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Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Plant-Based Diet, All the Way!

My last post centered around how I would go on a plant-based diet to see how it might help my symptoms. After doing some more research, I know that I'm on the right track. Even if it doesn't help my Parkinson's symptoms, it will certainly be a more healthy way of eating.

There are many in our society who believe that a healthy diet includes some form of meat. Indeed, my wife often said, "Where's the meat in this meal?" If you look at the FDA food recommendations, they all suggest that eating meat is a healthy thing to do. We've been convinced, primarily by our culture, spurred on by the meat and dairy lobbies, that eating meat is an essential and necessary part of our diet.

But is it really?

Now, I've heard people say in response to my pronouncement that I'm going plant based, something along the lines of "I could never give up meat, or cheese, or eggs."

Let me, in all sincerity, ask you: even if it would save your life? Even if you suffer a heart attack? Are you aware that heart disease has been proven, not merely speculated, but proven to actually be REVERSED when people go on a plant-based diet?

Here's the truth of the matter. Heart disease and cancer are our number one and two, respectively, killers in the Western world. In places that haven't yet adopted a Western diet, like Kenya, they have a near non-existent death rate of heart disease and cancer. Study after study, as a matter of fact, every single study ever done on this topic, were talking clinical controlled studies, all show without exception that anyone who eats meat has a much, much higher chance of cardiovascular disease and cancer than those who are on a plant based diet. There are no studies anyone can point to that show that eating meat has a lower risk of heart disease and cancer. The studies that purport to do so are ones funded by the meat and diary association, and are relative to a much worse diet. But anytime eating plant-based is compared to eating animal products, the result is always the same: a marked absence of heart disease and cancer rates in those eating plant-based diets.

I don't care how much you like cheese, eggs, and a steak. Is it really worth the risk of dying earlier than you would have? Do you seriously want to indulge in those things knowing you'll most likely be leaving before your grandchildren or great-grandchildren are born? What exactly are you willing to sacrifice to stay eating meat, dairy, and eggs?

Now, I understand. Sometimes, due to eating necessity, one must eat some meat or other such bad thing. But more and more I'm loathing doing so. That's because I know what it is doing to my body. This past week, my daughter and her family were staying with us. We had a great time. Still, I was forced to eat stuff I would not normally eat. And I could tell the difference. Sugar out the ying-yang. Processed foods containing who knows what. I drew the line at drinking real milk (otherwise known as a pregnant cow's estrogen-laden party). But I felt the differnece in my body. My Parkinson's symptoms even got worse. So much so that I had to turn my left side up one notch on my DBS controller because my left hand felt stiffer than it had.

Now my diet isn't perfect by far. That said, I always recall Dr. Gregor's advice about eating meat on occasion: when you eat some meat, it is like kicking your shin against something, hurting it. Left alone, it will heal in time. But if you keep kicking it over and over again, three times a day, it will never heal, only get worse.

I can hear someone say, "But grandpa lived to be 120 years old smoking and eating eggs and bacon every morning."

One can always find an exception to the rule. The question is, are you willing to bet your life that you will be one of the few, one of the rare cases when it doesn't affect you? That is a serious question. If you are willing to die of a heart attack, cancer, or deal with diabetes, eat that steak, gouge on those eggs. That is the sure route to end up later in life with a heart attack, cancer, diabetes, or all three.

As a matter of fact, the evidence is so overwhelming that eating meat and dairy will kill you, the Surgeon General should force meat and cheese producers to put a warning on all their products that eating this can cause you to die early of a heart attack or cancer. He did if for cigarettes, he should do it for meat and dairy. Because that's how serious this is. Lung cancer from cigarettes is minimal compared to the cancer risk from eating animal products day in and day out.

But he won't because the meat and dairy lobbies are too powerful and entrenched. But that is what should happen if we seriously followed the science.

God created us herbivores, not omnivores.

Friday, May 11, 2018

My Parkinson's Life Style Eating Plan

I’ve been on the Keto diet, as well as several other Paleo and plant-based diets in hopes they would help my Parkinson’s symptoms. When my wife and I decided to get serious with our eating life style again, we looked at our options and our focus turned back to doing the Dr. Wahl’s version of the Paleo diet which we tried for several months on her first level. Her third level was a combination of paleo and Keto. I had been on a Keto diet before, so I decided to give it a go. Then I started researching it all again, and I realized that the Keto diet wasn’t the way to go. Indeed, a plant-based diet has all the science behind it. So, I took what I discovered concerning a plant-based diet, as well as some key parts of the Wahl’s Paleo diet, and put together the following guidelines that I plan to find out if it helps my Parkinson’s symptoms.

