How You Can Feel Better Today with Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease does not only affect the quality of life but also seriously deteriorates a patient’s outlook to life. Their sense of worth, drive to fight the disease and social confidence are all seriously affected. While it is a physician’s job to look after the core symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, several studies show that holding the right attitude and will power are most effective. The key to feeling better in Parkinson’s disease is to incorporate self-treatment plans and a determination to fight back.

unnamed (2)Alternative Therapies

The advantage of adopting complementary therapies is their holistic approach in treating the disease. Parkinson’s disease has no specific cure; therefore, use of complementary therapies may help patients in controlling some of their symptoms. There is no guarantee of a clear-cut treatment plan with such therapies. However, these therapies indirectly work by alleviating some of the most common in-direct symptoms of Parkinson’s disease such as insomnia, poor eating habits and constipation.

Stress Management

Feeling better in any sort of disease requires exercising your brain to stay happy. Patients with Parkinson’s disease should learn to cope up with the disease, without taking mental and physical stress. This surprisingly improves the quality of life a great deal. Episodes of meditation and deep breathing help to retain positive energy and help patients manage stress.

Continuing work

Most patients diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease decide to retire immediately. This does not only elevates depression but also suddenly leaves them inactive. To feel better in Parkinson’s disease is to ‘act normal’. It is advised that patients should continue with their work if the situation is still manageable. Of course, if patients cannot handle a demanding work life, they should look for alternative ways to ease their workload and distribute their responsibilities to others. This does not only keep the patients active but also gives them; much needed exercise, in Parkinson’s disease.

Being Sexually Active

Sexual activities are a common part of daily life; however, most patients with Parkinson’s disease quit intimacy and sexual activities out of embarrassment or feeling of worthlessness. Making the patients feel better in Parkinson’s disease is to make them feel normal. The partners of patients with Parkinson’s disease, who are sexually active, should help boost their confidence. They should remain sexually active to uplift their self-esteem and eventually reducing depression.

Serious Conditions

In more serious conditions of Parkinson’s disease, it is helpful to design the layout of certain areas at home in a recognized pattern for patients. For example, arranging the most commonly used things in the kitchen, bathroom etc. may help them exercise, and be independent in using them. Furthermore, in serious conditions, falling remains the biggest threats for patients in Parkinson’s disease. This can be reduced by using customized shoes with soles that help prevent incidences of falls. The best techniques to make patients of Parkinson’s disease feel better are individually tailored. However, under all circumstances a positive outlook with a determination to tackle the disease, matters the most, to make patients feel better in Parkinson’s disease.

Benefit of Supplements

Many athletes and physically active people want to maximize the value of their workouts through supplementation. The metabolic benefits of these products are not as intensively studied as one might hope. And although recent research has substantiated the claims of a few, and research continues, many of the supplemental products on the market are not able to scientifically defend their claims.

The following are safe and effective supplements I recommend for athletes or individuals that want to maximize strength, power and metabolic function. Depending upon your sex, age and training goals and objectives, some may not be appropriate. All supplements are to be employed in conjunction with an intensive strength-training program and an adherence to a sound and adequate nutrition.

A bad diet supplemented is still a bad diet. All supplements have responders and non-responders, thus some of these may have varying effectiveness based on the individual.

  • Multi-Vitamin

Insures a balance of nutrients to promote muscular function and anabolic metabolism.

  • Vitamin C

Vitamin C is required for the growth and repair of tissues in all parts of your body. It is necessary to form collagen, an important protein used to make skin, scar tissue, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels. Vitamin C is essential for the healing of wounds, and for the repair and maintenance of cartilage, bones, and teeth.

Vitamin C is one of many antioxidants. Vitamin E and beta-carotene are two other well-known antioxidants. Antioxidants are nutrients that block some of the damage caused by free radicals, which are by-products that result when our bodies transform food into energy.

  • Creatine

Creatine is a muscle volumnizer and claims to create bigger and stronger muscles by increasing hydration of muscle cells and muscle tissue. Increases strength, mass and weight. Creatine is a naturally occurring protein found in meat. Recommended dosages is 5 grams per day for a 12 – 16 week intensive resistance training program. Individuals over 220 lbs may up the dosage to 7 grams per day.

