Monday, May 28, 2012

Team Cul de Sac: Laughing at Parkinson's Disease, Raising Money for the MJ Fox Foundation

It's finally time to turn hype into hope. I've been nattering on for a year now about the terrific Team Cul de Sac cartoonist's project to raise money to fight Parkinson's Disease. June is shaping up to be a Team Cul de Sac-apalooza. The effort, organized by Chris Sparks, has two fronts, a book, and an auction. The book, filled with tribute drawings to the cartoonist's cartoonist, Richard Thompson, is is due for release June 5th, and the on-line auction of the cartoons is now open!

Participating cartoonists include Bill Watterson, Pat Oliphant, G.B. Trudeau, Jim Davis and a bunch of other  top-flight talents. (immodesty compels me to admit that my contribution appears above, and you can bid on it right here) If you ever wanted to own work by your favorite cartoonist, if you ever thought it was time to give money to aid Parkinson's research, if you are delighted with the idea of taking on such a bitter, nasty foe and bringing it down with art and humor, now is your chance. What are you waiting for? (Cue "Chariots of Fire theme"...)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Choice: Subsist in the Woods on Beetles, or Follow These Computer Tips for People With PD

Just when you're fed up with your email in-basket, ready to ditch your computer, and retreat deep into the woods to live on beetles and brown roots, something useful turns up.  I was shocked recently by a note containing what seems to be simple and practical ways to make using your Windows-operated computer easier if you have Parkinson's Disease. The item in question comes from Data Driven Health which, in spite of its name, seems to be run by humans,  for humans. I'm including the entire item here because it appears sensible, and so you can get a feel for what they plan to offer in this new weekly email feature called "PD 5".  If you wish to subscribe go to this link. Here is their message...

Welcome to our first "PD 5" quick note! Each Tuesday, you'll receive a fast and easy tip sheet with 5 suggestions to make your life easier. This week, I have 5 tips to make your computer more accessible.
Thanks for being a valued subscriber. I hope you enjoy this new feature!


PD 5- Tips to Make Your Computer Accessible - Microsoft Edition
1. If your tremor is causing you to make unintended additional keystrokes, Microsoft Filter Keys can help.  Go to Start, Control Panel, Ease of Access, then click Make the Keyboard Easier. You will find 6 excellent accommodations there, but for tremor choose "Turn on Filter Keys."  This option allows Windows to ignore keystrokes that occur in rapid succession, or keystrokes that are held down for several seconds unintentionally.  If you have a tremor, this app will truly help.
2. Is your screen difficult to see? Are text and objects indistinct?  You can change your monitor display settings to increase the size of icons or text. You can also customize colors displayed on the screen to make things easier to see. To change the text size without changing your monitor resolution (which will make things fuzzy) go to Start, Control Panel, Appearance. Select adjust screen resolution and choose 150%.
3. If images seem indistinct or fuzzy, changing your background or text colors can make a huge difference.  Go to Start, Control Panel, Resolution.  Chose Change Theme, and scroll through your options until you find the combination of colors and contrast that work best for you.
4.If images are still too difficult to see, Narrator in Windows can help by converting text and captions to speech.  To have text read aloud;  Start, find the search box, and type in Narrator.  There are many options there, and you may want to turn on some of the other Ease of Access apps to streamline the process.
5. Windows also has Windows Speech Recognition which will write email and documents by speaking commands rather than using the keyboard and mouse.  To use Speech Recognition go to Start, All Programs, Accessories, Ease of Access, Windows Speech Recognition.  Say "start listening" or click the microphone button.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Parkinson's Activity for the Anchorage Area for the Manic Month of May

Though April showers may come your waaaaay, they bring the snowdrifts that melt in Maaaaaaaaaaay. We hope. But while you're waiting for those drifts to depart, here's your PD events for May, as I know them.

This month's Telehealth Conference will be on voice amplifiers and memory assistive devices!  How much more 21st Century can you get than that, I ask you? Find this event Monday May 14 in room 2401 at 1:00 p.m. in the Providence oncology wing on Piper St.  Go to the second floor walk down the lonnnnnnnng hall that stretches South from the cafe and look for room 2401 pretty much at the end of the hall on your right.

Next up there is a special program on Deep Bran Stimulation May 17, Medtronic and Swedish Hospital are teaming up to do a blockbuster presentation on Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS). DBS is a surgical procedure that can have significantly beneficial results for people with Parkinson's Disease as well as other brain maladies, including essential tremor and depression. The presentation will be called Diagnosis, Management and Surgical Therapies for Essential Tremor, Parkinson's Disease and Dystonia. Speakers will include

•Jennifer Witt, MD Medical Director, Division of Movement Disorders, Swedish Neuroscience Specialists

•Peter Nora, MD Medical Director, DBS Program, Swedish Neuroscience Specialists

•Peggy O'Neil Shortt, ARNP DBS Program Manager, Swedish Neuroscience Specialists
The event is to take place Thursday, May 17, 2012, 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Registration opens at 10:30 a.m.

It will be held at
Anchorage Senior Center
1300 East 19th Avenue
Anchorage, Alaska 99501

*Pre-registration is required for this FREE event. Lunch is provided.

To register, please contact Keely Dailey:
425-213-2147 or
Bring your best DBS questions. These people have been at this for some time now, and should have answers.

But that's not all! We will have our regular meeting on the 19th. Topic: Tai Chi, which has been  in the spotlight a great deal recently in regards to the help it offers people with balance. Our Support group meets the third Saturday of each month at 3:30 in the afternoon. The meetings take place at the Anchorage Pioneer Home , 923 West 11th Avenue in downtown Anchorage on the fifth floor in the West lounge. You may call 350-9691 with questions about the group and meetings.

I hope to see some or all f you at some or all of these events!