Thursday, November 15, 2018

Meeting Saturday, Nov. 17,

Hello friends, Yes, we will have a meeting this weekend, and yes, in a break with recent practice, I plan to attend. Radical, I know. On the agenda for this gathering, we will catch up on the replacement of yours truly as august  leader and Grand :Poo-Bah of the APDSG. Second, The Seattle branch of the American Parkinson's Disease is in the early stages of planning a PD symposium in Anchorage next fall, and they would like to know what  topics you would like to see covered, so we'll talk about that, and whatever else is on your minds. Note: we now meet in the Pioneer Home EAST lounge, so instead of making a left when you exit the elevator on the 5th floor, make a right,
See you soon,


Thursday, November 1, 2018

PD and Horse Sense, a Post from The Northwest Parkinson's Community Blog

Here is a reprint of a recent post I wrote for the Northwest Parkinson's Foundation Community Blog. You can still have adventures even with Parkinson's.

How did I spatter all this horse manure on my freshly laundered clothes? My wife was away for an extended cross-country adventure. I remained behind to care for the homestead, including her two horses. This may seem like a heavy responsibility for a guy with Parkinson’s, but as a life-long Westerner, I have a natural way with members of the equine set.

My assignment was simple. I was to make sure the horses got enough water and hay to remain alive and reasonably happy until Pam’s return. The goal changed, as goals will over time. After two late-night escapes and one brazen, full-daylight jailbreak, the aim became my survival of the horses rather than their survival of me. This meant luring them into the pole shed for the evening so I didn’t have to worry about them testing the fence while I snatched what we cowboys call “a little shut-eye.”

The traditional way of rounding up our two-horse herd is to tempt them with that irresistible, mouth-watering delicacy, hay. We keep our hay in the hay shed downhill from the pole shed where the horses shelter at night. You have to take a load of the itchy stuff up the hill while the two horses gang up, and try to rip mouthfuls of it away from your arms. If they pull enough hay out on the way uphill, they will be maddeningly slow to enter the shed as they Hoover up the bits that have dropped.

To avoid the delay caused by their marauding hay raids, I have found that the most effective tactic is to run as fast as possible up the hill with a surprisingly heavy payload of hay and fling it in a mighty arc to the back of the stall, with the horses in hot pursuit. Then I secure the gate while they happily mow through their high-fiber meal. This works great in theory, but in practice much depends on your execution.

The evening run began well. I burst from the sliding door of the hay shed, rammed it shut and hustled up the hill through a light rain, one step ahead of the ever-hungry horses. But disaster struck just short of the pole shed gate when my boot tip caught in a heavy mat. I sprawled chest-first into the ground. Luckily, the impact was softened by the hay I had been carrying, along with a cushion of wet manure the horses had thoughtfully deposited earlier.

I scrambled to my feet and brushed as much hay into the pole shed as I could divert from the two quadrupeds, who obligingly wandered into the shed with minimal encouragement. I latched the gate and looked with dismay at my jeans and coat, now besmirched with horse dung and clinging wisps of hay.

Bitterly I cursed my fate when my self-pity was interrupted by this thought. “You are a 59 year-old man with Parkinson’s, diagnosed 16 years ago, who just ran up a hill carrying an armload of hay while being chased by half-ton ravenous beasts, and you’re upset over a little horse crap on your pants? The fact that you could do any of that is worth celebrating, don’t miss the magnitude of this victory just because there is a bit of dung on it.”

So, rather than cursing my lonely fate I decided instead to embrace it, manure and all. Instead of being miserable, I took pride in my crap-covered accomplishment. It's true that, as a Westerner, I have a way with equines—and as a person with Parkinson’s, I am a hoarse whisperer.

Pete's Parkinson's Portraits, Alan Alda