  • Glutamine (Pre and Post exercise)

Decreases exercise induced Amino Acid suppression. Good for creating muscle volume as well. No known side effects. Significant glutamine loss has been noted during high intensity exercise. This supplementation of this protein is indicated. This is a protein actually used by the muscle during exercise and starts to promote an anabolic state in the muscle cell.

  • Branched Chain Amino Acids

Valine
Luecine
Isolucine

These are essential Amino Acids or proteins which promote an anti-catabolic hormone profile. Essential means that the human body can not manufacture this protein on its own and it must be consumed. An excess of these Amino Acids have a positive effect on blunting the effect of catabolism or the breakdown of the muscle post hard workout.

  • Glucosamine & MSM

Helps bind water to cartilage matrix and claims some protection from Osteoarthritis. Stimulates the increased production of chrondrocytes which are cartilage cells used to repair cartilage. Basically assists in the lubrication of joints and helps maintain healthy and pain free joint function. There are multiple forms of Glucosamine available but studies have shown that Glucosamine in the form of Glucosamine Sulfate is the most effective.

Available evidence from randomized controlled trials supports the use of glucosamine sulfate in the treatment of osteoarthritis, particularly of the knee. It is believed that the sulfate moiety provides clinical benefit in the synovial fluid by strengthening cartilage and aiding glycosaminoglycan synthesis.

MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) is sold as a dietary supplement that is marketed with a variety of claims and is commonly used (often in combination with glucosamine and/or chondroitin) for helping to treat or prevent osteoarthritis. The biochemical effects of supplemental methylsulfonylmethane are poorly understood. Some researchers have suggested that MSM has anti-inflammatory effects

  • Fish Oil Omega-3

Fish oil stimulates blood circulation, increases the breakdown of fibrin, a compound involved in clot and scar formation, and additionally has been shown to reduce blood pressure. There is strong scientific evidence that n-3 fatty acids significantly reduce blood triglyceride levels and regular intake reduces the risk of secondary and primary heart attack. Some benefits have been reported in conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and cardiac arrhythmias.

There is a promising preliminary evidence that n-3 fatty acids supplementation might be helpful in cases of depression and anxiety. Studies report highly significant improvement from n-3 fatty acids supplementation alone and in conjunction with medication.

  • beta-Hydroxy beta-Methylbutyrate (HMB)

Appropriate for individuals over 50. Shown that in this age group, it reduces protein breakdown and causes increase of lean muscle in aging individuals. Beta-hydroxy beta-methylbutyrate (HMB) is a metabolite of the amino acid leucine and is synthesized in the human body. It plays a part in protein synthesis and was discovered in scientific studies to purportedly increase muscle mass and decrease muscle breakdown.

  • DHEA

Appropriate for males over 40. Hormone produced by the testes. Males over 40 years of age may note increase in testosterone availability. DHEA is a natural steroid prohormone produced from cholesterol by the adrenal glands, the gonads, adipose tissue, brain and in the skin (by an autocrine mechanism). DHEA is the precursor of androstenedione, which can undergo further conversion to produce the androgen testosterone and the estrogens estrone and estradiol. DHEA is also a potent sigma-1 agonist.

Banned by the NCAA
Supplements to AVOID
Androstenedione (Andro) This is a dangerous suppliment.
Warnings
Pregnant or lactating women, diabetics, hypoglycemics, and people with known medical conditions and/or taking drugs should consult with a licensed physician and/or pharmacist prior to taking dietary supplements.

 

©2010 Patrick LoSasso website: preventionthrufitness.com

Excerpts up to 200 words may be used without permission if authorship is credited.

 

 

Nutritional Information

First, if you came to this page hoping to find a new diet fad or extreme weight loss strategy, I’m sorry to disappoint you. I’m not a big fan of these programs and I’ll explain why. It’s my belief that the best, safest, and most effective way to lose weight is through proper nutrition, exercise and life style changes that are healthy and maintainable. Yes, you’ll hear stories from friends about how much they lost through cleanses or eliminating carbohydrates, but invariably these folks gain their losses back. And worse yet, many of these crash courses are unsafe and can cause damage to internal organs.

