Tag Archives: Chronic illness

Lions, Tigers & Bears…Year 3!

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As Dystonia Awareness Month approaches, I’m thrilled to fill in first place on my Dystonia Awareness Dance Card with the 3rd Annual Bronx Zoo Walk on September 10. This FUNdraising event has become my pride and joy, a day to celebrate awareness and make our way one step closer to realizing our dream of curing dystonia. We should all remember:

When a star is born, They possess a gift or two
One of them is this, They have the power to make a wish come true

When you wish upon a star, Makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires will come to you

If your heart is in your dream, No request is too extreme
When you wish upon a star, As dreamers do

The Bronx Zoo Walk is a day for Dystonia dreamers to come together at the spectacular Bronx Zoo to gaze upon the amazing wildlife roaming the lush greenery and dream about days to come when we are free as an uncaged beast from Dystonia.

THE VITALS

What:  Bronx Zoo Walk benefiting the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation.

When:  Sunday, September 10, 2017. Registration opens at 8:30am. Event officially begins at 9:30am.

Where:  Bronx Zoo, Great Hall, 2300 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, New York. Use the Southern Boulevard Gate to enter the Bronx Zoo.

Why:  Because we can make our dreams come true… Raise awareness of dystonia and funds for better treatments and a cure.  Another reason: Our Zoo Walk Challenge is back. Every new and incremental donation over last year is being matched dollar-for-dollar by an anonymous donor!

How:  Register, start a team, create your own fundraising page. Teams with at least 10 members by August 28 will receive team t-shirts. Register online or make a donation using the following link:  www.dystoniafoundation.redpodium.com/bronx-zoo-walk

DYSTONIA MOVES ME CAMPAIGN

You can also dance your way into dystonia awareness by participating in the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation’s Dystonia Moves Me campaign, which runs throughout the month of September. Obtain materials using the following link:  www.dystonia-foundation.org//shop/product_detail/14088

2017 Bronx Zoo Flyer

 

Disability Pride

80489597_s copy_FotorYesterday was my first occasion participating in New York City’s Disability Pride Parade and I couldn’t have been more proud and inspired by the very best New York City has to offer as I marched with Mount Sinai Rehabilitation. As our joyous celebration wound its way through the city streets on a hot Sunday – 5,000 richly diverse human beings strong – we forgot the pounding sun as we shouted our disabilities from the rooftops.

“Disability Pride” teems with an inherent irony: Take pride in a lack of ability? Yes, we announce ourselves with pride and incite inclusion. What is more empowering than accepting – and loving – ourselves, imperfections and all? We puff out our chests in celebration of how we persevere…and more…notwithstanding our disabilities and of all we overcome amid the daily muck muddying but by no means devaluing our lives. Whether we’re wheelchair bound, deficient in sight, gait, hearing or speech, struggling with learning or mental deficit, suffering from a disability that is “hidden” or glaringly evident, we take heart in our robustness of spirit as we bend and sway but never break in response to the challenges we face and conquer.

I am Pamela Sloate. I have Dystonia and I’m proud!

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Lions, Tigers and Bears, Year 2!

9287823_s editedLiving with a rare disease like Dystonia, I find myself self-conscripted into service as a fundraiser. It’s all rather simple: If I don’t invite people to care about my little-known disorder, who will? Curing Dystonia takes a village of patients, friends, and families…not to mention the medical investigators working diligently on our behalf!

I’ve also discovered that FUNdraising can indeed be FUN. Dystonia Zoo Walks empower us to advance our cause while checking out lions, tigers and bears, oh my!

For those who live in the New York City area, I hope to see you on September 18 for a memorable day of Dystonia fundraising and awareness at the Bronx Zoo. We offer a unique “twist” on traditional charity walks, as there’s no formal walking course. Jump-start your Sunday with family-friendly festivities – perhaps win a raffle prize – and then meander your way through the fabulous Bronx Zoo. Of course, you’re welcome on board Team Dystonia Muse! Can’t join in the fun? We’ve got you covered. Support us by making a donation.

Use the following link to register:  Bronx Zoo Walk Registration
You can sponsor me here:  Pamela Sloate’s Personal Page

From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for reading this blog and supporting my journey. With a team effort, we can eradicate Dystonia!

-Pamela-

2016 Bronx Zoo Walk Postcard Image

 

 

Life In The Trenches

5365287_s_editedI’ll confess, for most of my life, I didn’t view myself as “disabled,” reserving this term for those with even more extreme physical liabilities. Yes, I felt “different,” but it never occurred to me that Dystonia qualified me for membership in any kind of exclusive club.

In my confused reality, I viewed individuals with disabilities as mirrors of my own imperfections, reflecting a self-image I couldn’t bear. Now I simply see people whom I count among my closest friends for reasons that have everything to do with the spirit their hearts embrace. No saints or heroes, just soldiers on personal battlefronts waging reluctant but necessary combat. After all, life is lived in the trenches not on a pedestal.

