Blog Archives

Protect Yourself from Summer Dangers

Trust me, I am not a reminder service, nor am I a medical professional, but with the soaring heat of summer, it may not be a bad idea for a few reminders to help keep your life a little safer:

  1. If you are taking Sinemet, pay close attention to direct sun exposure. Make sure to wear sunscreen and protection from the rays, so as not to burn.
  2. Check your medications for sun exposure side effects and talk to your neurologist and dermatologist about any moles, rashes, burns or bumps that are irregular, uneven, painful, changing color, or simply suspicious.
  3. Some of us with Parkinson’s have the challenge of self-regulating our body temperature. It is so vitally important to keep cool and to monitor if the sun is having any impact on you.
  4. Keep hydrated! I had a friend who was only drinking a little more than 4 ounces a day. When I found out how little he was drinking and he came back to hydration, my wife and I were amazed to see voice improvement, better cognition, better balance, and I dare say, a healthier look to his skin.
  5. If you have a pet or child, never leave them in a closed car without cool air blowing and water access.
  6. Don’t forget that many surfaces like concrete, blacktop, decking surfaces, and even wood can get blazing hot, making it very uncomfortable for paws and bare feet. If you have poor circulation or neuropathy, this could be very important.
  7. Be aware of your surroundings and your comfort always. Keeping aware will avoid some of those sun hazards.
  8. People with Parkinson’s are notorious for being deficient in vitamin D. Sunlight is great to help replenish your vitamin D level but pay close attention to too much direct exposure. Choose your time of day outside wisely and monitor your local weather for the safest time to walk your dog or go to the garden.
  9. Don’t forget a hat and sunglasses!
  10. Be sure to remember to always crack open at least one car window so you don’t return to a blistering seat and stifling air!

 

Use good, safe, solid, logic about being in the sun at its least intensity and keep cool!

What do we know about our food?

Unless you grow your own food, how much can you account for that plant’s purity? But wait, there’s more–is your plant (GMO) genetically modified? Do you even know? How can you know for certain?

Technical advances and food production have made supposed advances and modifications, but at what cost to the consumer? Food packaging has more information than ever and yet it takes a chemical engineer or an hour on Google to decipher the preservatives, gums, fillers, sugar substitutes, or anything that may be artificially infused. More information is better as long as the data is understandable, pertinent, and accurate.

Wouldn’t it be nice if our food history were posted on our packaging? The package would tell us when the veggies were picked, how long it took them to get to market, and if they were sprayed with any kind of pesticide, i.e. Roundup (which studies since 2003 have been saying may lead to Parkinson’s Disease)? Eating organic is probably the healthiest of our options but unless we grew it ourselves, what assures us that our fruits and veggies are untainted?

Something to ponder, today.

All Charged Up

 I have little doubt that Neurological disorders like, Parkinson’s disease, may manifest emotionally, possibly triggered by a physical or chemical jolt to the body. The body’s electrical circuitry gets scrambled and disconnects with the circuitry of the mind. If you think of the whole human body as if it were a battery that holds a charge,  you are dealing with a complex and sometimes fragile network of functions that are all reliant on the body’s ability to send out current where it is needed. When the current is weak or broken, problems arise.

“Burnout” is a familiar term that applies to both body and electricity. When stress, work, lack of sleep, improper diet, depression, and all the other invasions of modern day society pile up, the body along with the mind will shut down. Some of us are wired differently probably through genetics and are capable of repelling some of these outside forces, thus evading illness and remaining healthy.

If the body is an energy center in itself and it gets depleted from outside, it only makes sense that the answer to getting the body back in synch is to recharge it. For thousands of years Eastern medicine has proven that energy work and spiritual practices have real world medical benefit. Only through therapies like Reiki, Qigong, Acupuncture, Yoga, and Meditation can you replenish what is lost.

One of the great mysteries of Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) is why it works? As a therapeutic tool, DBS is a brain surgery discovered  to work by accident. No one knows exactly how it works or why but the electrical signals generated from batteries implanted in the chest sent through wires implanted in the brain disrupt certain signals going to the brain. This proves that we are one big power plant that needs maintaining.

Energy work is mostly free and painless. Time, some dedication, commitment, and some self exploration may be needed to educate yourself about what works best for your specific symptoms.  As unconventional and new agey as energy work may seem to some of you,  I ask this: What do you have to lose in trying one or more of these therapies? Even more so , what do you have to gain?

As overused as the metaphor of the body being compared to an onion is, if you imagine the moments of our lives, both good and bad, constructing our thoughts, emotions, and overall makeup, we are what feel, see, eat, breathe, think, hear, and drink.  Delving into the onion and locating the parts that need changing can be challenging and take some time.

 There is as much understanding of why energy work makes a difference as DBS , the only difference is that the energy work doesn’t require drilling in the skull or implanting batteries in the body. DBS is brain surgery and can cost as much as a small house. It would make sense to me that before one resorts to the option of implanting hardware in the body that he or she seeks the less invasive option first. That’s just my opinion.

Don’t Label Me Or My Illness

It is ingrained in western culture not to question the authority of the doctor.  There is no doubt that doctors provide a vital and life-saving service but there are times, especially if you are dealing with life and death situations, that you have the right to question your doctor. If you rely solely on your doctor’s advice and treatment you may very well be cheating yourself of improving your condition.