The human body is designed to function most effectively with a proper balance of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. Now depending on your physiological objectives, you might adjust the proportional amounts of each, but completely eliminating one is unhealthy. You’d think someone was rather nuts if they said: “I want my car to go faster so I’m going to make it lighter by taking all the oil out.” And yet we constantly hear people say things like: “I’m eliminating all carbs from my diet because I want to lose weight.” Well, to me this is absurd as the first statement. Proteins, Carbohydrates and fats are all essential components to a healthy, balanced nutrition plan.

How to lose weight?

The best and safest and most reliable way to lose weight is to eat healthful meals, exercise, and reduce your caloric intake. You should avoid saturated fats and sugars and eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits.

Each of us has what is termed a basal metabolic rate. This refers to the number of calories our human body requires to maintain simple metabolic function. This is the calories expended without movement or exercise and specifically refers to the calories our body expends to maintain muscle and organ function. This is a useful measure to know because with it, we can begin to put together a strategy for weight loss.

In order to lose one pound of fat, you’ll need to create a caloric deficit of 3500 calories. What does this mean? In plain terms, it means for every 3500 calories you burn without replacing with either a meal or a snack, you’ll reliably lose one pound of fat. The best way to create that caloric deficit is through exercise and reduction of caloric intake. If we don’t consume enough calories, our body will first go to our fat stores. If you don’t have a proper nutrition plan, your body will also take muscle. This we don’t want as every pound of muscle you add will burn an extra 50 calories a day whether or not you’re using that muscle mass. This is because muscle mass requires calories to maintain. This is the argument for increasing lean muscle mass, you’ll increase your basal metabolic rate by 50 calories for every pound of muscle you add.

How fast can I lose weight?

It’s generally considered safe lose 1% of your body weight per week. Any faster than this will probably be a result of water loss and any faster has been determined to be unhealthy for the human body. It drives me nuts when I see those reality weight loss shows on TV and the trainer demands “I want her to lose 18 pounds by next week!” Here’s someone who is advocating an unsafe weight loss objective who is in a position of authority and is obviously misinformed. This is not only an unsafe weight loss goal, it’s also an unrealistic goal and one that’s likely to fail. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment and failure. Be patient, consistent, intelligent and determined.

Are carbs bad?

No. Good carbohydrates are the what your body uses for energy and the nutrient most suited to replace the glycogen our muscles expend during exercise. High glycemic carbs are carbs that in general should be avoided with some exceptions. High glycemic carbs such as sugars cause a rapid elevation in blood sugar thus triggering the release of insulin. Low glycemic carbs release sugars more slowly and are better suited for the athlete that wants a consistent and steady flow of energy. If you have a sweet tooth, there is actually a good time to have high glycemic carbs, and that’s directly after an enthusiastic workout. Depleted muscle cells are permeable to glycogen and thus the body will process those sugars much better. So for recovery, have a glass of apple juice, chocolate milk, or your sweet treat after your hard workout.

What is a Healthy Diet?

A healthy diet includes:

  • Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat or fat free milk products
  • Lean meats, poultry, fish beans, eggs, nuts
  • Low in saturated fats and trans fats, cholesterol, salt or sodium and added sugars

Fitness For Adults

Adulthood is the time to practice, nurture, and explore exercises as a way of improving life an increasing longevity. There are really no limitations during this stage of life and I encourage you to take the opportunity to learn as much as you can about your body and the benefits of exercise. The general principals and components of fitness stay the same for all periods of your life, but the emphasis shifts. As a mature adult, you are free to explore different sports, modes of exercise and body sculpting techniques, and you’re free to explore them with enthusiasm. At 41 years of age I trained, fought and won an amature boxing match. Marathons, triathlons, mountain climbing, skydiving, tennis teams, if you’re not involved in something, find an interest and pursue it. Get involved.

If you already have a sport hobby, learn about the physical demands of the sport, spend some time training for those demands, and be prepared to be amazed at the improvements in ability you’ll experience. It’s motivating and exiting.

I also encourage you to care for yourself in an intelligent way. If you smoke, stop. If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation. Visit the Nutritional Guidelines section on PreventionThruFitness and make healthy choices when you prepare you meals or dine out. Visit the Tips section and find ideas on how to make good decisions that will carry you through he day with energy and alertness. It’s really all about creating intelligent and sensible habits and practices that will create a healthy and happy lifestyle.

