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!
On this, the 8th Mother’s Day without her, I lit a candle and enjoyed her favorite flower in her memory! She encouraged my blogging, my writing, and ultimately my books! I am so grateful for her support!
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.
Dyskinesia is the uncontrollable jerky movement of hands, feet, or head. Often misunderstood, dyskinesia is a side effect of the Parkinson’s disease medication. Sometimes, this side effect is embarrassing, annoying, and at times even dangerous. Besides drawing attention to you from complete body writhing, dyskinesia can be exhausting. When I experienced 1 to 2 hour episodes of dyskinesia, I would feel like I ran a marathon without ever leaving home. Small spaces, sharp edges, and anything glass or breakable was a potential hazard. Trying to hold a drink with dyskinesia is a struggle, as your hand wants to splatter everything in sight but your mind screams, “Don’t do it!”
Tremor and dyskinesia are different. Unlike tremor, dyskinesia is bigger than a rapid twitch or tremble. At times, my entire body wiggled and flailed. It still happens, but only on an infrequent basis. Dyskinesia interferes with delicate and precise movements as well as simple everyday tasks, like making a sandwich, pouring a drink, or slicing bread. Someone with dyskinesia may struggle to brush their teeth, comb their hair, or just perform normal acts of daily living. Constant care and awareness is heightened to avoid food from flying everywhere.
People who don’t know me that well, who may see a brief shake, may laughingly call it a “dance”. Calling dyskinesia a dance may be meant to lighten the severity and discomfort of the event for all involved. Dancing is by choice—dyskinesia is not. I tolerate this comment but admittedly wish that those calling dyskinesia a dance could refrain from reducing a drug interaction that affects so many, to a recreational act. Dyskinesia in public is a teachable moment! Explaining to the uninitiated that this isn’t part of the illness of Parkinson’s has been a constant challenge.
Understanding dyskinesia from the non-scientific perspective isn’t that complicated, but trying to negotiate it, reduce it, and calm it, is the hard part. Never knowing when or where it might crop up can keep you on edge. It adds more stress—not what you need! Over time, I have gotten better about finding some control with the help of meditation, yoga, breathing, and reiki.
I realize that the distinction between tremor and dyskinesia probably in the scheme of things isn’t all that crucial, but what is important is the way either symptom is accepted by the public. Educating the public and demystifying the nuances of Parkinson’s can bridge the gap and clarify just what the public should understand about symptoms and side effects related to Parkinson’s disease.
I am so excited to announce that Angela and I will be guest blogging for the site, PatientsLikeMe.com. I look forward to sharing stories, insights, and information through my blog posts and joint posts with my wife and partner, Angela. Here’s a link to our first post, a Q&A session: http://bit.ly/2iJb0Ex
If you are unfamiliar with this website, here’s a quick description from the PatientsLikeMe About Us page:
We’ve partnered with 500,000+ people living with 2700+ conditions on 1 mission: to put patients first
Imagine this: a world where people with chronic health conditions get together and share their experiences living with disease. Where newly diagnosed patients can improve their outcomes by connecting with and learning from others who’ve gone before them. Where researchers learn more about what’s working, what’s not, and where the gaps are, so that they can develop new and better treatments.
It’s already happening at PatientsLikeMe. We’re a free website where people can share their health data to track their progress, help others, and change medicine for good.
ParkinsonsDisease.net Reaches 10k Likes!
If you follow this blog, you know that I have been actively posting on the new Health Union site, www.ParkinsonsDisease.net. What you may not know is that this site recently made a rapid climb to 10,000 likes! Here’s where you come in—in honor of this success, you have the opportunity to vote for one of the fine charities below to receive a donation, if they win the vote count. Encourage your family and friends to vote as well. Vote today by clicking this link and scrolling to vote in the poll!
- Parkinson Voice Project
- Davis Phinney Foundation
- Parkinson Association of the Rockies
- Parkinson’s Foundation (National Parkinson Foundation/Parkinson’s Disease Foundation)
- The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research
Parkinson Voice Project – Parkinson’s Lecture Series
The Parkinson Voice Project has launched a lecture series which features Parkinson’s experts talking about topics affecting our community. They hold this lecture each month and it’s live streamed for anyone in the world to attend. They also archive previous lectures so you can watch the lectures that are of interest to you. Visit https://www.parkinsonvoiceproject.org/ShowContent.aspx?i=1876 for more information about upcoming lectures and view previous presentations which include lectures on wellness, physical therapy, cognitive challenges, making a Parkinson’s diagnosis, and Deep Brain Stimulation.
Virginia Education Day – October 7th, 2017
If you live in or near Virginia, I hope to see at the Virginia Education Day in Williamsburg on October 7th, 2017. I am a member of the planning committee. The event is being held at Fort Magruder Hotel and Conference Center. The Education Day is has a diverse mix of wellness information including presentations by physicians, people with Parkinson’s, caregivers, and allied health professionals. Click this link to see the conference brochure and click here to register for this event.
Living Well Conference 2017 – Parkinson Foundation, Western Pennsylvania
Join Angela and me in November in Pittsburgh for their Living Well Conference 2017, where we will be presenting and facilitating two breakout sessions. Read this link for all the details. We would love to see you there! We will also be selling and signing our books and audio CD collection at both events—we hope that you can make it!
Back To School
A phrase or term in the English language that makes young people shudder and hide when heard. To parents it means a return to normalcy and yet it means more carpooling, drop-offs, early mornings, and late nights.
We are all constantly back to school. Once we stop educating ourselves, we limit our potential. Always be back to school!
This Sunday marks the first Partners in Parkinson’s event in Washington DC. The event is a full day of education on living with Parkinson’s and learning about resources in the DC/VA/MD/DE/WV area. I encourage you to come and be a part of this free event. Wednesday 10/8 at 12 pm is the deadline for registering online. You can register as a walk up on the day of the event.
As part of the Partners in Parkinson’s event, there will be a Resource fair that includes representatives from universities that have Parkinson’s programs, local and regional support and exercise groups, vendors who provide services to our community and many more community resources. It’s a great opportunity to meet with the staffs of these organizations and network.
You also have the opportunity to hear from those living with Parkinson’s, their carepartners, and allied health professionals who work with the PD community.
Register online and find out more at: https://www.partnersinparkinsons.org/attend-an-event. There are also upcoming Partners in Parkinson’s events in Philadelphia, Chicago, Denver and Los Angeles before the end of 2014.
P.S. Read my September blog posting discussing other upcoming PD Educational Events this fall.