Friday, November 27, 2009

Holy Role Reversal, Batman!

Suddenly, I'm the caregiver.

Yesterday was a nightmare. Everything was fine and normal all morning; I had just put the turkey in the oven and was sitting down to take a break and do some crochet, when my husband Bob came upstairs saying he didn't feel well. He hardly ever gets sick, and when he does, he very rarely complains, so I knew something was really wrong. When he let go of the banister at the top of the stairs, he almost fell; I had to help him get to the couch. He said he felt like the room was spinning; he was white as a sheet and sweating like crazy. He had vertigo; vertigo so bad that he couldn't walk, and kept throwing up. I called 911, and they came and did some quick tests and evaluations, picked him up and hauled him down the front steps and put him in an ambulance.

I followed the ambulance to the emergency room; I was so upset, I swear I don't remember a moment of that drive. It took a few hours and a parade of young doctors, nurses and interns, but they finally figured out that Bob did NOT have a heart problem or a stroke (thank God!!). His only symptom was severe vertigo and the nausea that goes with it. You could see his eyes twitching back and forth, trying to track the spinning room. They gave him anti-nausea and anti-vertigo medicine, and eventually, after he was feeling better, they sent us home.

They think he has some calcification or something in his inner ear, which has gotten lodged in the wrong place and is causing this problem. I hope he's feeling better today; he isn't up yet, and I'm sitting here listening for signs that he's gotten out of bed, because if it's anything like yesterday, he won't be able to walk without help.

It's so strange; I've gotten so used to being the one that needs help! I didn't realize how much I've come to depend on Bob. Well, even though we didn't get our turkey dinner last night, I'm still so grateful for my blessings. In fact, I'm even more grateful now! It could have been so much worse. And here's a silver lining for you; I had my son turn the oven down to 200 degrees so the turkey wouldn't get overdone, and that turkey is the BEST I've ever cooked! I was starving last night when we got home, and I sliced off a piece. Delicious!! Maybe next year I'll cook it the same way, but WITHOUT the trip to the emergency room...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving is upon us

So, it's Thanksgiving time again. I like to count my blessings at Thanksgiving, and I've found more and more that it's a good idea to count my blessings a little more often. Like, every day, for instance. I find it very comforting, so I'm going to do a little of that now.


My husband, my son
My parents, my friends
A job that I love,
Though it never ends.

The world in its beauty,
The love in my heart,
My dog and my cat,
How's that for a start?

Bumps in the road,
That show me my strength,
Even these become blessings,
At least at some length.

Most of all, I am glad
Of the love I that I learn,
When I stop being mad,
And I love in return.

Happy Thanksgiving, you wonderful world, you!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Foot Dystonia; more surprises from PD

I have recently developed foot dystonia. This is not fun; it's like my toes suddenly decide that they can't stand each other's company and are trying to leave. What happens is this: my big toe forces itself up and the other toes force themselves down until it hurts. I can't control it; I can sometimes force the toes to relax for a few seconds, but then they go right back to trying to twist themselves off of my foot. It's quite painful, and it's not something I expected. I've had muscle cramps before, but this is a whole new category of pain. Fortunately, it only happens in the morning and sometimes at night after my meds have worn off, and it seems to only affect the left foot so far.

The doctor has increased my Requip dosage, which puzzled me a little until I did some reading about Dystonia and Parkinson's on the net. It turns out that foot dystonia is one of the hallmarks of Young-Onset Parkinson's, and they think it's caused by levadopa therapy, just as dyskinesia is. Therefore, increasing the levadopa (Stalevo, in my case) would be a bad idea.

I hope this works!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

On Shaky Ground.... about tremors

I nice fellow name Hal recently posted a request for me to describe my tremors in more detail, and it got me thinking about the subject of tremors in general. I used to think (as I imagine most people do) that Parkinson's was all about tremors. Not so. Some Parkinson's patients don't have any tremors at all, and some (like me) have minimal tremors. Furthermore, a lot of books and medical web sites describe the "typical" Parkinson's tremor in great detail; it's a "resting tremor" and doesn't happen when you go to do something with the shaky hand, it's a "pill-rolling" tremor, the frequency of the tremor is such-and-such, it always starts on one side, etc, etc. WRONG!

Yes, these are typical profiles of Parkinson's tremor, but as with everything associated with this crazy disease, every patient has a unique experience. In fact, for some time I was convinced that I didn't have Parkinson's because my tremor wasn't a "pill-rolling" tremor, and it didn't happen just at rest. My neurologist gently pointed out that I had a lot of other symptoms that pointed to PD, and he'd seen many Parkinson's patients with a tremor very much like mine. Here's another little tidbit that one doesn't always glean from the books and web sites (well, I didn't, anyway): the tremor can change quite a bit over time, the same way other symptoms do. For me, it started out as a pretty fast tremor that happened when I was trying to type or do other fiddly little tasks, then it "evolved" into a classic "pill-rolling" tremor, but that was way after I was diagnosed. Now, I hardly ever have tremors at all; I have more problems with stiffness and slowness.

If I had a nickel for every person who has said to me "How can you have Parkinson's? You don't look shaky", I'd be rich. Well... actually I'd probably have about a dollar, but you get my point.

I think I'll go make some Shake 'n' Bake for dinner...

Monday, November 2, 2009

Rough Weekend

Rough weekend. I can't go into it here, but something terrible has happened in my family, and I've been so worried and stressed. All weekend, every time I started to relax and cheer up, the phone would ring and it would start all over. Of course, Old Man Parkinson is taking this opportunity to drag me down and turn me into his puppet. Ironically, one of the things that having PD has taught me is that you can't let these things get you down. You just need to do everything you reasonably can, and then "turn over" the stuff you can't do anything about.

Doing better now; I think of the words of one of my favorite songs, and it always helps:

Words by John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons
Music by Charlie Chaplin (really!)

Smile, though you're heart is aching.
Smile, even though it's breaking.
When there are clouds in the sky
You'll get by
If you smile through your fear and sorrow,
Smile, and maybe tomorrow
You'll see the sun come shining through
for you.

Light up your face with gladness,
Hide every trace of sadness,
although a tear may be ever so near.
That's the time you must keep on trying,
Smile; what's the use of crying?
You'll see that life is still worthwhile
if you'll just smile.

About Me

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I'm a lucky lady. I have a wonderful husband of 27 years, a fantastic 25 year old son (I'm so proud of him!) a loving and supportive family, the best friends in the world, a job that I love, and... Parkinson's Disease. I was diagnosed in September 2006. That was a jolt, but I'm learning to deal with it.