Blog Archives

Farewell and Thanks to Stan Lee!

Heroes come in and out of our lives, often unrecognized and frequently under appreciated. On Monday, it struck me just how important heroes are and the amazing power that comes in looking up to a higher standard. Heroes make us better people. They give us something to aspire to and to be. Heroes inspire us to be more and to achieve more than we might, without them.

I was so struck with shock and sadness to learn of the death of Marvel Comics’ founder and genius, Stan Lee. His biography is almost as amazing as the prolific cadre of characters that he brought to life. There is no repaying the numerous gifts that he has given us, as well as the hours and hours of pleasure, excitement, and joy. As a lover of anything and everything Spider-Man, I would religiously watch those cartoons every weekday at 3: 00.PM, after school.

Spider-Man didn’t ask to be given his special abilities, they were thrust upon him and he made the most of what he could do with his unique gifts. Those of us who have Parkinson’s are in a not so different place, in that having this illness makes one hone, uncover, and expand our own powers. We didn’t ask for Parkinson’s disease to come in to our world, but just like Peter Parker, we incorporate those dramatic alterations and deal with them to the best of our abilities.

I have seen Parkinson’s bring out the best in many people. This illness, as awful as it is, can reveal sides of people that you’ve never seen before. From creativity, to artistic ability, to writing or other revealing abilities, sometimes, out of hardship comes new talents and new strengths.

I didn’t know early in my life that I was going to write books and blogs on Parkinson’s disease. It was Parkinson’s disease that caused me to share my journey of over thirty years with those who may be wondering how to navigate the terrain that I have already walked on. Like, Peter Parker, I have learned and adapted.

Heroes keep us upright and moving forward. They remind us that there is still good in the world, when we need it most. Stan Lee’s iconic heroes will most likely never be duplicated, but thankfully, his gifts of brilliance will live on and on.

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.

It was just Halloween—so let’s talk about it! WHAT SCARES YOU?

What scares you?

If you are anything like me, you probably don’t need a raging lunatic with a butcher knife and a hockey mask to get scared. Maybe a speedy roller coaster or a week or more without sunlight would fit in the category of frightening! Okay, this is pretty much a blog on Parkinson’s disease and I will admit that this illness can be very scary, but it doesn’t have to be terrifying.

Some of our fears are truly justified and are there for a reason. Fears can be mechanisms that remind us not to get too close to a fire or to avoid approaching the lion’s den, but then there are those fears that perpetuate themselves and may get away from us. Fears, like wildfires, can get fanned and grow into severe anxiety, causing more and more negative emotions. Fears of the unknown or visions of our mind that manifest from our sub-conscience may just arise.  When anxiety, frustration, and stress lead into depression or despair, we have a huge problem to resolve, quickly!

Fear is that four letter word that can motivate us or hold us back from fulfilling our destiny and our dreams. People share with me how impressed they are that I wrote a book. As much as I appreciate the praise and well wishes, I tell them that anyone and everyone can write a book. Overcoming the fear to put your story or viewpoints on paper or the web takes some gumption and willingness to be completely frank, yet vulnerable. Just like writing, public speaking is frightening, exhilarating, exhausting, and empowering, all in one.

Some fears are ours to conquer. Some fears are meant to be respected and accepted. Most of us know deep down, which ones are which, but it is when we choose the wrong fear to meddle with, that may cause problems, danger, harm, or insult.

Overcoming our fears is a step-by-step piece of our growth to becoming stronger individuals. A big part of learning and improving ourselves is to expand our knowledge base and to find the tools that may assist us in calming our fears.

What Every Person with Parkinson’s Needs to Know About Air Travel

Plane Travel!

Don’t be alarmed– but be aware, my fellow Parkinson’s disease travelers!

As if we didn’t have enough to worry about along our journey, it was released recently, that the Transportation & Security Administration (TSA) has a program called “Quiet Skies” that is noting behavior, looking for excessive fidgeting, perspiration, and cold stares by passengers. Supposedly, fifty passengers a day are identified.

We are being tracked and monitored both on the ground and in the air. Our habits, reading material, and reactions are noted and logged, if we bring any kind of attention to ourselves. The knowledge that anything out of the ordinary needs investigation is understandable, but when you are faced with a neurological disorder that can alter your walking, uncontrollable movement and body temperature regulation (both hot and cold), tremor, or balance issues- these physiological reactions are possibly red flags that could bring focus on those of us living with an illness.

Maybe, just maybe, through education and identifying ourselves as people with Parkinson’s and educating TSA agents about facial masking, dyskinesia, bradykinesia, as well as the numerous subtleties that can come with Parkinson’s, might be just what the doctor ordered. Instead of making the TSA wonder what we are going through, we need to create a teachable moment that might just lead to real changes.

People suspect and often fear what they don’t know about. Unless you live with Parkinson’s disease daily and are aware of the wide variety of symptoms and unpredictability of this illness, only through education and extra training will those unfamiliar with neurological disorders come to be educated.

Nature on Netflix To Wake To, Sleep To, and Enjoy

Bring a bit of peace and beauty into your home! If you are a nature lover and need a calming force that mesmerizes, might I suggest you turn on the captivating vistas of NatureVision TV now on Netflix. Season 3 unveils about 10 hours and 10 episodes of natural world diversity from ocean to jungle.
Whether you meditate with the video and soothing music softly playing in the background or choose to mute the sound just to appreciate the awe of the bounty of creatures and places, this video collection would be great for parties and get togethers. Try using this marvelous collection just as TV art, instead of your TV just being a blank canvas.
If you are a Netflix subscriber and want something unique and attractive to play throughout the day, like moving art, or just want peaceful television to wake and go to bed to, consider this wonderful collection of our planet’s gifts.
I will report more, soon, on other Netflix finds, both nature-related, and not, very soon.

