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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.

Fending Off Crisis

Since the invention of life, it has all been about preserving it, healing it, living it, and  bettering it. How we do all or any of the four components,  can take a complete lifetime or more of learning. Life would be so complete and easy if there weren’t those nasty and annoying bumps, tragedies, and crisis–right?Maybe not.

Heartache,  pain, and suffering are among life’s lowest trips in the human experience.  Sometimes, how we deal with an unexpected blow is just as important and vital as the blow itself.  One’s initial reaction to most stimuli is panic, adrenalin rush,  and to act out of desperation.  If we are able to process our mind and heart in a cohesive manner, working together, we  would know how to get through the toughest of times. When your head and heart work in conjunction, it just feels right. Maybe, one can attain true peace and fend off crisis with this harmonic balance of mind and body. 

Finding balance in any part of our lives is difficult and takes dedication.  Sometimes it takes sacrifice. Sometimes those tragedies become painful but valuable teaching aids that stick with us the rest of our life.

On Freddie Roach Airs January 20th!

Starting  January 20,2012, HBO Sports presents the first episode of a 6 part series called On Freddie Roach. If you don’t know boxing or Parkinson’s Disease, Freddie Roach is a successful  former  lightweight boxer and one of the greatest trainers  of all-time. Roach has trained  Mike Tyson, Oscar De La Hoya, and Manny Pacquiao, just to name a few. 28 of his boxers  have become world champions.

A few years ago, Roach was diagnosed with PD, but it hasn’t slowed him down and he continues  to keep his bevy of fighters winning. He is a force of determination, drive, and inspiration.  

I can’t wait! Thank you, HBO!  

Here is a recent New York Times interview with Mr. Roach.

Be Skeptical–But Stay Open-Minded

Neurologists and researchers need to step back and look at Parkinson’s disease (PD) from another perspective. I believe that even though there may be a genetic  component as well as an environmental trigger, there is an emotional , energetic, and in some cases a psychological component that disconnects with the unity of mind and body.  

For myself, after altering my thought process, learning Reiki, reducing stress, and realizing certain changes that needed tweaking, I have found myself improving over the past several years. My medication has not changed in many years but I continue to get better!

I have just returned from a conference where I had the privilege to apply the amazing energy of Reiki on 8-10 PD patients or their care-partner.  The results were amazing.

Eyes that were tired and slightly glazed over were clearer and refreshed after just a 15 minute treatment.  Many of the participants were able to relax and even fall into a deep slumber. Tremors  subsided briefly and overtaxed muscles released. These are most of  the cases of what I experienced from  several  15 minute sessions.

Skeptical? So were most of them–but when many of them left, they admittedly stated that they felt better than before the brief Reiki session. Thirteen years ago, I too was a skeptic, but from my very first Reiki session, I realized the benefit of this healing art, for myself. My body glowed and mind quieted and calmed. The simple act of gentle touch made a world of difference. No pill. No surgery. A complimentary therapy gave me my life back and continues to improve my health.

The Truth Is Out Somewhere

I’ll admit it. If I see an episode of the X- Files on television, I have to stop and watch it, unless I’ve seen it more than once. The writing and storylines for the show were bright in thought and dark in content, usually. The drama was compelling and the chemistry between David Duchovny  and Gillian Anderson was electric . The show worked. Each week  the show explored a mysterious and unexplained  phenomenon like aliens, monsters, black projects, and potential government cover-ups. This was all fantasy–right? Maybe, fantasy and reality are closer than we think.

Just this morning, a probe deep in space uncovered a planet with 2 suns, just like Tatooine, the home planet of Luke Skywalker in Star Wars. Earlier in the week, 50 new planets were discovered, many of which may be capable of sustaining life. The truth really is out there –but it’s here too!

Another recent story that caught my eye was about a cat that was missing for over 5 years but was re-united with her family. Miraculous and breathtaking  events that are hard to fathom  happen every day. What we think we know or take as fact may not always be so! It all starts with a flexible and open mind.

The same thought and tact applies in the battle for beating Parkinson’s disease! Neurological disorders need to be approached from a completely different perspective. Drugs and surgery may alleviate or at least reduce some symptoms,  but they only stay effective for so long.

