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Monday, November 28, 2011

November 28, 2011. An Unforeseen Benefit

I’m generally in a good mood. I tell jokes, I laugh, I make others laugh. The one time that my mood varies is when I’m walking the streets.

I’m lucky that I live in New York City. People walk. Mass transit is very accessible. Having basically given up driving, I did so without skipping a beat.

I live in the County of Queens. Did you know that Queens County is the most ethnically diverse county in the United States? Being ethnically diverse, and contending with drivers, who apparently don’t know what STOP spells, I have learned to say ASSHOLE in seven different languages. In French it’s “maudite vache,” In Spanish it’s “Culero.” In Japanese, it is “ketsunoana.” Of course being a big fan of Chico Marx, I speak a perfect Italian, “Yousa Asshole.” Russian is a big language in Queens, it “Asholeski.” Of course in Yiddish, it’s the ever popular “Tushie lokh.”

So I’ve become multilingual. The drivers take every thing in stride, they all salute me.

Friday, November 25, 2011

November 15, 2011. Logic vs. Fun

I don’t know if I’m handling this well, or if I am king of denial. Do I listen to all of those people whose Uncle Irv, ad Pd for 40 years, but died in the Himalayas at age 90, or exposure, because he was having sex with the 22 year old, female Sherpa? Or do I listen to those who ask me if I can still walk?

There has definitely been a decline in my motor skills in the past year. Not precipitous, but noticeable. When the medications are not fully working, my walking is slow and strained. I now can fool none of the people all of the time. I’ve been having trouble with keys and forks again. (This was one of the first signs. The medications seemed to have conquered this.)

I’m constantly tired. This may be a product of lack of sleep, which is a product of not wanting to go to sleep, so as to avoid the graphic dreams. Last night’s dream, I landed in OZ. I met a Mortgage Broker born without ethics. I offered to take him to see the Wizard. He declined and tried to sell me a subprime mortgage.

I fight the never ending battle between logic and fun. Logic tells fun not to do certain things. Fun tells logic to go f*** himself. So who do I listen to? More often than not fun. That brings to mind the eternal question. Is quality of life or quantity of life more important?

I’d love to live another 40 years. However if 30 of them have me in a nursing home, lusting after that sexy octogenarian, with the adorable dribble cascading down her chin, then what’s the point?

So getting back to the first statement, I know what may happen to me. I’ll discuss my health with anybody, as long as they don’t think that they are Nostradamus. I’m going to keep om going until I can go no further, and then I’ll go some more.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

'Parkinson's isn't my life. I have Parkinson's. Why does it have to be my life?'"

The quote comes from the movie, "Love and Other Drugs." The movie was both fluff and at times true to life. The quote "Parkinson's isn't my life. I have Parkinson's. Why does it have to be my life?" stuck with me, and made me wonder, is it my life? If so, is it possible for it not to be my life?

I'll try not to think about Parkinson's, but I must remember, four times a day, to take my meds. I hate taking Medications. I went through my college years, straight and sober. I was run over by a car, during Law School, and got off of the pain killers within 2 weeks. I don't like being drunk, I don't like being high. Taking so many medications is anathema to me. I imagine that in this sense it has come to define my life.

I'll try not to think about Parkinson's, but it reminds me during my morning and afternoon walks. I live in New York City. I was born as a character in a Woody Allen Movie. As a New Yorker, I walk. I walk in Central Park, I walk on Queens Boulevard, I walk on Fifth Avenue, and as they say in "On The Town," I "walk in a hole in the ground." I love to walk. But. I'm walking with my buddy, Parkie. He tells me, "Your neck is straining, from the posture." He tells me, "move your arms, you look like Frankenstein." He tells me, "Better rest for five minutes." In this sense he is with me, but doesn't quite define me, because tomorrow, I will walk again.

I now take buses and trains instead of driving. He has forced me to do that, but because I can still get places, he's an inconvenience, not my life.

He's with me at meals. my dietary habits were forced to drastically change to avoid the GI problems that Parkinson's causes.

He's with me as I sleep. Dreams are vivid and often scary. Sometimes I even act them out. He doesn't sleep.

