A band of die-hard Parkinson's information fanatics were treated to a display of fact-packed, well-thought out answers to questions from around the Northwest fielded by Spokane doctor David Greely. The Q&A was the centerpiece at yesterday's telehealth symposium. The symposium is a monthly interactive broadcast hosted in Anchorage by Providence Hospital. The supporting cast, in the form of small gatherings of attendees from Moses Lake to far-flung Anchorage asked thoughtful questions, and provided a certain amount of sympathetic comic relief as we watched one another struggle with technology using our PD-impaired bodies. (Extra points for the drama provided by the solitary elderly lady who spent several minutes under the table on camera out there somewhere. It was a relief to all of us when you reappeared in your seat and returned to noisily scratching your pencil on what I sure hope was paper.)
While a few questions may have vanished into the haze of the technological Bermuda Triangle, some significant points emerged that were well worth the time and effort of attending. Among the most compelling for me:
Muscle Cramps: can be treated by proper hydration, metabolic balance and addressing sleep problems, Which is, duh, the way you would treat them in a patient without PD. Sometimes we're not so special.
Eating and Pills: According to Dr. Greely, nine out of ten people with Parkinson's do not find any difficulty with this. For those that do, he still recommends taking your meds with a small bit of cracker or other non-meat to cue your digestive process to go into action. A pill is not usually enough in itself (unless you are taking some mighty big pills, Chester) to prompt the stomach to empty and push your medicine down the line to your intestines where it can be absorbed into your blood.
Stem Cells: Two thoughts here, relief from this direction is years down the road if it is to come at all, and the problem in the technology is not installing the cells, it's regulating them so that they produce the proper amount of dopamine in the brain. Dr. Greely likened it to the famous "Sorcerer's Apprentice" scene from the Disney Movie Fantasia. First you have one broom, then two, then four, then eight, then chaos.
Exercise I see you rolling your eyes out there. At least that's one part of you that's moving. I know that I harp on this subject ad nauseum. But Dr. Greely made a new point that rang true for me the second he said it. If you exercise, you will get better care from your doctor, from your caregiver and anyone else in your network of care, because you will send the message that you are trying. It doesn't have to be dramatic, start with what you can do and work up. But show those who work to keep you going that you are willing to do your part. They'll love you all the more for it.