Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Motion Denied!

Denial. That's a word that sums this freaking disease up. Speak? Denied. Nod? Denied. Smile? Walk? Run? Denied.

Michael Kinsley, PPWP(Pundit Person with Parkinson's) wrote a column for Time in 2001 explaining his choice then of denial as a strategy. Here is a sample:

"When I got the diagnosis eight years ago, I chose denial. If ever you're entitled to be selfish, I thought (and still think), this is it. So I see a good doctor, take my pills most of the time and go about my business. I couldn't tell you some of the most basic things about Parkinson's and how it works... If you fool yourself skillfully enough, you can banish thoughts of the disease but retain a liberating sense of urgency. It's like having a Get Out of Jail Free card from the prison of delayed gratification." Look here for his entire article.

The argument is creative, humane, beguiling, and wrong. Outdated may be a kinder way to put it. Consider this: It is now clear that there is a long latency period, likely over a decade, during which quiet damage occurs. Researchers believe that somewhere between 50-80 per cent of dopamine generating cells in the substantia nigra are kaput before symptoms emerge. So you've already had your denial period before you even realize there is a problem.

So go straight to panic, anger, and suffering.

Kidding! Kidding! Here is the good news. There is growing evidence that we can influence the course of the disease by means within our power. Exercise has some serious anti-PD mojo, Reducing stress and following the Mediterranean diet are looking promising. Denial will delay serious efforts on your part to act in ways that can raise and extend your quality of life.

Denial (and fear) can also make you slow to join a support group. This is a mistake. People at your local support group are PD experts in ways that the best doctor just doesn't have the experience to understand. And there is nothing they would rather do than share what they know with you,

Get over denial. You owe it to yourself and those that care about you. If you can buy some quality time by paying attention and taking care of your body, it's time earned. It may be uninspiring, but nobody lies on their deathbed thinking "If only I'd eaten less broccoli and not done so much exercise."


dr s said...

Pete, you are sur-parcour, parcour extraordinaire.
This also applies to Pam & WIley: it doesn't just run in the family, it leaps, flips, caroms...

Peter Dunlap-Shohl said...

Thanks Dave.