Tonya’s trends: timing is everything when managing Parkinson’s symptoms


Author: Tonya WalkerPublished: 20 October 2016

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Tonya Walker behind the scenes lead

Tonya Walker, the shoe-loving fashionista behind ‘The Shoe Maven’ blog, explains how she manages her Parkinson’s symptoms. Here, she shares her top tips for maximising “on” times and juggling her busy home and work life with her medication schedule

Like most people living with Parkinson’s, I have my good days and not-so-good days. I’m often asked, both by PwPs and those who are not, how I have the energy to work, take care of my family, and maintain a fashion blog. Honestly, it’s not easy, but with the support of my family and the right timing of meds to assuage Parkinson’s symptoms, I manage.

I try to schedule photoshoots for the blog at times when I’m feeling “on”, which is easier said than done. Lighting is a key component in photography. So, early morning or late afternoon are ideal times for photoshoots. Early morning shoots typically don’t work for me because it takes time to get my hair and make-up just right. Even if it only takes 30 minutes, it can become too stressful because the light changes so quickly at sunrise.

I find it easier to take pictures at the end of the day. My hair and make-up are already done and my meds are usually on schedule.

Despite my best efforts, on some days I am not feeling my best or my meds may not be quite right, and I may be lacking the energy to have good posture or find it difficult to smile. We try to reschedule on those days, but there are times we cannot reschedule because I’m under a tight posting deadline. On those days, my husband is incredibly patient and my nine-year-old son, who typically tags along, will stand behind my husband and act silly to make me laugh or smile.

In the end, I push through each day like every one of you. On the days we don’t feel so great, we might not be able to reschedule the demands of the day – after all life goes on with or without Parkinson’s. We have to put on a smile (albeit forced sometimes) and continue living our lives. Even on the toughest of days, I find something joyful to help me push through – like the shenanigans of my handsome little boy.

Raul White dress Tonya Walker

Tonya’s tips for maximising energy

­– Food interferes with the absorption of some of my meds. To maximise my medicine, I usually wait 30 minutes or more after I take my meds before I eat.

– Get enough sleep. Easier said than done, but try to find a good sleeping schedule that maximises your daily productivity. I know when I get a good night’s sleep I function much better.

– Exercise. I know this one can be really, really difficult. Energy begets energy. If you only take a five-minute walk, at least you are moving and you can set goals to increase your time – even if it is one more minute each time you go.

– Do not over commit yourself. You are in control of your schedule and know what you are capable of doing. Otherwise, you may be unnecessarily creating stress. And we all know how bad stress is when you live with Parkinson’s.

Raul White dress ii Tonya Walker

‘The Shoe Maven’

Tonya Walker has been living with Parkinson’s disease since the age of 32 and had DBS surgery on her left side in 2013 and her right in 2015. She created ‘The Shoe Maven’ fashion blog and in 2015, started up her own fashion label called TSM Originals in aid of The Michael J Fox Foundation. She is a passionate advocate for increased awareness of young-onset Parkinson’s and loves shoes. She lives in Florida, US, with her husband and young son, where she is also a law professor.

Read more:
Tonya’s trends: ‘off the shoulder’ – a low-slung look on the up

Standing tall: the fashion blogger and young onset campaigner who’s back in heels (thanks to DBS)

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