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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Parkinson's Disease Research: Exercise

I went to three Parkinson's Disease seminars recently and the common theme was exercise is good for people with Parkinson's Disease. I can't say this was news to me, but I did learn the science behind it. 

YumaBev and Anna from NPF 
I heard some humorous quotes like "Would you rather exercise one hour a day or be dead twenty-four?" and "Exercise can slow down the escalator to Parkinson's hell". Both of these are paraphrased because I've lost my short term memory (if you find it, please return it). 

So, here's the scoop. People are lazy and people with Parkinson's Disease are worse. We can blame the laziness on the loss of dopamine, which not only helps control movement but is also one of the "feel good" chemicals in our brain. And since doing the things we used to do no longer "feels good", we Parkies tend to get lazier. 

Researchers know this, so they gave rats, which are also lazy, Parkinson's Disease symptoms by injecting them with MPTP or something similar.  They then measured the movement abilities of the Parkie rats and compared them to non-Parkie rats. They took brain scans of both as well, and carefully documented the results. 

They then split the Parkie and non-Parkie rats into two groups: One group was allowed to do as they wished and the other group was forced to exercise by placing them on treadmills. It seems cruel to force them to walk or run, but I guess that's why they use rats and not cute little puppies or kitties, most of us don't feel sorry for rats.



The results were exciting. The Parkie rats who were forced to exercise showed vast improvements over the Parkie rats who did nothing. The difference was noted not only in their movement ability, but changes were visible in the brain scans as well. The forced exercise didn't show much change in the non-Parkie rats (except maybe they were skinnier). 

This proves that exercise is a very good thing, but you can't force people with Parkinson's Disease to walk on treadmills, so we need to be motivated. Those quotes I mentioned above motivated me. I usually walk every morning, but now I have added walking on a treadmill to my daily routine and I feel better already. Here is my first day and third day video (and I'm much prettier than a rat).

video


Did you see the difference? 

So, my Parkie friends, don't be lazy rats, get up and exercise (and if you have a treadmill, use it).

You can find all my videos on my YouTube channel:
Clicking on colored words will open a new window and take you to a different story or link.

Thank you for reading this story, I hope you enjoyed it. This is just one of a hundred stories in my book, Parkinson's Humor - Funny Stories about My Life with Parkinson's Disease. Please consider purchasing a copy from Amazon.com or your favorite online book seller. Thank you and have a Happy Parkie Day!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Parkinson's Disease Research: Botched Recipes

Most everyone knows Parkinson's Disease is caused by a loss of dopamine producing neurons in our brains, but most people don't know HOW the scientists get lab animals to have Parkinson's Disease symptoms so they can be used for research (they don't go looking for animals with shaky paws). I went to a Parkinson's Disease symposium hosted by the UCSD Movement Disorders Clinic and the Parkinson's Association of San Diego and found out. 

Back in the late 70's, the illegal drug culture spawned amateur home chemists who were cooking up concoctions in their kitchens, using available drugs (both over the counter and prescription) and anything they could find in chemistry sets and under the kitchen sink. They would try their creations out on themselves and friends and if the desired high was achieved, they would make huge batches and sell it to others.


typical illegal drug lab


This is what happened in the San Francisco, California, area back in 1982. One of these enterprising home chemists created something which he called New Heroin and began selling it to local addicts. The chemical abbreviation for his creation was MPPP, which stands for words I can't even begin to pronounce. Unfortunately, one day, he messed up his recipe (he was probably high at the time) and ended up producing MPTP, another long unpronounceable chemical abbreviation, instead.  


All of a sudden, addicts were showing up at area emergency rooms, looking like they had advanced Parkinson's Disease. The onset was swift and irreversible, something had killed off most of their dopamine producing neurons and the public was warned about a dangerous new drug out on the streets. Eventually, the home laboratory was found and destroyed, but not before dozens of addicts were adversely affected.



A Neurologist in the area, having been called in by the hospitals, realized the potential of this mistake and now, thanks to this botched recipe, scientists are able to give lab animals MPTP, or a variation of it, which causes them to have Parkinson's like symptoms, so they can be used for research.


Scientist

The humor of this story: A stoned druggie screws up making a concoction to get himself stoned and ends up causing people to turn into stone and ultimately helps people with Parkinson's Disease get un-stoned. You can't get much more ironic than that.

Clicking on colored words will open a new window and take you to a different story or link.