He has become Harvey to my Elwood P. Dowd.

Have I answered the question? No. If pushed to answer, I would state that, "it doesn't define me." What else can I say? Wouldn't anything else be admitting defeat? That is something that I've never been willing to do.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

November 5, 2011. A Night At The Doctors

I am a 54 year old Attorney. . I am someone who loved childhood, and in a sense, never really left it. About 6 years ago, an event occurred that should have caused me to leave childhood and become an adult. I was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. I knew nothing about the disease. The kicker is, that it may have taken Parkinson’s for me to realize how much I loved my life, and how lucky I am.

The first signs were micrographia (small writing). My handwriting became progressively smaller,
and more and more illegible. Then I had difficulty grasping fine objects, such as a pen or a fork. My right leg would be uncomfortable when I sat for long periods of time. I went to five Doctors before it was finally diagnosed. Let’s call these Doctors, Dr. Gummo, Dr. Zeppo, Dr. Chico, Dr. Harpo and finally Dr. Groucho.

The first Doctor was my GP, Dr. Chico.

Dr. Chico: So Whatsa matta?

Marc: It's my handwriting Doc. It's getting small.

Dr. Chico: Write a me something.

So I proceed to write the entire "Why a Duck" routine.

Dr. Chico: I can't a read that.

Marc: See I told you that it's too small.

Dr. Chico; No I just can't a read. I'm a gonna send you to my Brother Dr. Gummo. But first you pay a the bill. Let's a see. Yesterday we no see you, that's three hundred dollars. Today we examine you...

Marc: That's One Hundred that you owe me.

Dr. Chico: I bet I'm a gonna lose on the deal.

Dr. Gummo, was a renowned hand surgeon, who confirmed that I have two hands. He send me to
Dr. Zeppo.

Dr. Zeppo, an orthopedist, didn't like the way his Brothers were treating him in the practice, so after my short visit he quit. But before he quit he sent me to Dr. Harpo.

Marc: Dr. I'm having trouble with my hand. If you would stop chasing the nurse and take a look, I'd appreciate it.

Dr. Harpo: Honk

Dr. Harpo proceeds to kick me in the behind, pick my pocket, and play the harp for ten minutes.
Finally Dr. Harpo ordered an MRI of my brain. Before anyone else can say this, I'll beat you to the punch, they found nothing. So he sent me to a Parkinson's specialist, initially just to eliminate Parkinson’s as the cause of my problems.

After using his cigar for light, and asking me how I did in the Kentucky Derby, the specialist, Dr. Groucho was ready to address the issue.

Dr. Groucho: You have PD. Now isn't is a PD that you didn't come to see me sooner.

He then gave me a cube of sugar, some horse pills and sent me galloping away.

Dr. Groucho is still my Doctor (and he is a charming man, despite the nickname that I have laid upon him here). He recognized the classic signs of early Parkinson's. The masked face, walking with the arm limp by my side, difficulty rising from a seat. Parkinson's commonly hits one side. Mine hit my right side. Had it hit my left side, I'm not sure that we'd have known it for years.
Along with regular visits and prescriptions, he sent me to physical therapy. Two of my therapists, have become my friends. These are special people. They kick my butt (when I show up), they don't believe my bull, and the genuinely care. I happy to consider them friends.

My colleagues (those that know) and my ex-office mates have been great. I had to move my office
into my home. My friends allow me to use their office, they give me overflow work, and often wait around to drive me to the train. My ex-officemates, when they moved, took my name with them. They also gave me keys to the new office and make me feel like I'm still at home. Anybody who knows me, knows that I love to talk, I love to socialize. In many ways these friends have kept me alive.

My wife, is amazing. She is a geriatric Physician, so she sees this from a different prospectus that I do. I look at it as an inconvenience not an illness. So where she, for my own benefit, tries to inject logic into my plans, I try to live my life, pretty much as I always have.

She saw the opportunity to purchase a second apartment in our building, did so, and set me up on
the seventeenth floor with an office. I never meet clients there, but on days that I don't have to see clients, my commute is 6 floors by elevator. She also picks me up at the train in inclement weather, and mostly puts up with me. You see, I'm not the easiest patient.
I don’t want to be a patient.

