Parkinson’s Disease

A neurodegenerative disorder of the central nervous system that affects movement, often including tremors.  Parkinson’s affects about one million people in the United States and ten million worldwide.  The main finding in brains of people with PD is loss of dopaminergic neurons in the area of the brain known as the substantia nigra.  Scientists that are looking for the cause of PD continue to search for possible environmental factors, such as toxins, that may trigger the disorder, and they also are studying genetic factors to determine how defective or mutated genes play a role.  Hereditary causes of this disease are rare, as only 15 percent of those who have Parkinson’s disease have a family history of it.

Symptoms from Parkinson’s Disease can be particularly embarrassing in social situations and cause discomfort if other people witness the hands of a PD patient shaking.  This distress triggers some people suffering from the disease to avoid the company of others except their close friends or family.  Drooling, having constipation and incontinence can also occur in advanced stages and some people lose muscle control and end up getting stuck because the process of moving has become too tedious.  Participating in social situations can be difficult, as patients with Parkinson’s disease tend to have slurred speech, they fall asleep suddenly and they often have an expressionless look of their faces.

Many people associate shaky hands with Parkinson’s disease, but the most common cause of shaking hands is actually essential tremor.  Essential tremor is also the most common neurologic disorder affecting adults, but it’s not well-understood.  Doctors think that it is likely caused by a disruption in the normal functioning of the cerebellum.  Essential tremor is a nervous system disorder that causes involuntary, rhythmic shaking and it most often affects the hands, though it may also affect the head, voice, arms, or legs and it’s not related to Parkinson’s disease.  Sometimes my hands shake and I told my doctor about this, but she is more interested in controlling my diabetes.  My dad had Parkinson’s disease at the end of his life and it scares me somewhat, because I saw how it affected Muhammad Ali and Michael J. Fox.  Linda Ronstadt stopped touring because she has Parkinson’s and Alan Alda, Neil Diamond and Robin Williams were also diagnosed with this disease.

We have not developed a cure (meaning it has been eradicated) for Parkinson’s disease as of yet, but there are drugs that can be used to treat the symptoms.  For Parkinson’s, most of the time it is not possible currently to eradicate the condition, reverse the damage that has been done, or even stop the symptoms from becoming more severe with time, as the effectiveness of the treatments that we have is somewhat limited.  The drug levodopa has been around for treating Parkinson’s for some time now and it is actually very good, particularly in the early stages, although it does have some side effects.

I usually write lighter posts and I apologize for this one being so depressing, but I actually feel much better after writing this. I may be in the early stages of Parkinson’s, or it is also possible that I have Essential tremor, but it is not like my hands are shaking so badly that I can’t drink my coffee.  Knowing that most times it is not inherited makes me feel better, as my Type 2 diabetes probably was hereditary.  Fandango asked, “If you could choose one — and only one — particular malady, condition, or disease for which a safe and effective treatment was available, what one condition would you choose to treat and why is that your choice?”  My answer is Parkinson’s, because I feel that one day this will make me less human.

Written for Fandango’s Provocative Question #27 about eradicating a disease.

32 thoughts on “Parkinson’s Disease

  1. I do hope that it turns out to be nothing more than a passing episode Jim. I think one of life’s biggest diseases is Fear, and we all suffer with that at times. However, there is an equally big cure, and that is Hope. May the Hope, in this case, outweigh the Fear.

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  2. The comment by Peter’s pondering is wise indeed. My mom was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in her 40s and lived with it for forty years, so I’ve had more experience with this particular disease than I’d like. Sending my hope that you stay strong your way.

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      1. I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at 43; the first thing the neurologist told me was that you do not die from Parkinson’s, you die with it. That statement is cold comfort when you are looking at a disease that tries to steal your joy, energy, and ability to move. LSVT Big & Loud therapy has been a big help for me and I cannot recommend it enough. Think BIG, move BIG, speak LOUD. Best of luck.

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  3. Wishing you the best and that it’s some other cause making you shaky! Parkinsons is a bad disease. Michael J Fox seems to have coped reasonably well but it still obviously effects him and he’s got the resources to get the best possible treatment. Take care of that diabetes too! My stepmom has type 1 and has had challenges all her life but now I’m with someone who has Type 2 and i’m learning more about that and have to look out for her at times when she can’t because of sugar fluctuations. That can be one nasty infliction as well (lately she’s started taking meds for it, which she isn’t all that happy about but her blood sugar rates have dropped)

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  4. Alzheimer’s would be my choice for finding a successful treatment. My mom got it early and at the end physically she was in good shape…she could move about fine…but she wasn’t there anymore.

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    1. that’s a terrible one too. My granddad had that (strangely it made him easier to get along with as he was a rather nasty type when middle aged) and always seemed amazed that my Dad – his son – had kids, everytime I went to see him in the nursing home. My mom also had it and that contributed to her passing away recently; she had good days and bad days but on the bad days was prone to paranoid delusions and didn’t recognize people she knew well. Awful disease for the sufferers and those who care about them

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      1. Yes my mom went through the paranoid phase. It was hard because my mom got to the point where she didn’t know me. It is truly awful.

        I’ve heard other people say that about nasty people who get it…that they are easier to get along with. Thats a legacy you don’t want to leave.

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  5. I’ve been reading everyone’s post of this topic, today. I won’t be writing one, though. I do wish there was no such thing as all these diseases. For everyone they touch, it is devastating, and especially so when it’s our own loved ones. I have Type 2 Diabetes, my uncle had Parkinson’s, my mom had heart & lung disease, my dad had dementia in his later years, and my grand-daughter is in treatment for leukemia. How could I choose just one disease to eradicate? I hate them all.

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    1. Barbara you are right, as no disease is any good. I had a boss who got leukemia and he died within 6 months after finding out, leaving his wife and children without a father, it was so sad.

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  6. I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease a year ago at the age of 66. For several months I had noticed tremors in my right hand and the shaking of my right foot when I was sitting. My normally beautiful cursive writing was now small cramped printing. And I tended to lose my balance. Neurologist had me walk down the hall and said I didn’t swing my right arm. I had never noticed! I was in denial for a while as there is no history in my family of parents and five older siblings, but now accept I had classic symptoms. I was taking pramipexole (Sifrol), carbidopa/levodopa and Biperiden, 2 mg. and started physical therapy to strengthen muscles. nothing was really working to help my condition.I went off the Siferol (with the doctor’s knowledge) and started on parkinson’s herbal formula i ordered from Solution Health Herbal Clinic, my symptoms totally declined over a 5 weeks use of the Parkinsons disease natural herbal formula. i am now almost 70 and doing very well, the disease is totally reversed!! Visit there website w w w . solutionhealthherbalclinic . c o m or E-mail at: info @ solutionhealthherbalclinic . c o m

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