You may ask, “If you currently aren’t on any medications and your symptoms are currently being controlled by your Deep Brain Stimulation device, how are you going to know if it helps or not?”

Good question. Mainly I’ll discover if it helps when I switch my programs on my DBS remote. I currently have two settings, a high one and a low setting. The low setting is when I need more fine control of my movements such as when I do Zumba, whereas the higher setting deals with my symptoms better. Also, I use the lower setting when I sleep, otherwise I toss and turn all night, sometimes beating up my wife, and I get very little deep sleep. Whenever I change the program, there is around 3-5 seconds when I’m not getting any stimulation at all and I’ll usually shake during that time. That’s when I’ll be able to key in on it. If I start to show some noticeable signs of improvement, I may experiment with turning the system off to see what happens—of course with my wife around so she can turn it back on for me if I’m shaking too badly. So that would be how I can tell how much it is effecting me.

I’ve intentionally avoided quoting a lot of studies and sources in this article. That’s because: 1. I wanted to simply tell what I was doing. 2. I know that anyone can search on the Internet any of this information and find what I’ve found. So I’m going to avoid citing my sources, not because I’ve got anything to hide, but I hope this will motivate you to do your own research and come up with your own conclusions. However, I will give you one site to start your research on: There are a bunch of informative, short videos on that site, which break down what scientific studies have said about nutrition. Do a search on a topic of your choice, like “Parkinson’s.” That is a good facts-based source of information to learn more about the science behind a plant-based diet.

Consequently, I’ve been working on developing an eating plan, otherwise known as a diet, that addresses two major concerns: 1. My health going forward, especially as it relates to Parkinson’s Disease, and 2. My wife’s weight loss goals, while keeping my own weight at an optimal level, around 150 lbs., give or take 5 lbs.

The main objective to accomplish these goals will be to eat healthy. It is my premise that eating healthy will resolve most of these goals, as well as others. But what does eating healthy mean in this context?

I should add that this is what I believe will work best for me. I’m not recommending this as a diet to any specific person, though I believe in general it will be a good diet for the majority of people. However, none of this should be taken as medical advice for  a specific situation or person. I’m not a therapist or a nutritionist. Any changes in your diet should be done in conjunction with your doctor’s knowledge and advice. 

Based on my research, eating healthy involves the following objectives: 1. It avoids and/or minimizes added sugar intake. 2. Avoid and/or minimize processed foods, save for those with a simple and whole food list of ingredients. 3. Avoid meat, save for special occasions (such as special feast days, anniversary, birthdays, etc.) 4. Avoid dairy, eggs, and cheese. 5. Focus instead on approximately: 3 cups of fruit, 3 cups of greens, and 3 cups of colorful veggies. 6. Eat around 1 cup of beans a day. 7. Moderate use of whole grains. 8. Moderate use of “good” oil. Let’s break that down.

1. Avoid and/or minimize added sugar intake.

I won’t go into this one much. Almost everyone knows that eating added sugar to things is bad, even if those same people tend to eat it anyway. It is a primary cause of inflammation, and a contributing cause of extra calories, obesity, type two diabetes, and heart disease. Almost all diets plans restrict sugar, and many try to totally eliminate it. Long gone are the days when “Super Sugar Crisp” was a great marketing strategy. They changed it during the 80s to “Super Golden Crisps” even though it had the same ingredients.

That said, we do need glucose to survive. Our body is designed to run on it. However, there is enough in our regular diet to give the amount of glucose to accomplish that goal. So that’s why I’ve said to minimize added sugars. That is, sugar found in fruit and some vegetables is okay. Just avoid spooning, refined or otherwise, sugar into what you eat. Also, avoid any foods where sugar has been added, even nut milks at the store.

That said, sugar has been given a bit of a bum rap. Many think that by eliminating sugar from one’s diet, that will be enough to lose weight. However, sugar isn’t the biggest culprit in the “Battle of the Bulge.”

