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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Lights, Camera, Action

So, my phone rings and it's Adam, one of my favorite Arizona Medtronic representatives. He asks, "How would you like to be a movie star?" I answer, "Sure, as long as it's not an x-rated movie." We both laugh.

Adam says Medtronic is looking to do some patient stories about DBS and Parkinson's and wonders if I would be interested. "Heck, YES!!" I say.

Adam says filming will take place in Phoenix, Arizona, gives me the potential dates and says Anna, the Marketing Manager at Medtronic will contact me.

We hang up and I turn to my Wonderful Husband and say, "I'm going to be in a movie!" He says, "What have you done now?" Poor fellow, I'm always volunteering for some thing or another.

 Anna calls and gives me the details. It sounds very exciting. She sets up a conference call for a few days later with us and the film people. They ask a lot of questions about my DBS surgery, if I will be nervous in front of a camera (NO!), if my Wonderful Husband would be willing to be part of it (he says yes, reluctantly) and various logistical type things. I warn them about my weird sense of humor, but they have already checked out my blogs.

Anna and the film crew are coming from Minnesota; I hope the Phoenix temperatures don't melt them (predicted high on film day is 108°F.) A few days later, I get an email with directions on where to go, when to arrive and what to bring along (laptop, DBS controller, extra wardrobe changes.) 

The day comes and we drive to the resort hotel in Phoenix, got checked in and the first thing they do is feed us Mexican food for lunch (yummy.) And the first thing I do is spill beans on my jeans! Wardrobe change! It's a good thing I brought extra clothes.  

During lunch, we get introduced to the film crew.
From Blue Moon Productions of St. Paul, Minnesota:
Will, Director/Producer
Jeannie, Producer/Interviewer
Jeff, Audio Engineer
Eli, Director of Photography

and from the Phoenix area:
Dori, Stylest/Makeup
Jarrod, Gaffer/Grip 
Abel, Production Assistant

Then it was hair and makeup time: by the time Dori was done, I didn't look anything like the YumaBev you are used to seeing. Jill, another Arizona Medtronic rep was there and she asked my Wonderful Husband, "Doesn't she look beautiful all made-up?" His reply, "She always looks beautiful." (Good answer!) 
Dori applying makeup to YumaBev


YumaBev after makeup

Part One would be me talking about my life before Parkinson's, after diagnosis and medications, before DBS and my results after. I would be chatting with Jeannie and following her prompts. We went upstairs to a different suite and were set up to start filming when I heard a whirring noise. It was landscaping day at the resort, so the sound guy had to stop us every time he could hear the noise of leaf blowers or lawn mowers in his headset. Occasionally, it would happen mid-sentence and they'd ask me to start over. (I guess they don't realize I can't remember what I just said.) 


Jeannie, Jeff listening and YumaBev

I tried my best to speak clearly and to not touch my face or hair. Dori would come over to apply more lip gloss, adjust my blouse or tame a flyaway hair. When they were done, Will the director, took some still photos with a camera.

Jeff (in headphones), Dori (adjusting my hair) and YumaBev

I got out of the way while they moved items and reset for Part Two: Wonderful Husband's turn. He got makeup too. Afterwards he says, "If George Clooney wears makeup, so can I."


Jarrod getting lighting right for Wonderful Hubby

Part Two was similar to Part One, complete with the leaf blower interruptions. Jeannie would prompt Wonderful Hubby as he told his side of the story.

Jeff, Eli and Jeannie

From where I was sitting, I could see both him and what was actually being filmed on a monitor. I don't know how I did, but Wonderful Hubby looked great! It was very educational to watch all this. Now I know why it takes a year to make a two-hour movie!


Director Will watching Wonderful Husband on monitor

Part Three was me blogging, so they had to move items and reset the lighting. I went downstairs to change into a different blouse and get my laptop. Dori retouched my makeup. We had a problem though. I could not get my laptop to connect to the wifi and I must be online to blog. Anna said, "Use mine." Great! Except I couldn't remember my password. After a brief delay, I reset my password and went back upstairs. Anna's laptop was different than my old one, but I think we made it work. And yes, I was starting to compose this story!

