Blog Archives

My First Online Doctor’s Visit – TeleHealth Makes Sense for Less Stress and Lower Expense

Two weeks ago, I had my very first telehealth appointment with my neurologist of about 8 years. I had spent at least a half a dozen years of advocating on Capitol Hill to make telehealth available (attempt to get it covered by insurance as well) to the public. Telehealth has become a reality and a viable, valuable, convenience –but also a solution for meetings! For some of us, telemedicine has pulled back the curtain on a new technology with unlimited potential and opportunities. Telehealth is becoming a necessity and not just a mere luxury. Right now, this new technology is great during this pandemic, but it could change back, without government legislation.

Thanks to the improvements in technology like band-with, compression, fiber cable, security, improved software, and the pandemic forcing us to drop or ease regulations, the current crisis has made a rapid need for this amazing service.

Dr. Ray Dorsey M.D. MBA is the David M. Levy Professor of Neurology and Director of the Center for Health + Technology at the University of Rochester and has been an active and longtime proponent of telehealth and telemedicine. As longtime Parkinson’s advocates with the former Parkinson’s Action Network (PAN), my wife, Angela, and I would bump into Dr. Dorsey with some frequency, over the past ten years. Ray has been a visionary of this technology and of its’ potential. Now telehealth needs to become a legal standard that we can all have access to, from now on.

My neurology appointment was made for 4:30 PM but I was asked to be on the site at 4:00 PM. I submitted my follow-up documents before we met, to save time and confusion. Due to an error with the submit button, I had to handwrite my documents, scan them, and send them to their office.

I really preferred not having to race through rush hour traffic and the tension of making it there on time. Using my kitchen as a waiting room was quieter than the doctor’s waiting room, was more comfortable, was more sanitary, was less stressful, and I had periodicals from the last decade. But seriously, the whole process of going online reduced wasted time, lowered anxiety, lowered stress, reduced exposure to any ill people, plus, we did not have to expend gasoline to drive there.

 A bubbly and engaging nurse asked me a few questions, about fifteen minutes prior to the actual appointment time. When we were done, I was told the doctor would be right in. I was reminded of the old days. I waited. Remember waiting for your doctor? Of course, you do!

The wait was brief, and my doctor was terrific. I had checked my blood pressure just before the call, and I scored a calm 120/80. The appointment went smoothly, and we agreed on my regimen.

There was no flexibility test or a fall test. He watched me walk. He filled my prescriptions. As any doctor visit goes, I have got to tell you, I wish, and I hope that they are all like that one, in the future!  There is a big take away to remember: Tell your elected representatives how important telehealth is to you!

 I saw Ray Dorsey in a Zoom meeting recently, discussing the new book, Ending Parkinson’s Disease, which he co-authored. I asked Dr. Dorsey what his thoughts were on the rapid burst of telehealth popularity. His remarks were, that if you like using telemedicine for physician visits, to tell your representatives, so that we can keep this most beneficial technology. Tell your Senators and Congress people that you want Medicare coverage for telehealth to keep telehealth as a medical option and to vote it into a law!

Telehealth has the potential to make doctor visits smoother, safer, and more efficient. This technology is an option that we need.

A Partial History in Tees

Almost every Parkinson’s disease conference that I have ever attended, over these 30 years of going to symposiums, lectures, and meetings, almost all of them had a an associated tee shirt. Some of my shirts probably got worn out and some may have gotten lost, over time, but here is a smattering of the events that I either had some affiliation with or attended. It’s a tribute to past events and friends-some gone, but not forgotten.

I thought this video might be a good way to commemorate Parkinson’s Awareness Month. Old tee shirts can hold a lot of memories!

Please enjoy this video to see my collection of tee shirts that I picked up from various Parkinson’s gatherings. Just click this link to see the video: https://gopro.com/v/JbDZkdva0MWvg

 

 

It’s World Parkinson’s Day

April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month

I am 53 years old and was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease at the age of 23. I have made it my mission to provide Parkinson’s awareness through my 12 year old award winning blog, www.asoftvoice.com by sharing lessons and information related to this illness.

Thirty plus years with Parkinson’s has taught me a great deal about living well with this chronic condition.