2. Avoid and minimize processed foods, save for those with a simple list of whole food ingredients.

Processed foods is another no-brainer. All you need to do is look on a list of ingredients to see how much bad stuff they tend to put into these things. All sorts of chemicals, natural flavors which is a word for “we’re not going to tell you what we’re putting in here, but hey, they’re natural! So is poison ivy, but they had better not put that in their product. From fructose corn syrup, to hydrogenated oils, to all those preservatives and other chemicals they throw in there to make their product more palatable and keep it from rotting on the store shelves, we need to avoid them. With the advent of processed foods in the 60s, American’s have grown worse and worse in their health. There is good reason to believe processed foods have played a big part in that downward spiral.

“But Rick, I don’t always have time to cook that meal.”

I understand. That’s why I said to “avoid” and “minimize” your exposure to these foods. So I’m not saying stay away from them 100%. Rather there are times when we need to be able to grab something on the go, and we don’t have time to cook. When that happens, I’d suggest looking at the label ingredients on anything you buy and buy the best possible product. Then use it sparingly as a last option, so that it is a small percentage of your total intake for the day.

For instance, if you don’t normally have time to get a bowl of oatmeal or other healthy breakfast, you may find a breakfast bar with ingredients in it that will work on your plan. But if you do have the time one morning, eat the bowl of oatmeal instead.

“So I can eat lots of Fritos and potato chips because they have simple ingredients?” Well, not really. Mainly because of the type of oils they use. That said, those two are much better for you than the flavored varieties or the majority of other chips that add in a lot of chemicals.

3. Avoid meat, save for special occasions.

This and the next one may be more of a challenge for many. Eating meat has been such a daily event for most of us since we were young, we’ve grown up firmly believing we should eat meat at every meal. But the truth is, until recently in human history, meat was a special occasion meal. Most of what our ancestors ate was berries and vegetables.   That’s because meat would spoil pretty quickly after killing it. They didn’t have things like refrigerators. The best they could do is to turn it into jerky. 

Remember the Biblical story of when the Prodigal Son returned home? What did the father command to be done? “Go thrash some wheat and make a special loaf of bread!” No, he called for the fatted calf to be killed so that they could celebrate. That indicates they didn’t tend to have meat on the menu except for those special occasions. That was the norm even when meat was available.

But why? I know the Paleo folks and the Keto folks would tend to disagree. All you have to do is to look at the science to know why. 1. Meat, all meat, has a chemical in it (I believe it is called Lacten if my memory serves me correctly.) This chemical will accelerate the aging process in a person. So every time you dig into that steak or chicken, you are speeding up your aging process. 2. Most all meat is infested with pesticides from the grains they are fed. Even some meats labeled grass fed and free range are shown to contain pesticides once tested.

Being that pesticides are one of the known causes of Parkinson’s, I don’t want to add anything into my system on a regular basis that adds to that destruction.

“But Rick, don’t you know that according to a study in 1990, that 99.99% of all ‘pesticide’ were from plants and not man-made?”

Yep, sure do. This is the only study I’ll point to. You can find it at this link. The point it is making is that while we complain about all the man-made pesticides in our food, the bulk of them are natural to the plant. There are several points that can be made about this.

One, that the percentage is deceiving to a degree. First off, the definition of pesticide they are operating from is:

A pesticide is any chemical, natural or human-made, that is designed to kill another organism. Using that broad definition, there are probably hundreds of thousands of pesticides in the natural environment. Link

The list of natural pesticides is huge. So it is no wonder that our diet mainly contains those substances. However, that does not result in the effect of the other .09% being inconsequential. Indeed, due to the concentrated state of those pesticides compared to natural ones, their effect can be greatly magnified. 

Two, if we go according to the study’s results, around half of the “pesticides” they found were “rodent carcinogenic”, which means that they were carcinogenic to rodents in a study. That means there are others that are non-carcinogenic, or even beneficial to us. So, for example, caffeine is listed as pesticide. An apple browning is listed as a pesticide. Even flavonoids, which we know are good for us, but because they kill other bad things by oxidizing them, were considered a pesticide. So the list isn’t as big as they make it out to be. That 1.5 grams of estimated daily intake of natural pesticides would be cut to 0.75 if what they say is true. Given the first point, it is clear that they man-made pesticides are more significant than the study lets on.

