Wednesday, 11 March 2015

The Late 'Great One'

I can cope with the fact that my mobility is well, not terribly mobile every few hours, that my equilibrium system is  not equilibrating quite as it used to, and that my dexterity is not dexterous anymore. But this is the last straw. I've now learned that I, (and my ilk), are suspected of having defective time perception.

Yes, the consequences could be frightening. As the research states: "The perception and estimation of time are fundamental for the relationship between humans and their environment". If you interpreted "environment" as referring to your partner, you are  tactless. You likely getting yourself in more trouble than I am these days. But yes, if we do make that leap, then we quickly recognize the nasty implications.

First, let's present the science: Researchers at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee and Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Albuquerque have identified areas in the brain responsible for perceiving the passage of time in order to carry out critical everyday functions - like accurately gauging how long you been in the shower in order to make sure you leave enough water for your partner - for as we all know, is nothing more dangerous than a teacher scorned by a cold shower on a school day.

"However, this temporal information processing is inefficient in patients with Parkinson’ disease (PD), resulting in temporal judgment deficits. In general, the pathophysiology of PD has been described as a dysfunction in the basal ganglia, which is a multisensory integration station."

I confess, this was not a total surprise to me. In recent months I had noticed some subtle changes. You know how they say Gretzky never went to where the puck was, he went to where it was going to be? That used to be me. I was the master of my domain. I knew what was going to happen, and when. Wife's going upstairs to get something? I knew exactly whether I had time to: 1) take a swig of the milk carton, 2) steal a cookie from the oven and adjust the remaining,  or, 3) grab her iPhone to find out when her birthday  is. Or all three.

However lately my ability to manage and resolve conflict seems to be faltering. They say that "time heals all wounds", but how much time? And what kind of wounds? Just a flesh wound? Ego laceration? How will I ever know when it is safe to open a slammed door? My basal ganglia used to tingle with relevant timing info. Like firemen who can judge the ferocity of the inferno on the other side by putting his hand up to the  door, I seemed to have an innate ability to judge with the passing of time when the tension and hostilities had settled enough for peace talks - and whether I should wear flak jacket just to be safe.

My difficulties with perceiving the passage of time also has had repercussions  in the entertainment sphere as my ability to effectively gauge the optimal Netflix reject and retreat point (the optimal point to bail on a partner-chosen movie) was clearly struggling. Sloppy timing and you will be the recipient of: "you never gave it a chance"  (early termination), or, "now you've ruined the finish for me". Either way, chances are good that your next cinematic experience will be enjoyed on a 4.5 inch screen.

Time estimation is also the very foundation of analyzing the sincerity and pliability of "departure threats". "Honey, I'm leaving at 4:15 PM with or without you". You have to be careful with these - first, you must answer the question: does she really want to be on time? Or is she just looking for some time sans-you? In any event, with the diminished ability to judge the passing of time, your ability to call her bluff is significantly impaired. You might just want to consider being on time from now on. How? Try this first: Imagine there has been a new time zone created just for you - let's call it "PDT" (That's correct, Parkinson's Disease Time. Go ahead, change your clocks. Your time zone is set 30 minutes ahead of MDT (Mountain Daylight Time). There you go, they've got 30 more  minutes to get ready for anything they throw your way!

Like many other symptoms of Parkinson's, others tend to notice some much earlier than you do yourself. (Or in the master charade, you pretend they are not there.)
My wife notices these changes much more than I ever have. I am much more aware of the challenges in accomplishing tasks when my dopamine is on the low end of the tank. These situations can be infinitely frustrating - characterized by uncertainty. Miss-judging  the passing of time can be a source of stress. The other uncertainty is whether your meds will even kick-in in time. To live and thrive amidst all these constant question marks requires a pretty special person.  Having the patience of yoga master, the "no nonsence" glance of a grade 6 teacher, and the wisdom of when to utilize each, I can't imagine having a better partner to go to war with.

But let's be honest, Basal ganglia function aside, time doesn't really heal all wounds". But an orchid and a massage does :-)