Thursday, 30 January 2014

Hooey, Bunk, Gibberish, Rubbish, Drivel, Foolishness, Bilge…

Hooey:   noun
silly writing, ideas, etc.; nonsense; bunk: That's a lot
 of hooey and you know it!
My wife and I were having a discussion the other day when she asked, "How are the readers going to tell your true material from the rest of the hooey?"

She had just made a mistake and I was ready to help her with it. I went immediately to the authoritative source, the urban dictionary, and read her a few of the sample words readers had sent in for hooey. Crap, drivel, hogwash, gobbledygook... "Honey, the first entry references nonsensical writings, while the second refers to a traditional wood stick that is used in in trickery and magic tricks." Neither fits. Embarassed, she replied, "I can never keep those words straight, sorry!"  We had a good laugh, Her's more hearty than mine, as it often seems when I help her with her vocabulary. I like helping people with their words. Especially educators, It gives me a good feeling to be able to give back.

These pages can take you on quite a fictionary voyage, I agree. So yes, I think my wife's initial point is valid. If you really, absolutely need to be assured that a statement I make is clear and true, I will preface it with this internationally-recognized "NO BS" sign. This will give you assurance that the statement following can be trusted 100%.

  Any Discussion or information put forth on this website about medical treatment for Parkinson's is only the author's personal opinion and should not be considered as medical advice. Readers are requested to do their own due diligence and seek their own medical opinion from their doctor or neurologist.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Think Tank - Blair, You Look Like You Should Sit Down...

SPOILER ALERT!!!  Be forewarned, if you read any further than this line, you will be deemed ineligible to take advantage of opportunities that lie within. Remember, I warned you…

Just a mention of the phrase "think tank" in my presence will elicit an odd reaction from me. My metaphorical sensor alarms will be rung, My Far Side humour node above the prefrontal cortex,  will be activated sensing a comedic opportunity of the roughly grade 10 type, Leaping into action, it secretes sample punchline bubbles that will waft above my head waiting to be selected for a chance at their fifteen minutes of fame.

Why is that? Quite simply, the visual puts  me in stitches. Bow tied academics floating dispatching weighty edicts down the mount.  Maybe I'm being unfair. Maybe the only wear bow ties on Mondays. Or maybe Monday is cardigan day. I shouldn't generalize so much. Should I? Okay, thank you, I will continue to generalize.

I want one. I want my own think tank. My think tank will think about things that matter to me. (and of course, for many, that will mean you too). But folks, this is not your regular Mensa card-carrying ivory tower think tank. This think tank doesn't know it's a think tank! On top of not getting paid to be a think tank, They don't even know they're volunteering to be a think tank. This think tank will meet under the guise of having a few beers with Blair, so he can vent about Parkinson's. I will steer the conversation through various topics current in Parkinson's Disease and will crystallize their thoughts and conclusions to be laid out on the blog.

I get the impression that you're already grasping the brilliance of this setup.My think tank is the real deal. Regular people from all walks of life with unique abilities and skills.  Let me introduce the core of my team:

Shemp Duchevsky - This rising star's background includes many years in the correctional hospitality industry. Shemp is a computer wizard, rising to the top of the cell block and eventually heading the prison library mastering the cutting-edge Commodore 64 system. Took home Millhaven's prisoner of the year award a record nine times.

Bon Creed - Nutritional adviser and occasional court jester. A muttly cross breed of Buzz Lightyear and a modern-day Dudley Doright. A true Renaissance man - at home in Lululemon, spacesuit, or red serge. Oft heard phrase: "Funnier than a clown on fire".

Mira Pex - With her long and sordid history as a Vegas show girl, (and part-time card marker) It's a wonder she's able to be employed north of the 49th. For your personal security, that's all the information I should pass on as  I understand that a certain establishment in Vegas has dispatched the Harding brothers from Vinnie's Mobile Orthopaedic Remediation Services  to "chat" with their "still under contract" Ms Pex.
Oft heard phrase: "Viva L...   ummm, I mean Go Flames!".

I know, I hear you. What is clean-cut Blair doing hanging around individuals of this breed? He's no Rob Ford, is he? No, I' m definitely not. I do believe that everyone deserves a second chance, even Bon Creed. Okay, okay, I'm only telling you this on a need-to-know basis, ok? Bon had a dust-up with a face painting clown at the Calgary Stampede. (Who beats up clowns?) Second chances right?

They have already been meeting and next week I will present part one of the three part series where we look at the recommendations in detail, and provide some tips on how to become the funnest patient do you can possibly be - that one patient, that if they were building a new clinic, they would call the "franchise patient" - the only patient they would allow to wear number 99.

Oh, and yes, the opportunity you've just lost - I was looking to double the size of the think tank to six individuals, but since you have continued to the bottom of this page like a good little blogee, I will need to look elsewhere. Too bad, you would've been great.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

What's So Funny Bout Parkinson's, Love, and Understanding

I started writing another instalment of goofiness that made me laugh as I was writing it. It was a story related to Parkinson's and as usual for me, I poked around the edges and periphery of the truth. I like that. It provides opportunities to entertain and share, often times with the reader unaware that they were willing participants in the latter.