Although they don’t scream it, scientists and doctors don’t fully understand the total complexity of the human body and brain. It is a lack of understanding that I believe repeals the doctor’s right to project into the crystal ball and predict a patient’s future outcome.

You must do your part in getting better.  Feeling better and getting better begins with a mind shift that you know that you can get better.  The medical community in general  believes that people with Parkinson’s only get worse–period.  They provide little hope for improving  one’s  condition and add that this illness is both chronic and degenerative.  I have yet to hear of a doctor who prescribes hope and positive  thinking to his patients.  Positive thinking and hope get people  through  amazing traumatic events every day. Feats of super-human strength in times of crisis, heroism under severe pressure, survival under extreme conditions, and the ability to push the body even beyond the breaking point are just some of the unexplained medical phenomenon that science can’t fully dissect. 

Programming can be as dangerous as it is powerful. When a patient is diagnosed with any illness and the doctor tells a patient that there is “no hope” , the negative reinforcement can have devastating consequences on the patient’s whole being.  Had the doctor said, “We have no medical answer for your illness at this time, I suggest you investigate  other potential therapies that may benefit you that western culture has yet to embrace but shows great promise.”  Of course, you probably won’t hear this from most doctors. Shifting the standard outlook from grim to hopeful  could revolutionize medicine and improve the lives of the ill seeking a cure or just a better life. There is power in keeping positive.

5 Ways To Get More Positive

1. Avoid negative influences of those around you!

Try to identify what and who drains your energy and see if you can’t change the way you interact. Learn to control stress through deep breathing, yoga, and meditation.

2. Moderate your television and media!

Avoid tragic news that only weighs you down and has any spiritual or uplifting value. Turn off reality shows that don’t make you feel inspired. Focus on you and what you can change for the better.

3. Visualize yourself getting better every day.

Seeing yourself getting stronger and having that picture in your head is a good place to start for improvement.

4. Clear your mind and body as best you can.

Finding a therapy like Reiki, massage, acupuncture, reflexology, exercise, or other modality may set you on a path to feeling better clearing out toxins in both the mind and body.

5. Help someone else.

When you help others you feel good about what you have accomplished. Making a difference in someone else’s life makes an impact on yours as well.

These are just a few ideas of how to be more positive but I’m sure that you can come up with many more.

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.

10 Tips For Better Living With Parkinson’s Disease (PD)(and maybe some other chronic illnesses)

1.  Find a support group in your area. Contact the National Parkinson’s Foundation (NPF), the American  Parkinson’s Disease Association (APDA), and Parkinson’s Disease Foundation (PDF) for more information about updates and seminars. Ask for referrals and informational pamphlets.   Go to their sites.

2. Search for a Neurologist with whom you can communicate. If you have Young-Onset PD, then you probably are going to want a Neurologist who is also a movement disorder specialist.

3. Eat Your Veggies.  When I went vegetarian over 20 years ago, my energy level improved, my digestion improved, and my medications worked better.

4. Reduce your stress level. Stress reduces the effectiveness of meds, disturbs sleep, and can cause more illnesses. Find an outlet for stress like calming your mind through yoga, reiki, and meditation.

5. Sleep matters. You need rest to recharge those dopamine receptors. If you can’t sleep, talk to your doctor.

6. Keep active.   Challenge your mind and body daily–but don’t overdo it. Find that balance.

7. Stay on track. Keep a schedule with your meds and  take them on time with water.

8. Try music. I find music can soothe my headaches, improve my mood, and help me to relax.

9. Stay informed. Sign up with Google news, local PD organization’s chapters, and other legitimate PD sites to get the latest press in Parkinson’s disease .

10. Get involved. Keep informed and help the PD community through the Parkinson’s Action Network (PAN).

These are just a few ways that I have been able to improve my PD. I hope they work for you. I am not a doctor and this is my opinion only.

Picture of the Week – Ice’s Beauty

The Beauty Of Ice

Ice has a sheen and majesty like no other. Cold, yet strong and mesmerizing, ice dazzles. Enjoy this photo from a few winters ago.

Is 2012 the end as we know it?

Times are tough and they just seem to keep getting tougher. If the nightly news, the tabloids, or reality television don’t bring you down, your grocery bill will. From oil to water wars to global warming, this planet is changing right beneath our feet. It might be a novel idea that we change with it — and quickly!

Salacious stories like who is sleeping with whom should no longer fill our daily print or clog our precious airwaves with gossip and dribble about what some overpaid sports star or Hollywood celeb did or did not do. Do their improprieties really play a part in my daily life? I think not.

“Okay”, you say but this is just a diversion from reality–an escape from the daily grind–right? Maybe, but this trash news is dominating what we used to consider real news. When did almost every news story have to be a murder or something depressing? There must be some good news somewhere out there.

If Nostradamus is right and 2012 is the end of our planet, I hope that we tidy up our environment, learn some more compassion for our fellow man, take better care of our children and animals, and waste less resources for future generations just in case the great predictor makes a boo boo. What’s the worst that can happen?

Maybe 2012 should be goal date for achievement. 2012 is the year for us to clean up our act and get our priorities in check. Wouldn’t it be lovely to see government, media, and the people of the world working for a common goal? One can only dream. Just because the media doesn’t cover a natural disaster doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. 2012 may come and go without any noticeable repercussions but that doesn’t mean the wake-up call is any less urgent!

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