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Monday, February 28, 2011

February 28, 2011. If you Prick us, Do we not bleed?

“If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die? And if you wrong us shall we not revenge?”

Have you ever lied, about what is wrong, when someone notices the Parkinson’s? I have, more times then I care to remember. At Real Estate closings, I often have to stand up to get my leg comfortable. I just tell people that my back is stiff.

Argumentatively, I do this in order not to affect my business. Sometimes I do this to avoid the conversation that will inevitably ensue. You’ve heard it, “My cousin’s wife’s stepfather had it. He’s had no trouble for 30 years.” This is often followed by the inevitable, “I’m sure everything will be fine.” Or “You’re in my prayers.”

So what do we do? We lie. I continue to do so every day, this blog is blocked, so that certain people, clients who have friended me, cannot read what I write.

What strange reactions, I have gotten. A family friend, from The Putz family, is a Doctor. I think that he got he license on the home shopping network. He grabbed my arm to check my elbow, in the middle of East End Avenue. I’m shocked that he didn’t send me a bill.

There is also the way that people react. I have a dear friend that doesn’t return my calls anymore. I’m assuming, based upon his/her initial reaction, that it’s just too upsetting for he/she.

So what am I going to do? I’ll continue to lie to those that I don’t care to discuss it with. I’ll reach out to my friend, hoping that it’s just my imagination. Most of all, I’ll try to go about my life, without allowing the Parkinson’s to define me.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

February 27, 2011. Dream a Little Dream of Me

The strangest symptoms of this disease or the medication (I’m not entirely certain which causes these) are the hallucinations and the dreams.

At times, I see things out of the corner of my eyes that aren’t there. It’s usually something minor, like I think that I see an insect or a Red Sox Fan. Something that if I stamped out, nobody would miss, but it would do no harm to ignore. I look a second time and it wasn’t there.

The stranger of the two is the vivid dreams. So vivid, in fact, that I act them out at times.

I’ve had violent dreams and athletic dreams. My wife has awakened me in the middle of the night, asking me what I meant by something that I was yelling about. So far I’ve been successful in covering up my lustful desires for Sweet Polly Purebred.

As I’ve stated before, many of my dreams tend to be sports related. I’ve dove for volleyballs, shot hockey pucks, blocked basketballs and swung baseball bats in my sleep.

Sometimes I wake up happy, having enjoyed the dream. Sometimes I wake up angry, having made a strategic error in the dream. Sometimes, I wake up on the floor.

One time that I woke up on the floor, I dreamt that I had hit an infield grounder and in order to beat it out I slid into first base. Ignoring the fact that I was never fast enough to make such a play that close, I was pissed, because you never slide into first base!

Another time it was equally vivid. In fact, I even imagined an announcer.

“OK, here we go, we got a real pressure cooker going here, Two down, nobody on, no score, bottom of the ninth, There’s the windup, and there it is, a line shot up the middle, Look at him go. This boy can really fly! He's rounding first and really turning it on now, he's not letting up at all, he's gonna try for second; the ball is bobbled out in center, and here comes the throw, and what a throw! He's gonna slide in head first, here he comes, he's out! No, wait, safe-safe at second base, this kid really makes things happen out there. Batter steps up to the
plate, here's the pitch-he's going, and what a jump he's got, he's trying for third, here's the throw, it's in the dirt-safe at third! Holy cow, stolen base! He's taking a pretty big lead out
there, almost daring him to try and pick him off. The pitcher glances over, winds up, and it's bunted, bunted down the third base line, the suicide squeeze is on! Here he comes, squeeze
play, it's gonna be close, holy cow, I think he's gonna make it”

Now any Baseball fan knows the problem here. Why would the suicide squeeze be on with two outs?

Friday, February 25, 2011

February 25, 2011. New York, Los Angeles oh how I've yearned for you. Detroit, Chicago, Chattanooga, Baton Rouge

I rarely leave New York, yet recently I've been all over this country. I've met all sorts of different people, The two things that we all have in common is 1) we have an incurable Neurological Disease or we know someone who does; and 2) we've all bonded in some way.

There are those who write poetry. I can write parodies of songs and can rhyme anything with Nantucket, but traditional poetry no.

There are those who are frustrated or scared. I'm a little frustrated, not particularly scared.

There are those who look towards religion. I respect their beliefs, but it's not for me.

There are those who are lonely. At times that's me regardless of my 186 facebook friends. (if my Mom is reading this, I bet that she is glad that she doesn't have to cater any more birthday parties).

There are the cheerleaders. (Shake it to the right! Shake it to the Left! Give me a P....)

Then there's me, One of the Scriveners of the group. We deal with it by writing our every thought.

How did such a group find each other? I don’t know, but just as Dorothy felt she always knew the Scarecrow, I feel like I’ve always known these people.

The internet is a dangerous place, but sometimes it can be very rewarding.

