As I sit here staring at my legs, all I see are shades of blue, purple, maroon, brown and even black. I have bruising running down the inside of both legs. They are tender and I receive stares of horror from strangers, wondering exactly what I have done. And yet, as I look down at the shades of indigo and gold, all I can do is smile.
I am worn out, exhausted even. I wake up each morning before the dawn and finally turn over the weight I carry to my mattress, after the coach turns back into a pumpkin and the horses return to mice. But, I do it all with glee.
My feats seem that of a superhero to the average person and my energy seems to compete with that of an Energizer battery. But, I do not plug myself in at night, nor do I have super powers. I’ve just realized something, before it was taken from me.
I smile at my bruises, because they reaffirm I am a fighter. With every sor muscle and fatigue I feel, I am overjoyed, because I am surpassing researchers and doctors’ prognosis. And I am recharged by the fact that I am doing what most others will never attempt.
Two years ago, I was unable to put a leather jacket on without assistance. I watched as if in slow-mo, the fight between my father and brother to get a knife out of my hand each night, so they wouldn’t have to endure watching me struggle to cut my daughter’s meat. These common chores were extreme challenges for me with Parkinson’s. These memories run thick in my mind, never fading, only turning shades of blue.
My friend Christian Banda and I are very similar. We believe in exercise. We believe in bettering ourselves. But, one of the biggest commonalities we share isn’t Parkinson’s, it’s that we are both stubborn. There is a fight inside us both, that most will never know. Maybe it was born with our children, or maybe with our diagnosis, but I think it stems more from our own birth, something that was always there. We both had to be broken, in order to become unbreakable.
Wanting to be like one of three Gorgeous women (ninjas Erica Cook, Maggie Thorne, and Barclay Stockett) I attempted a feat, hanging by one arm as I put on a t-shirt. I added mascara and lipstick all for fun, then posted it to social media, and like those three girls, I was viewed by thousands. People were amazed and they decided to share. Because of that video, an idea was born.
After my stunt, we decided we needed to do more. We decided there needed to be a bigger reason beyond ourselves for the shades of blue we incur. There was a reason much bigger than us, for why we’ve been given Parkinson’s Disease. And our stubbornness pushed us to act on it.
Because Christian and I are all too familiar with the symptoms of PD, we developed the #tshirtchallenge. This simple challenge is to take a video putting on a t-shirt. Any t-shirt will do. You can be as simple or creative as you’d like, in honor of those people with Parkinson’s, whose movement has been robbed. Simply putting on a t-shirt to them is more daunting than any obstacle course. Load the video on to social media and tag three friends. In the description box, add #tshirtchallenge and www.tshirtchallenge.org.
Tshirtchallenge.org goes directly to a fundraising page for the National Parkinson Foundation’s website. Money that is raised in the #tshirtchallenge will go towards research for a cure, as well as to help people currently battling this disease.
So far, we’ve had someone attempt to put a t-shirt on a bulldog, put a t-shirt on underwater and while holding a handstand. Take this opportunity to promote your business. Make this as creative or simply honor those with PD by putting on your shirt. The idea is to take part in this challenge, donate to find a cure, give aid to those who can’t fathom doing such a simple task and raise awareness that once PD is cured, so many other related diseases will be next.
For at least four years, I watched myself lose mobility, shake and die inside. For the past two years, I’ve found happiness, I’ve learned how to control my tremor and I’ve regained mobility. Because of my stubbornness, I will not quit! I will always hang on, even if it’s by one arm. I will continue to challenge myself. And I will gladly cover my bruises with a tshirt, because right now, I still can.
Please join Christian and I in the #tshirtchallenge.