It is my strong belief that Parkinson’s is an energetic disruption in the body and not just the brain. It may likely be a disconnect between the body and the mind. For this kind of problem modern chemistry and surgical techniques are limited. The human mind and body are yet to be totally understood.  There are still parts of our own planet that have yet to be explored and that leaves room for questions.  In the same realm, there are parts of the body yet to be understood and illnesses that arise without  any known reason. As much as we want to believe we have things in control– we don’t.   

It is just for that reason that alternative or complimentary therapies (Massage, Yoga, Reiki, Qigong, and many more)that we  need to  do much more exploration and embracing of what may potentially work for our own healing process. I have little doubt that our bodies are capable of healing themselves. It very well may be that each of us requires our own unique cocktail of therapies to activate the process. For some it might be a change in diet and heavy exercise and for others it could be a hodge-podge of  try , try, try,  until I discover what works for me. I have experienced and seen amazing results in myself and in others. Medicine needs a radical mind-shift, but until then, knowledge and a willingness to educate ourselves on  opportunities for improving ourselves is our best solution. What could be more important?

Imagine a world where patients improve, medical costs go down,  productivity rises, and who knows where it could lead us? The truth is out there somewhere–maybe it’s here.   

This is strictly my opinion. I am not a doctor. I am not a  scientist. I am someone who has dealt with Parkinson’s disease for about 25 years.

Who Says Parkinson’s Patients Only Get Worse?

There is so much gloom and doom on our cable, Internet, wireless, and any other media that I can think of, it makes me cringe. The bombardment of fear mongrels, doomsayers, television news pundits, Hollywood debufelons,  and Charlie Sheen wannabes doesn’t help the world in any way! Negative energy is simply corrosive and corruptive to the Planet and its’ inhabitants healing process.

What you expose your body to, be it water, food, air, sunlight and radiation, stress, chemicals, and unseen forces like negativity, electro-magnetic fields, and emotional build-up play a vital role in how one copes with and fights off illness. For me, stumbling on to Reiki was the key that opened the lock to begin my path to healing.

I have heard people who know absolutely nothing about Reiki who have no comprehension of “energy work”, discount it, and call it “voodoo”. These people have no idea what they are saying, and it is to these negative ninnies I say, do the research and try it before you badmouth something that you don’t understand.

When I was first exposed to Reiki, I too discounted it, and thought that using one’s hands to transfer Universal life-force energy for relaxation, stress relief, and potential healing sounded outlandish! But, I had and have Parkinson’s disease! When you are ill, some measures outside the norm are necessary and completely justified. Be smart and avoid invasive untested therapies that may have irreversible effects, negative permanent results, or is a radical alteration to your regimen. It is best that you and your doctor agree on making any changes together, before making any changes.

After 12 years of practicing Reiki on friends, family, and myself, my wife, Angela, also a Reiki Master, we are taking this powerful complimentary therapy to the Parkinson’s community. Last Saturday was a day that reminded me just what Reiki has done for me. With the assistance of 8 other amazing friends and Reiki Masters we ran a Reiki For Parkinson’s Disease Level I Workshop for 21 students. As it was for me 12 years ago, I watched Reiki recipients as instant relaxation set in, tremors subsided, muscles released, facial masks washed away, eyes brightened, and lethargy was replaced with energetic zest! If it sounds incredible–well it was!

I am pleased to report that through Reiki along with massage, yoga, mild exercise, a hopeful attitude, and a vegetarian diet, I have held steady and reduced my dosage of medication rather than ramp up as is expected in Parkinson’s disease. The proof is in the results!

I hope to have results and feedback from the Workshop participants, so stay tuned for future updates.

Celebrate Your Life — You Don’t Have To Celebrate The Parkinson’s Disease

Someone that I respect recently wrote an Op/Ed piece that I felt shined  a more negative light on people who maintain a positive outlook on people dealing with Parkinson’s disease.  My interpretation of the piece inferred  that Michael J. Fox calling himself “lucky” or anyone  who considers  themselves lucky to  have Parkinson’s,  to be a “Pollyanna”.  Pollyanna, (as I have read accounts and in full disclosure not read any of the books) went through extreme suffering but was grateful for what she did have.  I see this trait as nothing but admirable. If seeing  the glass half full as opposed to half empty, empty, or even dirty and cracked is Pollyannaish then paint me as a “Pollyanna”.  Having lived over 25 of my 44 years of life with this challenging illness, I am not naive nor am I uneducated. I am well aware that this illness robs millions of people around the world of their ability to move, to work, or to function as they choose. The mind seems to get a mind all of its own and neither the mind nor the body wants to respond to one another.   