February 25, 2011. Turn, Turn, Turn

For many people there comes a time in life when they decide that it's time to give back some of what they've taken. Some people are born with this. They start when they are young. Others never get it. I hope that I have finally gotten it.

I decided some weeks ago to start using the skills that I've attained as a Lawyer to good use. On the recommendation of my facebook friend, Linda, I applied to the advisory council of Parkinson's Disease Foundation. Yesterday I was selected to serve on the People with Parkinson's Advisory Council.

I have no idea what this entails, but I want to hit the ground running.

This morning a composed and sent an e-mail to a colleague of mine at The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, suggesting that our goals were not mutually exclusive and therefore maybe we could work together on a project

I'm very excited. I feel like a new door to my life has been opened. I'm going to enter it with a smile.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

february 24, 2011. One day at a time

I often start writing these without a clue of the subject that I’m going to write about. Today is such a day.

I started writing in November 2007. I was scared. I was depressed. I didn’t know where Parkinson’s disease was going to take me. So I started to write. It helped. Whenever I would be depressed, writing would pull me out of the depression.

As I speak to people who have PD, I find the stories strangely similar. Everybody went to many different Doctors, before one finally diagnosed the problem. All of us were told by one or more friends how their friend or neighbor had it and lived well for thirty years. My favorite is the friend who says. “I’m sure that everything will be alright.” Unless that friend is Nostradamus, that is the most meaningless statement that can be made.

There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease. There have been great strides taken to alleviate the symptoms. They know that exercise helps. They know that dancing helps. I personally believe that positive thinking helps.

The truth is, if I met somebody today, and he or she didn’t watch me getting out of a car, they would suspect nothing. Today is a good day. The weather is mild, the medications are working well, hence I feel fine. Tomorrow could be completely different. I haven’t had to cancel any appointments yet, because of the disease, but the day will come. It is just that unpredictable.

The worst time of the day is when I first wake up. I’m stiff and slow. Right now is the best time, between 12:30 PM and 4 PM. I feel great.

Since I feel great, and the weather is nice, I’m going to take advantage of it and go for a walk.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

February 23, 2011 Inagodadavida

A friend, who I hadn't spoken to in a few months, asked me the other day if I was on disability.

The thought is so repulsive to me, that my initial reaction was anger. I immediately realized that he meant no insult so I suppressed the anger.

It’s funny, I don’t particularly love what I do for a living. Don’t get me wrong, I love being a Lawyer. Law School trains you to think in a way that will last for the rest of your life. You’re taught to look for the big picture, not to be mechanical. It’s something that I have embraced in my life. I never want to stop learning.

I love being a Lawyer. I don’t love practicing Law. It’s not like Perry Mason, where at the last minute, somebody bursts in and confesses to the crime. It’s not like To Kill a Mockingbird, where you get to try to have justice in an unjust society. It’s not like L.A. Law, where you get to sleep with all of your model clients. It’s not like Ally McBeal, where you can break into song at any moment.

It’s like any other business, where you have to deal with clients, who feel that because they are paying you, they own you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You have to deal with other Lawyers, who had the same training that you did, and are equally as obnoxious

So why don’t I want to go on disability?

At my father’s funeral, when as part of the eulogy, I read the following poem by Dylan Thomas:

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

My Dad did “not go gentle into that good night,” and neither will I.

I will fight to my last ounce of strength before I go on disability. Today I feel great, there is no reason for me to believe that tomorrow will be different.

My mind was trained in a way that makes me want to keep it expanding. Part of what allows me to do that is the knowledge that no where in the foreseeable future will I wake up and say, that “I’ve got nothing to do today.”

Now, after all this, you’re probably asking, “what does this have to do with Inagodadavida?” Actually, it has nothing at all to do with Inagodadavida. When I first started writing this I couldn’t think of a title. So I gave it the most absurd title that I could come up with.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

February 22, 2011. Life is for the LIving

There are few things in life that are guaranteed.

1) That no matter what occurs; Right wing radio will blame the "liberal, socialist media.”

2) That there will never be another Rock and Roll band that compares to the Beatles.

3) That I will never root for the Red Sox.

4) That the person sitting next to you has it worse off than you do.

Why is it that people feel the need to drone on about every sniffle? Everybody has problems, some may be insurmountable. Mine aren’t.

What’s different about my life today then it was before the diagnosis.

1) I’m no longer in my office. That’s just geography. My name still appears on the wall to my old office. My friends still call me to do work for them. I still use the office, and another, when I want to see people. The fact that I’m still working, has kept me vital, minimized the effects of the Parkinson’s, and kept my spirits up.

2) I don’t drive quite as much as I once did. So what!! Both offices that I use are within walking distance of the Long Island Railroad. I live within 2 blocks from the subway. Where I can’t get to by train or subway, there are always cabs from the train.

3) I shake a little. It makes for a great Martini.

