Category Archives: support groups

2019 APDA Education Day in Williamsburg VA this Saturday 9/28

Online registration is still open until 9/25 for the 2019 APDA Virginia Education Day being held next Saturday 9/28 (9am-4pm) at the DoubleTree Williamsburg. April Is Disease Awareness Month!

Registration is only $25 for this day long event which includes speakers on a variety of important topics including:

-People who have Parkinson’s discussing how they live well with Parkinson’s

-Neurologists discussing how to people can live well with Parkinson’s

-Caregiver discussing tips and tricks

-Exercise panel discussing PWR!, Rock Steady Boxing, Tai Chi. Yoga and BIG

-Parkinson’s Research

-Brain Fitness

-Nutrition

and much more!

Click here for more information and to register!

 

Building blocks for a future for better health!

Trust, faith, hope, and diligence are four key components to seeing your way through any health challenge. Personally, they have made my 30 years with Parkinson’s disease more than just sustainable. Living well with Parkinson’s disease takes a variety of skills that must be honed and used. Before I get to trust, let me express the essential weight that faith and hope play when facing illness.

Without faith and hope our internal drive shuts down and leaves us vulnerable to only worsen our condition. We all need to visualize a path for our future, whether it is a leap or a small step. Your path is yours alone and only you can determine the scope of your vision.

When I speak of trust, I mean the belief in oneself as well as believing in others. Trusting that if we follow our gut, listen to our inner voice, and do what we know in our head/heart is a big part of making a good decision. There is much more, though. When it comes to making an informed decision about your medical condition, it is best if you’ve done the research as well. You may want to consult those around you for their opinion.

Trusting your doctor’s decisions, his or her pharmaceutical suggestions, surgical outlook, or any other decision will require your educated consent. You have the free will to reject or accept your doctor’s suggestions. Trust can only go so far when questioning your doctor. You must weigh the pros and cons of the proposed medicines and possible procedures. Providing cogent reasons and facts for why you are adamant about going against a doctor’s wishes needs to be thought out and be thoroughly researched. Depending upon the severity of the recommendation, a second or third opinion may be needed, despite the trust.

Diligence means making use of your time and taking care of yourself. There are things that you can do for yourself that even your doctor can’t. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and keeping a schedule take discipline but can be very helpful when structuring your day. If you take medicines every day, structure is crucial to stay on time when administering medicines.

There was a time when we didn’t question our doctor’s advice, but with greater access to information and a better understanding of therapies, nutrition, exercise, diet, meditation, reiki and more, there is real opportunity to work with your doctor. As a constant seeker of information about improving your condition, you become a resource for your doctor and are empowered with knowledge that may unveil new options for your future.

Changes!

Today, of all days is the perfect time to discuss the subject of change. Today, in the United States, millions of voters will have the opportunity to let their voices be heard with a single vote to impact their government. Millions of dollars will have been spent in campaign advertising to insult their opponent, praise or question the current or past administration, or just be terribly annoying, until the next election.

I, for one, cannot wait to see these divisive, bitter, mudslinging, name-calling, unbecoming, childish, messages turn into vapor and return to the barrage of those amusing pharmaceutical ads that we all enjoy at breakfast and dinner time.

If just a small percentage of this political advertising bounty were used to inform the public about the needs of the Parkinson’s world, we could educate the planet on identifying, treating, and caring for patients far earlier in their treatment and improving their care for a disease that has no cure. What could be a more noble use of funds than educating the masses about an illness that is so misunderstood and so poorly explored publicly?

Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurological disorder in America with an estimated 6 million cases worldwide and approximately 1-1.5 million people in the United States. Even these numbers are suspect for lack of updating and availability to necessary data for making better estimates. For as far as we have come over the 52 years of my life and the 30 years that I have lived with Parkinson’s disease, I see a  need for a similar buzz for change, much like the excitement that is in the air on this election day and eve.

