Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Ups and Downs of Parkinson's

Parkinson's is an unpredictable disease.  Yes, we all know it's progressive.  Beyond that it's pretty tricky.  Symptoms vary from person to person as does the length of progression.  Me?  Some of my symptoms have improved since I was diagnosed in 2009, but others have worsened.

In 2009 I couldn't balance worth a darn.  I used a cane and sometimes a walker.  I fell a lot, which resulted in stitches, broken bones, and at least one concussion. I had a fine tremor that got worse with stress and exhaustion.  I lost most of my short-term memory; I could remember my 5th grade teacher but I couldn't remember what I had for dinner the previous night.

Today, thanks to intensive physical therapy and exercise, some of my physical symptoms have improved.  My balance is really good.  I no longer use a cane or a walker.  Through exercise I've become much stronger, and I understand the necessity of staying active.  But there are some stubborn symptoms that just won't go away.

Tremors and involuntary movements still show up under stressful conditions. Before surgery or other medical procedures, for example, I flop around like a fish.  It's pretty embarrassing but I can't control it.  My hands shake when I haven't had enough sleep.  I have muscle rigidity, a/k/a akinesia, in my neck and shoulders.  It limits my range of motion -- I can't turn my head very far, left or right -- and it hurts most of the time. 

Worst of all is my memory.  Short-term is still a big problem.  I'd like to think it's age but it's not (and after all, I'm still in my 50's).  I can put something away one minute and can't remember where it is the next minute.  Thank heavens for a GPS.  I've always been directionally challenged, but getting lost in your own neighborhood can be scary.  Recipes?  Forget about it.  I'll read it, go the stove to do the necessary, and I've forgotten what I'm supposed to do.  Talk about frustrating!

So all in all, there are ups and downs.  Some days are better than others.  But isn't that true with everyone?  Putting one foot in front of the other and not being afraid to take a risk -- I've realized that that's the name of the game.


  1. I want to thank you for writing an incredibly inspiring blog (now I want to climb a mountain!!!) giving strength to people with Parkinson's.
    I wrote about your blog as being one of my favourites here:

    Thanks for everything that you do!