4) Money is tight. I got news for you. This has been the worst economy since the great depression. It’s tight for everybody.

There are people hungry, the closest I get to hungry, is when we are out of Mallomars. There are people cold, I turn on the heat. There are people who can’t afford an education. My education continues every day. Whether my education comes from a book, a friend, a newspaper or life itself, it continues.

I’d rather not have Parkinson’s. My neighbor would rather not be in debt. The man living in the subways would rather have a home. The man down the street would be happier if his wife didn’t have Alzheimer’s disease. If you want to live in this world, it’s the price that you pay.

Monday, February 21, 2011

February 21, 2011, Danger Will Robinson Part 2

I’ve had an epiphany. I realized today that my condition is harder on my mother and my wife then it is on me. I have the choice to put myself in precarious situations they can only live with the consequences of my , potentially foolish decisions,

My mom should no longer have to worry about her children. It’s time for me to be seeing to her. My wife is constantly seeing the danger that I, Mr. Magoo, overlook. I have the luxury of optimism, she doesn’t.

I truly don’t know the resolution to this dilemma. I’m not ready, and she’s not asking, for me to curl up in a ball. Yet to put someone, whose priority in life is me, through this much tsoris is selfish at best,.

My wife is constantly pointing out dangers to me. My “grateful” response has been my patented, “enough.”

Somewhere there has to be a happy medium.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

February 20, 2011. Little Deuce Coupe

I saw a commercial today that stated that the average American will own twelve cars in his or her lifetime. A car to a man is often called an extension of his "ego." (Not really, but there are ladies out there.)

I now own the last car that I will ever own. Probably the last car that I will ever drive. It's a 2003 Honda Accord. It has 203,000 miles on the odometer. Most of that driving having taken place in the first three years. It's a great car, extremely efficient, but it's not sexy.

In his fifties an American man should own a sexy sports car. There's something about a man in his fifties, squeezing his excess weight behind the wheel of a Corvette convertible. Picture the hair weave or comb-over blowing in the wind. The sun glasses with the mirrors on the inside, so he can always look at himself. The inappropriate nubile 23 year old, smacking her gum, in the passenger seat. You see there are bright sides to Parkinson's disease. It has prophylactically rid the world of me being that man!

I've owned cars ranging from a 1969 Impala to a 1977 280 Z to a 1985 Chrysler Le Baron to a 1999 Saturn. A car to me was a vehicle (although I must admit I did love the 280 Z). Now my vehicle of choice is the city bus. Although I miss the freedom and convenience of driving wherever I want to (I still drive, but I limit it), I look at it as another step in life. I'm lucky; I live in New York City. I can get anywhere by mass transit. I'm headed to my Mother's apartment this morning. It will take me about 1 1/2 hours for, what used to be, a half hour drive. But, I don't mind. I'll save money, I'll bring a book. It's life, make the best of it.

Friday, February 18, 2011

February 18, 2011. Born to Run

I hate the Stairmaster. There is a constant "give and take" between my Physical Therapist and me.

PT: Do you want to start on the stairmaster?

MS: Do I want to? I did it.

PT: When?

MS: Three weeks ago.

So I start on the bike. Go to the treadmill. Then we begin again.

PT: Did you go on the stairmaster?

MS: Yes, last time that I was here.

Ultimately she wins. Despite they're insistance, that I exercise on the stairmaster, they treat me well. They even let me choose the music. There was no need to change the station, Buddy Holly was singing "Everyday." There I am climbing to a song that I love.

Every step, I a steppin slower
Goin slower then an unplugged toaster.

My PT sees that at 2 minutes, the approximate length of the song, I'm about ready to stop partaking in this foolhardy venture, so she switched to THE BOSS. Now Rosalita is coming out tonight, and I'm still climbing. He's telling Jack about his wife and kids in Baltimre and I;m still climbing, He's Dancing in the Dark and I'm still climbing.

I was on that contraption for 15 minutes. The new Sherman indoor, freestyle, stupid exercise record.

So although, Bruce and Buddy are both among my favorites, For exercising, I'll stick to Springsteen.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

February 16, 2011. It's so Easy

Why does it take having something go bad, to appreciate what is good? I feel great today. The weather is better, I walked to the train this morning, no subway. And my new diet seems to be working.

The difference in how I feel, even from last week is tremendous.

I spent 48+ years, feeling great. I rarely got sick. However, I never appreciated the fact.

I'm a much happier person now, then I was before the symptons set in. Maybe it's the appreciation of what I do have. Maybe it's the challange.

Things came too easy for me. In school, I was a goof off. Everybody knew it. Although it did cause some conflicts, basically I could joke it away. Life should have challanges. Now I face a challange.

Don't get me wrong, I don't want this disease. I just wish that I had opened my eyes years ago.

