This year, to mark Parkinson’s Awareness month, I wanted to focus on Parkinson’s Disease and what it’s brought into my life. I’m dubbing this my “Greatest Hits of PD” (emphasis on the “hits”!). Like the old 45 rpm records, sometimes the “hit” was on Side A – a bouncy, upbeat positive single that rose quickly on the charts. Sometimes the “hit” came on the darker side – the hidden gem – Side B – the unexpected “hit” that you just couldn’t escape. Before long , it too rose to meteoric proportions.
For the month of April, I’ll be reviewing each of these “hits” – one for every day of the month. While they are presented as the “Top 30” – they are in no particular order. To save readers a daily deluge, I’m spinning a weeks worth of entries in each blog posting. Hope you enjoy the ride and thanks for tuning in!
The Top 30 – Hits
#16 – Dyskinesis – this is the hallmark of PD – the inability to control movements, characterized by spasmodic or repetitive movement of the arms, legs,and other body parts. Sometimes, it can be brought on by taking too large a dose of levedopa, the principal drug used to treat PD. Those of you who have seen Michael J Fox and have shuttered at his “shakiness” – this is a good illustration of dyskinesis at work!
#15 – Gratitude – and speaking of Michael J Fox, I credit this next “hit” to him. Early on in my PD life, I read his book “Lucky Man“. The title refers to how lucky he considered himself to have PD… how it changed his life…lead him away from a toxic lifestyle. I found this initially perplexing but, in reading his book, and taking a more introspective assessment of my own life, what came into focus was this sense of gratitude. I was more grateful for the people that were in all aspects of my life. I was grateful for all that I had in my life. I was grateful for the opportunity to make some changes in my life that needed changing. I too was a lucky man.
#14 – Slow Down – when you have a young family, a professional career, and all the trappings that go with that lifestyle -at least in the western world – life can get pretty frantic. You lose focus, get swooped up in a frenetic buzz of activity, and before you know it, years have flown by. PD played a large part in putting the brakes on this frenetic pace; bringing some sanity back into what I now see were some insane times. Slow it down – with PD I really had no choice.
#13 – Choking – many people with PD have difficulty swallowing as they lose control of their mouth and throat muscles. Chewing and managing solid foods can be difficult and swallowing problems increase the risk of aspiration (inhaling fluid or stomach contents into the lungs) and pneumonia. I’ve had a few scares but nothing too serious to date. I must admit this is one of the scarier symptoms of life with PD.
#12 – Rigidity – rigidity or stiffness of the muscles is almost the polar opposite of dyskinesis. I may walk slowly and with a loss of arm swing, generally have a loss of facial expression, experience fatigue, and may have a variety of muscle pain issues.
#11 – Balance – until the Fall of 2015, I had only rare experience with balance issues. Then, I took a fall in my backyard and everything changed. I was fortunate that I only bruised a few ribs but, the worst part of that incident, is what came after my physical healing. I became extremely cautious of walking – each step was deliberate. Each move was tentative and my confidence shaken. I am still working on getting back to my level of activity before the fall.
# 10 – Apathy – There are days when I find it extremely hard to get motivated to get myself moving. I don’t have the same drive or passion. I have my “to do” list that seems perpetually pregnant with tasks to do. I want to get them done but more often than not, I’m eunuched. I can’t get it going. This may be a result of my dopamine-deprived brain since dopamine is not only the primary neurotransmitter for motor control and movement, but it is also necessary for goal-oriented behavior, enjoyment and motivation. Less motivation + less enjoyment = apathy. It’s a difficult hump to get over.
That’s it for this week – thanks for stopping by! Be sure and come back next week as we work our way down to #1!