Ann Crowe was diagnosed with Parkinson’s more than a year ago, even though symptoms actually began showing up much earlier. She was dealing with chronic depression, backaches caused by being inactive and had lost her sense of smell. Additionally, Ann experienced a right-hand tremor and a loss of motor control. The tremors made falling asleep difficult and staying asleep even harder. “Squirrel brain” left her restless, unfocused and easily distracted. She fought depression, which led to such severe social anxiety that during parties she would avoid others to hang out with their pets. After a few months, Ann visited her nurse practitioner who noticed the tremor in her right hand and decided to send her to a neurologist who diagnosed her with Parkinson’s disease.
Following her diagnosis, and with support from her husband Doug, she got up the nerve to post the news that she had been diagnosed with early Parkinson’s disease on Facebook. She wrote: “So, I was diagnosed last week with early Parkinson’s disease. I am now unlikely to have a successful career as a diamond cutter, ballerina, brain surgeon, or concert pianist. But I can shake spray paint cans magnificently, so I should be a hit with the graffiti artist crowd!”
Thankfully, Ann learned about RSB through a friend who knew a Rock Steady Boxing coach doing incredible work with Parkinson’s patients. Ann watched a RSB class and was introduced to the program. The next day she drove to her local YMCA and within a week she was enrolled in Rock Steady Boxing at the Southern Branch YMCA.
Today, Ann, who is also known as “T-Rex,” goes to the gym three times a week to workout with Coach Jessica, who motivates her through high impact exercises at a brisk rate of speed. They work on balance, cognition, voice activation, mental focus, pattern learning, breathing, core activation, coordination, fine motor skills, muscle rigidity, swallowing issues, reflexes, gait issues, stamina, emotional issues, and controlled falling which all assist with alleviating symptoms of PD. Her favorite RSB activity is controlled falling – an activity that teaches boxers how to fall forward or backward without hurting themselves.
Ann’s quality of life is much better thanks to Rock Steady Boxing. Core exercises and strength training have made her backaches go away, she no longer experiences social anxiety or depression and her tremors have been reduced. She has seen an increase in her energy level and her sense of smell has returned thanks to the new neural pathways the exercises have built to bypass the damaged places in her brain. Her quality of life has also improved enough to allow her to enjoy reading, ballroom dancing, singing, writing and spending time with Doug, her wonderful husband of 36 years, two amazing children, and cats!
Ann shares some words of wisdom for those who are experiencing Parkinson’s disease. “God has wonderful plans for your life! So what if you have Parkinson’s disease? Having it is like having a hole in the sailboat of your life. Every time you attend a Rock Steady Boxing class, you bail out your boat so it can ride higher in the water and skim you along to where you want to be!”