I have no clue what, "You can't have you cake and eat it too," means. My thoughts are, "what the hell good is cake, if you can't eat it." All a bird in hand will do for you is make for a messy mitten. Why does Mick Jagger or Keith Richards want to gather moss? The one adage that makesthe least sense is that 'The grass is always greener on the other side." It's greener on my side.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

February 15, 2011. Handy Man

Years ago, I dated an extremely wealthy young lady. She and her folks lived in Gatsby's area of Long Island. One weekend afternoon, when I came over for a swim, they asked me to change a lightbulb in their cabana. (How many Jewish Lawyers does it take to screw in a lightbulb?) Well I succeeded in the endeavor. My girlfriend's mother asked me, "How did you know how to do that? You always grew up in apartments?" After that they would invite me over to pull out pkugs, turn on light switches and flush the toilet.

My dad could fix anything, somehow he never passed it along to me. I'm not as bad as I make myself out to be. (See lightbulb, prior paragraph.) What am I getting at? Today I put together a piece of computer equipment. Sure it took longer than the average 4 year old would have taken, but I did it.

This was a real Nuckle buster. I searched and searched and I found my tool kit. As I opened it, I noticed the warning, "for children 6 and over." I checked my driver's licence. Good, I just made it by 48 years.

Now I have to figure out which end of the screwdriver to use. Next after trying to pound a nail with a saw, I realized that a hammer would be better for this. I now know how Lucky I am to live across the street from the Hospital.

TWo broken fingers late, somehow, even with PD, I got it done. Just call me Mr. Fix it.

Monday, February 14, 2011

February 14, 2011. Walk like a Man

As the “college widow,” played by Thelma Todd, said in “Horsefeathers” to Groucho’s Professor Wagstaff in a canoe, “Ah, spring in the air!”

“Oh sure,” quips Wagstaff, “I should spring in the air and fall in the lake?” (By the way, what is a college widow?)

Well today there is Spring int the air, so rather than take the Subway to the Post Office, for the first time in months, I walked both ways. A walk that is far less than 2 miles, and I'm exhausted. It's difficult to say if this fatique is caused by the Parkinson's or because I've let myself go.

My weight has fluctuated from a low of 179 at age 19, to a high of 285 at age 45. Today, I'm about 245. I'm beside myself, and there's not enough room for the two of me.

So basically, I've been slowly killing myself for 35 years. If I continue at this pace, if Parkinson's doesn't get me, heart disease or diabetes will. I've never met a cookie that I don't like.

I have been the typical American male. I love Hot Dogs, hamburgers, ice cream. As of yesterday all this ends. I had my fruit cup for lunch and if I don't eat the computer screen I should be OK until dinner. The ironic thing is, I couldn't spring in the air, if i actually wanted to do so.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

February 13, 2011. Crossroads

The last few days I haven't felt well. I've been moving slowly. Having great difficulty getting out of chairs. I now notice when the medications kick in.

It's the first time in about 2 years that I've noticed a change, and I hate it.

The book that I'm reading suggests that protein blocks the Levadopa from getting to the brain, and suggest that I should eat more fruit and less protein. I'm going to try it for a few days. What's the worst that could happen. Nobody ever overdosed on Apples.

It's such a strange feeling, on a subway, rail or bus, I must give myself extra time to stand. Yet doing so, means that I'm getting up when the vehicle is still moving. I've wobbled, but I haven't gone down.

This is a crossroads. I can 1) Give up; 2) Fight it, just for myself; 3) Fight it and do something right, by advocating for others in worse shape than I am in.

My whole live, I've been style over substance. I have verbally bored people with my political stances, but have I ever once done anything about anything? Now is the time to start. I will starting today, do something for myself and for somebody else each day, and hopefully report back to you tomorrow.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

February 12, 2011. A Life Shaken My Encounter with Parkinson's Disease

"...I'm flat on my back on a couch that's too short in a windowless room in the bureau. I can't even sit at the computer, much less make the keyboard work. My arms and legs are shaking uncontrollably. A;though I am only 53 years old, I have already been struggling with Parkinson's disease for seven years. And right now the disease in winning." A Life Shaken My Encounter with Parkinson's Disease by Joel Havemann, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002.

Damn it! This is the book that I wanted to write. I started to read this yesterday. Made it about half way through the book. I'll finish it today.

Mr. Havemann, lives his life the way I would like to live mine. He is realistic about the disease. Yet at the same time goes about his life as best he can. After being diagnosed he was the caretaker for his aging father. He helped raise his three children. He also continued to work as an Editor for the Washington bureau of the Los angeles Times.

He, like me, had the support of his family ad co-workers. Not everybody does. He tells stories of people in his support group, who when their employers found out that they had Parkinson's, the employer made life on the job very difficult.

Parkinson's takes some adjusting. Mr. Havemann chose to immediately tell his friends and co-workers. This wasn't my strategy. His approach was very successful.

He learned all that he could about the disease. My approach, at first, was to stick my head in the sand. I've long since changed that approach.