Thank you for reading this story, I hope you enjoyed it. This is just one of a hundred stories in my book, Parkinson's Humor - Funny Stories about My Life with Parkinson's Disease. Please consider purchasing a copy from Amazon or your favorite online book seller. Thank you and have a Happy Parkie Day!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The ABC's of Parkinson's Disease Handwriting

One of my earliest symptoms of Parkinson's Disease was a change in my handwriting, though I didn't realize it at the time. Difficulty writing is the main thing I hate about having Parkinson's Disease, and even though I joke about it in my songs, in reality, I don't find anything humorous about it. 

The medical term for it is Micrographia, which simply means small writing. Our letters tend to get smaller and smaller and closer together until we can no longer read it (heck, I don't think even a Doctor could read mine). Add in some tremor and most of us just quit writing all together. I fall into this category.

Everything I have read has said the handwriting problems can't be fixed with therapy or even the DBS procedure, so I pretty much gave up hope of ever writing again, until this past week.

I went to several Parkinson's seminars in Southern California last week and heard a speaker talk about reprogramming our brains to normal. She was discussing the idea of using large exaggerated movements to show our brains that small wasn't normal and she mentioned handwriting. She didn't elaborate, but I put on my thinking cap and decided to try an experiment.

I hope you will experiment with me.

Please take a piece of paper and write the following: The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy sleeping dog 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 and sign your name.

Now, watch this video and do exactly what I do in it.
(It takes less than 5 minutes, what have you got to lose?)

video

Please do the exercise a total of 3 times, I was holding the TV remote control in my hand, but you can use anything larger than a standard pen. 

Now, please write the same thing as you did before and let me know if you see a difference (send me an email at yumabev@gmail.com). I was completely amazed at my results. 

The improvement doesn't last, but why should it? Parkinson's Disease is working against you 24 hours a day, so we have to keep fighting it. I found the improvement lasted a day or two, then the writing returned to small & illegible, but if I did the exercise again, or something similar, the improvement came back. I am thrilled to be able to write again and I hope you get similar results. Here is my before and after:
Before and After the exercise

Please let me know if you get similar results. yumabev@gmail.com  Thanks.

You can find all my videos on my YouTube channel:

Thank you for reading this story, I hope you enjoyed it. This is just one of a hundred stories in my book, Parkinson's Humor - Funny Stories about My Life with Parkinson's Disease. Please consider purchasing a copy from Amazon.com or your favorite online book seller. Thank you and have a Happy Parkie Day!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

YumaBev gets new glasses

Optical, dental, pharmacies line the roads
When I was in Mexico last week, I got an eye exam and new glasses. Just like Pharmacies and Dentists, Optical Shops are prevalent in Algodones. I didn't need a change for distance, but I did need a change for close-up (easier to get new glasses than lengthen my arms). This particular change has nothing to do with Parkinson's Disease, it, unfortunately means I'm just getting older. Darn, I can't blame it on the PD!

Lots of frames
We got there early, and surprise, the Algodones Optical Shop was already open, so I had a chance to try on some new frames before the optician arrived at 8:30am. They have frames of every size, shape and price range. I tried on a few and then got called into the exam room.


First he checked my pressures for glaucoma, they were good. He had me read the distance chart and began the usual "Which is clearer, lens A or B?" routine. Next he handed me the small print card, and my hands promptly began to shake. My tremors aren't bad, unless I am holding something in my hand with my elbow bent. I don't read books for this reason and I read the newspaper with it laying flat on the dining room table, so I don't have to hold it. Finally, he held the card for me and we got to where I could read the smallest type. He sent me out to pick out frames.
Rows of frames
Picking out new frames is difficult, and I rely on my Wonderful Husband to choose what looks best. He hates this, but I tell him he sees me more than anyone, so I only care if he likes them. I tried on dozens and we finally settled on a smaller frame than what I usually wear. I found a duplicate and gave both to the girl behind the counter (it was buy one, get one free). 
Not these frames

Not these frames
The Optician came back over, took some measurements and I was done. I decided to add some tint to one pair and asked to have my old glasses made into sunglasses. They said my new glasses would be ready in 2 hours, so I left and went to my Dentist appointment.

When I was done at the Dentist, all 3 were ready, my 2 new pair and new "old" sunglasses. They did some final adjustments, gave me a couple of cases and cleaning cloths and I wrote them a check for $50 (now you know why I go there). I checked out my new sunglasses and my brand new ones. I really like them, Hubby did good!
new frames

new sunglasses
We strolled the sidewalk where you line up to leave Mexico and headed back across the border. 
In winter, there are people for blocks 
Not a bad day, walked over at 8:15am, got Rx, new glasses and teeth cleaned and walked back at 11:30.

