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Ladies & Gentlemen, please meet Navin P. Kumar, a Table Tennis Champion with Parkinson disease!


Hi Living My Parkinson community,


To be honest, I thought I was amongst the rare people who have a mental force that is stronger than a chronic health condition, like Parkinson disease… But, I was respectfully humbled by a person I came across only yesterday on Facebook. This person is the symbol of POSITIVITY, RESILIENCE and STRENGTH. This person has not only Parkinson disease, but has incurred more than 20 heart surgeries, and yet is a gold medallist in the USA National Table Tennis Championships.


Ladies and Gentlemen, please meet Navin P. Kumar !


Navin has humbly and naturally given me his acceptance to share his YouTube Video on my website, and told me “Mariam, I’d be honored if you share it!’’. He even asked me to quote him for this message to all people who have hard health conditions: “My goal as an athlete and movie actor with Parkinson’s isn’t fame or stardom but to show the world that a positive attitude is the catalyst to enable our dreams to come true in spite of our struggles.”


Well Navin, on behalf of all the Living My Parkinson community, I’m telling you that WE ARE ALL HONOURED BY YOUR POSITIVITY, YOUR RESILIENCE AND YOUR STRENGTH. You are leading by example and showing us that we CAN BE STRONGER than a disease!


Please watch his video, it’s so powerful!

While I’m providing the full transcript of the video below, I would like to highlighting a couple of things Navin said here that are really mind-blowing such as:

I'm not playing to win, I'm not playing to lose. Because the moment I step up to that table, I have already won.“

My athletic career began only after Parkinson’s to be a table tennis athlete representing our country, being the first ever medalist at the US Open for Parkinson’s disease. That goes to saying a lot that the power of the human spirit is such that even somebody like me with the history of heart and Parkinson’s we can still achieve our dreams.



Full video transcript:

In terms of me being at a disadvantage with Parkinson’s to be able to play at competitions where I’m playing against healthy able-bodied athletes half my age and 10 times my speed much faster, how do I deal with that and not get discouraged.

Well, it's the realization that I'm not playing to win, I'm not playing to lose. Because the moment I step up to that table, I have already won.

Meet the robot he's making his dreams come true overcoming obstacles and taming all comers including Parkinson’s. My name is Navin P Kumar. Looking at me looks can be deceiving. I may look like an ordinary everyday person but my life has been far from ordinary, and honestly it has been extraordinary. I was born with a very rare heart condition that has resulted in many open heart surgeries mechanical heart and pacemaker. I have Parkinson’s disease and in spite of all that, I am a movie actor who has acted in several movies as well as served as an executive producer. I am nicknamed the bionic man in the table tennis world because of my mechanical and electronic implants. Credit enthusiasm and a positive spirit as the driving force for Navin's whole life as he beats the odds over and over again. I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease back in 2013 but even prior to 2013 I knew something was wrong as a professional violinist. People would notice before me going on stage that my hands were shaking and they would ask me “hey am I nervous” and I would say not at all and that's when I started realizing “hey why am I shaking?”.

Some of the things that I have done to help my Parkinson’s disease include taking dopamine-related medications also telemedicine visits in terms of my doctor's appointments. Having that flexibility to be able to see my doctor in my pajamas here at home and not have to battle traffic or run the risk of catching anything from anybody from other patients in the waiting area that has been very very helpful.

Some of my favorite activities to do that keeps my sanity going include dancing, singing, playing the violin.

General exercise nowadays because I’m moving to my house and downsizing to an apartment as a result of my divorce. I am utilizing jugs of water and improvising I’ve learned that it's very important to adapt.

I don't want Parkinson’s to beat me. I want to beat my Parkinson’s. Back in 2001, I met who I thought was the woman of my dreams. It was the most amazing time and it was a difficult time for me because I was facing my 5th and last open-heart surgery. Having medical struggles in any relationship can definitely take a toll financially as well as emotionally. And so my spouse of the last 19 years and I, we separated six months ago. Right now, I've been getting my house ready for sale gradually, getting rid of stuff that my kids and my spouse left behind. Cleaning out what I could and, man it's amazing how much you cumulate in your house over the many years that you live in one's house. If I close my eyes, I can still hear my kids when they were little, playing and fighting with each other and running up to me saying “Daddy”, right whenever I would come home from work. I can see and I can hear these ghosts but each day that I’m here, it's getting fainter and fainter. It's getting harder to hear them.

Navin was born in Arizona in 1973. His dad was a mining engineer and also the reason he was drawn to ping-pong. My father introduced me to the sport of table tennis again at the age of four, because he knew at that time that I would need some form of physical activity given the physical restrictions I would have because of my heart condition. Table tennis was perfect because it's one of the few sports out there where you can tailor it to anything from competitiveness to recreational use, to people who are able-bodied versus people that are disabled, people young and old, gender, physical handicapped, mental handicapped. Whatever it is, you can tailor table tennis to be a good form of exercise so that has been a constant companion throughout my life including even after my Parkinson’s diagnosis. Little did I realize that playing table tennis would have a profound impact on my Parkinson’s. When my hands shake, putting that paddle in my hand and seeing my tremors stop. Being able to do that not only helped my tremors but it absolutely improved my reflexes being lightning quick. And normally Parkinson’s, you would think that that would end sports careers. I know other athletes with Parkinson’s where that was the case, that ended their sports career. But guess what, I never got that memo. My athletic career began only after Parkinson’s to be a table tennis athlete representing our country, being the first ever medalist at the US Open for Parkinson’s disease. That goes to saying a lot that the power of the human spirit is such that even somebody like me with the history of heart and Parkinson’s we can still achieve our dreams. It's normal to think that “Oh my God”, this is the end of the world. This is over, my life is over. News flash, it’s not over as long as you continue to breathe, as long as you continue to have that heartbeat. This is only the beginning. Yes it may be a tougher beginning, but it's a chance to still experience life and to adapt to show yourself, to show the world that you are much stronger than you realize.

The story of Navin Kumar to my mind is about resilience. I have always been impressed how people with Parkinson’s after they heard those dreadful words “you've got Parkinson’s”, fight back and bounce back up. And for Navin, it's sports. He always used to be a sportsman a table tennis player because of a heart condition which he developed already as a child. And Navin's story is very powerful. He is saying “Parkinson's is not the end of your sports career”. In fact, it boosted his sports career. He went on to become the first medalist in the US Open for table tennis for people with Parkinson’s and what he experiences is that his reflexes have become better, his tremor is less thanks to table tennis. And I think it is hopefully a powerful incentive for all of you to pick up exercise as part of your daily regime to fight Parkinson’s disease.


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