Positive. Motivated, Happy. These aren’t necessarily the 3 words that you would associate with a 40 year old with Parkinsons. But for Heidi Reynolds from Cornwall, UK staying positive, keeping motivated, and being happy is exactly what she’s been doing since her diagnosis in 2014. Heidi talks openly about her challenging journey with Mr P! and how moving to the Cornish Coast and discovering SUP has helped to put that smile back on her face….
In 2008 I changed my life… got fit and lost weight. But my increasing shoulder pain was unhelpful. On 28th July 2014, 3 shoulder operations, countless other procedures, problems balancing, unremitting shoulder pain, short-term memory issues, a tremor & more I was looking at a serious faced Neurologist who said” You have Parkinson’s.”
“Degenerative and No Cure. That’s all I heard.
A fun afternoon! I was 37.”
Parkinson’s affects 127k people in the UK of which around 1 in 20 are under 40 at diagnosis. It’s a loss of a chemical called dopamine (stick with me!) which is the stuff responsible for smooth muscle movement, and sending messages about your body. (I have a post sorting office with a staff shortage!) Everything takes longer from moving, to swallowing, to thinking. I drink thickened liquids. Why? They take longer to reach the back of my throat, so my airway (now a space cadet!) has time to work out “INCOMING” & finally covers my airway, more helpful than choking. I catherterise 4 x per day as my bladder fails to tell my brain when its full – I’ll leave you to fill in the gaps! So more than just shaking then! Oh and not everyone shakes. Ha! You didn’t know that did you! I lost my job, medically retired. Another blow. That’s the depressing bit done, its uphill from here!
I couldn’t let this dopamine sucking Mr P take over!!
I founded Start Living Today PD. A support group for people living with Parkinson’s. SLTPD’s motto is ‘Positive Motivated Happy.’ I have Parkinson’s. I can wake up, grab life by the throat or…? There is no or! I’m not alone. We now have 3k followers across social media worldwide.
The message runs so much wider than Parkinson’s. So many face adversity every day. They’re all inspiring. No we haven’t scaled Mount Everest or run the Sahara but we get up every day and face life head on. I got myself fit and with that my attitude changed. Believe in yourself, aspire and you can achieve anything. Challenges, big or small, it’s their personal significance that’s key. “I can’t do that” changes to “How can I do it differently?” We recently held a crowdfunder for our new website www.startlivingtodaypd.co.uk due to launch really soon and people couldn’t have been more generous.
Medical retirement and the move to Cornwall was the silver lining to my diagnosis.
Moving to the Lizard in Cornwall this year I was determined to achieve my ambition of SUP’ing. “You have Parkinson’s?” said the doubters. Thanks, really helpful! Why should this stop me? The 1st time I tried SUP a friends quite unstable (sorry Edd) board was my company, in Sennen on a choppy day. I spent more time in the water but I was hooked and so thankful to him.
Soon after my Quroc Crossover QI was delivered. It’s awesome. The sturdiest bag, board, well everything! Mr P & I will have trouble breaking this I thought! But so light and stable. I’ve had it 3 months and fallen off once which says it all!
On the water my mind clears, I’m free. No room for Mr P on my board!
It’s just me the sound of the water, rocks, fish, bird’s, flora and fauna. I can’t explain the calm that surrounds me. Yes it’s sometimes hard work too, but I thrive on the challenge. Paddle harder and harder, ride the waves, shriek with laughter. It’s me Vs the sea Vs my future. I love it.
I now live on the Lizard in Cornwall running Start Living Today PD, doing all I can to raise awareness and determined to show how attainable most activities are. That adaption is key, so if standing isn’t an option, kneel! Don’t worry what others think, this is your life, get out there and live it. SUP is so much fun. I’m self-taught and have yet to have a SUP lesson. But that hasn’t stopped me getting out there and having fun.
I’m so grateful to Quroc. As jellyfish float past me, starfish laze on the sea bed and a seal pops up, how could you be anything but happy?!
Whether Parkinson’s is your demon or anything else, if you’ve always wanted to try something, what are you waiting for?! Positive Motivated Happy!
Words: Heidi Reynolds (Founder of Start Living Today PD)
Heidi is off to Australia in December with her husband to celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary and renew their wedding vows. We’re sure it won’t take her long to find a SUP and get afloat! With lots of pink and sparkle too no doubt!
For more information about ‘Start LivingToday PD’ check out:
Facebook (closed group): facebook.com/groups/826553277476417
Website (launching very soon): www.startlivingtodaypd.co.uk
For more information about Quroc SUPs check out the Quroc website
And remember… if you’ve always wanted to try something, then do it! Don’t wait for tomorrow.
Thanks so much Helen I just hope it encourages others to get out there and try on your knees or otherwise let’s face it if you fall you just make a big splash nothing more it’s so much fun x