Eli filming YumaBev blogging

Part Four was to be my Wonderful Husband and I preparing a meal while making small talk. I was supposed to chop veggies for a stir fry while Hubby helped. After some discussion, it was decided that Hubby would be in charge of the knife and I would help him (smart move, unless they wanted a blood filled horror film.) He diced the provided veggies quickly while I rinsed them and dropped them in a pan all while talking about karaoke songs. And we were done with the inside filming. All that was left was Part Five...me driving.

The film crew moved to the hotel entrance and I went to get my bright yellow car. I was to put my drivers window down, drive up to the reception area, exit the car and walk inside without looking towards the film crew. Keep in mind, it's 108° outside! 

I drove around the building, stopped, climbed out and...I didn't pull forward far enough. So, around the building I go and...this time I pulled forward too far. So, around the building I go and...another guest pulls in right in front of me. Around the building again and...I finally get it right! Yippee!

I wonder what the front desk staff and hotel guests thought of this bright yellow car going around and round? It reminded me of the car chase scene in The Pink Panther movie, all I needed was a gorilla suit!

We posed for some candid photos, gave and got lots of hugs and we were done. The film crew started packing up and we went and parked the car. Anna invited us to go out with them for dinner, but to be honest, I was exhausted. They had a small complimentary buffet in the lobby, so we walked over there to eat...guess what? Yes! Mexican food, again! 


YumaBev and Anna from Medtronic

After eating, we walked back to our room. It took several makeup remover wipes to get my face clean. We watched a movie and went to sleep early. It had been a very long day.

The next morning we see Jeannie at breakfast, pose for a selfie and as soon as the traffic cleared, we headed back home to Yuma. 


Jeannie and YumaBev

I don't know if they will use our story, if they do, I will let you know. If they don't, it was an enjoyable, educational experience and we both had a good time. 

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

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

How to Track Your DBS Generator Battery Life Using the Programmer

The Medtronic DBS generator in my chest has a battery life span that varies depending on my individual settings. The higher the settings needed to control your Parkinson's symptoms, the shorter the life span. My battery is over four years old and still doing good. Others I know had to have theirs replaced after two years. Many don't realize you can check the battery life using your patient programmer.

It is a very simple process. All it takes is a few clicks and I will show you the steps below. I will use the word GENERATOR when I am talking about the surgically placed unit in my chest that delivers the therapy to my brain. 



This is my DBS programmer. It has a small white button on the bottom right side that turns the programmer on and off. There is also a larger white button at the top left that is used to turn the generator on or off. I will be using the ORANGE button with the check mark on it for this tutorial.

Place the programmer, or the attached antennae on top of your generator and press the orange button. When I do it, this is what my screen looks like.



Now, see the box outline around the center line where it says OK? The OK means that my generator battery is OK. But what if I want to know how much life is left? I use the arrow buttons on the bottom of the programmer and push the right arrow once. This is what my screen looks like after.



It says OK and 2.89 V. 

When my generator was brand new, my reading was 3.20 V. A year ago, it was 2.98 V. In January, it was 2.91 V. When it gets down to 2.60 V, I will get an ERI message warning me it's time to contact my doctor to schedule surgery to replace the generator.

Sometimes the outline is around the top line. 



This line tells me the generator is ON. If I use the arrows and move it to the right, it will display the programmer batteries. The AAA batteries in the patient programmer. 





It says Low and 25%. So I need to put new AAA batteries in my programmer. PS I use rechargeable ones.

You can use the up & down arrows at the bottom of the programmer to move the outline box on the screen. 

I check my generator battery once a month. That way, I can see how quickly it is discharging. In my case, I should be good for at least another year. 

An easy way to remember is....generator life is always displayed as V and programmer batteries as percentages.

PS This tutorial is for the Medtronic DBS non-rechargeable generator.