Superman’s Kryptonite: Stress, event planning and Parkinson’s

Not only did Bob plan the whole thing, but he hit a ball with each team.
Not only did Bob plan the whole thing, but he hit a ball with each team.

Stress is not a friend to those with Parkinson’s (much less anyone else).  Everything I read seems to say that stress exacerbates symptoms. I know when I speak I develop an exaggerated tremor. This is unusual for me because my main symptoms are gait and stiffness related, with very little tremor manifestation.

I am finding that the stress can be either mental or physical. As we progressed through the preparations for and the actual event this year, I found myself confronted by a number of unexpected sources of stress.  The first was my breaching a rule that I preach to all who are planning an event, START EARLY. I have done this before, so what new challenges could there be? I got a little complacent and kept singing our mantra “YOU’VE GOT THIS.” So I kept playing golf every chance I got, and knew I could always catch up.

Now this is not like running a marathon. I don’t know how PWP do that. Sure I understand training is different from a planning and executing details for a group event. But is the stress different? I don’t think so.

So my lack or delay of planned progress created in the last few weeks before the event (crunch time) an enormous amount of stress as well as longer days to catch up. As a master of list making, I found I was able to keep up on what had to be done, but all of a sudden time became my enemy.  No problem just put in more hours.  Wrong. More hours of work coupled with lack of good sleep leads you to the “rat hole” that spirals in on itself.  So two weeks before game day, I get sick. Virus with fever. Doctor says take it easy. I say “Okay, will cut back to eight hour days.” Then a sinus infection on top of the virus. The result was five days of fever over 100 degrees.  Fortunately this didn’t cause any additional stress (yeah  right).  What to do now, I asked myself.  The answer was to push myself harder and lean on my family harder. Yes, friends kept asking what they could do, but remember “We’ve got this.”


We made it to event day and all went well in a long day. Behind the scenes at our luncheon, Kate despite the heavy load she was carrying recognized that I was at risk of not making it to the finish line. She came over with a bottle of water and literally sat me down to hydrate and take a break before the speeches. Next came some food and a grand but fleeting rally. At the end of the scheduled events, we were faced with the details of cleanup and return of loaned objected (tables and chairs), pickup of sponsor signs, etc. I found myself confronted by all of my closest friends, who ordered me to go home, which I did.

It has been over five weeks since the event and I am not back to normal. I have been approached by many of my friends whose creative observations unanimously were that I should not carry the burden alone next year.  Of course my response was “I hear you, and I will ask for help.” But then one person who I didn’t really even know “turned on the light for me” when he commented that if  did it on my own in the future how many years could I keep doing this compared to how long I could continue if I got help? DUH

So why am I sharing this with you?  Because I bet I am not alone in my approach. We are not supermen/ women. We know we fight the beast which makes us feel that way. We believe “We’ve got it” and we do. But the most important word in this whole post is “WE”. Lastly, I am sharing this because next year if I fall back into “doing it myself”, I’m on record that I shouldn’t try to do it by myself,  and you should feel free to call me on it.



About bobharmon49

Parkinson’s Cure Research Funding, Inc. (“PCRF”) was founded in November, 2010 as a non-profit corporation dedicated to raising money for Parkinson’s disease research and patient support. The corporation’s main fundraising event is an annual golf tournament held in April at the Lake Ashton community in Winter Haven and Lake Wales, Florida. Proceeds from the event have been donated to the Michael J Fox Foundation. Prior to forming PCRF the first golf tournament was held in April 2009 and we raised $12,000. The second tournament in April 2010 raised $27,000. Our next tournament will be held on April 7, 2012. At each of the first two golf outings, 215 players filled the two 18 hole golf courses at Lake Ashton. PCRF was founded by Bob and Cecily Harmon. Bob was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2006 and is still very active playing golf and working to help find a cure for PD through fund-raising. He has recently been named to the Southwest Florida Regional Council of the Michael J Fox Foundation. Their mission is to drive ideas about local engagement opportunities to increase Parkinson’s Disease awareness, enhance education efforts and connect with untapped resources to develop the overall expansion of the Fox Foundation in Florida. The Harmon’s facilitate the Lake Ashton Parkinson’s Outreach Group which supports local Parkinson’s patients and their care partners. The group meets on the first Friday of every month at 10am at Lake Ashton and is open to the Parkinson’s community in the general public.

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