Team Parkinson in The Netherlands - 10/19/2011

Teus van der Kolk of The Netherlands just ran his first marathon in our Team Parkinson colors! We’re so excited to be represented by people with Parkinson’s all over the globe who are committed to exercise and understand its value in managing the disease. We’re very honored to tell you Teus’ story.

I am 52-years old, married, with two children, a son 16 and a daughter 13. I was diagnosed in January of 2002. One year before the diagnosis a few people asked me if I had problems with my legs. They spotted something strange in the way I walked. I was not aware of this and did not give attention to this.
In October 2001 I was painting the ceiling of one of the bedrooms and I noticed that I used my right hand instead of my left hand which is strange because I am left handed. I went to my General Practitioner and she immediately sent me to the Neurologist.

The first year after diagnosis was terrible.  I was regularly feeling sick and tired and slept a few hours nearly every afternoon. I think that I had to get used to the medication.

I did not participate in any sports activity until about 2006 because I did not expect that I was able to do any hard exercise. I only tried to move a lot.

In 2006 the children were playing outside a lot. They asked me one day to play with them because they always had discussions about the rules of the game. I joined them (also because I did not want to be remembered as the father who was always too tired to do anything with the children) and to my surprise I found out that I was still able to run. Running resulted in pain in my legs (after running only 50 meters) but I thought that I would not be able to run at all. From that day, nearly every evening you could see a large group of children playing outside with one adult in between! This was definitely good for my health and I noticed that my health was much better in the summer than in the winter period when the children stayed inside. In March 2010 I realised that my children were getting older and would lose their interest in playing outside. I was interested in playing Field Hockey and realised that without serious initiative from my side nothing would happen. At first I started running a few times a week to improve my physical condition. The results were remarkable! When I started in March 2010 with a schedule of run/walk/run I was not able to do more than 1500 meters of which approximately 1/3 was running. After about six weeks I was able to run 5K!

I made contact with the local Hockey club to express my interest and they proposed that I could try it for a few weeks. So it happened I started to play hockey and enjoyed it a lot (and still do). This year in April there was a Parkinson exhibition organised on World Parkinson Day. I made the appointment with the organisation that I would be running half a marathon on a treadmill to help them generate publicity for the exhibition and to make patients aware of the positive effects of exercise.

This October 2011 we had what we call the “bosmarathon” in my home town. This run starts and finishes at the athletic track. The other parts of the race go through the forest. One lap is 10.5 k and you can choose to run this 1,2,3 or 4 times. I had never run further than 22 k so I expected to run 2 or maybe 3 rounds. Unfortunately at the finish after 3 rounds one of the trainers of the local athletic club was screaming loud “just one lap!” and I did not see my wife who was in the public. I was tired and a little bit confused and decided to proceed running. The last lap was slow and exhausting but I finished the race in 4 hr 33 min and 49 sec. My first Marathon!

Thank you for the Team Parkinson running singlet. I was positively and pleasantly surprised with the system to attach the bib number to the shirt. It works fine especially for Parkinson’s patients. This was the first time I did not have to ask for assistance from anybody else.

I think meeting with you and the other members of Team Parkinson would be a very special opportunity. On YouTube I regularly watch “Team Parkinson training at the rose bowl” and it touches me every time. If you are wondering about the number of views of this video: that’s me! What these people achieve is more remarkable than my marathon because my body is still willing to run.