The Science

Whether you’re a man or a woman, a commitment to exercise, both aerobic and weight bearing, will improve your health. The adaptations that occur to your respiratory, cardiovascular system, pulmonary system, muscles and soft tissues will improve your health and increase your longevity.

One of the lesser known, but important adaptations occurs in the endrocrine system. It’s my belief that a progressive, and even conservative strength training program promotes healing as well as wellness through stimulation of this system. There has been shown to be a spike in HGH or Human Growth Hormones during a strength training workout. Levels quickly return to normal post exercise, but the health benefits of HGH and IGF-1 or Insulin Growth Factors can not be dismissed. Many women fear a strength training workout because they’re afraid of bulking up like they’re male counterparts do on occasion. This is a science proven fallacy.1 The testosterone levels to put on muscle mass are not found in significant quantity in the female. But what will occur in the female is toning, gentle shaping, bone density improvements, joint strengthening through ligament and tendon strength improvements and improvements in posture. The chances of steopenia and osteoperosis can also be significantly reduced with a properly designed strength training program.

For more information Click Here or call: (323) 422-9794.

1. Kamel Study, 2003

Sleep facts

Must-know info to help you get your zzz’s

From The Yahoo Health Column.

Can’t sleep? You have plenty of company. About half of all adults experience insomnia on occasion, and 1 in 10 battle insomnia on a regular basis, according to the Cleveland Clinic. If you fall into one of those groups, chances are you’re already following the tried-and-true rules for a good night’s sleep: Don’t have too much caffeine (especially late in the day), don’t exercise late at night, keep your bedroom at a cool, comfortable temperature, and make sure your bed, pillows and linens are comfy. Those are all good tips, but there are lesser-known things you can try to help you get more rest.

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1. Set a Bedtime Alert
Most of us already use an alarm to wake up in the morning, but sleep expert Michael Breus, PhD, author of Beauty Sleep: Look Younger, Lose Weight, and Feel Great Through Better Sleep, suggests setting it at night as well. “I tell people to set their alarm for one hour before bedtime, which reminds them to begin what I call the power-down hour,” says Dr. Breus, who is also a spokesman for the Zeo Personal Sleep Coach. He says you should spend the first 20 minutes of that hour taking care of any necessary chores (like walking the dog or making your kids’ lunches), then spend the next 20 minutes on hygiene (washing up, brushing your teeth, etc.), and save the last 20 minutes before bed for relaxation. You don’t necessarily have to meditate, if that doesn’t appeal to you; you can also do deep breathing exercises, read a book or even watch a little TV (as long as it’s not too stimulating).
2. Don’t Clear Your Mind

