Class Helps Diane Deal with Parkinson's
Lucky are those who get through life without having at least one curve ball thrown their way. But when you’re not so lucky, and fate throws a couple of them at you that are completely life altering, you have choices to make. Diane Kacvinsky chose to take a positive road, and fight for a balance in her life.
In 2011, she suffered a severe concussion while on a mission trip in Tanzania. The concussion left Diane, a former accountant, with extensive memory loss and a 5th-grade-level math comprehension. It changed everything that she was, and made her feel like a completely different person.
“I battled what the concussion was doing to me,” recalls Diane, who currently works part time in the laundry and locker rooms at Bryan LifePointe and volunteers for Bryan Medical Center. “Not only my memory, but my dancing was affected. I used to dance five days a week before the concussion, doing ballet, jazz, tap and pointe. It was a lifelong dream of mine as a young girl to learn to dance.”
Despite intensive outpatient therapy to improve her memory and movement — and the love and support of her husband Bob and their two children — things were not getting better and by September 2012, Diane started having suicidal thoughts.
“The depression was overwhelming,” she says. “Because of the concussion, I wasn’t really capable of accepting that that was what my life was going to be — that it had changed that much.”
But that wasn’t the end of the life-altering changes to come her way. In 2013, came a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. This wasn’t a total shock to Diane because she had felt symptoms for some time — 15 years to be exact — but had not received a diagnosis.
Given these hurdles, Diane now considers her regular sessions at the Bryan Counseling Center a lifeline. She also feels that way about the Fitness Counts classes at Bryan LifePointe, which are exclusive for those with Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis.
Still, when she was approached about this class offering, she questioned whether it would be beneficial since she was still dancing a couple of days a week, and her Parkinson’s was not terribly advanced.
“I talked with the instructors quite a bit before I signed up — they promised they’d work with me at my level and others at their level. We did strength training and endurance and balance exercises, and it turned out to be a good thing for me,” she says. “I was flexible from all of my years of dance, but I really noticed an improvement in my endurance. Fitness Counts gave me confidence, such that I felt like I had control over the disease. It did not have control over me.”
Friendships developed among the class participants. So much so that many plan to take the class again when it’s offered again in February. Diane is one of them, although that wasn’t the plan initially. Diane thought she could do the exercises on her own, but found that not to be the case.
“I learned that I’m not capable of keeping up that pattern on my own."
“The class is a long commitment. It’s 12 weeks, three days a week, but I don’t think you would get the same benefit if it was shorter. The class was too beneficial to me not to do it. I almost feel like I don’t have a choice,” she says with a smile.
She also needed the camaraderie of her classmates. “Having the group there was important,” Diane says. “We did a lot of laughing. I learned I really needed the social aspect. We were all there for each other. We understood that we all have good and bad days. One person might fall during class, but you learn that it’s OK to fall; we’ll help you get back up, and life goes on.
“Keep moving and stay positive — that’s the key.”