Three, quoting from the study itself:

Caution is necessary in interpreting the implications of the occurrence in the diet of natural pesticides that are rodent carcinogens. It is not argued here that these dietary exposures are necessarily of much relevance to human cancer. Indeed, a diet rich in fruit and vegetables is associated with lower cancer rates. This may be because anticarciogenic vitamins and antioxidants come from plants.

In other words, the amounts are so low that the nutrients in plants protect one from any negative effects of such carcinogens. Unfortunately, you don’t get that same benefit with meat, which is why there is statistically a much higher chance of getting cancer when you eat meat on a regular basis.

However, if natural as well as man-made pesticides are present in our food, how much more so for cows and chickens who are fed grass and free-range bugs and such. According to this study, they are eating and concentrating within themselves all those rodent carcinogenic pesticides they are eating, even if they are not getting any man-made ones.

This does not even go into the greater risk of heart disease and cancer that practically every study done on those who regularly consume meat face.

4. Avoid dairy, eggs, and cheese.

The science behind this is irrefutable. Dairy is bad for you on many levels due to the high saturated fat content, plus the hormones and antibiotics they shoot these animals up with. But the worse of these, especially as far as weight gain and health is concerned, is cheese. That’s because cheese is concentrated fat, around 70% fat, most of it being saturated fats. That is one of the worst kinds of fat.

Oh, I know. There are all sorts of people out there saying saturated fats are fine and in some cases good for you. But according to the science, they don’t have a leg to stand on. The “studies” they quote tend to be small studies or taken out of context. For instance, they cite a study of why the saturated fats in coconut oil isn’t bad for you because a pacific island ate it and they weren’t overweight. But, did the study take into account the other healthy foods they ate that would have offset any potential negative effects? Or did they eat the coconut as a snack rather than stuffing processed oil into their mouth, minus the fiber of the plant, which would have helped process the oil in their system?

Rather, in hundreds of studies, dealing with large groups over a long period of time (5+ years), they consistently show that eating high saturated fat leads to heart disease, weight gain, and diabetes, among other things. In addition, there is another study showing a population that doesn’t eat well also eating coconut oil, and they are obese. Does that prove that coconut oil isn’t good for you? No, no more than the other study shows it is good for you. But the studies that use coconut oil in a controlled setting? They all show it is bad for you.

But cheese, especially on pizza, is the biggest source of saturated fat in the nation. Also, there is a definite correlation between the amount of cheese eaten by Americans, and the level of obesity. Cheese is such a big culprit in this, that one doctor said if we eliminated this one thing from the American diet, we would solve the obesity problem in this country, along with several health problems.

But why is dairy so bad, then? Aside from high levels of saturated fats, (not as high as cheese, but still high), it is because of the cow’s hormones in the milk used for dairy products. Those hormones are there because, surprise, surprise, the cow has been pregnant! There are hormones that a young growing calf needs in its milk. Hormones that we need, for the first year or two of our life. But certainly not as teens or adults. Additionally, all those pesticides that the cow, or its parents, has/have been eating are in that milk.

The good news is that there are some good substitutes for milk. Aside from soy milk, there is also currently almond milk, cashew milk, coconut milk, flax milk, walnut milk, and I’m sure they are coming up with new ones as I write this. Much of it is good, some of it almost identical to the flavor and texture of cow’s milk.

Cheese substitutes are getting better, but still have a ways to go. Though daya is good enough to top a pizza. Eggs are another matter. You can find substitutes for recipes, but not to replace them in the frying pan or to hard boil them. Yet. Butter, however, one can find good substitutes for it, though one has to watch the ingredients to know whether it is truly good for you or not.

5. Focus instead on approximately. 3 cups of fruit, 3 cups of greens, and 3 cups of colorful veggies.

This is where you’ll get most of your nutrients. Fruit provides sweetness, vitamin C, as well as the flavinoids that provide your antioxidants. Same for the colorful veggies on the antioxidant front. The green veggies are needed for other nutrients, like you can get from kale, spinach, green beans, and the like.

This realization was key where it concerns Parkinson’s. I was reading the Wahl’s Paleo Diet book. She reversed her Multiple Sclerosis symptoms using her diet. I was about to seriously think about following that diet, despite what I knew above about meat. Then I watched a video on, about Parkinson’s and flavinoids. It was pointing out that the free radicals that attack the brains of PD patients are likely treatable with these types of fruits and vegetables. The antioxidants found in fruit like blueberries and grapes, as well as beets and various colored peppers, were shown to enable sick and near dying cells to come to life in a petri dish and in mice studies. 