Experts say anxiety and depression top the list of reasons people have trouble sleeping. Part of the problem is that many of us just can’t seem to quiet that internal voice that starts rambling on about the worries of the day. Of course, if you can clear your mind, go ahead and do it. But if that’s impossible, don’t force it–you’ll only end up panicking about the fact that you’re not sleeping, says Paul McKenna, PhD, author of the soon-to-be-released book I Can Make You Sleep. Instead, try slowing down your thoughts. “Practice saying anything feedback and everything that comes into your mind to yourself in a slow, monotonous, drowsy tone,” says Dr. McKenna. It doesn’t matter if you’re thinking about what to buy tomorrow at the grocery store or how a big presentation at work is going to go. If you slow everything down and talk to yourself in an even tone, you’ll find it’s that much harder to keep worrying (or stay awake).
3. Count Numbers–Not Sheep
Another great way to quiet those racing thoughts is to count backward from 300 by 3s, says Dr. Breus. Unless you’re a math ace, you probably won’t be able to focus on anything else while you’re doing this, which means you’ll end up distracting yourself from your stressful thoughts.
4. Get Up a Half-Hour Earlier
Yes, you read that right! If you’re suffering from chronic insomnia, try getting up, for example, at 6:30 instead of your usual 7 wakeup time–no matter what time you fell asleep the night before. You may be extra-sleepy for a little while, but this is hands-down the most effective way to reset your body clock, says Dr. McKenna. It works because it teaches your body that it can’t catch up on sleep in the morning, so eventually you’ll start feeling drowsier earlier in the evening.
5. Consider Seeing a Professional
A sleep psychologist is someone who specializes in gathering info about your emotions and your behaviors specifically as they relate to sleep. Often found at sleep centers, a sleep psychologist can usually help resolve your sleep issues in just four to six sessions, says Joseph Ojile, MD, founder of the Clayton Sleep Institute in St. Louis and a spokesman for the National Sleep Foundation.
6. Don’t Worry If You Can’t Sleep Right Away
You shouldn’t pass out the second your head hits the pillow. If that happens all the time, it’s a sign that you’re sleep deprived. (Ditto for nodding off during boring meetings and long movies.) Ideally, it should take 15 to 25 minutes from when you lie down to when you drift off to sleep, says Dr. Breus.
7. Go to Bed When You’re Tired
If you’re having ongoing sleep troubles, don’t worry so much about the fact that it’s almost midnight and you have to get up in less than seven hours. Forcing yourself to stay in bed when you’re not sleepy is just going to contribute to more tossing and turning, says Dr. Ojile. Instead, get up, do something relaxing, and go back to bed whenever you do feel tired. You might end up exhausted the next day (but that was bound to happen either way under these circumstances), and the following night you should have better luck getting to bed earlier.

5 Essential Weight Loss Foods

There are many fad diets that promise to help you lose weight in almost no time at all. After two or three weeks on the diet you find yourself losing enough to be able to brag to your family and friends about it, and you’re so optimistic that this new lifestyle will be your ticket to a smaller waistline that you start to browse the stores for new clothes.
You continue to lose weight for another couple of weeks, and then something happens: you start to feel sluggish, you begin craving something that your diet absolutely forbids you to have, or the general sense of optimism begins to transform itself into a feeling of constriction, frustration, and even dietary imprisonment.

You decide to have just one snack, or spend just one day eating whatever you want with the intention of going back to the diet the following day. What happens then, is that you feel such satisfaction from that treat that the entire effort falls apart and you put the weight back on in practically no time at all.
Does this scenario sound at all familiar?
Diets are very hard, as is the feeling of being overweight. Many of these fad diets may promise instant and significant weight loss results, but most of them rely on depriving your body of certain nutrients and disrupting the natural function of your body’s metabolism. Chinese medicine considers obesity to be partly the result of declining function of the metabolic fire of the kidney network and a diet that provides a well-balanced array of nutrients is the key to losing weight in a healthy way. What follows are five foods that will help you restore your body’s ability to use energy and help you become your healthy weight.
1. Millet: A well-balanced diet should consist of whole grains instead of refined grains like white rice and pasta, and millet is a beneficial and delicious staple of this category of food. This non-glutinous grain is over 10-percent protein, has high amounts of fiber and B-complex vitamins, and because it isn’t an acid forming food, is easy to digest.
2. Asparagus: When losing weight, it’s important to favor chlorophyll-rich foods, including asparagus. Asparagus is a nutrient-rich vegetable packed with folate, vitamins A, C, and K, and fiber. Asparagus also contains a carbohydrate known as inulin (not to be confused with insulin) that promotes healthy bacteria in the large intestine – which in turn promotes a healthier digestive function.
3. Pomegranates: Eating a balanced diet to lose weight should include eating fresh fruits, and pomegranates are a wonderful example of a healthy, nutritious fruit that has antioxidant properties and will help prevent cancer. While the benefits of drinking pomegranate juice have gained a lot of attention recently, you will be more likely to lose weight by eating the fruit fresh to increase your fiber intake and keep the calories down.
4. Pine Nuts: Pine nuts are the edible seeds of pine trees and are considered an essential ingredient in the tasty Italian mixture pesto. Chinese medicine uses pine nuts to improve gastrointestinal tract and digestive functions, and pine nut oil is even used for appetite suppression. Pine nuts and other nuts are a tasty part of a well-balanced diet intended for weight loss.

