parkinson's disease, parkinson's blog, parkinson's symptomsNow that several subtle clues have linked up to define my irritating little symptoms–seeming to come and go–as Parkinson’s Disease, I’m trying to track back to the start.


One thing is certain; it’s here to stay.


But when did it begin to sabotage my coordination, tangle my feet up when there was nothing there to trip over, and cause my right arm to flop, spasm and jerk spastically when I wake up?


That stops in a half minute, but will it always?


The faint vibration and tremulousness in my fingers ceases a half hour after taking the first of my two 20 mg Propranolol tablets of the day, but history suggests the shakes will worsen over time.


Since childhood I’ve loved to draw and my sketches and watercolor paintings of boats and harbors have sold in galleries. But, are those joys numbered now, my hands destined to lose control of sharing graceful yachts’ curves, and the dives and swoops of seagulls and pelicans?


I’m a journalist, reporter and columnist too. But more than two years ago I realized my fingers were hovering longer over the keyboard. My words tangled at times. Before electric typewriters were even invented, I was one of the fastest writers in the newsroom.
My keys sounded like thunder and so colleagues presumed my stories must be important and exciting.


On the other hand, before my PD diagnosis three months ago, I was presumably living with my quirks without being altogether aware there was anything wrong with me. Could there be a touch of reverse hypochondria at work here?


I must confess that until a Long Beach Calif. VA Medical Center neurologist considered some of my symptoms together, after an MRI exam, I was operating on the reasonable assumption that at 71, I was just “getting old,” as the saying goes. And while I had been warned the MRI with its coffin-like dimensions and loud rattling and banging could be a terrible ordeal, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I can’t believe some battle-hardened combat veterans have hollered and yelled until the staff shut it down and helped them out the escape hatch.


To be frank, I would guess I may have been presenting certain symptoms for about two or three years, as I look back. I had never heard of severe stiffness in the legs and back as PD symptoms. But I had never even been briefed on any suspected indications of PD’s onset.


Human nature being what it is, no one in my family or broad circle of friends or acquaintances had ever been stricken with Parkinson’s Disease. So, we hadn’t given much thought to contracting it, nor worried about anything but highly publicized cancer and heart disease.(And not as worried as we might be about those.)


Yet in recent times I’ve found it increasingly difficult to bend and pick up dropped change, or car keys. I stumble oftener on curbs. My handwriting–which is not known for excellence among any journalists, because we so often frantically scribble notes–seemed to be even less legible.


These are not the only symptoms of PD, nor the most significant, but taken together they are a good cluster of clues.


We’d reached a diagnostic consensus on my condition and I had my first of what may become stronger prescriptions to fill and try as my disease runs its course, over perhaps several years.
Staff wants to check a new PD patient again after three months on Propranolol 20 mg., so they scheduled me for Jan 7, when the neurologist’s cute young intern assistant will be off to a new assignment.


Well, I guess I won’t be seeing you again…,” she said, gravely clasping my hand.
I don’t know if I turned pale, but she turned red with embarrassment, realizing how it sounded.
We all had a good chuckle.

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