An Exciting Documentary Project Called The Animated Mind of Oliver Sacks

UPDATE 07/23/18 – I am happy to report that The Animated Mind of Oliver Sacks project on Kickstarter met and exceeded it’s goal by nearly 25%!
I am so glad to see the support and deep interest in Dr. Sacks’ work continues on! I can’t wait to see the release of the film!
-Karl
————————

In the medical world, it is a rarity to uncover a medical anthropologist and an ambassador of compassion who writes with humor, tenderness, truth, sensitivity, and frankness. Dr. Oliver Sacks was all that and more. To this day, I don’t know of a greater contributor to the world of Parkinson’s disease. He was a tenacious advocate and Levodopa researcher, as documented in his book Awakenings and then movie starring Robin Williams. Over 50 years later, Levodopa remains the gold standard drug for Parkinson’s patients.

On a personal note, I started taking Levodopa in 1991, had I not had access to this medicine, I can only guess what my life would look like.  This life-changing drug has given me the ability to move, to speak, and to function. Like millions of Parkinson’s patients around the world, I am and will be forever in Dr. Sack’s debt for the gift that he has given me and the Parkinson’s community.

The Animated Mind of Oliver Sacks

The Animated Mind of Oliver Sacks

Oliver Sacks left us in 2015 but his numerous books, writings, lectures, and interviews live on and on. Now, thanks to the passion and vision of documentary film-maker Dempsey Rice, comes The Animated Mind of Oliver Sacks. There is just over two weeks left to complete this important Kickstarter campaign and bring over ten years of exclusive interviews to the big screen. Through the beautiful medium of animation, Dempsey and her team will show us Oliver’s refreshing and revealing outlook on medicine and compassion, music, gratitude, and the down to earth attitude that made Dr. Sacks so revolutionary.

Dr. Sacks connected with his patients. He deeply cared about people and their care. Oliver Sacks understood the uniqueness of every patient and took a fresh approach to the doctor patient relationship. Both a compassionate neurologist and a tenacious investigator, Sacks believed that the patient should be more empowered and in greater control of their care—an uncommon and somewhat controversial opinion for many physicians. You can hear his compassion in this quote:

“My note was a strange mixture of facts and observations, carefully noted and itemized, with irrepressible meditations on what such problems might ‘mean’, in regard to who and what and where this poor man was – whether, indeed, one could speak of an ‘existence’, given so absolute a privation of memory or continuity.”

― Oliver Sacks, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales

Dempsey says, “Animation is a great art form.” The medium of animation adds a whole new dimension that will elaborate on Sacks’ insights. Meshing Sack’s spoken words and powerful visuals of the stunning animation enhances the thoughts and concepts that are discussed onscreen. Through the power of film, we will see Dr. Oliver Sacks in what I believe to be a memorable moving documentary that encapsulates the immense impact that he had and continues to have on medicine, our medical care and our perception of medicine in general.

I think that this quote summarizes Dempsey’s passion, drive, and appreciation for Sacks’ works: “Throughout our time together, I was consistently awed by Oliver and his deep compassion for all living things.  His unfailing curiosity drove him to explore the magic of how our brains work and delve into the extreme joys and sorrows that come with human existence,” said Rice.  “My hope is that this film inspires new insight and deep compassion for the human experience, in addition to celebrating Oliver’s irrepressible enthusiasm for, and curiosity about, the human mind.”

Upon completion, Dempsey hopes the theatrical release will be available in early 2020.

I encourage you to learn more about Oliver Sacks and Dempsey Rice’s film, The Animated Mind of Oliver Sacks at the following links:
Kickstarter campaign page: http://bit.ly/animatedmind4,
Website: http://theanimatedmindofoliversacks.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheAnimatedMindofOliverSacks/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/oliversacksfilm
or Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/oliversacksfilm/

Accept Your Mission! It’s Not Impossible! Focus Your Energy, Wisely!

If you are embarrassed, sad, shamed, or lack self confidence about having Parkinson’s, I am here to tell you that you don’t have the energy or time to devote to such unproductive emotions. Stay strong! You have joined a community of amazing, caring, helpful people who are there to support you and encourage you. Spending time on activities that take you away from being your best will only deplete you more. Choosing to be positive and to be your very best can be a reality and not a mushy platitude!