9 Fat-Burning Eating Tips

Now don’t get all excited. We don’t have any magic wand solutions that will take the place of exercise and eating right. But we do have a few foods that could help you on your journey to rid yourself of excess flab. Hungry Girl’s here with the scoop…

LEAN PROTEIN

To put it simply, protein takes a lot of effort for the body to break down and digest. A lot more than, say, fat. So while your body is working hard to process that protein, you’re burning calories. HG tip — eat fish! Chances are you’re not getting enough of it. Not only is fish a fabulous source of lean protein, BUT many types are full of those Omega-3 fatty acids you’re always hearing about. Beans are also a wonderful source of protein. And it’s no secret how we feel about our friend the soybean. (Let’s have a cheer for veggie patties and soy-meats!)

WHOLE GRAINS

Belly fat is not particularly cute on anyone (except maybe babies), so it’s exciting news that whole grains can do a number on that stubborn flab around your midsection. One of the easiest ways to get whole grains into your diet? Oatmeal in the morning. Quaker’s Simple Harvest Multigrain Hot Cereal is really good and just full of grains. Also, Kashi GoLean’s Hot Cereal packs in 7 whole grains and a big 5 – 7g fiber! Mmmmm…

GRAPEFRUIT

Ever since you were a kid popping Flintstones Chewables, you’ve known that Vitamin C is good for you — and that certainly hasn’t changed. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant AND has been shown in studies to help burn fat. So, if you’re looking for a snack, how’s about a nice, juicy grapefruit? The theory is that grapefruit helps to lower insulin levels, which keeps you from being hungry all the time! We know it smacks of classic diet food, but those Ruby Reds are MIGHTY delicious! If it’s too sour for you straight, sprinkle it with some no-calorie sweetener like Splenda or stevia.

GREEN TEA

Green tea is EVERYWHERE. It’s been classified as a “superfood” as it’s been linked to reduced rates of heart disease and cancer. And now it helps us lose weight too? Green tea has been shown to raise our metabolism, which is key in our battle with the bad stuff. Researchers also suspect that substances called polyphenols combined with caffeine are responsible for its fat-burning properties. If the hot murky stuff doesn’t do it for you, try HG’s Green Tea Crème Swappuccino! Only 75 calories and SO GOOD!

SPICY FOODS

You know how when you eat spicy foods, you sometimes start to sweat a little (ew)? That’s because it’s given a little kick to your heart rate. These little kicks will result in a temporary increase in your metabolism, which will help you burn fat a little easier for a bit. A quick hit with cayenne, red pepper flakes, or whatever hot sauce you fancy should do the trick and get your blood pumping. And these spices are practically calorie-free. Yes!

LIGHT DAIRY

Hey, dairy queens! Good news! It turns out that people who eat low-fat or fat-free dairy lose MORE weight than people who don’t. Sure we mentioned protein before, but it bears bringing up again since the magical combo of calcium and protein seems to work wonders. We’re WAY into yogurt, so we suggest picking up some Fage Total 0% Greek Yogurt and mixing in your favorite fruits, sugar-free preserves… or whatever! Also,

light string cheese is a GREAT little snack, with only around 50-60 calories and 2.5g fat a pop. Not bad for hard cheese, people.

WATER

Experts say it’s important to drink lots of water if you’re trying to burn fat Your body can’t work effectively if it’s dehydrated — not only will you FEEL like you don’t have any energy, but also your body really won’t have what it needs to function and burn off fat. Keep that machine humming – drink around 8 glasses of water a day!

CINNAMON

Sure this stuff tastes good — that’s why it’s found in SO many things. But those chefs might not know that their sprinkling of cinnamon is helping the body process sugar more effectively and lower blood sugar levels. High blood sugar can lead to the body storing more fat, so maybe put together a little shaker of cinnamon and Splenda to sprinkle on your favorite foods! Then whip up some fat-burning cinnamon toast by using your new concoction on whole-wheat bread!

APPLES

An apple a day isn’t going to keep the gym away, but it’ll probably make your diet plan more effective. Word on the street is that the pectin contained in apples limits how much fat your cells can absorb. (SWEET!) Plus it’s a naturally soluble fiber, which is always good. So next time you feel all snacky, grab whichever apple looks best to you (we love Fujis!).

Being Thankful: A client's story of Parkinson's Disease and DBS

Being Thankful

By Mike W.