Clicking on colored words will open a new window with another story or link.

Thank you for reading this story, I hope you enjoyed it. This is just one of a hundred stories in my book, Parkinson's Humor - Funny Stories about My Life with Parkinson's Disease. Please consider purchasing a copy from Amazon or your favorite online book seller. Thank you and have a Happy Parkie Day!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

YumaBev goes to the Dentist

While I was in Mexico last week, I went to the Dentist for a cleaning. I have a lot of teeth in my mouth, 30 to be exact, and I don't have a big mouth (despite what my Parents said), so cleaning my teeth can be a challenge. The Parkinson's Disease makes it difficult for me to obey commands, my jaw and tongue have a mind of their own, so I need a tech with a sense humor and who's not afraid of being bitten.

I'm not sure how many Dentists occupy the small town of Algodones, but I'd guess it's close to 100. The Dental offices are right next to each other. You can get everything from a simple cleaning to fillings, dentures, and even implants, all done at very reasonable prices, compared to USA. I had a crown replaced several years ago for about $200.
Dental row, one of many

Appointment times are subjective in Mexico, if your appointment is at 10, the Dentist might not show up until 11, so you need to be a patient patient.  I was lucky on this day, the Dental Assistant (probably a recent Dental School Grad) was there when I arrived and I only had to wait 30 minutes to be taken back to the room. She was very pretty with perfectly straight white teeth and long thick dark curly hair, it was like having a super-model clean my teeth. Too bad she wasn't a he, it would have been more fun for me.
My Dentist

The exam room looked just like every other Dentist office I have ever been to. They give you dark shades to wear, so the bright light doesn't hurt your eyes. They put Vasoline on your lips, so they don't crack from having your mouth wide open and they put a real towel under the paper one that clips around your neck, so your shirt doesn't get all wet. At my last visit to a USA Dentist (which was 6 months ago), they did none of this.

typical dental tray 
The first thing she did was hang the suction tube thingy on my lip. It promptly fell off. She tried again and it fell off, so I reached my hand up and held it in place for the rest of the visit (you can't expect a Dental Tech to have 3 hands). Then she went to work, trying to wrangle the mirror and ultra-sonic wand around my moving tongue and lips. She kept asking me to open my mouth and to turn my head towards her. I didn't realize I was doing the opposite. She had a very difficult time reaching the back teeth, but managed somehow and I did NOT bite her, so it was a successful visit. 

My guess is she will call in sick the next time I have an appointment. She wouldn't be the first. The reason I have 30 teeth is my teeth don't want to come out. The two I had extracted proved so difficult for the oral surgeons, they asked me to never come back!

Dental Health is important if you have Parkinson's Disease and taking care of your teeth can be challenging, so I go regularly for cleanings and exams.  I use a power toothbrush and floss picks, since I have dexterity problems, but I still have all my fingers.


Clicking on colored words in any story will take you to another story or article.

Thank you for reading this story, I hope you enjoyed it. This is just one of a hundred stories in my book, Parkinson's Humor - Funny Stories about My Life with Parkinson's Disease. Please consider purchasing a copy from Amazon or your favorite online book seller. Thank you and have a Happy Parkie Day!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

But You Don't Shake

But you don't shake. I HATE those four words and every time I hear them, I want to scream! 

And I hear them often, from strangers, from cashiers, from salesmen, I have even heard it from Doctor's, Nurses and Pharmacists. They always come right after I say "I have Parkinson's Disease". 

My Wonderful Husband and I drove 200 miles to San Diego to attend a Parkinson's Seminar hosted by UCSD and the Parkinson's Association of San Diego. My built in GPS failed me, or I just couldn't remember what I saw on the map, I'm not sure which, but I took the wrong exit and got lost. I quickly realized my mistake and after several U-turns, found the signs and made it to the program, 20 minutes late. We signed in and found seats.

During the break, I met Karen & Sue, people I've met online through Twitter. I'm not sure which of us was more excited to meet the other, I guess it was a tie, but either way, I was glad to meet them in person.

I wandered around and introduced myself to some of the folks who were attending the seminar, told them about this blog and gave them refrigerator magnets with the Parkinson's Humor web address on it. I even told a funny story or two.


