Parkinson’s Disease Ain’t for Sissies

Bette Dowdell

My mom lived with Parkinson’s Disease the last seventeen ears of her life, Let me tell you for sure and for certain that Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is more like scaling Everest than walking in the park. It’s uphill all the way, with no certainty about the about the twists and turns you’ll encounter, and your determination in making the climb impacts how the trip will go.

Nobody really knows what causes PD. If doesn’t seem to be genetic. Brain injuries, though, commonly show up in the medical history of PD patients. My mom was almost killed by a drunk driver. The accident hurled her head into the windshield, then dragged her face down the dashboard, leaving her teeth embedded there. (I think all drunk driving accidents should be classified as felonies, with automatic conviction, but I digress.) My mother’s catastrophe aside, the head injury doesn’t have to be devastating; a simple concussion will do.

Some think a virus may cause PD, some say heavy metals from the environment, others blame pesticides, such as on fruit and vegetables.

In PD, the brain’s dopamine production diminishes. Since dopamine is an important pleasure center, PD takes away a lot of the ability to take joy in life. PD also takes away initiative. My take-any-hill mother became dependent and fearful. Knowing these problems are part-and-parcel goes a long way in dealing with them.

One Hallelujah! thing (as far as I’m concerned) is that studies show coffee, specifically the caffeinated variety, prevents PD. Turns out that coffee, for all its bad PR–all based on zero science–is one very potent antioxidant. Since the typical PD treatment of L-dopa releases free radicals by the carload, logic says coffee would also be beneficial for PD patients, but I haven’t seen any studies.

Turns out that lots of Vitamin D3 is a winner, too. Of course, that’s true in general.

Research the tar out of this mess. New discoveries are changing our understanding and treatment possibilities daily. Because of medical strictures, doctors are usually years behind the curve, but getting your doctor involved in your search would be a real blessing. At the least, run things past the doc as a necessary safety precaution.

Involuntary movement, as in the identifying rolling tremor, is usually the first noticeable symptom of PD. As time goes on, voluntary movement becomes more difficult, the face takes on a fixed expression, posture falters and a stride becomes a shuffle. Fight the good fight. Don’t give up or give in. This is not the time to turn into a girly-man or a girly-girl.

And celebrate every victory, no matter how small. If you’re going to fight, you deserve a prize–just (sorry!) not one with sugar in it.

A parting word of advice: Don’t watch the news; that depresses everybody.

Finally, please realize that you’re valuable, a one-of-a-kind treasure.

About the author: Bette Dowdell is not a doctor, nor does she purport to be one. Because of her own health issues, though, she’s put in a lot of study time on medical problems over the years. And she just discovered a very helpful set of five e-books that offer tips, true-life-experiences and all sorts of help to PD patients and their care-givers. Not only that, but the very reasonable price includes membership in an on-line PD forum. Bette gives her highest recommendation to Lianna Marie’s “Discover How To Get Back The Life You Had Before Parkinson’s Disease.” She only regrets not having this kind of help when her mother was alive. You can get this valuable information in only a minute or two at