I wake up at 6:15 every morning to take medication.  Recently, I have found myself habitually tapping my implant device.  It is reassuring to know it is there.  It was implanted during my recent brain surgery.  When I tell people I had brain surgery four months ago the general reaction is sympathetic.  There is a preconceived notion of a long and painful recovery process.  This may be true for some surgeries, but for deep brain stimulation (DBS) it is the opposite. My recovery process was short and painless.  From the moment I woke up, I felt like my life was restored.  It was not a new me that I found, rather it was the old me rediscovered.

For nine years I battled the progressive deterioration of PD.  For the first years I was able to manage my symptoms with medication.  I cannot remember exactly how the disease progressed.  It happens in small increments every day.  It feels like an unstoppable force that periodically gets strong enough to knock down another defensive barrier.  One day you notice that something is more difficult to do than it used to be.  Some things that I discovered at different times and not necessarily in this order was getting dressed, loss of sense of smell, inability to move in bed, and freezing episodes.  Being stiff is uncomfortable, being frozen is horrible.  At each threshold, I would modify or increase my medication to try and minimize my off time with the least amount of side effects.  For me the biggest side effect to the medication was dyskinesia, which is apparently Latin for I cannot sit still.  For the last few years my day was occupied by a fight between being so rigid I could not take care of myself or being so active that I would work up a constant sweat.  I had tried my best not to let PD rob me of my existence, but it was happening anyway.  I knew I needed to do something different or I would become a burden to my family.

Fortunately, there was a light at the end of the tunnel.  I was aware of surgical options, but brain surgery was initially a scary concept.  As my life became unmanageable, brain surgery became less scary.  I began to educate myself on the surgery, speaking with my neurologist, Dr. Jeff Bronstein, talking to people who had the surgery, reading available material and watching the Medtronic’s video.   All of the information indicated I was an excellent candidate, so I took the next step and had a surgical consultation with Dr. Igor Fineman and his surgical nurse, Jennifer Birch.  By this time my emotions about the surgery had moved from being scared to being excited.   The possibility of resetting my progression back five to seven years renewed my optimism.  Nessa (my wife) and I agreed that the benefits of the surgery far out weighed the risk.

On March 12, 2009 I underwent a 3 ½ hour DBS operation to implant an electrode in my brain and an electronic stimulator in my chest. The surgery was very complicated. First a surgical halo was screwed to my head and a CT scan was taken of my skull. Next the halo was screwed to the operating table to ensure that my head would not move during the surgery. A 1/2 inch hole was drilled in my skull and the doctors charted a path to my sub thalamic nucleus (STN) using a pre-op MRI and the CT scan. Following that a wire with an electrode was guided to my STN and I was then woken up. At this point I was asked questions and my movement was tested. It was like going to the eye doctor when you are asked is this setting better than the last one until the best setting is reached. I was then put back to sleep, the 1/2 whole in my skull was closed, a stimulator was implanted in my chest and the stimulator and the electrode were connected through an incision behind my ear.

From the moment I woke up, I felt better than I had in years.  I was not aware of the amount of physical and mental energy that I expended just to get through the day. After eight years of living with PD I had forgotten what it was like to feel good.  For eight years I had fought the impact of the progression of PD on my life. Prior to the surgery it had become increasingly difficult to stay in the fight. I had begun to feel like I was stuck in quick sand, unable to manage the progression. With my new DBS implant I am now able to take medication to manage my Parkinson’s symptoms without the debilitating side effects.  The implant protrudes form my chest as a reminder of how lucky I am.

Over the last weekend I completed a two day survival course in the Utah desert. Along with four friends and three guides we entered the desert Saturday afternoon with 1 liter of water each, no food, no sleeping bags, no electronics, no flashlights, no lighter or matches. We hiked 15 plus miles over the desert sand and rocks. We had to find our own food and water. We slept without shelter on a 5’ by 5’ piece of cloth that doubled as a backpack.  After 36 hours, the eight of us shared a small trout that was caught by hand and cooked over a man-made fire. This trip was both physically and mentally demanding.

When I exited the desert on Monday I tapped my DBS implant with my fingers, looked to the sky and gave thanks.