It is up to you to make the first move. Admitting and succumbing to the realization that you need help is not weakness but new found strength. Helping oneself to learn about how others are surviving and thriving benefits all involved. This generous group of people with Parkinson’s and care partners are ready and willing to share their experiences of what has worked and what needs improving. There are tomes of great advice, educational videos, supportive medical experts, and organizations with helpful support groups and exercise programs! Be aware that your improvement and care all begins with your passion, diligence, and commitment to getting better.

I won’t say that being thrust into the world of Parkinson’s is easy and nor is it your first thought to just accept it and move forward. I had some dark days until I realized that my body, mind, and spirit were in jeopardy. My being is my responsibility. There is plenty of help out there, but you are your greatest resource. Now, build your team!

Parkinson’s is an illness that you do not fight, but work with, work around, and find solutions that work for you. In other words, Parkinson’s takes work! I, like you, am on a constant and continuous hunt for wellness or at the very least, some therapy, drug, exercise, or device to improve my condition. I wish you well!

Words Matter In Medicine–Compassion and Kindness Are 2 To Focus On!

When I was first diagnosed, the neurologist in 1991, coldly and in a matter of fact tone informed me that I had “a reptilian stare”! I don’t know if this is an official piece of medical terminology or the vernacular, but I most assuredly must express my thoughts of using such a crude comparison.

Doctors can be outstanding resources for data gathering and possible new treatments, but often fizzle when it comes to bedside manner, hand-holding, support, thinking outside the box, or just sharing compassion. I know that there are some of them out there and I hope that your doctor or doctors are of the compassionate qualification—but if he or she is not, what do you do?

Here lies the $64,000 question (old reference-sorry), of asking what it is that you expect to receive from your physician and how it is delivered?

Is it so difficult to reach your doctor that you can’t get a 24-hour response? Any response?

Navigating the labyrinth-like phone system of most medical providers is a test of resilience and sheer willpower. I think that it might just be an exercise to see just how committed their patients are to the practice. I would compare calling doctors’ offices a close comparison to my childhood game playing of that ever so frustrating, never-ending game of Chutes and Ladders—almost as annoying as pick up sticks. Ahhhhhhhhh, the good old days.

Some doctors’ offices think that they have joined the 21st century by installing these “portals” that are misnamed, closer to a black hole, are often unread on a timely basis, and overly buggy or confusing to maneuver around—other than my issues, they are great!

I don’t have any insight into defying the complexities of the phone systems or portal projections, but you might express your frustrations to your doctor and any staff who will listen. Be sure and share the good stuff with your doctor’s office as well, when this might happen.

Some Parkinson’s events and sites to make you aware of this #ParkinsonsAwarenessMonth 2018

This, as is every April, is Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month—it is a time to learn about an illness that touches millions of lives across the globe. Help spread the word to anyone you know who may have a need for assistance in getting more of an education on the complexities of Parkinson’s disease.

This #ParkinsonsAwarenessMonth there are so many events going on online and locally.  Here are a few of the many Parkinson’s disease related events that I want to point out –there are far too many to mention (check your local community for special events close to you), along with some online resources that I encourage you to visit.

April is Parkinson's Awareness Month

April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month

April 14, 2018 12pm -5pm
Pints for Parkinson’s – Hosted by Rock Steady NOVA
Tysons Biergarten – Tyson’s Corner, VA
Come out and meet others in the Parkinson’s community along with getting information about Parkinson’s resources in the area.  A portion of the proceeds will go to Parkinson’s non-profit charities.

April 14, 2018- 10am CT
Parkinson Voice Project – Parkinson’s Awareness Month Celebration

Streamed live this Saturday 4/14 at 10:00am (CT) home page and Facebook page
Speaker: Stanley Fahn, MD – Founder of the World Parkinson Coalition
Special performance by: The Intentional Singers

April 16, 2018 11am-1pm
Cafe Alexandria – Parkinson Social Network
The Parkinson Social Network launches their Cafe in Alexandria, Virginia!
Visit https://parkinsonsocialnetwork.org/ for more details and directions.

