Friday, February 19, 2010

Masterparkie Theater : Strange Festination

Hello and welcome to Masterparkie Theater. I'm Peter Dunlap-Shohl, and I'm your host this evening. Tonight we have a work of taut storytelling garnished with crackling suspense. We find our hero suffers the opposite of the problem now bedeviling Toyota. Instead of unexpected forward surges, our boy comes to abrupt unexpected stops. Come with us now, as, thanks to the technologic magic of the sophisticated ParkieCam you watch through the eyes of a Parkinson's patient as he attempts a simple walk down a street in Santa Fe.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Exercise, Wii Not?

So you hate exercise more than you hate Parkinson's Disease? You must really hate exercise. I could cite chapter and verse about why you should love it, or, failing love, at least have a tawdry, cheap affair with it. But who am I to browbeat you into doing something you dislike? Over at Parkinson's Disease Exercise ,there's a nifty report about using video games to make exercise *GASP!* enjoyable.

According to their post

"... researchers from the Medical College of Georgia (MCG) showed how just four weeks of play exacted marked improvements in patients suffering from Parkinson’s at varying degrees of severity. Using games that require finesse in bilateral movement, eye-hand coordination, and figure-ground relationship is an ideal way to help a person afflicted with a disease that impairs motor skills. Playing rounds of Wii tennis, bowling, and boxing three times a week for a month was all the longer it took to see changes."

Although I am a mild-mannered, gentle soul, I am surprisingly attracted to the idea of Wii boxing. I see myself in the role of Joe Louis, (there is only one Ali) and Parkinson's in the role of my hapless opponent.

It's round four. Adrenalin is pumping. My opponent senses that he has been overconfident. I jab a right to the midriff, an uppercut to the jaw. A little fancy festination footwork sets up a roundhouse swing... and a sudden shower of sweat explodes from the face of the PD Palooka as my glove lands a shattering clout to his nose. Huffing like a hyperventilating rhino he sways. His eyes fill with shock, confusion and impotent rage. He totters and plunges face-down to the mat with a wet smack that reverberates above the roar of the hysterical crowd. Light bulbs flash to the cadence of the ref counting off the ritual certification of a knockout. I lean over my stricken opponent, smile, and say "Are we still on for tennis tomorrow?"

The beauty here is how fantasy feeds back in a positive way to reality. An act of imagination leads to better management of The Beast. And at the very least, we can now go down swinging.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Benediction

This is one for the rest of you. Those who feel no sense of accomplishment or relief at your freshly buttoned shirt. Those who order soup without a tactical plan to ingest it. Those for whom keys find their way into locks and whom keyboards meekly obey. Those that rise still blurry-eyed from sleep, fumble for a light switch, ease on your slippers, and pad down a hall without hesitating, without false starts, without halting and without waiting until the mysterious force that holds you releases you, just as mysteriously.

This is for those that can smell breakfast cooking. Those that can crack an egg, and peel an orange. Those who idly throw a switch, walk the dog, phone a friend.

This is one for the rest of you. Those not awaiting the next blow. Those not wondering what new humiliation will be visited on them by a mindless yet fiendishly creative disease. Will it be a strand of drool that slides from your mouth? A slur in your speech? A stumble in your stride? A covert stare? An averted glance?

You are out there, are you not? Those who, at every slip of memory or momentary loss of balance, don't ask if this signals the start of some new phase of loss. Those who have no doubt about their sovereignty in the home of their own body. A body that doesn't clench unbidden, or beat restlessly of its own accord. A body that doesn't require a carefully sorted and gauged supply of pills in order to perform approximations of the simple tasks of life.

Are you listening, those for whom disease has not become habit?

This one is for you. This one is a fervent wish that you glory in the miracle of unconscious coordination that is the not-so-simple act of rising from a chair. That you revel in your ability to casually scribe a clear, spontaneous line. That you take joy in your certainty that your hand will obey when you command it to caress or create. That you thrill at the arc of your speech as it cuts a bright path to the ear of your listener. That you live a life informed by the realization that there is no "ordinary".