He's concerned about dying with some sort of dignity. This scares me more than anything. I don't think that people are afraid of dying, they're mostly afraid of the journey. Dying doesn't scare me. Either I'm right, and there is no afterlife, in which case, I'll never know. Or others, who believe in an afterlife are right, in which case, I'll take Woody Allen's advise and pack a change of underwear.

I look forward to finishing the book. Mr. Havemann's approach an optimism is something that I'd like to learn from.

Friday, February 11, 2011

February 11, 2011. I'll be back

There are days that I forget how I used to feel.

Was it ever normal not to take medications to get started in the morning?

Was there a time that I could sit at my desk without my legs shaking?

Did I ever stand still? Now it seems that any time that I attempt to stand still, I step backwards.

Was my handsriting ever legible?

Did I ever get up from a chair without a struggle?

Obviously the answers are yes. Although, I've been optimistic, there are those days, that the frustration, of realizing that these simple things are all history, gets to me.

Yesterday was such a day. I had two appointments. That's good. They were both at the same local, my old office in Syosset, that too is good. However, I took the subway to the train and the train to Syosset. While standing on the freezing platform, I remembered making that drive 250-300 days a year, for more years than I can remember.

So I felt sorry for myself. It happens every once in a while.

Today my goal must be to "snap out of it." Remember that I'm still working. That I have friends, that allow me to use their offices, where I can see clients, and remain vital.

So today I will think about the fact that I had two appointments yesterday, that will generate work, which will generate income.

Nearly six years after being diagnosed, I'm still working full time. Although I must rely upon others, I stil mostly rely upon myself. I'm lucky that I have those others to rely upon when needed.

Yes, I have difficulties, and yes I will occasionally be down, but I'm granting each of you the license to say,
"wake up," when I do go through a period like that.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

February 8, 2011. Life Liberty and the right to be a Curmudgeon

I don''t know if I've taken advantage of the benefits of having a major Neurological disease. We all have our Pet Peeves, I think, that now, I could get away with complaining about them. I'd imagine that most of you would reast by saying, "Cut him some slack, he's got Parkinson's." Ergo, when I did complain, my words would be considered "sagelike," and not the ramblings of a grump.

So, let me start.

Has anyone actually made "a long story short?" I dread it when I hear those words. I know I might as well get myself a cup of coffee, because I'm in for the long haul.

How about the word "literally?" Is there any need to use the word? If your telling the truth, aren't you by definition saying something literally. If you're exaggerating, subject to hyperbole, (or as they say on Sports talk radio "hyper bowl"), aren't you in fact saying it figuratively. Nobody has done something "literally a million times," except maybe breath.

In Neil Simon's great play The Odd Couple when Oscar tells Felix to leave the house, Felix responds by saying "In other words, you're throwing me out." Oscar's retort is "Not in other words, those are the perfect words!" Why do people think that we need other words for what we say? Whenever, I hear a client say that to me, I know that a not so reasonable facsimile of what I actually said will come back to haunt me.

Working on Long Island, what I like to refer to as a cultural desert within a cultural oasis, I hear a whole new form of language. The word is supposedly not "supposebly." We do not celebrate Valentime's day. We celebrate Valentine's day. The is no such thing as a Liberry. We borrow books at the Library. There is no such word as "irregardless."

I’m convinced that anyone can get a job. After all there are many jobs that need no training whatsoever. What does it take to be an Elvis impersonator? I can grow muttonchop sideburns, wear a jump suit and say with a southern drawl "Thank you very much." Who actually thought that that was a good look? The man is dead people, get a life!

Although it doesn’t happen as often as it did in the seventies (when Reverend Moon’s zombies were asking people to come to the Unification church), I object to being accosted on the street by people trying to convert me. I don’t understand what are "Jews for Jesus." I don’t frankly care. If they want to create their own religion, so be it. Leave me alone. I don’t try to convert them to be a "Jews for Jeter."

Why do people take their cell phones into the bathroom? There is nothing stranger than hearing a one sided conversation coming from a men’s room stall. Nothing is more annoying than hearing a stream of water going in the background when you’re on the phone with someone. I would suggest that anyone who has used their phones in this fashion immediately throw it out. You can’t sanitize it enough. For that matter if you borrow my newspaper and take it into the bathroom, it’s yours. I don’t want it back!

I don’t like cell phones. There was a time that when driving home from work, having a diner out, being at a ball game, etc . . . , you could expect privacy. Now there is no time that you can’t be found. I shouldn’t blame the phones. The device is not at fault.

The good thing about cell phones is that they are non communal. I shared my office with someone who spread more germs than Doc Holiday. This didn’t stop him from using the common phone. With this in mind, I’ll stick to my cell phone.

I hate the "man on the street" interview. Who cares what a bystander who can’t mold a coherent sentence thinks?

"Here we are with Stanley. Stanley what did you think of that explosion?"

