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Denial is over, now it’s time for coping with the disease



As longtime readers of this column know, I have moaned and groaned over the last two years about personal health issues related to my lack of balance and then, late last summer, I began losing almost all use of my right arm. I couldn’t type with my right hand, hold a cup of coffee or even sign my name, and the mobility problem worsened.

I had been treated for Meinere’s Disease, various other inner-ear complications, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, diabetes complications, diet changes, and I had even undergone physical therapy, all to no avail. But when the arm problem started getting worse, my family physician literally insisted that he didn’t want to hear anymore about it until I had seen a neurologist and got over my denial. So, late last fall, I asked him to refer me to one.

The first week of December Points East found me sitting in a neurologist’s examination room and, after two hours of poking, probing, questioning, MRI reviews, etc., the good doctor told me that he was more than 90 percent sure that I had Parkinson’s Disease and that there was a way to confirm his suspicion. He asked me to try a medication called Sinemet and come back in 30 days. He also advised that it would take some time to take effect but if it worked, I had Parkinson’s.

Still, Christmas found me unable to wrap a present. I had been on the medicine for more than two weeks and, quite frankly, I was feeling relieved that it wasn’t working. Between Christmas and New Year’s, however, I found myself, out of habit reaching for the keyboard with my right arm and thinking hey, what’s going on? Not only that, but I found myself, however slowly, able to get my fingers on the correct keys. I had been unable to do this for months.

January 5, my birthday, found me back in the neurologist’s office for another round of tests. He nodded up and down. He told me that the bad news was that I had Parkinson’s Disease and that it is incurable, but the good news is that it is treatable. He also told me that the difference between my first visits and this one was like darkness and daylight. And he is correct. The metaphor could not be more on target.

I have come to grips with the fact that I will always be a little out of balance, that mobility will always be a bit complicated, that I can forget about throwing a curve ball, hitting a golf ball or typing 80 words per minute, but I can certainly do stuff now that I had given up on just three months ago. I have decided to lay denial aside and cope the best I can. While the news certainly is not good, it is somewhat a relief to finally know what the hell has been going on.



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