Saturday, April 5, 2014

China - In the Footsteps of a Fallen Olympic Champion

In 2002, my wife and took a 4 day side-trip to Beijing during our trip to the World Cup in South Korea.  We covered all the tourist highlights and I distinctly remember the pride in our tour guide’s voice whenever the subject of hosting the 2008 Olympics came up.  However, I could never have anticipated the scenario in which I would return to the city…a 6 hour layover in which I would run 4 miles around the Olympic Stadium area to promote Parkinson’s Awareness. As with most things in life we forget that Then and Now has a constantly shifting time frame.


I must say that one of the most welcomed changes is that rather than having to book a state sponsored tour and wait weeks to get a visa, this time I just showed up at the Domestic Transfers window, showed them my onward boarding pass to Ho Chi Minh City later in the evening and was stamped in for up to 72 hours.  After stashing my pack in a locker and taking a not so quick cab ride (traffic).  I was at Olympic park.

My run wasn’t bad considering that I have had 5 flights in the last few days, haven’t been sleeping more than 3 hours at a time, and already ran in the cold in Mongolian this morning.  My hope was to imagine running a little bit of each Olympic Marathon at the sites where I run around the Olympic Stadiums – just like countless hours of my childhood playing alone while imaging that I was a famous athlete in whatever sport was in season.  However, my imagination here was haunted by the story of the winner of the 2008 Olympic Marathon. His name was Samuel Kamau Wanjiru and he won the race running for Kenya.  However, 3 years later he died.  The circumstances around his death, in which he jumped from a balcony, were questionable, but one of the predominant theories was suicide.  

Given the focus of my project is to raise Parkison's Awareness, I would like to introduce what are known as nonmotor symptoms of Parkinson's to those that may not be that familiar with Parkinson's. The world has greatly increased it’s knowledge about the motor symptoms of Parkinson’s, but it is the nonmotor symptoms, that are not seen by others, that often have the greatest affect on those of us with Parkinson’s.  I ask you all to pause a minute to look at the list below of nonmotor symptoms from the Parkinson's Disease Foundation, realize that your Parkinson's Awareness has just increased and help us in some small way this month to raise the Parkinson’s Awareness of someone else.  Thanks!! - Mark
    • loss of sense of smell, constipation
    • REM behavior disorder (a sleep disorder)
    • mood disorders
    • orthostatic hypotension (low blood pressure when standing up)
    • sleep disturbances
    • constipation
    • bladder problems
    • sexual problems
    • excessive saliva
    • weight loss or gain
    • vision and dental problems
    • fatigue and loss of energy.
    • depression
    • fear and anxiety
    • skin problems
    • cognitive issues, such as memory difficulties, slowed thinking, confusion
    • medication side effects, such as impulsive behaviors

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