And then it happened, those four words "but you don't shake". I didn't scream, I didn't even get mad. I just said "You're right, I don't". I explained that tremors have always been the least of my problems and are controlled fairly well by medications. He asked "How long have you had PD?", I said 12 years. Wow, he said, how do you manage your symptoms so well? I explained about  Charting my symptoms and a great relationship with my Neurologist. A few others nearby, heard our conversation, and asked me about charting. I explained it, told them I had written a story about it and gave them magnets with the Parkinson's Humor web address and told them how to find the story on my blog. 

The seminar was very informative and afterwards I handed out a few more magnets and told a few people about my Parkinson's songs.  I got to talk to several of the Doctor's who spoke at the seminar. The best part? None of the Doctors said "but you don't shake" when I told them I have Parkinson's. That gives them an A+ in my book.

Clicking on colored words in a story will open a new window and take you to the appropriate link.

Thank you for reading this story, I hope you enjoyed it. This is just one of a hundred stories in my book, Parkinson's Humor - Funny Stories about My Life with Parkinson's Disease. Please consider purchasing a copy from Amazon or your favorite online book seller. Thank you and have a Happy Parkie Day!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

YumaBev goes to Mexico

The walk over to Mexico
We took a trip to Mexico. The small border town of Algodones is just 25 miles away, so we park on the USA side and just walk over. Once you cross into Mexico, the hawkers start their chants: "Need a Dentist?", "Need Glasses?", "Best prices on drugs" are standard ones. Then there are those who have a sense of humor: "Leather purses, made from real cows" or "Gold chains, almost free" and my favorite "Pretty dresses, for teenager like you".  The sidewalks are uneven, the alleys are narrow and the hawkers sometimes get too close. I'm afraid of falling, so it's stressful.  If I didn't have Parkinson's Disease, I might enjoy it and look around, but I am in a hurry to get what I need and get back to the USA.


Mary's sells everything
Why go there? Because Algodones is filled with Dentists, Pharmacies and Optical shops. You can buy leather goods, jewelry, liquor, pottery, clothes, hats, paintings, etc.  You name it and Algodones probably has it and some of it is actually made in Mexico.  And you can buy all these items cheap, sometimes one tenth of what it would cost in the USA.


Shelves full of medicines
I went to get medication for my Rosacea (red face) and $20 is a much better price than $85. The medicine is made by the same Big Pharma, the only difference is the instructions are in Spanish.


Even Viagra is available
First time visitors are shocked by the Pharmacies, long shelves of medicines and sign boards outside with prices. No prescriptions needed, but there are limits to how much you can bring back to the USA, so we make several trips each year. Some folks go every few weeks.    

Getting in takes minutes, getting out can take hours depending on the time of year. When my step-daughter was here in February, it took 2 1/2 hours to get up to the gate, today there was no line at all.
No line to get out on this trip
It was a hot and slow day in Algodones, even the watch dog was sleeping, but the hawkers were more gregarious than usual, so I didn't stop to look at purses or hats.  I didn't even get a cinnamon roll, the bakery has closed for the summer.
Let sleeping dogs lie, but take a photo, might come in handy
I did go to the Dentist and got some new glasses, but I'll tell you about those adventures another day. After my foreign excursion, what I really wanted was lunch and a nap (and I got both).

Que tenga un excelente día - Have a great day (in Spanish) 

Thank you for reading this story, I hope you enjoyed it. This is just one of a hundred stories in my book, Parkinson's Humor - Funny Stories about My Life with Parkinson's Disease. Please consider purchasing a copy from Amazon or your favorite online book seller.  Thank you and have a Happy Parkie Day!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

It was a serious day for YumaBev

Things in my neighborhood got serious this morning, seriously Cereus.  Seven different Cereus cactus plants bloomed early today. Three were in Carole's yard (she lives next door) and four were in Sharon's yard (she lives next to Carole).  I knew last night some would bloom but I was pleasantly surprised when ALL of them did.  I must have taken 50 photos to get the seven ones shown here (even with Image Stabilization, a lot of my shots are blurry).  The first one opened around 5 am and the last one waited until almost 9 am (I guess no one set the alarm).  It was a stunning display of color.  Too bad only a few people got to see them in real life.  Even their owners will only get to see the photos.  Enjoy the flower show, by 4 pm, all of them were closed up. See, there is something good about Parkinson's Disease, I wake up early and get to see beautiful things like this.  Life is good.

  








Thank you for reading this story, I hope you enjoyed it. This is just one of a hundred stories in my book, Parkinson's Humor - Funny Stories about My Life with Parkinson's Disease. Please consider purchasing a copy from Amazon or your favorite online book seller. Thank you and have a Happy Parkie Day!