Parkinson’s  symptoms of tremor and rigidity appeared in my life at the early age of 17. I spent over 6 years without a diagnosis, never knowing what I was dealing with or how fast it might progress.  Was I scared? Sure.  Did I feel  sorry for myself? Only, after I got booted out of Outward Bound for being considered a health risk to the rest of the hiking party did I feel a real loss, because of the bonds that I had made and my failure to complete what I had started.  Thankfully though, my dismissal from hiking the rugged mountains of North Carolina led me to my last 3 or 4 doctors who finally diagnosed me with Parkinson’s disease. Not until years later, did I realize that it took my leaving the group to get diagnosed and move on with my life. 

The diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease for most people, can be sheer shock and devastation, or sometimes provide a sense of relief such as, “I had a feeling that it might be Parkinson’s” is heard from someone newly diagnosed who was looking for the culprit behind the symptoms.

 As a support group leader, a frequent speaker,  an active advocate for Parkinson’s disease issues,  and as an attendee at several  conferences a year on issues related to Parkinson’s disease,  I can honestly say that those people dealing with Parkinson’s disease who keep a positive outlook, appear to be doing far better than those who are less positive. Staying positive is a choice.

Once I received a diagnosis, I had an idea of what I was up against. Usually, people with  early or young-onset Parkinson’s disease symptoms progress slower than older patients. The Disease can impair both mind and body, cognitive function, memory, speech, swallowing, balance,  gait, posture,  and numerous other challenges. Parkinson’s can unleash an array of physical and mental  complications and with side-effects from Parkinson’s  medicines almost every patient can have a unique combination of symptoms .  Some people with Parkinson’s  show little to no obvious physical impairments but may suffer strictly from cognitive issues or vice versa.

The really good news is that as bad as this illness is or may seem, there are numerous therapies, medications,  exercises,  doctors, and classes, support groups out there that can make a difference in your life and help you change your life for improvement. While I don’t discuss DBS (Deep Brain Stimulation) surgery, I have seen it help many friends and for some it has not been as positive.

Parkinson’s has taught me to appreciate every day, to appreciate and to truly be grateful  for the good things and the simple pleasures in my life. Whether one has Parkinson’s  disease or is in perfect health, the realization that a positive outlook not  only makes you feel better but makes those around you feel better as well. I didn’t choose to spend the majority of my life with Parkinson’s disease, but I did. Sure, illness throws roadblocks and detours in the path, but that’s where the ability to adapt and creativity come into play.  Any illness can change how you see yourself and may get in the way of your perception of who you really are.  This is an opportunity to take a hard look at your life and observe that maybe a change in lifestyle is in order. Reducing stress and altering your life for the better in diet, exercise,  and complementary therapies on top of neurological care can have a tremendous impact on mood and well-being .

I hope and wish for a cure for all of us. Until the puzzle of Parkinson’s disease is solved, I believe the best course of action is to stay informed, take the best care of your body and mind as you can, take your meds on time, eat low on the food chain, eat organic, and get your rest.

If every day were sunny and warm could you truly appreciate the loveliness without experiencing those cold gray damp days of winter? The balance of life exposes us to pain because without it, there is no knowing pleasure. 

Take stock in the fact that people care about you. Focus on the simple things in your life that you can appreciate, like having a comfortable place to sleep, clean air and water,  the beauty of Nature around,  and so many more details of life.

I would like to know what you think.

New Development On Fruits!

A new release on the benefits of fruits and flavonoids is out and medical researchers are touting the potential benefits. As a long-term vegetarian and proponent of fruits and berries, it comes as no surprise. I am happy to see this news though. I truly believe that the lower you eat on the food chain, the healthier you’ll be. Here is the link to the new report on fruit.



