NWPF

PD Community BlogRead Blog

Parkinson’s Paradoxes

Monday March 10, 2014

Of the finer miseries of Parkinson’s Disease, perhaps paradox is the finest. Paradox flourishes at every level of PD. Just to start, Parkinson’s Disease robs you of the dexterity you need to handle say, small pills. And you manage PD symptoms  with... little tiny pills! This makes for hours of fun, from getting them out of their tamper-resistant bottles to swallowing them, in a disease, by the way, that interferes with... swallowing! Fiendish! But that is only the beginning.

Experts tell us that to maintain brain health and flexibility, one of the best things we can do is seek out novel situations. Encounters with the unfamiliar build new pathways and resilience into our decaying brains, we’re told. Oh, but avoid stress! Stress will aggravate symptoms and possibly worsen your progression. And what is a big source of stress? Yes. Novel situations.

And how about that word, "progression?" Progress usually carries the connotation that things are getting better. Someone might ask “How’s the sprained ankle doing?”  “Making progress.” you might reassure them. Not with Parkinson’s Disease, where “progression” refers to the process of disease advancing, getting worse.

And how about this? One of the most important defenses the brain has against disease is a sort of firewall called the blood/brain barrier. Unfortunately, it is also the barrier to what would seem the most straightforward way of treating PD, supplying dopamine directly to the brain. Dopamine is blocked because it can't fit through this defense. This is why we take levedopa, which can pass the barrier and then is transmuted by the brain into dopamine.

I have a game I like to play whenever I meet a neurologist. I ask “What is the one thing you wish that patients would do to manage PD that they won’t do?" The answer invariably has been “exercise.” But in a condition that leaves many patients with stiff muscles and a feeling of apathy, the last thing many want to do is move their bodies. Especially when moving may lead to falling. So the best source of therapy, one that is available freely, has little in the way of dangerous side effects, and is cheap as a pair of shorts and a jump rope, is often the last thing a person with Parkinson’s feels like doing.

I could go on, but you get the idea. The question is, what does this mean for those trying to cope with this plethora of paradoxes? Before you answer, consider these three things:

First, each of us has a unique case of Parkinson’s Disease. Second, we all deal with the beast according to our unique nature. Finally, there is much we have to learn about this complex and pitiless disease.

So, what is the way to approach Parkinson’s paradoxes? Humility. Let’s not judge one another too harshly for choices about which is the proper horn of a PD dilemma to impale ourselves on. Until you have festinated for a mile in another man’s moccasins, it’s dicey to second-guess their decisions. And if I seem to not keep time, cut me a bit of slack. Perhaps I march to the beat of a different bummer.

Peter Dunlap-ShohlPeter Dunlap-Shohl
NWPF Blogger

Recent Posts

Take a Hint from PD
Taking the Park out of Parkinson's
Northera and Dizziness
Re-Prioritizing Hopes
Dairy & Gut Health in PD

Archives

2014 2013 2012
Most popular posts of 2012
What are you grateful for this holiday season?
How can I tell whether medications are wearing off or Parkinson’s disease is progressing?
Can a person with Parkinson’s give blood?
When is the right time to start Levodopa?
Can acupuncture help PD symptoms?
Support the Caregiver in your Life
Power of the mind to move treatment further
Top 10 Foods for Parkinson’s (and counting!)
How can I prevent dizziness?
What can you tell me about laser light therapy and Parkinson’s
What is music therapy?
Should I take Coenzyme Q10 for my Parkinson’s?
How do I treat my cough at night?
Parkinson’s fitness programs need to be tailored to the individual to get results
Carrying the Olympic Torch for Parkinson’s today
Coffee reduces risk of Parkinson’s. What about other foods?
How can I find a good doctor who is knowledgeable about PD and is caring as well? My doctor does not always listen.
Facts about depression
Help for constipation
Sex, Intimacy and Parkinson’s
Does DBS affect speech?
Walking and balance can significantly impact quality of life- but is treatable.
Depression is common with Parkinson’s
Ode to Parkinson’s- Poem from Member
Music Enhances Brain Activity
How does posture change with Parkinson’s?
What is important to you?
Are hallucinations caused by Parkinson’s?
Hot Off the Press – Neupro approved by FDA
How do I find a Parkinson’s physical therapist to keep me exercising?
Does Azilect slow disease progression?
Manage nausea from medicines
Is delaying medication harmful?
Advice for newly diagnosed
Is Parkinson’s Hereditary?
Medication Timing
Is gambling a side effect of medicine?
Medication Assistance
Does stress cause Parkinson’s?
When to see a physical therapist
Coconut Oil
FDA approves DATScan
Protein’s effect on medicine
Restless Leg Syndrome