 Here are 10 things I want to share with you about Parkinson’s disease:

  1. No two people with Parkinson’s are identical. Every patient is unique and may require a personalized treatment plan.
  2. Often, the first symptoms of Parkinson’s can be a loss of sense of smell, constipation, or wrist or shoulder discomfort.
  3. Tremor, mobility issues, and facial masking are probably the symptoms that are most identified with Parkinson’s. It is believed that symptoms may begin 10 or more years before visible symptoms might be recognized.
  4. Some people with Parkinson’s disease may show no external symptoms but can have difficulty with memory and other cognitive issues, digestion, pain, eye problems, or depression.
  5. A positive perspective, a good attitude, staying flexible, and a sense of humor can help to deal with stress and anxiety.
  6. Embracing exercise (Rock Steady Boxing), speech therapy (SPEAK OUT!), yoga, reflexology, reiki, meditation, massage, can help to reduce anxiety and stress to calm both mind and body. Don’t stop looking for a combination of therapies that work best for you!
  7. Parkinson’s disease is not an old person’s disease. I have had Parkinson’s for several years prior to my diagnosis and that was over 30 years ago.
  8. Dyskinesia (rapid, uncontrolled movement) is not due to Parkinson’s disease itself, but it is a side-effect of the medications.
  9. Protein can reduce the efficacy of some Parkinson’s medications. Consult your doctor for more information.
  10. Find a neurologist who is a Movement Disorder Specialist (MDS). They have specialized training in Parkinson’s disease.

I’ve found that by staying active and taking a proactive approach to my Parkinson’s, I’ve been able to live well, pursue my writing career and published two books, lecture, travel extensively, and continue my passion for photography. A diagnosis of Parkinson’s has not been the end for me but given me a new purpose and a new direction for my life.

Losing An American Treasure—The Loss of John Prine

The 2020 pandemic has robbed us of my favorite living musician, the great John Prine. I have seen John Prine at least a half dozen times, bought most of his albums, and tried to spread the word of his timeless music. I never left a John Prine concert disappointed. Prine wasn’t just an outstanding performer but known as one of the best song writers by his peers.

A former mail carrier and song writer in Chicago, discovered by Roger Ebert and help from Kris Kristofferson, at different times, Prine gained recognition and a recording contract in 1971. Although Prine’s songs didn’t make it to major “pop success”, he had a large following and continued to successfully sell out concert venues and release albums. He had a large and loyal following of fans!

Performer and Songwriter

Songs like It’s A Big Old Goofy World, Paradise, Flag Decal, Sam Stone, Everybody, Dear Abby, Let’s Talk Dirty in Hawaiian, and I Guess They Ought a Name a Drink After You, are but a few of Prine’s tunes that will keep you humming. His music style of folk, country, rockabilly, blues, and jazz is one not to be replicated. We have lost a treasure.

Artists like Johnny Cash, Kacey Musgraves, Bonnie Raitt, and numerous other artists performed John Prine music or paid tribute to his remarkable works. Prine was the first entertainer to play at the Library of Congress and received numerous accolades for his music and for his contribution to the music industry. At last, John Prine was recognized by the industry that his fans had recognized for so long.

I read somewhere, years ago, that John Prine would write a song a day. He had many different sounds as the tastes for music changed through the decades. His smooth smoky vocals (altered over the years from his bouts with cancer, yet he sounded great), his catchy rhymes and phrases, and his melodic guitar chords made for pure genius! If you aren’t familiar with John Prine and you love music, I encourage you to discover John Prine and add him to your playlist, today! This is a huge loss to the world of wonderful music. Celebrate the life and music of John Prine!

Sequestered Gratitude

If you are complaining about being sequestered at home, be grateful that you have a home and a place to reside through this craziness.

If you are arguing with your family member about who ate the last waffle, be grateful that you have the time to be with them.

If you aren’t terrified from this virus, then you aren’t alive.

If you are bored, then you have nothing to read, have nowhere to walk, made no attempt to expand your artistic acumen, are unable to access television, internet, radio, phone, or paper and pen.

If you have nothing to do while you are sequestered, then you know everything, have the perfect home, can do everything, and have achieved perfection. Congratulations!

If you are unable to just enjoy a few minutes of quiet time, by yourself, maybe you should ask yourself why this is?

If you aren’t grateful for this time with your family, dog, cat, or loved ones, it’s time, right now.

Take advantage of this precious time and savor your life at home!

%d bloggers like this: