Sunday, January 4, 2009

Build your Parkinson' Word Power, Second in a series

Parkinson's Disease has a fiendish knack for coming up with ironic ways to torment those of us it afflicts. For instance, the disease brings with it an exciting array of new and intriguing words. But at the same time it deprives patients of their ability to speak. What's the point of learning a two-dollar word like "dyskinesia" if you don't get to drop it into a conversation? Unfair! Especially when we're so adept at dropping other things.

(Aside: A month or so ago, while bagging frozen dog-doo in the back yard I almost dropped droppings, which would have made them "redroppings" but that's another story.)

There's no time to lose! We need to use these words early and often. Words like "bradykinesia", which is the term for the slowness which characterizes the movement of everyday persons with PD. It is derived from the Greek word kinÄ“tikos, "one who puts in motion” combined with "brady", which means slow. And that's the way we all became the Bradykinesia Bunch.

How about the aforementioned "dyskinesia"? This is the term that applies to the snake-like dance movements that we perform involuntarily when we overreact to Sinemit. On a good Sinemit buzz I often look like a deputy from Monty Python's Ministry of Silly Walks. Which if it were named by the same people who come up with terms to describe PD-related matters would be the "Ministry of Jocular Gait-Disturbance."

"Sinemit?" What's that? It is the trade name for the most effective medication for PD, levedopa combined with carbidopa. Levedopa is transformed to dopamine by the brain, which helps compensate for the inability of PD patients to make adequate amounts of the critical neurotransmitter themselves.

Unfortunately, the body cannot take in straight levedopa in the quantity that is needed to help control symptoms. Ingesting the required amount straight makes people sick, and they end up sending it back from their stomachs the way it came in.

The solution is to combine the levedopa with carbidopa which keeps the body from reacting so violently, so we don't emit our pills. The word was coined by abbreviating the Latin "sine" which means "without" to "sin" and adding the word "emit" which in this context means to vomit. So when you you ask your pharmacist for Sinemit, you're requesting a batch of "No Vomit". A small price to pay to avoid a sin of emission.

We'll dissect more Parkinson's words on our next edition of Build your Parkinson's word power. Stay tuned and talk loudly.

Note: the first in this series can be found here.

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