As a personal trainer, it is my job to assist clients to achieve their goals. Those goals are usually body-related, be it weight loss, gaining strength, improving stamina or bettering the handicap. They can also be mind-related; finding a way to deal with stress or learning how to focus on the connection between mind and body. But in any case, the goal is to improve, to make better and stronger.
And then came Parkinson ’s disease. A few months after I had starting training a new client, he received this diagnosis. What followed was a 16 year battle against the gradual deterioration of the body, dealing with the side effects of medications, adjusting to a new normal and constantly holding on to the status quo until Parkinson’s took another bite.
Over the years, I have learned to hate this disease which renders its victim ultimately helpless and completely dependent on the assistance of others. I have also seen the super-human effort required of the care-taker. The physical and emotional stress takes an enormous toll and makes the care-taker a second victim of the disease.
I have trained my client up until the end of July of this year even though he was hardly able to walk, and it took a great deal of effort on his part.
This week, I attended his memorial service.