At forty-nine years old, Carol Clupny was an active, driven woman with a career, a family and a zest for adventure. A mere year later she struggles with strange symptoms of internal tremors, frozen shoulders, and a serious intestinal infection. She doesn’t understand why she can’t paddle a kayak, or throw the ball for her dogs. Then comes the diagnosis: early onset Parkinson’s Disease. “How can I keep going?” she asks her doctor. “Keep exercising and taking your meds. You have five to ten years before things get more difficult.”
Carol finds she can no longer work. From her easy chair, she watches videos of people in advanced stages of Parkinson’s. “I can’t go there,” she tells herself. Struggling out of her chair she shuffles outside to the mailbox and back. These first steps begin her training for the trip at the top of her bucket list: a pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago in Spain. Completing this adventure once is not enough, she returns again and again.
This book is a story of resilience, strength, and belief in oneself. Carol takes you on her journey suffering from Parkinson disease and her recovery after Deep Brain Stimulation. She never accepts defeat. You will be taken in by her courage, and her faith in God. Her book is a message of hope for anyone. It is a beautiful read. Claude Tranchant, author Boots to Bliss
She reads in an article “bicycling helps mitigate the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Dusting off a seldom used bike in her garage, she leans it against the mailbox to mount up. Away she goes with a new-found freedom to train for the RAGBRAI (the Des Moines Registers Annual Bike Ride Across Iowa.)
A 425-mile bicycle trek across the state of Iowa in the iconic RAGBRAI can be quite an adventure for most people. For a 50-year old woman diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease that recently discovered the joys of cycling, it can an almost insurmountable fete. The Ribbon of Road Ahead relives Carol’s trying journey that tested her physical and mental limits as she experienced crashing, late-night rowdies and a road full of pork chops, homemade ice cream and pie as she pedaled towards the mighty Mississippi River. Carol shows us that determination and indomitable courage can help you through life’s biggest challenges. TJ Juskiewicz RAGBRAI Director
On her trips, Carol faces challenges she never could have foreseen. She forges lasting friendships and confronts the reality of living with a progressive neurological disorder. Crashing her bike, slipping along muddy paths with a heavy backpack, suffering through blisters and tendonitis, using a field as a bathroom she approaches every aspect of life with a sense of adventure.
Rather than perching on a pedestal as the perfect person with Parkinson’s, Carol slips in the mud and gets up laughing at herself. Walking next to you, she listens carefully, offering her hand or her treasure, unselfconsciously showing how to take the next step along this ribbon of road ahead. Enjoy the trek. Nan Little, PhD author of If I Can Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, Why Can’t I Brush My Teeth? Courage, Tenacity and Love Meet Parkinson’s Disease
Carol is not afraid to face the apathy and depression that come with Parkinson’s. Instead of being drug down into darkness, she finds strategies for lifting herself, and others around her, up into the light.
I met Carol while walking through my life crisis in Spain. This fair American lady with her pink cap, passionate love of life and wise attitude to her Parkinson’s put me on pause. She’s inspired me to turn my cant’s into can’s – her spirit is infectious. I am lucky she’s been my friend ever since. You are lucky she writes so well. Alise Avota co-owner Mr Page bookstore Riga, Latvia
After eight years on medication, Carols doctor suggests deep brain stimulation, not a cure for Parkinson’s but a procedure to control her symptoms. Demonstrating courage in preparation for this brain surgery her sense of humor is revealed. She banters with the lead nurse about shaving her hair and lectures the surgical staff to “do your best job”. Playing catch with strangers at a bluegrass music festival and talking her husband into a late-night horse ride demonstrate just some of the positive outcomes as her body recovers lost skills.
Carol Clupny’s personal narrative of her travels since being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease is both entertaining and enlightening. Part travel journal, part education, the two elements combine for a wonderful message to us all to keep seeking new horizons and redefined adventures. Holly Chaimov, Executive Director of Parkinson’s Resources of Oregon