It then dawned on me that Dr. Wahl’s symptomatic reversal may have had little to do with eating meat and more about eating these flavonoids. That’s when I decided to go to a plant-based diet in order to deal with my Parkinson’s. 

6. Eat around 1 cup of beans a day.

Despite what you may have heard about beans being toxic, that’s only if you don’t soak and cook them. Indeed, beans supply plenty of protein and other vital nutrients your body needs. So soak, cook, and eat those fiber rich beans. Sprinkle them on salads, along with  some nuts and seeds. They are good for you.

7. Moderate use of whole grains.

Keto diets have been responsible for the vilification of whole grains. Yes, there is some nasty bread out there, probably the majority of what you’ll find at your grocery store is suspect. They tend  to use “Enriched flour” which at first sounds good. What it actually means, however, is due to the processing of the wheat, the vitamins and minerals were stripped from it. So they add some of them back in and call it “enriching” the flour. 

You’ll also find that many of the breads contain suspect ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup and chemicals added in to preserve freshness and make the bread “fluffier” and otherwise more appealing. Yes, I’d recommend reading labels and avoiding such bread. If that’s the only bread you can get, then it is better to not eat bread.

However, bread made with whole grains and simple ingredients is good for you. “But they’re carbs,” I can hear you say. “That’s a starch that will turn into sugar, and we all know sugar isn’t good for you!” 

The problem with that statement is it isn’t totally in scientific context. For one thing, unless you are in ketosis, you need glucose flowing though you veins to survive. That’s because your brain runs on the stuff. It doesn’t have the ability to use fat. Which is why you have to be in ketosis for the Keto diet to work. The rest of your body can use the fat it stores in its cells, but your brain’s only fuel, if it doesn’t have glucose, is its backup: ketones. 

So, unless you are on a keto diet and are in ketosis, it is essential that you have an adequate supply of glucose available for your body, but especially  for your brain, to operate on. Otherwise, you’re dead. 

And the complex carbs are the best way to get that fuel for your brain and body. Why not just eat spoonfuls of sugar to get that glucose? It is because it will give you too much glucose, too quickly. In order for your body to convert that starch into glucose, it first has to break down the molecules, using up around 25% of its calories in the process. Plus, whole grains provide your body much needed nutrients and fiber as well.

So, what is a “moderate” amount of bread? Good question, since moderate is a relative term. What I mean by that is you don’t want to pig out on bread. Even if you eat whole grains, if you eat too much of them, you can get a glucose spike. A serving once or a couple of times a day isn’t overdoing it, in my thinking. Much higher and you’ll be getting too much starch in your system.

About the only bread on the market that you might find in the bread section that I would recommend is “Dave’s Killer Bread” line. Check it out if it is available in your area, you’ll see what I mean. Another good bread is “Ezekiel Bread,” which you can find in the frozen section of your grocery store. What you want to look for is that it contains “100% whole grains” and is organically grown and non-GMO. If you can’t find it at the grocery store, you can always make it yourself using 100% whole grain, organic, and non-GMO flour.

Jesus said He is the “Bread of Life.” If he equated himself with bread, then it has to be needed for our physical, as well as spiritual life.

8. Moderate use of “good” oil.

There are two considerations on this one. Again, what does “moderate” mean in this context, and what what are “good” oils? The first one is easier to nail down. It is less than 30 grams of fat per day. Or, to put it differently, around 20% of your total calorie intake. No need to measure it out unless you simply want to get an idea how much that is for you. Rather, I would suggest that you simply keep away from fried foods and use oil very sparingly in cooking, preferring instead to use a little water.

So, what are “good” oils? I would suggest that most, if not all, your oil be derived from plants. That would be olives, avocados, walnuts, flax, chia seeds, as well as other nuts and seeds, including coconuts. Note: this is actually eating these foods, not talking about bottles of oil extracted from those sources. Two reasons for this.

One, if you eat the oil along with the fruit, nuts, etc., you get the oil delivered the way nature intended, which fills you up quicker so overall you’ll get less oil than you would if you poured oil into the pan for cooking.

