Tuesday, September 5, 2017

"Distractable Me" From the NWPF Community Blog

Here is a post I did for the Northwest Parkinson's Disease Foundation's  Community Blog, reposted with their permission. This was a piece I was a bit nervous about posting because the "meta" nature of the message seemed like it might elude some. But it seemed to go over just fine. Whew! For your reading pleasure, Off and On presents "Distractible Me"

Remember the good old days when Parkinson’s Disease was thought to be a problem centered in the substantia nigra, a tiny structure in the deep brain? Good times! We thought if we could just discipline this wayward little piece of our mind, we could solve the problem of Parkinson’s. Now we are sadder but wiser, aware of changes elsewhere in the brain, and beyond, that tell us the problem is more widespread than we assumed.

For example, the pre-frontal cortex, home of our “executive function” (ability to plan, organize, initiate, and regulate goal directed behavior) is degraded by Park… oh, excuse me, that’s my pill timer… I use the timer on my phone, it’s convenient and… hey! New message from Paul… haven’t heard from him in a dog’s age. Why did they have to make messenger a separate app? It’s… oh look! 17 new notifications! And this is a totally different Paul than the one I was thinking of. Who ARE these people anyway? As long as I’ve got the phone out, I should check my email, and WHOA!… There’s a woodpecker in the back yard! I should take a picture, they have such handsome plumage. That bold red, black and white combination is so classic… Damn! They always fly off before I can get the camera app booted up, and… LOOK at the TIME! 12:30! Lunch hour! But hang on a second, why is my pill case out? Oh, right. Timer went off, I was supposed to take a pill. Did I take it, or not? Better do a pill count and see if I can figure it out… OK… so there are five pills left and I normally have four by this time, so I forgot one. I guess we can assume it was the last one. Well, let’s see… I’m about a half hour late… take it now, and delay lunch to avoid any protein interaction? Or eat now and just tough out any freezing until the next scheduled dose? Better eat now. (wanders into kitchen, makes lunch, freezes up, festinates back to computer) Where was I? Oh yeah, not sure “teleological” is exactly the right word for what I want to say here, better look it up. Hmm. Having looked it up now I’m even less sure what it means. Well, as George Orwell put it, never use a fancy obscure word where a plain one will do. Although he used “George Orwell” instead of his real name, “Eric Blair” when “Eric Blair” would have done fine. But I guess Walt Whitman was right when he pointed out “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of a small mind.” What is a hobgoblin anyway? Is it any different from a regular goblin? If so, how? If not, why have a separate word for it? Better look that up as well. No! Must concentrate on the task at hand!… Which is…. What?… Oh yes,  writing about the debilitating nature of distractibility when one is dealing with PD. Although, given their distractible natures, I have to wonder if any of my fellow parkies will  actually read this far. Hmm, do I want to use the term “parkie”? Some people with Parkinson’s find it offensive, although why they should be offended by that when there is so much out there that is more offensive, you just wonder where they find the hours in a day to devote to... OMG!.. squirrel! SQUIRREL!!!!!!!!!… (Sound of breaking glass, thud of body hitting ground, running feet, angry scolding from indignant squirrel.)

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