Since I don't have a typical Parkinsonian tremor, most people are unaware of the affliction. Ergo, I often refuse to acknowledge it. I acknowledge no reason why I still can't do the things that I've always loved. I always took long walks. Although I have fallen three times, I don't completely accept that these incidents are Parkinson's related. The first time I slipped on the ice. The next two times, I fell over my own, riverboat like, feet.

Parkinson's patients sometimes act out their dreams. All of my dreams are sports related. I've jumped in bed trying to spike a volleyball. I've hit my hands against the headboard blocking a shot, playing basketball. On five different occasions, I've fallen out of bed. The most recent time, I was dreaming that I was sliding into first base. I woke up, unhurt, but angry at myself. There is no reason to ever slide into first base. Furthermore, anybody who knows me, knows that I move much to slowly to make a play that close. I guess that my wife and I are lucky that I never liked Boxing.

My disease has progressed very slowly. Although I did initially get depressed and feel sorry for
myself, I soon realized that that was a waste of valuable time. In many ways, now six years into my journey, I may be more content with life than I ever was before.

A college buddy of mine, mentioned that he had heard that I was sick. I reacted with vitriol, "I am not sick." Everybody has problems, but I have learned to count my blessings.

Now you may believe that part of this story is fictional and my object to the innuendo.

But that's just like I've always said, "Love flies out of your door, when money comes innuendo."

Thursday, November 3, 2011

November 3, 2011. A Civil War

I'm sure that today's conundrum (I just love using that word) is not unique to me. The never ending battle for truth, justice and the American way. Seriously the conflict between the caregiver and the inflicted.

I consider what I have a minor inconvenience. My wife, who I must admit, as a Geriatric Physician, is far more knowledgeable than me, is very careful and strict with my activities.

Let's get the easy one out of the way. These we agree upon. 1) Although I was never a big drinker, because of all of the medication in my system, I never drink when she is not around, and then never more than one glass of white wine. 2) Venturing outside on a wintry day. It's not always practical, but my footing is not great.

Now some of the activities that are in question. 1) Driving. I don't drive unless she is in the car. I think that my driving is still better than 90% of the people out there, definitely better than the Russian cabbies of Forest Hills, who think that a double yellow line means that it is mandatory to make an immediate u-turn on a congested street, and that a stop sign means, aim for the lady with the walker. 2) Crowds, ie subways and ballgames. I've been doing this for 50 years and see no reason to stop.

Strangely, for a Lawyer, I'm not a great fighter. So she wins these arguments. But they come too often. I know that she is presenting her opinions from the vantage point of experience and compassion. What I am saying is that this should be combined with my need to feel alive and too maintain whatever ego that I have left.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

November 2, 2011. Youth is wasted on the Middle aged.

I bumped into friends of my wife yesterday. They're my age and retired. The weather was in the low 50's and they were in down jackets, gloves and hoods. I wore an open sports jacket. When do we cross that barrier from youth to middle aged to seniors? This is not a chronological question, this is mental attitude.

I've known these folks for 18 years, they were old then. That's OK, that's how they are comfortable. I like the fact that I haven't accepted that I am middle aged. (What a euphemism. How many people live until 108?) I still want to run up and down a basketball court. (Friends who have known me for years are now laughing. I was always an unusually slow runner. I ran, a Telethon started. Somebody once said that it looked like I was running under water.) I still want to hit a baseball (That I could do.) I haven't mentally or emotionally accepted the fact that I am 54 or that I have a neurological disease. This too is OK. This is how I feel comfortable.

I don't particularly like what I do for a living , but I'll either find something that excites me or continue to do this. I've no intention of retiring. I can't see me doing nothing. Ideally what I always wanted to do was volunteer legal services for the ACLU, but I don't foresee a time hat I could forgo an income.

I don't know why, if I choose not to, that I have to get old. I know why physically and I know why chronologically, I just don't know why mentally.

Therefore, I will continue to laugh. I will continue to reminis about the wonders of youth and in my mind I will continue to be young.