinsic motivation.

 

two women dancing in front of a garage door.
Smaller-sized Emma (42) shaking my butt, and Kitty (praising a higher power!)

Intrinsic motivation comes from inside of you, as opposed to extrinsic motivation which comes from things that happen outside of yourself.

I depend on extrinsic motivation a lot to get me to exercise or go to karate training – like I will get my butt to training in spite of believing I have a good excuse not to, if my husband Elia says ‘Go to training, you’ll feel better for it’.

It is intrinsic motivation however that is more important in the long run. Intrinsic motivation is a force inside that you have to nurture to experience its full power. Easier said than done, that is true. Again, there is no one silver bullet or one single answer to how to get there.

I do know it takes self-belief, and the knowledge that you have what it takes to problem solve your life’s challenges.

I wish you well in your self-learning journey! May the fourth be with you! (Kitty: groans, face-palm).

kitty laughing into camera
Kiity Fitton - usually up to mischief.

Kitty Fitton is a motivational speaker, MC and comedian. She is also a full-time blogger and writer. She is mother to four small people and was very cross to discover she had Parkinson’s Disease.

Find out more at her personal site below. 

emma_k
Emma Kyriacou. Quite good at hitting things.

Emma Kyriacou is a real-life ninja. Taking up Karate to help fight her Parkinson’s Disease, she’s co-founder of Good Moves and is passionate about promoting exercise to improve mobility and neuroplasticity. (Is that a word? It should be.)

Find out more at her personal site below.