Category Archives: support groups

Getting What You Need-Support

 

For the first 7 years of being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, I didn’t see a need, nor did I have a strong desire to join a Parkinson’s disease support group. When I moved to the suburbs, my neurologist, at the time, encouraged me to see what support groups could offer. After attending meetings of a few support groups, my wife, Angela, and I envisioned what we wanted in a group. In a very short period, I went from avoiding Parkinson’s support groups to speaking at them and even starting one of my own. My wife and I ran our support group for a dozen years. I learned so much from so many amazing people. As much as I thought that I didn’t need a support group, it turned out, that I really did.

The reality is that a well-run support group offers camaraderie, information, and a wisdom that comes from so many, all in one place. A support group can show you what is working and what to avoid, doctor information and feedback, available classes that pertain to Parkinson’s, local therapists, caregiver support, Parkinson’s news, and speakers in your area. When you find a good group, it feels like another family and a place that you belong. A strong network of family and friends is crucial to your health and wellness, no matter what the illness.

Some support groups may not match your personality or may not be the kind of group that you feel comfortable with, right now. I wanted a group that focused on the sharing of information and left me more empowered than when I came in. We made a lot of friends, shared both the good times and the rocky times, and provided one-another moral support. Despite our age differences and unique situations, we all learned together and bonded together into a cohesive unit for most of the group’s longevity.

We Are All In This Together

Knowing that you aren’t alone, is so important. Something as small as telling someone that you are thinking of them or that they matter to you can save another’s life. Knowing that people are thinking about you and caring about you is so empowering. Just a simple quick text, an email, a phone call, or a good old-fashioned greeting card can make a huge impact.

Care-giving has its stressful moments. We all need a break. Taking time for ourselves is not selfish-it’s a precious necessity. Your self-care makes you a healthier more helpful contributor.

Helping Ourselves Helps Those Close To Us

Patient or caregiver, there is no shame in admitting that you need help. It takes a strong person to go outside his or her comfort zone. Tell someone close to you what you are feeling and to let them find assistance for you.

I am not an expert on mental health nor am I a doctor. This is not medical advice; it is only what I have seen for over the 30 plus years of having Parkinson’s disease. I have observed friends struggle, who may have benefited from this kind of help. If you see a friend in need, reach out and offer that help. You may be saving a life.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 800-273-8255 or 988 in the USA. Go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_suicide_crisis_lines for an international list of hotlines.

 

2019 APDA Education Day in Williamsburg VA this Saturday 9/28

Online registration is still open until 9/25 for the 2019 APDA Virginia Education Day being held next Saturday 9/28 (9am-4pm) at the DoubleTree Williamsburg. April Is Disease Awareness Month!

Registration is only $25 for this day long event which includes speakers on a variety of important topics including:

-People who have Parkinson’s discussing how they live well with Parkinson’s

-Neurologists discussing how to people can live well with Parkinson’s

-Caregiver discussing tips and tricks

-Exercise panel discussing PWR!, Rock Steady Boxing, Tai Chi. Yoga and BIG

-Parkinson’s Research

-Brain Fitness

-Nutrition

and much more!

Click here for more information and to register!

 

Building blocks for a future for better health!

Trust, faith, hope, and diligence are four key components to seeing your way through any health challenge. Personally, they have made my 30 years with Parkinson’s disease more than just sustainable. Living well with Parkinson’s disease takes a variety of skills that must be honed and used. Before I get to trust, let me express the essential weight that faith and hope play when facing illness.

Without faith and hope our internal drive shuts down and leaves us vulnerable to only worsen our condition. We all need to visualize a path for our future, whether it is a leap or a small step. Your path is yours alone and only you can determine the scope of your vision.

When I speak of trust, I mean the belief in oneself as well as believing in others. Trusting that if we follow our gut, listen to our inner voice, and do what we know in our head/heart is a big part of making a good decision. There is much more, though. When it comes to making an informed decision about your medical condition, it is best if you’ve done the research as well. You may want to consult those around you for their opinion.

Trusting your doctor’s decisions, his or her pharmaceutical suggestions, surgical outlook, or any other decision will require your educated consent. You have the free will to reject or accept your doctor’s suggestions. Trust can only go so far when questioning your doctor. You must weigh the pros and cons of the proposed medicines and possible procedures. Providing cogent reasons and facts for why you are adamant about going against a doctor’s wishes needs to be thought out and be thoroughly researched. Depending upon the severity of the recommendation, a second or third opinion may be needed, despite the trust.

Diligence means making use of your time and taking care of yourself. There are things that you can do for yourself that even your doctor can’t. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and keeping a schedule take discipline but can be very helpful when structuring your day. If you take medicines every day, structure is crucial to stay on time when administering medicines.

There was a time when we didn’t question our doctor’s advice, but with greater access to information and a better understanding of therapies, nutrition, exercise, diet, meditation, reiki and more, there is real opportunity to work with your doctor. As a constant seeker of information about improving your condition, you become a resource for your doctor and are empowered with knowledge that may unveil new options for your future.