An Open Mind May Lead To Healing

Parkinson’s Disease is a designer disease without any glamour or style. Unique to each owner is a brew all of its’ own. Put a room full people with this illness all together and you’ll see an array of symptoms of varying combinations but you probably won’t encounter any two exactly alike.

Parkinson’s Disease, for all the research, press, and money that has gone into this disease, frankly, has not come that far. There are medicines to stabilize patients for only so long, risky and invasive brain surgeries that may temporarily delay or reduce some symptoms, and some therapies that assist sufferers in retaining their voice and mobility, but the breakthrough that was promised 20 plus years ago when I was diagnosed has yet to come.

If each one of has such a unique case, maybe that means each of us has a unique combination of triggers that set the course for this development. If that is the case and we set the parameters either genetically and/or emotionally, it just may be within our reach to find our own cure.

As radical as it may sound, I whole-heartedly believe that our bodies, given the right information and regimens, an openness to self-discovery, and a willingness to change just may lead our bodies to healing themselves. Combined with Western medicine and Eastern therapies,  a proper balance of physical and mental conditioning can, does, and will reverse or at least improve the damage of illness.

My long journey with Parkinson’s has led me down some dead-ends but I have seen successes. In my hunt for healing and therapeutic answers to improving my condition, I have seen Reiki (see posting 28) make the largest impact on this disease. Amazingly, the scientific community shies away from testing this therapy so it is conveniently discounted and dismissed.

As a Reiki practitioner and Reiki Master (in a 1 year training program), it is my belief and hope that anyone reading this posting strongly consider that an open-mind and a willingness to help yourself can lead you to the answers and assistance that you seek.

This is my journey and I wish you well on yours!

It Wasn’t On The Box!

What do you know about the food you had for lunch yesterday or the pizza that you had last night? I’ll give you an example.  I’m a long-time vegetarian who for years loved my Pizza Hut pizza, until I found out that there was beef broth in the sauce–that’s NOT very vegetarian.  There is no gray area in my vegetarian domain.  If I were a female, I couldn’t be a little pregnant.  Excuse me,  but someone who consumes any Pork, Chicken,  Beef, or Fish or any once living breathing animal or that animal’s bi-product like blood or gelatin (bone marrow),  and claims to be a vegetarian ,is mocking the definition.  I don’t know if Pizza Hut got wise and cleaned up their act, but they burned that bridge with me a long time ago. There’s no going back for this veghead.

This leads me to a bitter discovery that I stumbled upon,  thanks once again to the power of Google and the Web.  It happened like this:  My wife and I, ever in search of a tasty healthy solution for supplementing our daily vegetarian diet, found the Quorn protein solution. You’ve probably seen it in your local store’s freezer section.  The mycoprotein  supposedly originates from a mushroom. The textured protein has a consistency close to that of chicken,  at least as I can best remember what chicken tasted like some decades ago. The Product comes in a variety of very tasty flavors and  shapes such as nuggets, cutlets, crumbles, Buffalo Wing Spicy, and several more.

I have Parkinson’s Disease and my wife is prone to suffer from headaches. As regular Quorn consumers for several years, not until I guessed that something in the Quorn might be triggering her headaches did this idea come to light. Nothing  on the package’s list of ingredients were a red flag, so what could it be? Not until I went to the website did I see the answer. It was on the FAQ page answering ‘What Is Mycoprotein?’:

 From Quorn’s site: Mycoprotein for Quorn foods is grown using a controlled fermentation process so that it can be harvested consistently. All natural vegetable flavorings are added to the mycoprotein to create the desired flavor (like chicken or beef), as well as a small amount of egg white. Then it’s formed into shapes like nuggets, tenders and cutlets.

If you know anything about some chronic headache sufferers, they should avoid aged cheeses, sulfites as found in grapes, wines, and fermented products. There was nothing on the product label about it containing anything fermented–Nothing! So much for label reading!

Read your labels but go even farther and research your food. I’m saddened, perturbed, and puzzled that ingredients that may be of detriment to our health and well-being are being strategically and clandestinely re-named or simply stricken from the box altogether.

Do your own food Googles and see what you find about what’s in your fridge or freezer.  Tell me what  you discover.

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