Parkinson’s Essay Turns 200!

Tomorrow,  James Parkinson‘s essay will be 200 years old. Since his discovery, modern  medicine has made strides with L-Dopa and Carbi-dopa breakthroughs that have become the long-standing gold standard of regimens. Not to diminish the importance of the Levadopa breakthrough, but that was over a half a century ago.
New drugs and procedures are slowly trickling out, but no one drug that I know of has impacted Parkinson’s disease as that of L-Dopa. To this very day,  since my 1991 diagnosis, I have found benefit from this most amazing life-changing drug. I am very lucky to report that my dosage, even after all this time, is a lowly 3 pills (25/100) a day. I aim to keep my pill consumption to the utmost minimum, but only time will tell.

I am hopeful but impatient as I plead with any pharmaceutical company, researcher, doctor, or anyone connected with creating new innovations to the neurological world that a huge need is there, right now, and an escalating problem that will impact so many. I would offer detailed numbers, but at this time, as we have no hard numbers, for lack of a registry devoted to Parkinson’s patients, the numbers just aren’t gathered, yet.

On World Parkinson’s Day (4/11/17), like millions around the world, I will be participating in #UniteForParkinsons. Please join us to spread awareness via social media to the world about Parkinson’s disease.  Visit https://www.worldparkinsonsday.com/#world-parkinsons-day for more information!

Out of Control

Out Of ControlParkinson’s Disease agonist medications (Requip and Mirapex) have been shown to cause compulsive behavior for some users. Some users have been shown to be prone to gambling addiction, sex addiction, shopping addiction, food addiction, and gaming addiction may occur. Compulsion may even entice users to go beyond legal limits to feed their desire or lose sense of time.

If you find yourself facing any kind of compulsive behavior that may be taking you away from friends and family, or is disrupting your life, tell your neurologist and someone close to you about breaking the cycle. Communication is so vital to your well-being. Carrying secrets only fuels the tension and stress on the mind and body. Letting go and making a change (with your neurologist’s help) might just be the right move forward.

Winter Can Be Cruel

Cold WinterAs a child, I used to love winter. I would sled and ski and didn’t give the bitter cold a second thought. Now, I am less oblivious and less tolerant of the cold. My body functions and just moves more freely in warmer climates. Cold seems to cause greater constriction of the joints and even the muscles.

Winter doesn’t just bring on change of the physical body but with light changes and shorter days, the changes may impact your mood. Keep a close eye on your daily attitude and if you experience thoughts or feelings that you need to express (sadness, possible depression, or anger) consider getting help and stay on top of it, before it manifests into something you can’t control.

Five or More… with Robin Elliott, Executive Director & CEO of PDF

Meet the people leading the Parkinson's organizations!

Meet the people leading the Parkinson’s organizations!

I am so pleased to have Robin Elliott, the Executive Director and CEO of the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation answering my questions on my blog today. This is right before the World Parkinson Congress  in Portland, Oregon, where thousands will congregate to discuss, share, convene, and educate one another on the latest research in this illness.

Here are eight questions. Five of them are strongly encouraged that you answer them. The remaining three questions are your choice whether you want to provide an answer or not. Thank you for participating.

Required questions:

 

Chinese, Thai, Italian, Mexican, or Ethiopian—what is your favorite cuisine?

Mexican

What do you like on your pizza?

Sausage

Of the four seasons, which is your favorite time of the year?

Spring

How many World Parkinson Congress events have you attended?

Four (including this one in 2016)

What are you looking forward to most in Portland, site of the WPC 2016?

Riding a bus tour (if time allows) of the one major city in America that I have never visited

Optional:

 

Tell us something about yourself that we might not know about you that you would like to share.

I love to play the piano — preferably in private — and the church organ

Where would you like to go, that you have never been before?

Australia and New Zealand

What is the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation (PDF) working on that you would like to tell us?

PDF ‘s new program of research and education on the special problems that are confronted by women who have Parkinson’s Disease

Trying to understand stress as it relates to Parkinson’s disease.

The role stress plays!If you are a frequent reader of this blog or have read my book, you know that I talk a great deal about the impact that I believe stress plays on Parkinson’s disease and the related symptoms of the illness.  Make note, I am neither a doctor nor am I a clinical researcher. I have recently found this fascinating research showing signs of scientific evidence to validate more of what I have experienced and believed to be true – stress may have a significant role in Parkinson’s.

 I have seen benefit and strongly believe that if you are able to lower your stress level, you can improve your symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. There has to be a logical reason why when many of us go on vacation or get deeply involved in a project that engrosses us, we sometimes see improvement in our condition.

How often do you find that when your stress is lower you have unused medication at the end of the day because you found that you didn’t need it?

Does this happen to you when you go away to a place less full of stress, like the beach or the mountains?

If stress does play an important factor in neurological disorders, and it looks very possible, then the science of stress needs deep exploration—quickly.

 I encourage you to read this paper online and judge for yourself. I think that you will find some observations that need further investigation.

To read the paper for yourself, go to http://jnnp.bmj.com/content/85/8/878.long

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