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Nature Heals!

I have just returned from a working vacation in the mountains of North Carolina. The experience proved to be nothing short of amazing, as I saw an improvement in almost all my symptoms! Strength, stamina, balance, gait, sleep, cognition, and productivity were all improved and recognizably noticeable.

Nature has a healing property. Just to be surrounded by the abundance of flowering, fluttering, and stirring plants and creatures can reunite you with your connection with the planet. In this modern world, we begin to lose that connection with earth and sky, only to focus on flat screens, texts, and our on-screen accounts.

Once leaving the bucolic beauty of the lush green forest and coming back to city life, I find myself wondering if this is my healthiest decision. Returning to the sights and sounds of nature re-invigorated me–I found it to be a struggle to return to civilization, albeit, at this time, a necessity. Don’t forget to garden it, walk in it, swim in it, or just be in it–don’t lose your connection to Nature.

Summer Reprise – “Motivation”

What keeps you motivated?

What gets you out of bed every day?
What makes you happy?
What inspires you?

Every day may be about small victories.

They count.

Be proud of your achievements.

Don’t discount yourself or what you accomplish.

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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

Comfortable Routines

A comfortable routine  is not always a bad habit.

Cats love it! The only real problem with routines is when you sacrifice an opportunity to maintain the routine. If the cycle that you are in is working for you, then by all means keep it, and don’t let go, but if the routine has gone stale or you see a need for correction, it might be time for a new tack.

Preserving the Smile

Parkinson’s Disease can take away the very basic but vital skills that we treasure and sometimes take for granted. Facial masking, or loss of obvious facial emotion can make identifying a Parkinson’s patient’s state of emotion very hard to read, by observation. Due to muscle tightness and rigidity in the jaw and facial muscles, some patients find it difficult to smile.

Just taking the time on a daily basis and scrunching your face in the mirror, wiggling your tongue back and forth, and squinting your eyes and face can be a great way to keep the face a little more limber. That’s what I do!

A smile is not to be wasted nor forgotten. Use your smile and share it with the world. Sometimes we forget to smile and the power that comes with it. If those facial muscles are a challenge for your smile, do what you can to work to keep those facial muscles as limber as you can and keep that bright smile. A smile is a viral gift that often comes back, when shared with others.

We shouldn’t have to, but Parkinson’s disease may make us have to practice smiling, instead of just doing it naturally.

5 Tips Parkinson’s Patients Should Know

Nutrition matters

Summer color and flavor

Last week, I had the opportunity to speak to a wonderful audience with Parkinson’s and their care partners, in eastern Virginia. It was a marvelous exchange of information and emotions. Parkinson’s disease comes with so many unwritten rules. Trying to find all that you need to know about this illness, all in one place, may be frustrating to collect. There is so much to remember and so much that you might forget. Staying on top of Parkinson’s disease, symptoms, medications, and health maintenance, is a full-time job!

The following are 5 pieces of knowledge that you will want to remember:

  1. Is your neurologist a movement disorder specialist? If you have Parkinson’s disease and your neurologist isn’t a movement disorder specialist, you may want to see if there is one in your area. Movement Disorder Specialists complete extended training to focus on neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease.

  2. If you are taking antibiotics, your medication’s effectiveness may be hindered dramatically. I can speak from experience that after taking antibiotics for my tooth infection, I saw a huge decline in the efficacy of my daily regimen of Parkinson’s medications.

  3. Don’t forget that if you are on Sinemet and you are protein-sensitive (protein in your diet may interact with your Levodopa), protein may decrease the full benefit of your dose. You may want try taking your protein later in the day or evening. Timing your medications for optimal benefit is part science, part art, and part luck.

  4. When I am able to lower my stress level, I have found that medications work better, I feel calmer and more peaceful, and see less of my symptoms.

  5. Eat smart and healthy! Talk to your doctor about how to improve your gut health.

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.

Stretch and Grow-10 Keys to Maximizing Your Happiness and Growth

  1. Never lose the curiosity and desire to learn more about everything! Science, art, music, history, and the world around us can feed our quest for knowledge and understanding as we continue to learn.

  2. Try picking up a new talent or improving upon an old one. If you enjoyed playing an instrument, performing magic, shuffling and dealing cards, juggling, whistling, telling a joke, then think hard on what would bring you the greatest joy to add to your abilities, and explore it.

  3. As we age, keeping focus becomes more of a challenge. Work on maintaining focus with brain games, puzzles, reading, and even video games.

  4. Singing and keeping conversation are good for voice and concentration.

  5. Challenging yourself and enjoying yourself at the same time, is very satisfying.

  6. Music keeps me inspired, active, and makes my day so much more enjoyable.

  7. I love to-do lists and marking off my completions–it just feels good!

  8. Fear happens to all of us–when we can reduce our fear and anxiety, everything seems to get better.

  9. Giving back and focusing less on ourselves can result in helping everyone involved.

  10. Being bad can be fun–sometimes eating something that makes you smile, turning off the phone for a few hours, or having a late-night ice cream party can reignite the kid in us that we forget sometimes.

Happy Spring!

Sometimes, this is how I feel!

I love Spring, and cannot wait for the weather to retreat! Spring means sun, warmth, and the rebirth of flora and fauna. Greenery galore and the eruption of color come with the season. It means more time outside to explore and take new photographs.

If you are having a less good day, here are a few ways to improve your day:

Aspire

Book, create, initiate, or invite someone or make a plan for something to look forward in the near and distant future. By having something to look forward to (no matter how small), you create a to do item that you can work towards. Maybe you want to see a favorite band in concert or go to your favorite ice cream parlor, you are making plans.

Don’t Hide

Keep social and active! Get out and share information and good times with others!

Get Some Sun-but be cautious

Almost all Parkinson’s disease patients are low in vitamin D. PD patients who take Levadopa may be more be sensitive to sunlight. I see a Dermatologist at least once a year and suggest that you see one at least for a once a year checkup.

Some days are better than others–just remember that tomorrow is another day!

In Reference To My Art (up above)

Allergies, neck pain/headache, morning slowness, sinus congestion, post nasal drip, and cough all may come with the pollen explosion that comes with this time of year. I tend to not drink enough water and keep hydrated. I’m trying to drink more water. Stay hydrated!

My Chocolate Lab, Lily, is quite a teacher!

If you are an animal lover, dog or cat person, intuitive, or just simply aware, these observations may not be as eye-opening as some of my epiphanies, but here are some of the observations, realized from living with Lily:

1. In her eyes, if I’m having a less good day, all she wants to do is be with me and make my day better.

2. Parkinson’s symptoms don’t disturb her. She loves me for who I am and what I am. I am part of her pack, no matter what.

3. When times are stressful or anxious, Lily is waiting in the wings with her ball or stuffed toy, to make me laugh or break the mood with a game of catch or fetch.

4. She reminds me not to take myself so seriously.

5. She reminds me that you can say an awful lot with just your eyes. Words are not always necessary to get your message across. 

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