I have had Parkinson's for eight years. As I suspect with many, the first three years were not  particularly tough  as the  medication Sinemet  was able to keep Ms. Dopamine  in the lifestyle to which she was accustomed.  The last three or four years have been a much different  story with  the associated challenges  requiring me  to finish work about a year and half ago.

It was about that  time that I started to internally write stories about incidents that had
happened to me. Nothing big, mostly incidents of freezing in the public, freezing in the liquor store freezer (a short one, luckily :-) and many others. I think it was able to laugh them off at the time because they were in public where I would take chances as far as the duration of my outings or the destinations. (I know that sounds counter intuitive to some, that one would worry more about freezing in front of their friends or family than in front of complete strangers, but so be it. That could fill volumes for another entry :-)

I had myself thinking that I had enough humorous content to tell funny tales for hours on end. But as time went on the number of incidents became less frequent as I became more cautious about duration and destination.  I'm not sure why, but the realisation came to me one day that, while there were snippets of humour in most of these,  it was becoming a REAL  stretch to call them  funny .

 The epiphany was in realising that it was me painting in the background,  filling out the characters,  overemphasising  strands, while leaving out others in to make it as humorous as possible. In short, it was ME that was injecting the humour in the situation .  A little rewriting of history,  as it were.

This led to one obvious conclusion: If I played my cards right, I could be operating Calgary's first totally legal humour injection site for those with Parkinson's! What I'm suggesting  is that we  should remind  ourselves that laughing is often hard work. Situations don't necessarily poke you in the ribs and say "look at me, hilarious!" I'm not going to compare tough situations with anyone here - as my mom says, "there is always someone worse off than you". I think you're getting the point. As things progress for all of us, it will be progressively tougher to crack a smile or joke - we will no doubt be asking more from others as well. Unhappiness no doubt will creep in at times, and depression is a extremely common occurrence. With Parkinson's, it is imperative that we take care of what we can control - and humour can take us a long way

Nature versus nurture? In this situation, I'm siding most definitely with the latter. You need to meet my mom. I should in all my best judgement stop here as I could minimise the damage to just a flesh wound, at the risk of mortal injury, I will proceed as I feel a great need to honor her.

What is there to say about someone that says so little? I think I have already said a lot.  She is easy to spot when she comes in the room.  She's one heavily armed with a smile, a positive attitude, and the joke or funny story tucked away in her pocket. At 80-some (again, trying to hold the line at a flesh wound) she recently made the transition to a care home -  telling me the other day that "she has nothing to complain about." That's the person I want to be. She's my inspiration. ***

***  It is important to note that she can also be the bane of my existence. For nothing can scar the fragile male ego deeper  than to lay under the covers having skipped his morning workout - then realising that his 80+  mother  schlepped herself across town   to the swimming pool  at the YMCA  and cranked out 25 laps ...

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Parkinson's in High Fashion

The Fashion Fundraiser Goes Pretty Much As Expected...

The Dopamine Dance to the Sinemet Shuffle

The Dopamine Dance
I dance. I dance in the morning. I dance in the evening. Weee!!!
I don’t dance alone. Yes,  it is time you met Ms. D...
My odyssey with Ms D. (nee Sinimet), began in late 2005. Her program was said to have therapeutic effects that might benefit me. Introduced by my pole dancing instructor, we hit it off immediately. We have always done what we could to make the partnership work. Always the patient instructor, and nary a harsh word was heard. Demands on my time were minimal. I knew that I needed to dance, and for a while at least seemed like I could get the job done doing it at an amateur commitment.

Some consider us a power couple, as when we are clicking there’s not much we can’t do. When the chemistry is there between us, We are in sight to behold – think Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.  The rush  I experience when we connect is comparable  to  few: the shiver I get down the nape of my neck when the initial haunting chords of “Whooly Bully”  by Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs enter the room, or the delicious rush I get when when “You relax, I’ll do the dishes” tickles my cochlea.

Some alarming signs of late have me concerned though. From the start she is always been a reliable partner. Always on time,  committed to the task, and focused. Always the consummate professional, she simply got the job done. Not long ago, at the same time that her performance seemed to be on the wane, the demands asked of me seemed to have escalated. (all the while, she’s showing up late for sessions, and occasionally, not showing up at all!). It’s like, to get the job done, I needed to quit my day job and go Pro! Who can afford that?
Shit - dope dance 13 x/ day?

 Ms D. had a long and colorful history of bringing things to a head – and our relationship was headed in that direction as well. Both expressed frustration that our performance and been on the wane in recent years. I rather pointedly suggested that word on the street was that it seemed to be a pattern in her program. She confessed that yes, that seemed to be the emerging pattern - that after some period of years the effectiveness of Ms Dopamine's therapy began to diminish . Was she aware of the new studio  DBS Dance across town? While they didn’t offer the classic dances that were the core of her program, they were having tremendous success with some cutting-edge, interpretive types of dance.