April 28, 2018
Parkinson’s Unity Walk – Central Park, New York City
24th annual gathering in Central Park to bring awareness to Parkinson’s Disease.

Online Resources 

At ParkinsonsDisease.net, there are 17 Parkinson’s Disease community advocates who share their voices from all parts of the Parkinson’s Disease community. To find the community voice that resonates for you, use this link:  https://parkinsonsdisease.net/community-advocates/

The following are articles that were written for 2 websites that I hope that if you don’t know about that you might now take some time to visit. They are good sources for those dealing with Parkinson’s disease! Education, knowledge, and awareness is so important.

Karl Robb Found a New Purpose Through Parkinson’s – Davis Phinney Foundation

Courtship with a chronic condition: How “20 Questions” led to a 20+ year relationship – PatientsLikeMe

A Video To Inspire!

This is my first real attempt at an inspirational film. I hope you enjoy it and share it.

My First Inspirational Video!

I hope that you find this thought-provoking and calming! These are some of my many original photos mixed in with some thoughts. You may have to watch more than once to read everything. Thanks!

Rock Steady Boxing–It’s so much more than just boxing!

I recently joined a Rock Steady Boxing class! The class and the instructor are wonderful! If you have Parkinson’s disease and haven’t tried the Rock Steady Boxing program, I encourage you to find the nearest program in your area. The camaraderie and encouragement amongst the participants is uplifting and inspiring.

The workout is tough, lively, active, loud, motivating, and rewarding. I hate to admit it, but I am getting older. I’m rediscovering muscles that I have not used for a good while. For an hour and a half, the boxers either move through a series of exercise stations made up of quick thinking and moving games, flexibility or core exercises, many of them borrowed from yoga focusing on balance, strength, posture, and mobility. The program is flourishing, as it should. It’s novel, fresh, and effective! This program does something amazing—it makes working out fun again, for me.

Rock Steady Boxing NOVA has been an experience that I did not expect! The whole class has bonded and become a unified group. Everyone supports the other and encourages their fellow boxers. Our coach and leader, Alec, is a charismatic and inspired young man who really strives to make improvements in our class’s lives. 

My first two classes, the workouts kicked my butt! I am happy to say that I can see an improvement in my strength, balance, and overall fitness. Rock Steady Boxing is a welcomed break in my day and week. I see the boxing as a moving meditation. It is a break that I look forward to, as well as seeing my boxing friends and putting on the gloves. I think this program builds your confidence as much as your body. Rock Steady Boxing is like a fast-paced support group that makes you sweat.

If you are looking for an opportunity to get a great workout, build some muscle, make some new friends, and pound some punching-bags, then I encourage you to try Rock Steady Boxing in your area to see if it’s right for you! 

What does Thanksgiving mean to you?

For me, the holiday resonates with special memories of the whole family watching parades, football, and eating my late mother’s exceptional cooking. Those memories are treasures that line the walls of my Thanksgiving box for the rest of eternity. Those days are long past, but I am still fortunate to make special new memories with dear friends who mean so much to me. Times change, life moves quickly forward, and I am forced to accept change.

I think a keystone of this holiday is about one thing only, gratitude. In the hustle and bustle of shopping, cooking, pre-Christmas preparation, and Black Friday sales, the meaning of Thanksgiving gets blurred.

This year, I have lost more dear friends, neighbors, and close Parkinson’s disease colleagues than I can count on my fingers. Loss of loved ones, both friends and family are so bittersweet as I rejoice in having been part of their lives, yet mourn that those days have ended.

As the year quickly ends, I am ever so grateful for my wife and best friend, Angela, my wacky and hilarious chocolate lab, Lily, my relatives all across the United States, my dear Reiki and Parkinson’s families, and you the reader/subscriber who takes time out of your busy day to read my latest blog post. I am grateful!

Thank You!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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