"It was loud."

"There you have it, Stanley says it was loud!"

Now, I certainly couldn’t live without that!

How about the person, at the front of the checkout line, who waits until the cashier is done ringing her groceries, to take out her wallet.

"Did you think it was going to be free?"

I think that I'm going to enjoy this new kiberty. Hey, cut me some slack, I;ve got Parkinson's.

February 8, 2011. The Times they are a Changin'

The last few days, I've noticed minor changes in the control of my body.

My involutary step backwards, has become fore frequent. I call this my moonwalk. I've experienced more difficulty getting up from chairs. Putting on my socks has become increasingly more difficult. The upside is. that I can still so the mile in under 4 minutes (with a car, of course).

I probably just need an adjustment on my medications. It has been about a year and one half since they've been adjusted. I have an appoinment with my Neurologist in early March, so we'll discuss it then.

I wonder when standing waiting for a train, staggering backwards, how many people think that I'm drunk. I pretty much given up drinking. On occasion I may have one glass of wine, and then only if my wife is with me, and she is driving.

I never was much of a drinker. I don't like beer. I think that I've only been seriously drunk once. September 18, 1981, Simon and Garfunkel in Central Park. I bought three bottles of wine for $5.00. My friends were late. I proceeded to drink one and a half bottles. Somewhere between Joe DiMaggio, going away and signs of the Prophets being written on the Subway walls, I didn't feel to Groovy. If I didn't have to meet Julio, down by the schoolyard, I might have gone Homeward Bound.

This comes at the same time that I've decided to give up one of my medications. Mirapex, has been known to exacerbate obsessive qualities. I don't gamble, I don't smoke, I barely drink. I eat sweets. Too many of them lately. As bad as Parkinson's is, heart disease or diabetes are probably worse.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

February 6, 2011. The Odd Couple

"On November 13, Felix Unger was asked to remove himself from his place of residence; that request came from his wife. Deep down, he knew she was right, but he also knew that some day he would return to her. With nowhere else to go, he appeared at the home of his friend, Oscar Madison. Several years earlier, Madison's wife had thrown HIM out, requesting that HE never return. Can two divorced men share an apartment without driving each other crazy?"

I wonder if nature intended people to live together. Now don't get me wrong, population alone dictates that there is no alternative. Sometimes I think that someone said at the beginning of time, "Let's play a joke on mankind. Let's have them mate for life. After all it works for the Pigeons." I'm sure that similar thoughts have crossed everybody's mind.

Add to that the pressure when one person has to be the caretaker for the other. Then add the added stressm when the one being taken care of, feels it's unneccessary.

Tick, Tick, Tick....

The pressure on both parties is incredible. I saw it in my parents when my Dad was ill. I see it now first hand.

How does one accept the fact that there are things that he loved, that he no longer can or should do?

On the other hand how does the caretaker accept the fact, that his or her partner is an adult, with free will, and by thinking him incapable, you may in fact be creating a self fulfilling profecy?

Such a problem?

Is the solution, living alone? Clearly not. Think what would have happened to Oscar if he didn't have Felix. Man can only live so long on Corned Beef and French Fries.

So the answer lies somewhere in the middle. Oscar needs Felix, but Felix must learn,, that it's not up to him to mold Oscar into a second Felix.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

February 5, 2011. The Letter

The following Letter was posted on a Parkinson's support group on Facebook. Following each paragraph, in italics, are my comments.

(author unknown)

I have Parkinson's disease. It is not contagious or hereditary. No one knows what causes it, but some of the dopamine cells in the brain begin to die at an accelerated rate. Everyone slowly loses some dopamine cells as the grow older. If the cells suddenly begin to die at a faster rate, Parkinson's disease develops. It is a slowly progressive disease usually occurring as people get older. Medicine can help. I'll take newer, stronger kinds over the years. Some make me sick and take lots of adjustments. Stick with me. I have good days and bad days.

I'm one of the lucky ones, I too have my good days and bad days, but I've yet to experience a bad day that was so bad, that I felt that I was in any way incapacitated. The Medicines have helped. It's been almost two years since I've increase the dosage or changed the medications. Frankly, since I take them every day. I don't know what I'd be like without them.

Emotions: Sometimes I cry and appear to be upset and you think you have done something to hurt my feelings. Probably not. It is the Parkinson's Keep talking to me. Ignore the tears. I'll be ok in a few minutes.

I've never been one to show my emotions. So there has never been a moment when I've broken down and cried.

Tremors: You are expecting me to shake. Maybe I do, maybe I don't. Medicine today takes care of the tremors. If my hands, feet, or head are shaky, ignore it. I'll sit on my hands or put them in my pockets. Treat me as you always have. What's a little shakiness between friends.

