Monday 10 | 31| 2016

Facing a Life Altering Fork

There are times in our lives when the fork in the road is life altering, times when life throws something in the path which cannot be ignored. When at such a fork a choice must be made. We must choose how to live differently if we seek to live in a way that move us toward well-being and away from suffering. In 2013 it was discovered that I have Parkinson’s Disease. This is a life altering fork in the road. Parkinson’s typically doesn’t get diagnosed until the person is in their mid-sixties, but it shows up well before that in a scattered assemblage of symptoms that are difficult to diagnose. Hindsight is 20/20 here as I can look back over 30 plus years and see how all the symptoms slowly increased in frequency and severity over time and how they are tied to the Parkinson’s diagnosis. The journey took me through a dozen medications and nearly the same number of practitioners and diagnoses. Now the journey takes me down the path of putting a treatment plan in place that would improve the quality of life and further decrease the impact of this disease. Standing at this fork in the road I am faced with the major symptoms of Parkinson’s impeding quality of life which for me are chronic pain and exaggerated emotions. Recently, I experienced the link between these two disabling symptoms, which is illustrated in the diagram: The diagram represents the flow of neural input into the body and the mental filters that can be in place to moderate that input. The goal of moderating the input is to make it is easier to choose actions aimed to enhance well-being while also staying out of the spinning cascade phenomena which can be quite detrimental to one’s health and well-being. The start of the neural input is neural stimuli. This can be externally or internally generated. It simply means that some form of neural stimuli (sensory, emotion, thought) needs our attention. That stimuli is presented to the body (filter one). Once that happens there are a set of filters in place that can help us to mitigate the amount of attention given to the input and ultimately how much thought and action should be given to the input. The first is that of emotion (filter two), followed by filter three which is thinking and then filter four - action. In my situation, all four filters need to be strengthened. Ignoring this fork, ignoring this self-healing responsibility, living old patterns, led me down into the shadows of disease focus without the clarity of a focus on well-being. It is deceptively easy to do so and then the four spinning effects come into play. Once on this path of shadows and spinning, the filters become less effective. The weakening of each filter contributes to a spinning cascade effect. Spin 1 is the weakening of the biologic, subconscious filter which results in the perception of “louder stimuli”, which in my case meant louder pain. Spin 2 is the effect of emotional evaluation of the stimuli which also increased the magnitude of the pain. Spin 3 is the effect of my thoughts in life and since I had gone down the shadow path they were not aligned with moving my life toward well-being. Spin 4 is the effect of actions, and since I took the old path at the fork, choosing to continue to act as before, this only made things worse. At this life altering fork in the road, all 4 filters, and all 4 spins, were in place. The result – a serious disabling suffering that combined exaggerated emotions and pain so much so that it would occupy 50% to 90% of my waking hours and half of my sleep hours (another spin – poor sleep leading to more pain leading to poor sleep). I was definitely heading down the wrong side of the fork in the road. I have always been hypersensitive, back to childhood, which probably makes the link between emotions and pain more delicate for me to negotiate. It also means that if I am to move toward well-being then this is a fork in the road which must be taken, must be chosen with proper intent and guidance. The fork is simple: Continue to live and act in the old way OR choose to live a new way which leads to well-being in a more constructive manner. This is a life altering fork in the road and the choices made will be life altering even if no changes are made.
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