This was my first blog post 10 years ago–slightly updated!
When I was first diagnosed at the age of 23, I have to admit, the diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease (PD )came as a relief. What I had convinced myself was a terminally malignant brain tumor was a chronic neurological deficiency of the neurotransmitter, Dopamine–that didn’t sound as bad. Sure, PD can be degenerative and rarely do people with PD get better, over time–but I will say I haven’t changed my medication for several years. I am lucky and fortunate that my symptoms show a slow progression.
We expect our loved ones, friends, associates, and colleagues to understand our struggle with this difficult ailment. Parkinson’s challenges us all in different ways. Rarely, if ever, do two PD patients share the exact same symptoms. Those who are healthy and untouched by PD are incapable of understanding what it is that we endure with this mysterious and troubling disease. As much as we would like for those who are close to us to understand what it is that we are going through, it just isn’t possible.
Even if we live or work with someone on a daily basis, there is only so much that we are capable of understanding about what it is that they are going through. The best that we can do for any one is to be present, understanding, compassionate, and supportive. Supportive doesn’t mean that you can’t encourage better living and reminding those who you care about to exercise, eat healthier, and to get proper rest.
I’d like to know about your experience with PD. I plan to address issues facing PD patients like doctors, resources, medicines, cooperative medicine, health ideas, what works and doesn’t , Support Groups, PD Conferences, etc.
I hope you find this interesting and helpful.
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!
The Magic isn’t gone, but it is fading fast. The art of magic will never die, but it may become blurred, as new technology replaces the beauty and purity of performance magic. Live magic is just that—it’s magical. When performed correctly and the magician has done his job, the participant feels that the impossible is, possible. Some magicians embarrass or make their audience feel stupidly duped. The magician is meant to impress but not to break the bond between audience and performer. Magic is for everyone: young or old, there is a place to appreciate the grace and fluidity of sleight-of-hand. One should appreciate the trickery of the eyes and misdirection. Cleverness is worth recognition!
The sad reality is that the neighborhood magic store has rapidly gone away for good, only to be replaced by the video game. This dying art has a long history, reaching back to ancient Egypt and possibly even longer. To lose the joy that this art has sprung on so many, and for so long truly is a tragedy, indeed.
I hope that as generations and technology continue to evolve, that the creative minds of those drawn to magic can continue to update and improve upon the wonders of magic. Magic can be reinvented and re-introduced to new audiences in novel ways as materials and new innovations appear.
I have written about the benefit of video games and Parkinson’s disease, but had a deficit of articles on the benefits of performing and practicing magic. I think that aside of the many years of enjoyment of entertaining myself and an occasional audience, magic has given me numerous gifts that I will quantify:
-Magic makes you think in order and organized linear steps.
-Magic forces the performer to communicate, socialize, and be more outgoing.
-Magic helps improve eye-hand coordination and joint flexibility.
-Magic is universal. Magic is entertaining. Magic is sheer fun.
-Magic doesn’t feel like therapy, but maybe it is!
Walt Disney is quoted to have said, “It is fun to do the impossible!” Magic is about making the impossible, possible, even if it’s just for a moment.
1250 W. Belt Line Road, Richardson, Texas 75080
-Complimentary Valet Parking
-Reception to Follow Performance
or watch the LIVE stream of the concert at the Parkinson Voice Project Facebook page. For more information you can also visit: http://www.parkinsonvoiceproject.org/ShowContent.aspx?i=1834
It’s so inspirational and moving to witness over 100 unified parkinson voices as one loud harmony! You need to hear it and share the triumph of these singers as they raise their voice in song. I encourage you to listen and experience this magical presentation.
Just so you know, I am a supporter and board member of the Parkinson Voice Project and have been for over ten years.
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.
My many thanks to my friends at the Parkinson Voice Project in Richardson, Texas for this generous review of our second book!
Book Review by LOUD Crowd® Member Carol Brandle
TITLE: Dealing and Healing with Parkinson’s Disease and Other Health Conditions: A Workbook
for Body, Mind, and Spirit
BY: Angela and Karl Robb
Having a workbook to accompany the best-selling Parkinson’s book, A Soft Voice in a Noisy
World, provides an excellent wellness tool for individuals or group discussion. Questions in the
workbook are closely paired with chapters in the book. Additionally, some questions shine light
on new ideas, such as complementary therapies like Reiki, massage, acupuncture, and
Karl Robb brings the same positive attitude, hope, and strength to this workbook as to his
book, A Soft a Voice in a Noisy World. Exercises which reduce stress and reaffirm strength can be
done as individuals or in communication groups, such as The LOUD Crowd® groups at Parkinson
Voice Project. A caregiver or partner might use the questions to strike up meaningful
conversation with the affected person, whether Parkinson’s is the health concern, or some other
health conditions. Either format will help you balance the connection between mind, body, and
It’s apparent that Angela and Robb write from a wealth of experience as they direct
questions to sensitive issues, such as “What are you willing to do to help yourself?” and creating
a timeline to improve communication with a health care provider. Angela was honored in 2015
as a White House Champion of Change in Parkinson’s Disease. She and Karl also author an award winning
Angela and I have been fans, friends, and Board members of the Parkinson Voice Project for several years. We encourage anyone unfamiliar with this organization to learn about the wonderful work that they do.
Where has the month of May gone?
It seems like I just took this picture in Alaska, but that was 2 years ago. Time creeps up on us, silently and subtlety. The month of May is rounding the corner and heading for the finish. As one who loves this time of year, I let time get away from me. In my focus and devotion to my projects and writing, I lost my sense of time. While my time has been spent productively, somehow, I missed the progression of time, as it happened. As weird as it sounds, it sounds even stranger as I try to explain it. Maybe, I need to go back to living by my calendar!