It has been years since I have heard that song, but that’s what I thought of the other day when Viola came home from a horseback-riding session. More about this in a moment. If you have read my column on a regular basis, you know that my wife Viola has Parkinson’s. I share this with you because a number of readers have asked me to give an update from time to time on her condition. It is also my prayer that the various things we are doing to cope with this disease may also help and be an encouragement to others who may be walking the same road. If not with Parkinson’s, with something else that is debilitating.
Like any progressive disease, over time the Parkinson’s is taking a toll. In her case it’s just taking a toll on her body and not her spirit. I marvel at the way she keeps going, doing for others and doing her best day-by-day to cope with her condition. Because she is the love of my life, it hurts me to see her suffer and be in almost constant pain. I would take the Parkinson’s for her if I could and when I tell her that she always responds, “You don’t want what I have.”
Several months ago when she began to have difficulty getting up from a seated position, we took some steps that may be of interest to you. First, we bought a new rocker recliner that has wooden arms that makes it easier to rock forward and push up. Then a lady in our Sunday School class covered a four-inch thick piece of foam rubber cut in the shape of a dining room chair for her to sit on. When she begins to get up, the foam rubber rises and acts almost like someone taking her hand.
The one thing that we have been more excited about than anything else is her horseback-riding sessions. When she was a young girl growing up, she had a horse and has always loved horses. A few months ago, she decided she wanted to ride a horse as therapy. We have since learned that this is called “Hippotherapy” after the Greek “Hippos” meaning horse.
There is something about the touch of an animal, like pets that are now part of the treatment regimen in some children’s hospitals, that is healing to the body. The parts of the human body that move while sitting on a horse in motion is also part of the therapy.
In our community, we have a wonderful young lady by the name of Miss Toby who has a good number of horses and as a business, she teaches horseback-riding skills to mostly young people. Miss Toby is a former state rodeo queen, along with many other honors and she has a wonderful helping spirit. Along with her cohorts Jamie and Cynthia, they have done wonders for Viola. She rides three times each week and really looks forward to it. She says it has helped her physically, emotionally and psychologically. The small amount of expense has been worth it many times over. Don’t know what the long-term outcome or results will be, but we are grateful that Miss Toby has come into our lives.
The other evening a lady said to me, “I am so sorry about Viola.” My response was, “We are just grateful the way God has blessed us with so many good years and now we just take it one day at a time.”
We do not feel sorry for ourselves because we see people each day that have life much more difficult than we do. The key to happiness has always been to forget our own problems and think about ways we can be of service to others.
I know that Viola deeply appreciates your prayers and your concern, and I’m just glad that, “She’s back in the saddle again.”
(Editor’s Note: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. He may be contacted at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)