My argument with the whole concept of disability is how it creates a notion of us vs. them. Those of us with chronic illness don’t conduct ourselves by majority rule or elect representatives to a special Disability Congress to proclaim declarations of common attitude and award badges of merit for supposed acts of heroism. We take our lives thought by thought, day by day.

Think you’re so far away? Challenges abound for all of us, what’s your struggle? You could even try it for a few minutes, an hour, a day. Blindfold yourself. Shake your arm every time you eat, drink, write, keystroke, or play an instrument. Spin around crazily, then swim and sway down the street. Attempt 24 hours in a wheelchair. Do you feel to be a “sore thumb” or is your entire attention focused on your tasks? How much of you feels “able” and how much “unable?” It’s not our physical differences that mark us with a scarlet “D” but how society finds the need to distinguish us by them. The only “sore thumbs” are those thusly viewed by the rest of the hand. How about examining the degree of perfection the other fingers can claim!

The lesson I try to embrace every day is that each of us is a composite of unique information, no one aspect so particularly remarkable that we stand out as any more “different” than the person sitting or standing next to us. When it comes to my personal data, Dystonia is a fact tucked into the details of my life that’s completely uninformative regarding my worth as a person. While Dystonia is a bit of a visual drama queen, why it should dictate a “one size fits all” label is beyond me…and unfortunate.

I’m just like everyone else. I carry hang-ups, sport frustrations, worry about inconsequential details, celebrate life, laugh, love, dream, and strive to hold inner peace. May you find yours as well.

Lions, Tigers & Bears, Oh My!

9287823_s editedLiving with chronic illness, we must strive to celebrate the moments where we find ourselves and seek out occasions to celebrate. Zoo Walks are cross-crossing the country and I’m thrilled to welcome the inaugural Bronx Zoo Walk to the Big Apple on Sun., Oct. 4, 2015.

This event is so much more than a FUNdraiser – it’s a wellspring for our hope and fuels our unity of purpose. Conditions like Dystonia disempower us from exercising full bodily autonomy as we transact the business of our everyday lives. The Zoo Walks present an opportunity to transform ourselves into empowers working to secure a better tomorrow. We’re looking to take one ferocious bite out of Dystonia and cage that wild beast!

I invite everyone to join the tri-state Dystonia community for a day of awareness and hope at the Bronx Zoo on Oct. 4. Proceeds benefit the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation (DMRF). You can register using the following link:  Bronx Zoo Walk Registration

Enjoy the zoo as part of Team Dystonia Muse by inputting “Dystonia Muse” as your team when registering. Note there’s no racing involved, just a leisurely day at the Bronx Zoo. If you’re unable to attend, you can join us in spirit by making a donation to Team Dystonia Muse here:  Donate To Team Dystonia Muse

I must include a warm thank you to the partners helping to ensure that the Bronx Zoo Walk is a memorable day: Allergan, Amsterdam Ale House, Bella Face Painting, Ben Asen Photography, Caricatoonist, Chocolate Works, Church Publick, Feinstein Institute for Medical Research at North Shore-LIJ, Ipsen, Lucy’s Whey, Magnolia Bakery, Massage By Touch Evolution, Merz, Mount Sinai Beth Israel, Parlor Steakhouse, Sarabeth’s, Serafina, Superior Soundz Entertainment, Third Avenue Ale House, US WorldMeds, Whole Foods Market, William Greenberg Desserts.

Check out these upcoming DMRF Zoo Walks:

Cincinnati Zoo Walk, Sept. 12, 2015
Register here:  Cincinnati Zoo Walk Registration

Cleveland Zoo Walk, Sept. 19, 2015
Register here:  Cleveland Zoo Walk Registration

Binghamton Zoo Walk, Sept. 19, 2015
Register here:  Binghamton Zoo Walk Registration

Pittsburgh Zoo Walk, Sept. 27, 2015
Register here:  Pittsburgh Zoo Walk Registration

POST SCRIPT-  Visit my Bronx Zoo Walk Photo Album on Facebook using the following link:  Bronx Zoo Walk Album.

Team Dystonia Muse

The Medical Sideshow

42734194_sAll too often, there’s a sideshow to chronic illness: our treatment regimen! Let’s take my pills. They’re small, white (or yellow) and round. They “control” (I didn’t say “cure”) my Dystonia but wreck havoc with my body. My meds require me to walk a medical tightrope juggling multiple balls in the air, engaging in a precarious – but common – balancing act.

My neurologist and I make all sorts of adjustments. We go down on one culprit with particularly distasteful repercussions until my walking worsens. Then it’s time to regroup. We add meds to address side effects, which in turn make their own statements. Understand, I’m an impatient person who rarely acts incrementally. I embrace BIG CHANGE. Not with my pills. The process of going up and down, not to mention trying new meds, is E-X-C-R-U-C-I-A-T-I-N-G-L-Y  S-L-O-W. But I appreciate the need to drive with caution and intermittently engage the brake.

