Chocolate Cures, Caregiving and More

My therapist told me the way to achieve true inner peace is to finish what I start. So far today, I have finished 2 bags of M&M’s and a chocolate cake. I feel better already.

DAVE BARRY, attributed, Chicken Soup for the Chocolate Lover’s Soul

There have been several new developments in the world of PD treatments and studies from Great Britain.  Here are a couple that made their way around the internet this week:

This one could be my all time favorite.  Sign me up now!

Chocolate could ease Parkinson’s: Low levels of dopamine have been linked to symptoms of the disease, such as shaking

  • Researchers testing if daily chocolate supplements can help
  • Cocoa contains phenylethylamine, shown to increase release of dopamine
  • May reduce symptoms of Parkinson’s disease

Read more:
Over the last few weeks, announcements have been made about drugs that may be repurposed for Parkinson’s.  A repurposed drug is one that has already been approved by the FDA for one disease and has been found to have a positive effect on another disease.  As a result, the trial process for approval in treating a second disease is much faster.  The drug UDCA, used for treating liver disease sounds hopeful.

10 August 2015

Promising drug for Parkinson’s disease: Study supports fast track to clinical trials

A drug which has already been in use for decades to treat liver disease could be an effective treatment to slow down progression of Parkinson’s disease, scientists from the University of Sheffield have discovered.

And Finally, a beautiful article written by a friend whose life changed forever when she became her husband’s caregiver.

          In my 67 years I have been a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother, a friend, a writer, a public relations director, a mid-level participant in sports (hiking, biking, walking, tennis, golf), a business owner and now a ‘sort of’ care giver.
I say “sort of” because my new role, thus far, is that of a driver, helper, nagger and watcher. Textbook caregiver, not so much.
But that doesn’t mean that things will stay the same, and most certainly they won’t.
About a year ago my husband was diagnosed with a non-typical Parkinsonian condition. Without going into detail about the tests, scans, neurological visits, and conflicting prognoses and other medical hoops we have gone through, I’ll just say that the confirmation of the diagnosis has changed our life going forward forever.
Throughout our 42 years of marriage, my husband has always been a physically active man. He has enjoyed sports and vigorous exercise with great enthusiasm and passion. His competitive spirit has always played a major role in his careers and whatever he puts his mind to. Over the years, we have taken many active vacations, both with and without our children. . Skiing, biking, hiking trips were always preferable to cruises and bus tours. It was just a few years ago, that we hiked the Dolomite mountains in Italy. . . with two other couples and without guides. It was an adventure we talk about to this day. Exhilarating, dangerous, awe inspiring . . . and the last of its kind.
We are both trying our best to cope with life today. Mostly he thinks he’s almost as fit as he has always been, except for some balance and motor movement issues. Of course, the several fender bender accidents that he caused in the last couple of years, have forced a reality check in the form of his having to surrender his driver’s license, and my becoming the sole driver in the family. But when filling out forms in the many doctors offices we visit, he rarely checks off the physical (and/or mental) problems he is experiencing. That is what I call ‘living in denial,’ but it works for him because he is seldom morose or depressed.
I, on the other hand, cling to every word of every doctor, every warning about falls, choking, memory issues, mood changes, sleep problems, obcessive tendencies and whatever surprise changes are in the cards over the progress of his condition. I am stressed out most of the time, when I’m not with friends or exercising. I watch him constantly, on walks, going in and out of buildings, eating, getting up or down, at the computer or on his cell phone to make sure he isn’t ordering some random product. My savior is the fact that he plays duplicate bridge several times a week, which gives me 3-4 hours to be with friends, do errands or my own exercise program.
He has become very quiet, and generally speaks when spoken to or when he needs something. Conversations are pretty mundane, and seldom deep.  When among friends or family, I feel pressured to keep conversations going and silence at a minimum after he offers his short answers or replies. His walking gait (which was never fast) has slowed to a snail’s stroll, and I’m constantly begging him to walk faster, stand straighter, and look up when we are out walking our dogs.
Then there’s my frustration at his not being able to do the kinds of complicated things, multi-tasking, or problem solving like he used to. When my frustration turns to anger, it’s not a pretty picture. My evil twin comes out in all her nasty, mean-spirited glory, and I am inevitably sorry for my bad behavior when I have collected myself after a tirade. The idea that this extremely competent, strong, brilliant, successful, engaging, humorous man is changing before my eyes, is the reality that I have to learn to embrace.
Every day is different. Every day presents us with new challenges and new ways to live. Every day brings awareness and new levels of understanding, patience and, sometimes, even serenity. There are still fun times and enjoyable experiences. Not the kind I dreamed of in our “golden years.” But the longer I live, the more I realize that we must forge our own happiness and joy, despite the seemingly unfair losses and turns of events.

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A Note To My Readers

I love to see your comments and get your emails as we share our collective experiences. But based on a couple of private questions from some of you, remember, I am just a lay person and a patient like the rest of you. For medical and similar advice, you need to talk to your own doctor

Twitchy Woman

Twitchy Women partners with the Parkinson’s Wellness Fund to ensure we have the resources to offer peer support for women with Parkinson’s.