My shakes appear mostly in my legs. When I sit they will sometimes shake uncontrolably, until I can find the correct position to sit in. At a closing, because I am sitting next to my client, instead of across the table, my legs often start up. I'll stand for a moment, using the excuse that my back is stiff. This usually settles them down.

My face: You think you don't entertain me anymore because I'm not grinning or laughing. If I appear to stare at you, or have a wooden expression, that's the Parkinson's I hear you. I have the same intelligence, it just isn't easy to show facial expressions. If swallowing, I may drool. This bothers me, so I will mop it up.

I have no problem laughing, it's by far my favorite thing to do. However, my face has become expressionless. Even when happy, I have to force a smile. I haven't drooled while swallowing, but I do sometimes drool in my sleep.

Stiffness: We are ready to go somewhere and I get up. I can hardly move. Maybe my medicine is wearing off. The stiffness or rigidity is part of Parkinson's Let me take my time, keep talking.

This is a fact of life. Everything that I do takes longer. Now I am somebody who has rarely been late in my life. Now, even for a short trip, I give myself a considerable amount of extra time to get to my destination.

Exercise: I need to walk each day. Two to three miles is good. Walk with me. Company makes walking fun. It may be a slow walk, but I'll get there. Remind me if I slump or stoop. I don't always know I'm doing this. My stretching, bending, exercises must be done everyday. Help me with them if you can.

Whoever wrote this letter was right. When I walk with someone else, I often can walk faster and with less difficulty. My biggest problem is remembering to swing my arms. This is not just a silly trait that humans have, it helps balance. When I move my arms I don't slump or stoop. Ergo, I move much faster.

My voice: As my deeper tones disappear, you'll notice my voice is getting higher and wispy. That's the Parkinson's I know you can talk louder, faster and finish my sentences for me. I don't care for that. Let me talk, get my thoughts together and speak for myself. I'm still there. My mind's okay. Since I'm slower in movement, my thoughts are slower too. I want to be part of the conversation. Let me speak.

My voice is softer and I tend to mumble. I can still bellow when I want to.

Sleeplessness: I may complain that I can't sleep. If I wander around in them middle of the night, that's Parkinson's It has nothing to do with what I ate or how early I went to bed. I may nap during the day. Let me sleep when I can. I can't always control when I'm tired or feel like sleeping. Be patient, my friends. I need you. I'm the same person, I've just slowed down. It's not easy to talk about Parkinson's, but I'll try if you really want to know. I need my friends and family. I want to continue to be part of life. Please remain by my side.

My only problem with sleeping is waiting for my head to hit the pillow. I fall asleep at my desk. I'll lie down on the floor of my office to take a nap. I've even fell asleep in the dentist chair, with a hand in my mouth.

I haven't found that anybody has avoided me. To the contrary, my friends and family have reached out to me, and made a noticable effort to include me in activities.

Friday, February 4, 2011

February 4, 2011. The Great Escape

My business, like most others, is "what have you done for me lately." Recently a client that I've represented for twelve years threaten to go to another Attorney, because I quoted a $1,250.00 fee on a $500,000.00. In 1998 when they purchased the hone for $287,500.00, I charged them $750.00. Percentage wise the fee actually went down.

I've lost clients due to vacations and sick days. I've even had a client angry at me for being in the bathroom when he called.

Clients often get angry when I can't answer their two favorite questions, 1) "When will the other Attorney call you back?" I don't know, I'll get out my crystal ball and check; 2) "How come my friend didn't have to pay that?" I don't know, I wasn't at you frien'd closing.

Everybody has a friend who is an expert.

So imagine how long I'd be in business if I fell and got hurt. This is my wife's big concern. So on these cold wintery days, I often don't leace the nome office. Of course there are those days when I tunnel out. Invariably the warden catches me, and I'm back in solitary.

As usual she's right. I wouldn't dare tell her otherwise. But what if, just this once, she's mistaken? What if, it's mentally healthier for me to get out occasionally? Oh hell! I'll never win that argument.

So tomorrow, Saturday, I'll be back in my office. Doing work and thinking of My Great escape.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

February 3, 2011. Stand by Me.

We learn a awful lot from observation and role models. How we act is often an result of that observation.

My Dad, was a wonderful man, although he got old, his spirit never did. He suffered most of his life from Chron's, but never once complained. My mom was his caretaker for the last two years of his life. She was/is tireless and unflinching. I am convinced that he never would have lived those last two years without her diligence.

My wife is brilliant, logical, disciplined. Many of her actions are to make my life safe. Although I don't often express it, in our "Felix and Oscar" existence, Oscar is lucky to have Felix. My Brother and Sister are always there for me. Both at times, have had health issues of their own, and like our father before them, never complained.

My father-in-law, may he rest in peace, fled Poland in the 1920's. Lost a sister in the Holocaust. Experienced Antisemitism here. Yet through it all, he was the only person that I've ever met, who I never heard utter a bad word about somebody else.

