Monthly Archives: October 2010

Is HBO Making Early Onset Parkinson’s Disease A Prime Time Topic?

In the event that you may have missed the return of HBO’s riveting series, In Treatment, it’s back for a 3rd season on Monday and Tuesday nights. The show revolves around the superb actor Gabriel Byrne’s character, Paul Weston, a middle-aged therapist seeking solace with himself and struggling with both his issues and those of his neurotically eccentric patients.

The show is a witty, smart, bold, conversation-based exchange program void of mindless jabber, caustic violence or cattle prod laugh track garbage that major networks try to pass off as television entertainment. Not since My Dinner With Andre have I seen an appreciation for the art of conversation as displayed on In Treatment..

Last season, Paul faced a divorce from his long-time wife, a custody battle over his 2 sons and daughter, a lawsuit over patient negligence, and the loss of his estranged father due to complications from Parkinson’s Disease.  The show fearlessly takes on real world issues and everyday situations in a novel and entertaining manner. The dialogue is crisp and real and edgy. It’s smart. You know good writing when you see it and In Treatment has got it.

Last night, Byrne’s character, a man no later than his early fifties, at best, showed a rapid and uncontrollable tremor in his hand. Suspecting early warnings of Parkinson’s, he calls a doctor friend for a referral of a good Neurologist. Wow, welcome to prime time, Parkinson’s Disease (PD)! Now we wait to watch if what Paul has is truly PD or not.

Thank you HBO and the talented writers associated with the show for taking on this story. This may just get PD the platform for public understanding that it so desperately deserves. Maybe with HBO’s help we can shed light on our illness and add another non-elderly face along with Michael J. Fox to the PD public eye. Finally, maybe the message will get out that PD isn’t just an illness that strikes the elderly.

I am hopeful that this show portrays Paul and his symptoms, if is PD, in an accurate and insightful manner. This show takes on a huge responsibility in bringing PD to the mainstream and it has the capability of educating millions of viewers around the globe. I applaud and thank HBO and anyone associated with In Treatment for taking on a character  that may be dealing with early onset PD an I am eager to see how hero deals with his PD, if that turns out to be the diagnosis. If it is PD, as it looks to be, this would be one the biggest developments in Parkinson’s awareness ever!

If it is PD, and they have the proper medical advisors, which I bet they do, an accurate portrayal of the life altering changes that come with PD will be de-mystified and maybe no longer misunderstood. At least, a television character who may have early onset Parkinson’s Disease. I never thought I would see it happen, and it just may become a reality!

I have faith in you HBO. I’ll be watching. This could be very big!

(This is just my opinion. If you missed In Treatment try catching up with On Demand on cable or Netflix. New episodes air Monday and Tuesdays. Check your local listings for your time zone)

It Wasn’t On The Box!

What do you know about the food you had for lunch yesterday or the pizza that you had last night? I’ll give you an example.  I’m a long-time vegetarian who for years loved my Pizza Hut pizza, until I found out that there was beef broth in the sauce–that’s NOT very vegetarian.  There is no gray area in my vegetarian domain.  If I were a female, I couldn’t be a little pregnant.  Excuse me,  but someone who consumes any Pork, Chicken,  Beef, or Fish or any once living breathing animal or that animal’s bi-product like blood or gelatin (bone marrow),  and claims to be a vegetarian ,is mocking the definition.  I don’t know if Pizza Hut got wise and cleaned up their act, but they burned that bridge with me a long time ago. There’s no going back for this veghead.

This leads me to a bitter discovery that I stumbled upon,  thanks once again to the power of Google and the Web.  It happened like this:  My wife and I, ever in search of a tasty healthy solution for supplementing our daily vegetarian diet, found the Quorn protein solution. You’ve probably seen it in your local store’s freezer section.  The mycoprotein  supposedly originates from a mushroom. The textured protein has a consistency close to that of chicken,  at least as I can best remember what chicken tasted like some decades ago. The Product comes in a variety of very tasty flavors and  shapes such as nuggets, cutlets, crumbles, Buffalo Wing Spicy, and several more.

I have Parkinson’s Disease and my wife is prone to suffer from headaches. As regular Quorn consumers for several years, not until I guessed that something in the Quorn might be triggering her headaches did this idea come to light. Nothing  on the package’s list of ingredients were a red flag, so what could it be? Not until I went to the website did I see the answer. It was on the FAQ page answering ‘What Is Mycoprotein?’:

 From Quorn’s site: Mycoprotein for Quorn foods is grown using a controlled fermentation process so that it can be harvested consistently. All natural vegetable flavorings are added to the mycoprotein to create the desired flavor (like chicken or beef), as well as a small amount of egg white. Then it’s formed into shapes like nuggets, tenders and cutlets.

If you know anything about some chronic headache sufferers, they should avoid aged cheeses, sulfites as found in grapes, wines, and fermented products. There was nothing on the product label about it containing anything fermented–Nothing! So much for label reading!

Read your labels but go even farther and research your food. I’m saddened, perturbed, and puzzled that ingredients that may be of detriment to our health and well-being are being strategically and clandestinely re-named or simply stricken from the box altogether.

Do your own food Googles and see what you find about what’s in your fridge or freezer.  Tell me what  you discover.

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Michael J. Fox Interview w/ Sanjay Gupta Was Excellent!

If you missed it, there are portions from last night’s inspirational interview with Michael J. Fox about his Parkinson’s  Disease (PD) on YouTube. I am hoping that the Fox Foundation will have the entire interview on their site at The interview was by far the most candid, poignant, philosophical, in-depth, investigation of Michael’s fervor for life and a cure that I have seen. I always respected, appreciated, and knew about his dedication to curing PD, but it this interview was one of his best, in my humble opinion. I found his spirit and passion to be invigorating and contagious.

As someone with PD, I identify with Michael: both of us are not too far apart in age (he is almost 6 years older), both of us were diagnosed in our 20’s, both of us get dyskinetic when we are stressed (like interviews) and both of us are trying to make a difference in the world of Parkinson’s.  I identify and completely support and respect the mission and inspiration of Michael J. Fox and his foundation’s work. I encourage you to support the work that they are doing financially or through their Team Fox fundraising events. Go to his site for more information and get on his foundation’s  mailing list. I hope that you will share this information with others and educate them about PD.

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