Blog Archives

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.

April Is Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month!

Don’t Expect Everyone To Understand Parkinson’s-2018!

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.

Thank You!

Karl

The Magic in Magic!

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.

Keep the Magic Alive!

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.

 

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A Soft Voice In A Noisy World Book makes Healthline.com’s List of Books That Shine A Light on Parkinsons!

A Soft Voice in a Noisy WorldI was so surprised yesterday, when I came across this article from Healthline.com. I just discovered it, for the first time! They compiled a list of 11 Books That Shine A Light on Parkinsons. I am so honored to be on a list with such an amazing group of accomplished experts. This is a wonderful short list of really great books. Thank you, so much for adding A Soft Voice in a Noisy World to your list!

Community Update – Events and Online Resources

Parkinson’s Awareness

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

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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.

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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.

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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!

Summer Reprise – “Trying to Understand Stress as It Relates to Parkinson’s Disease”

I will be re-releasing this and a few other posts from my archives that I think are worth revisiting:

If you are a frequent reader of this blog or have read my books, 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

Guest Blogging for PatientsLikeMe #MoreThan Campaign

I am so excited to be part of the @PatientsLikeMe #MoreThan campaign! I recently wrote a blog posting for the PatientsLikeMe blog, which you can read here. I encourage you to tell the world about your #MoreThan story via your social outlets. Sharing your story can help inspire, motivate, and educate. Showing the world that we are #MoreThan our illness is a powerful reminder that those of us dealing with illnesses have families, hopes, dreams, and goals just like everyone without this additional challenge. There is something very powerful about one’s personal story along with a photo. Making your voice heard is crucial for awareness, unity, and community! Thanks to @PatientsLikeMe for this opportunity.

#MoreThan Parkinson's PatientsLikeMe - Karl Robb

#MoreThan Parkinson’s PatientsLikeMe

News May Have An Impact!

Hyperbole on television, the evening news, politics, the Internet, and especially late night shows, is more common than ever. Our exposure to the dramatic and the end all be all is becoming a standard occurrence. Every day we wake to a new dilemma that involves “the greatest”. “the best”, “the most tremendous”. It is a contagion that gets ratings, sells newspapers, and is the marketer’s tool of choice. Watch any infomercial pitch and you are sure to hear hyperbole.

Hyperbole is ingrained in today’s messages. Usually, the message is louder and more shocking. Drama ensues.

A few years ago, I tried an experiment to catalog the many messages that I received from viewing 2 hours of one of the cable news channels. What follows are most of the crises discussed by the news team. I’m sure that I must have missed a couple. You’ll notice that most of these topics are not of the positive nature. I think that this proves that the daily messages that we are exposed to may very well have a direct connection to our thoughts and our feelings.

Here they are:

Train bombing, Missing Dolphins that were raised in captivity, Heavy rain, City Workers Steal Donated Items for Hurricane victims, Earthquakes, Sexual Abuse of a sports star, NASCAR Fight, New Orleans Health Care Crisis, Rising Oil Prices, Missing college student, Metro fire, Hurricane evacuation, Drought, Murder, Kidnapping, Corruption in government, Sex offenders, Train derailment, oil prices, poverty, inflation, drowning, mold and spore death, robbery, plane crash, home destroyed, stock loss, computer hacking, balcony collapse, contaminated water, abandoned animals, Cancer, lack of potable water, terrorism, taxes, forest fire, thunderstorms, Space shuttle disaster, and nuclear weapons.

If this is what you hear and see in 2 hours of reporting, imagine all the exposure your brain and entire emotional system are forced to process.  If your system is compromised the negativity of these stories could have even more impact.

It might be an experiment worth attempting. Try shielding yourself from the barrage of news that is unavoidable and mostly unchangeable, to see if all aspects of your illness shows improvement. Consider a respite of time for yourself and those close to you. Maybe by doing something to counteract just one of these issues, a positive change might come.

Nothing is better than hyperbole-bad joke alert.

Positive Daily Living Sample Chapter from Dealing and Healing

The following PDF is an excerpt from our new book, Dealing and Healing with Parkinson’s Disease and Other Health Conditions: A Workbook for Body, Mind, and Spirit.

We are excited to provide this collection of exercises and tools that we believe can benefit most anyone! Whether you are an individual, a support group, a social group, or a small informal group, we encourage you to try these exercises and to share it with those who you feel may benefit from it.

If you like this chapter and would like to purchase the workbook, it’s available for purchase online at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.

Dealing and Healing Chapter 29 Positive Daily Living

Chapter 29 Positive Daily Living

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