I have three wonderful nieces and a wonderful nephew. My Uncles, Aunts and cousins have always been there for me. I come from a family that accepts everybody else for what they are, and are very comfortable with each other, as long as nobody roots for the Mets.

Role models are not limited to family alone. My friends in two offices, have allowed me a place to meet clients, have meetings and basically feel alive. Much of the Parkinson's slow progress I attribute to their generosity. Keeping me vital has helped keep me alive.

The Husband of one of the assistants in my old office, has had Alzheimer's for about ten years. They are both younger than I am. She has never wavered in her pursuit of giving him the best care possible, while at the same time, raising two very nice kids, and becoming an Advocate for people with the disease. Although she'll speak about her life, I've never heard her complain.

At the same time, while she quietly has become a role model for many in the office, there is an attorney to whom every paper cut is a catastrophe. I often wondered how somebody can be so blind.

Through the Parkinson's support groups on facebook, I've met a number of fellow travelers and an equal number of selfless caretakers. We're all from different places in life, yet this disease has brought us together. Each one of these people are there to support somebody whom they've never met. I'm not a religious person, but I believe that these acts are the acts of truly pious people.

While writing this piece, I received a telephone call from the New York Attorney Client fund about an ex-colleague of mine, who stole money from his escrow account. I was asked to audit the file of one of his clients to figure out exactly how much money was missing. This man had a lucrative practice, yet probably lived above his means. I've always felt that this action was worse than robbing a bank. You know to fear the bank robber.

Everybody has problems. Some people create their own. Most problems are worse than mine.

February 3, 2011. Baby you can drive my car

In High School, driving did not come easy to me. It was not natural and I was extremely nervous. But once I got the feel of it, the fear was gone. I would drive anywhere. Weekend trips to the Carolinas , overnight trips to Cooperstown, day trips to southern Vermont.

It now is sometimes difficult for me to get comfortable in a car. What had become instinctive, no longer was. I find that Parkinson's robs me of many of my instinct. I have to think about things that once came naturally.

Now I find that the best time for me to drive is between 12:30 PM and 4 PM. I have the proper balance of medications, hence, I'm comfortable and confident.

On a winterly day, about six months after the diagnosis, I was driving to my dentist. The traffic on the Northern State Parkway was stop and go. While moving along at snail's pace, I was hit from behind. After being hit, for some reason I couldn't get my right foot to move to the brake. Hence I hit a van in front of me. The second collision was so minor that there was no damage to either car. The first collision was clearly not my fault.

The young girl who hit me, sustained the greater damage to her car. My car had a minor dent, that I didn't pursue.

What concerned me then, and concerns me to this day, was my slow reaction time.

I was a Third baseman. I was a Hockey Goaltender. My reactions were terrific. A reaction like that should be instinctive. To this date 5 years later, it was a one time occurrence, that I don't want to test again.

My driving habits have changed considerably. I never drive at night, I try to avoid driving in inclement weather. I clearly am not aggressive on the roads. If I'm being tailgated, I get out of the way. If there is the slightest chance of my having to drive, I won't have as much as one glass of wine.

My car has over 200,000 miles on it. It's the last car that I will ever own. I don't drive that much anymore. Although I had come to enjoy driving, I don't miss driving per se. I miss the freedom that results from having that option. I will never again drive to the Carolinas, with the full Beatles and Simon and Garfunkel collection playing on the CD. I will never again wake up on a Saturday morning and say, "Let's drive up to Newport for dinner."

I also realize that there are far worse problems than not being able to go to Newport for dinner. All in All, I've been lucky. Mass transit in NYC is very convenient.

The subways have signs posted saying, "No spitting, $100.00 fine." Since Parkinson's makes it difficult to spit, look at all the money that I've saved.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

February 2, 2011. I'm only sleeping

I did it again this afternoon, I know that society frowns about such conduct. It's not as if I do it everyday. You've got me, I do do it everyday. And damn it why shouldn't I? I'm very good at it. Oh, I've heard it all, "It's not the proper thing to do." "What will the neighbors say?" and "How's the Pot Roast today?"

I ask you, what's wrong with it? In many places in this world, it is part of the everyday culture. Another thing, I think that it's good for my Health. In fact, I'll confess, I've even taken an occasional respite from writing to do it.

I don't care what anybody says, If I want to take a nap i the middle of the afternoon, I'm going to do it.

It's probably the medications, but I fall asleep an awful lot these days. Now that I think about it, for about a year before I was diagnosed, I would have trouble keeping my eyes open on drives. I would pull over or switch places with my wife. Very often it just took 5 minutes of walking around to wake me up. I wonder if this was the first sign.

It effects so many different parts of the body.

My facial skin flakes. My face takes on a mask like look. My shoulders sometimes slump forward as I walk. My right are hangs limber at my side, unless I consciously move it. My index finger on my right hand curls, my legs shake, my toes curl slightly.

Now how does that sound for a personal ad?