The “games” never end. I had to discontinue a long-standing drug that caused my blood count to plummet dangerously. Another regular exerts undue influence on my blood labs, rendering them confounding to everyone except my neuro. Then there’s the trial and error of “new” treatments. During a clinical study, I became convinced a med was making my Dystonia worse and hightailed my way off that highway. I speak from experience when I say serious drugs merit serious vigilance.

I reap the benefits of a highly knowledgeable and careful neurologist. However, responsible health care doesn’t end with a trustworthy physician. As patients, we’re the ultimate arbiters of the substances we ingest and interjecting a healthy dose of caution is prudent. Do the research, investigate your options, read the fine print, ask probing questions, and trust your instincts when it comes to side effects – after all, you know your body best.

With World Health celebrated throughout spring and summer, the American Recall Center has embarked on a campaign to promote medication safety (check out their tips below). The American Recall Center website is an invaluable resource for prescription drug and medical device recall information and other healthcare topics advancing informed medical decisions.

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A Hop, Skip & A Jump!

26418170_s Edited#JumpForDystonia is sweeping across cyberspace and I couldn’t be more excited. This inspirational awareness campaign launched by Dystonia Europe reminds us to live our lives joyfully and offers us hope that our seemingly elusive dream of freedom of movement is but a hop, skip and a jump away!

When was the last time you embraced a leap of faith? How often have you jumped for joy, jumped into the conversation, jumped to a conclusion…or jumped off that proverbial cliff? How about taking a flying leap and jumping for Dystonia?

There’s no better way to begin than a jump-start! Join our #JumpForDystonia Flash Mob this week (July 13-19) to ignite a wildfire of awareness across social media. Simply share a pic or video showcasing your best – or most creative – jump accompanied by the hashtag #JumpForDystonia. Pole vaults, long jumps, ski jumps and jump shots are all welcome. Enlist friends family and work colleagues. Let’s get the whole world jumping for Dystonia!

Check out our Flash Mob Event:  #JumpForDystonia Flash Mob

Enter the Photo Contest:  #JumpForDystonia Photo Contest

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. This #JumpForDystonia video is worth a million:

One-Stop Shopping

12980877_sLast week I experienced health care at its finest in my own peculiar version of one-stop shopping, heading to the hospital for a day of consultations flowing from Psychiatrist to Fellow to Attending Neurologist to Physical Therapist. Now that’s what I call patient-centered care, yours truly the star of the show! With Movement Disorder, one’s neurologist is often the tip of a medical ice-burg floating down a river teeming with doctors and therapists. Why shouldn’t treatment resemble a “power trip” to the mall to score a broad swath of retailers?

Pushing our “main squeeze” to the side, chronic illness ushers in a host of ancillary issues shaping quality of life. We confront side effects from our meds, the practical repercussions of a body gone wild, a seesaw of energy and fatigue…not to mention those emotional highs and lows. Assembling our go-to team requires us to work as our own Offensive Coordinator, searching out appropriate therapies – hopefully with providers who take our insurance – in an effort to quarterback a game plan aimed at gaining elusive yards as we journey up the field. The big “Hail Mary” may lie outside our control but we gun for those small victories.

Getting to the nitty-gritty of my “medical spree,” what a treat to bask in the rays of a professional crew evincing an understanding of a slew of complicated relationships – Dystonia the hub driving the wheel. They proffered care with concern, proactively addressed side effects rather than prescribing recklessly, and showed due respect for the knowledge I contribute…after all, I qualify as my own expert witness! Meanwhile, I enjoyed a bout of medical room service where the farthest I strayed was a jaunt down the hallway to display my decidedly Dystonic swagger. If only I could coax this symphony of place and time out of follow-up therapy appointments. When health care gets things right, it’s really rather incredible how much “simpler” our lives could be.

A great big thank you to the Bachmann-Strauss Dystonia Center of Excellence at Beth Israel, putting a capital “P” in Patient-Centered Care and addressing our multi-disciplinary needs!

For more information on Dystonia and Parkinson’s Centers of Excellence, check out the following links:

Massages Make Me Tense!

7176612_sNothing like a massage to tense up those muscles!

Now, I’m not talking about a rough and tumble sports massage but one of those coveted Swedish gigs that cost upwards of $150 at a fancy spa…

During breakout sessions at a patient symposium, a massage therapist offered her services to our group, hoping to bestow a haven of relaxation. She was utterly baffled by the dearth of volunteers for a free massage until I explained how our muscles react to stimulation. After all, I port a history of educating massage therapists about the Mexican jumping beans in my legs at the touch of their fingertips.

Aaaah, we achieved clarity. Perhaps she could work on locations that relieve sinus congestion, avoiding contact with my upstarts. Didn’t do much for my aching muscles but I went home breathing easy!