While we still see each other on a regular basis, things are just not the same anymore. Sessions begin with a pair of stilted “how are you's”. With neither offering any detail at least a friend could glean some useful insight from. I’m still researching the other studios offerings. Things look promising. Ms D Seems resigned to change.

Fear not - if the commitment is not there any more, the physical  sensations remain. When we finally connect,  when we finally meet eye to eye, molecule to receptor, he feeling is still just magic. If the truth be known, the magical instant that the drugs kick in, it is customary for me to flex in the iconic bodybuilding pose. This is a cerebration, a recognition, at least for a few minutes,  I  convince myself that I am not broken, I am strong once more, an athlete again, I am just, well, like you. What more could anyone ask for?'

Shaking your head, you ask "Blair, what the hell is the Dopamine Dance?" I knew YOU would be the first to ask that question. :-) If you do a search for "Dopamine Dance" on the web you will come up with a few different versions. Personally, for me, the day in/ day out (really, hour in/hour out  use of it describes the intimate connection we have with dopamine  be far more accurate), managing of this ying/yang, this tug and pull our bodies have for dopamine and its ever dwindling supply. Reality is that it determines what our plans are for the day - or more accurately, would actual plans are executed. For if the dopamine supply is not there, it ain't gonna happen :-) 

Sinemet (or an alternate brand) is the medication taken throughout the day. that is converted by the body into dopamine. Sinemet, is effective for some time, but after a number of years the system starts to lose its effectiveness and we look for other alternatives…

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

A Rogge Awakening...

 Jacques Rogge, in one of his first ceremonial duties as IOC Past President, shocked the Parkinson's community early yesterday  morning when  he announced Parkinson's Disease  as a  demonstration sport for the 2018 Winter Paralympic Games in South Korea. Parkinson's Disease now joins Lobbying and Pork Barrelling, two entrenched  IOC  sports  seeking the official nod to be included  in the 2022 Olympiad .
Though specific Parkinson's events have not been confirmed, they are thought to be freezing, tremoring, and dopamine dancing. While Canada has a history of medaling in dopamine dancing competitions at the world level, the country has little experience in freezing and tremoring at the elite levels – with both being considered recreational sports domestically. Within hours of this announcement, both Winnipeg and Pond Inlet, Northwest Territories were rumoured to have made overtures to the National body about being considered as Regional Freezing Training Centers.
Rogge  suggested that Parkinson's freezing would be a strong candidate as it has broad-based support in many countries of the world . "I can’t see any countries fielding any Freezy Dream Teams -  there is so much parity  in the sport”.  When asked if he had ever watched an  International level  "Freezy", Rogge  confessed, "No, but at Tuesday night Karaoke back in Lausanne, Clarence  from accounting and I always clean up with that Springstone song, "Tenth Avenue Freezie".
I can’t see any countries fielding any Freezy  Dream Teams -  there is so much parity  in the sport.
Weighing in on the issue over the abuse of freon (a common household refrigerant) doping for training and competition, Rogge reminded freezers that if they were intent on abusing Freon as a training and performance aid they might as well walk over to the  he ice sculpture contest.
Rogue denied an AP story that that he had been contacted by Lance Armstrong asking hypothetically, if he “caught” Parkinson’s in the next quadrennial, would he be eligible to compete? Armstrong is in the midst of a lifetime competition ban from virtually all sports and most board games.

This development has created quite a buzz in the Parkinson’s community. Judging from some of the email I’ve received already, there seems to be a dearth of scientific training information especially regarding the freezing event. For those who want to rekindle their competitive desires after years of inactivity, the absence of detail leaves them with more  questions than answers. 
Ernie writes: I am training for our local Freezy and log about 90 reps per day. Do I risk overtraining if I up my load?

Ernie,  as long as you have the energy the next day to do nothing and remain stationary, you can add some more volume to your regimen. Remember,  mileage makes champions!

Gifford Falway asks:  I don’t understand the proper protocol for training for this freezing event. Should we be doing intervals like track or rowing? As I understand it, my work period is while I am frozen - ie.  standing stationary...i.e. doing nothing. If I then move to a rest period -- i.e. when I’m again stationary...i.e., doing nothing, am I not simply resting from rest? Is my work my rest or is my rest my work - and won’t I inevitably overtrain/or is that under train?
Gifford, I/m sending this one to panel - as your question has even my mind spinning :-).

Barry I'm a coach with the Steel City Possums, a bunch of freezers here in Hamilton. I have a few issues here with protocol. My main trouble is that When I am timing the workouts I can never tell whether they are on the work or the rest period.  Any advice?

Derrick,you are right on track. You should not be able to tell the rest from the work. If you can, you are making some serious technical mistakes that need to be dealt with. Derrick, Stop Coaching! You can't coach freezing! The extent of my coaching is to mutter about every 5 min "Freezy, Peasy", or, "Freeze with ease"'.

Derek again here. I think we have some non-Parkinson's athletes infiltrating my group. How can I tell The Infiltrators from the real Parkies?

Derek, this is an easy one. Look for any hint of perceived effort or facial expression (during the work or the rest period). There should be absolutely none. The motion of freezing should be fluid, effortless, and should come to one as easy as putting one foot in front of the other.