Monday, August 4, 2008

Day Three

Well, many droplets have passed under the bridge since my last posting about health. As I threatened, I did go see the neurosurgeon, who turned out to be a rock star -- very bright, very competent, with a good sense of humor, even. What's more, he's got that kind of slightly-worn daytime-drama look that says, "I could play one on TV."

The good Dr. explained in great detail what the procedures -- that's right, two of them -- entailed ... way TMI, IMHO. (Ask a teenage friend what those initials mean).

For one thing, the first procedure involves a drill and some clamps. I've been in sales pretty much all my life, and if there were ever a time when "benefits" should take precedence over "features," this would be it. I would much rather hear something like, "In a few short months, you'll regain full use of the right side of your body," than, "We're going to drill holes in your brain and you'll be fully conscious during the whole thing."

At one point I asked the good Dr. how much of this was done by computer; he told me most of it. I told him that would be okay as long as they weren't using Windows as an operating system; the last thing you want is a Blue Screen of Death in the middle of the procedure. He laughed (evidence of his good sense of humor) and told me they use Linux. (Ask a teenage geek friend why that's a good thing.)

After a couple of quick tests, I left the doctor's office filled with a sense of bonhomie and qu'est-ce que. (Ask a teenage French friend what those words mean.) Not to mention appointments for the surgeries.

As I write this, with the surgeries several weeks away, I am sure I made the right decision. I am also sure that when the surgeries are only days away, I won't be so sure.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Another Spin-Off

I am bucking the current, mostly dysfunctional trend of throwing a bunch of companies into the same stock pool and calling it a big-ass company (caution: do not attempt to use such technical terms unless you have an MBA or a good lawyer).

To wit, I now have three blogs, to make it easier for those who could care less, to care even less.

For details, see the sidebar to the right. To care less still, order a sidecar and drink up.


Monday, April 14, 2008

Day Two

Never mind that several months have transpired since my first (and heretofore only) post about my health. As far as this blog topic goes, this is indeed the second day.

I don't write more about this because, primarily, I don't think of myself as "Parkinson's patient," any more than you're likely to think of yourself as "one testicle bigger than the other."

But since this is to be an all-encompassing blog, I feel duty-bound to report in on my progress.

As Parkinson's is wont to do, it has progressed -  pretty much more of the same. My balance is goofier, my strength is, well, weaker, and my walk is clumsier.

Nonetheless, my attitude continues to be good - although I may have to enter rehab for all the Rescue Remedy I'm guzzling - and I'm getting things done.

I have found a kindred spirit in Time Magazine columnist Michael Kinsley, who has written two columns on his condition, the first of which reflects accurately my feelings about all this - namely, things could be worse.

I'm fortunate to have an eager-beaver neurologist whose office is five minutes away; he loves me, because (a) I'm reasonably intelligent; (b) I am reasonably upbeat; and (c) I don't drool very much.

We've been fiddling around with the medications, and while they reduce discomfort, they don't do much for the symptoms. So Dr. Neurologist Guy says that I really need to look into Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS), which is where they implant leads in the brain to stimulate production of the whatsit, the lack of which leads to the symptoms.

I have been reticent to do that because (a) I don't even like electrical lines in the ceiling, much less in my head; and, more to the point, (b) I am the world's biggest chicken - especially when the doctor tells me I'll be awake for the operation. (He tells me I'll be "mildly sedated," but unless mild sedation involves at least a day's production of Valium, I'm really not interested.)

Nonetheless, I need to do something, and the documentation on this, um, procedure is maybe more reliable than my friend's cousin's friend's brother who experienced a miraculous recovery by eating a vat of pumpkin seeds a day for two years. As much as I am drawn to more natural, less invasive approaches - though I'd probably stop short of Mr. Farts-Pumpkin-Seeds (his Native American name), I am seriously considering DBS.

Once again, Our Man Kinsley is one step ahead: he had the DBS procedure and found it worthwhile; read his article about it.

I'm going to see the neurosurgeon this week. I'm also going to see an acupuncturist. (Actually, they're probably very similar; one just sticks the needle deeper.)

I'll keep you posted. Literally.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Today is the First Day ...

I am a 60-year-old, otherwise-healthy guy who has Parkinson's. They call it "young onset," because I was diagnosed when I was just a kid - 58.

My symptoms are rare - no tremors, but loss of strength and balance. Rarer still, it affects the right side of my body mostly.

At first, I resisted Western pharma products. I've been practicing Transcendental Meditation and have made certain lifestyle choices, like vegetarianism and the use of natural products and organic foods.

When my symptoms caused me to rethink my resistance to Western approaches, I was initially put off by the side-effects, so I stopped the meds. After a while, though, I jumped back on the meds and found the symptoms to be worthwhile trade-offs.

Meanwhile, I supplement the meds - currently Stalevo and, experimentally, the Neupro patch - with Vitamins C and B Complex and a product called Aqua Hydration from Wild Medicine in Australia ( ... the latter recommended by Dr. Jon Coleman in Stop Parkin' and Start Livin', which book resonated with me, although I'm keeping an open mind about his claims of complete recovery.

As I write this (with my left hand), I am getting along fine. It's more difficult to to some things - like dressing, tying laces, putting on shoes - but one adjusts. Thankfully, my work is home-based and involves, as my wife would say, "Gabbing on the phone and playing with the computer" ... so I can carry on, although fatigue is somewhat of an issue.

My attitude has been good since Day One, when my reaction to the diagnosis was, "That's interesting." Am I in denial? I don't know; I don't think so.

I am not doing one thing I know I should: exercise! I really need to get on it ...

Tomorrow. Maybe.