Changes!

Today, of all days is the perfect time to discuss the subject of change. Today, in the United States, millions of voters will have the opportunity to let their voices be heard with a single vote to impact their government. Millions of dollars will have been spent in campaign advertising to insult their opponent, praise or question the current or past administration, or just be terribly annoying, until the next election.

I, for one, cannot wait to see these divisive, bitter, mudslinging, name-calling, unbecoming, childish, messages turn into vapor and return to the barrage of those amusing pharmaceutical ads that we all enjoy at breakfast and dinner time.

If just a small percentage of this political advertising bounty were used to inform the public about the needs of the Parkinson’s world, we could educate the planet on identifying, treating, and caring for patients far earlier in their treatment and improving their care for a disease that has no cure. What could be a more noble use of funds than educating the masses about an illness that is so misunderstood and so poorly explored publicly?

Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurological disorder in America with an estimated 6 million cases worldwide and approximately 1-1.5 million people in the United States. Even these numbers are suspect for lack of updating and availability to necessary data for making better estimates. For as far as we have come over the 52 years of my life and the 30 years that I have lived with Parkinson’s disease, I see a  need for a similar buzz for change, much like the excitement that is in the air on this election day and eve.

An Exciting Documentary Project Called The Animated Mind of Oliver Sacks

UPDATE 07/23/18 – I am happy to report that The Animated Mind of Oliver Sacks project on Kickstarter met and exceeded it’s goal by nearly 25%!
I am so glad to see the support and deep interest in Dr. Sacks’ work continues on! I can’t wait to see the release of the film!
-Karl
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In the medical world, it is a rarity to uncover a medical anthropologist and an ambassador of compassion who writes with humor, tenderness, truth, sensitivity, and frankness. Dr. Oliver Sacks was all that and more. To this day, I don’t know of a greater contributor to the world of Parkinson’s disease. He was a tenacious advocate and Levodopa researcher, as documented in his book Awakenings and then movie starring Robin Williams. Over 50 years later, Levodopa remains the gold standard drug for Parkinson’s patients.

On a personal note, I started taking Levodopa in 1991, had I not had access to this medicine, I can only guess what my life would look like.  This life-changing drug has given me the ability to move, to speak, and to function. Like millions of Parkinson’s patients around the world, I am and will be forever in Dr. Sack’s debt for the gift that he has given me and the Parkinson’s community.

The Animated Mind of Oliver Sacks

The Animated Mind of Oliver Sacks

Oliver Sacks left us in 2015 but his numerous books, writings, lectures, and interviews live on and on. Now, thanks to the passion and vision of documentary film-maker Dempsey Rice, comes The Animated Mind of Oliver Sacks. There is just over two weeks left to complete this important Kickstarter campaign and bring over ten years of exclusive interviews to the big screen. Through the beautiful medium of animation, Dempsey and her team will show us Oliver’s refreshing and revealing outlook on medicine and compassion, music, gratitude, and the down to earth attitude that made Dr. Sacks so revolutionary.

Dr. Sacks connected with his patients. He deeply cared about people and their care. Oliver Sacks understood the uniqueness of every patient and took a fresh approach to the doctor patient relationship. Both a compassionate neurologist and a tenacious investigator, Sacks believed that the patient should be more empowered and in greater control of their care—an uncommon and somewhat controversial opinion for many physicians. You can hear his compassion in this quote:

“My note was a strange mixture of facts and observations, carefully noted and itemized, with irrepressible meditations on what such problems might ‘mean’, in regard to who and what and where this poor man was – whether, indeed, one could speak of an ‘existence’, given so absolute a privation of memory or continuity.”

― Oliver Sacks, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales

Dempsey says, “Animation is a great art form.” The medium of animation adds a whole new dimension that will elaborate on Sacks’ insights. Meshing Sack’s spoken words and powerful visuals of the stunning animation enhances the thoughts and concepts that are discussed onscreen. Through the power of film, we will see Dr. Oliver Sacks in what I believe to be a memorable moving documentary that encapsulates the immense impact that he had and continues to have on medicine, our medical care and our perception of medicine in general.

I think that this quote summarizes Dempsey’s passion, drive, and appreciation for Sacks’ works: “Throughout our time together, I was consistently awed by Oliver and his deep compassion for all living things.  His unfailing curiosity drove him to explore the magic of how our brains work and delve into the extreme joys and sorrows that come with human existence,” said Rice.  “My hope is that this film inspires new insight and deep compassion for the human experience, in addition to celebrating Oliver’s irrepressible enthusiasm for, and curiosity about, the human mind.”

Upon completion, Dempsey hopes the theatrical release will be available in early 2020.

I encourage you to learn more about Oliver Sacks and Dempsey Rice’s film, The Animated Mind of Oliver Sacks at the following links:
Kickstarter campaign page: http://bit.ly/animatedmind4,
Website: http://theanimatedmindofoliversacks.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheAnimatedMindofOliverSacks/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/oliversacksfilm
or Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/oliversacksfilm/

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