Liz Voogjarv was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in the fall of 2016. Throughout the previous year, she had experienced significant right arm issues, which were diagnosed as a partially torn rotator cuff that was being treated with physical therapy. At bedtime, Liz would shove both hands under her pillow trying to reduce the tremors. Ultimately, these symptoms lead Liz to request a referral to a neurologist who diagnosed her with Parkinson’s.
Upon diagnosis, Liz and her husband Charles explored resources for PD. She was taking medication and going to a ballet program in their town specifically for people with Parkinson’s. It was while in that program that they learned about Rock Steady Boxing. Charles researched nearby RSB locations; however, they were more than an hour away. He also began to meet with local boxing clubs to determine if they would be willing to send a staff member to Indianapolis for training. Magically, one day at ballet class, an announcement was made that RSB was coming to a location nearby!
Since then, Liz and Charles have attended classes at RSB Browns – Waterdown in Ontario, Canada for approximately 13 weeks. She has noticed significant improvements from attending classes three times per week. Prior to RSB, Liz’s energy level was low, and fatigue had her napping on a daily basis. She often used many “s” words to explain how PD was affecting her – slow, shuffling, stiff, sad-faced, etc. Thanks to RSB, those words have changed to sporty and smiley! Liz feels much more confident, resilient, and energetic. “I used to feel like a person living with Parkinson’s – it was my constant companion. Now, I can sometimes forget that I have PD. It is fading more into the background in terms of how I define myself,” said Liz.
Classes at RSB Waterdown are lead by coach Barb Drysdale who is great at creating new circuits for every class. Liz says at first everything was challenging when she started, but she now has confidence that she can handle the activities and challenge herself to become tougher. For example, the first time she skipped in decades, Liz feared she would fall flat on her face; however, she was able to skip, not only forward, but also backward and very quickly!
In addition to the physical benefits, Liz feels the social and emotional improvements too. The members of the class have bonded quickly, laugh daily with one another, share their joys and triumphs and encourage one another.
“Without the incredible support of Charles, I would probably still be lying in bed, deteriorating. As he can attest, I really fought him on going on walks and to the gym in the early months and throughout the first year,” said Liz.
Today, Liz and Charles stay busy hosting holiday parties for the family, travelling (Africa is on the bucket list), photography, babysitting great-nieces and nephews, having lunch with friends and loving their 23-year old daughter and little dog.
“I have a very good life. As many of my t-shirts proclaim, ‘Life Is Good!’”