Two, the roughage that you get with fruit, which is absent in a bottle of oil, slows the total absorption of oil into your system and enhances your gut ecosystem. Additionally, the plant oils all contain healthy oils, especially omega-3 oils known to be an oil that doesn’t negatively effect your body when used in moderation. Indeed, you’ll need some oil in your system to be healthy. 

“But what about coconut oil, which is predominantly saturated fat? Didn’t you use to eat a lot of it earlier in your Parkinson’s journey?” Why, yes I did. If you look back in the early entries in this blog, you can find where I posted that I ate 2-3 tbs. of it in my morning bowl of oatmeal at the time. I discontinued that mainly because I failed to see any benefit from it for me personally. Also, last year when I was on the Keto diet, I added a tbs. of it in my morning coffee, along with butter and heavy whipping cream, mainly because I needed the fat calories to maintain my weight. Now that I’m back to a carb-based diet, that would be way too much of any kind of oil.

Anyway, there is a lot of pro-coconut oil, as well as anti-coconut oil, people who may read this. I don’t want to get into it here, whether it is worth eating or not. On this diet, I’ll use it when it is appropriate, but if you eat it as coconut flesh and not as pure oil as I stated above, any potential negative effects from it will be mitigated. If you believe it is good for you, well, you don’t have to follow this diet. You are free to do what you want to do. But there is no scientific evidence that coconut oil is good for you, some case studies show that it is bad for you. I’m basing this on the best science that I can dig up. So I don’t plan on eating a lot of it. Most of it will be when I need to cook and the substitute butter I use contains it. In my case, very little.

I will use olive oil on my salads. I’ve read that due to compounds in it that heat turns into negative substances, I will probably avoid using it for cooking, but it has some good omega-3 oils that are beneficial, so on my salads it will go! I will add, though, that the majority of my oils will be from the foods themselves, not from a bottle of oil.

That’s it. My Parkinson’s Life Style Eating Plan. What do you think about it? What are its chances of helping my symptoms? Time will tell!

Monday, March 26, 2018

An Update of the Update of My Update

Here is the promised video blog containing my new choreography for Numa Numa Lei! Need I say more? Here's the vblog, v-dog. <g>

Friday, March 23, 2018

Overdue for an Update

Hi everyone. Yep, I've been busy of late. That's mainly why I've not put out a new update for a while. So I thought I would put up this brief update. No video, though I do have some video of me doing choreography to Numa Numa. And no, before anyone asks, it isn't me pumping my hands up and down and swaying back and forth, as funny as that would be to see. (New chair Zumba, anyone?)

Nope, this is real Zumba choreo that I created. I plan on revealing it at the Zumbathon.

Oh, you haven't heard about that? Well, let me fill you in as it is directly tied to the purpose of this blog.

First, what is a Zumbathon? It is a "marathon" Zumba dancercise in order to raise money for a cause. I'm hosting this Zumbathon at the Cottonwood Shores Community Center and Park: 4111 Cottonwood Dr., Cottonwood Shores, TX.

The "cause" I'm doing it for is to raise money for the Burnet County Parkinson's Support Group, to give them funds to do more programs and the like. Everyone who can come is welcome. There is a suggested donation (IOW, you don't have to donate, but put in whatever you are able) of $15.00 per person. It is scheduled to take place on 4/21/2018, from 2 to 4 pm. Come for the whole thing, leave early, or come late. Whatever you are able to do.

Leading the dances will be yours truely, Amanda Jaynes from the Burnet Y, and Meredith Jowers from the Rockport Y (formerly also from the Burnet Y too). In addition to us three, we may have a couple (or more) special guest Zumba leaders join us. So if you're in the area or can be on that Saturday afternoon, we'd love to have you come dance with us and support our cause!

Okay, so there is that. What else? Well, on my DBS progress, that is coming along nicely. I've become smoother in my motions more and more. The doctor told me it would take 3 to 6 months for the swelling in my brain to go down from the surgery. On the 29th of this month, it will officially be 6 months. So aside from some minor smoothing out of my motions, I guess this is about as good as it is going to get. How good? Well, I'll save that for the next video.

I've made some fine tuning of my settings recently, but am still not on any medications. I find it amazing still that if I turned off my unit, I would be a crazy shaking person. Instead, I'm typing right now about as smooth as I ever have.  And the cool thing is I'm this way all the time, every day! Sometimes I almost forget I have Parkinsons.

I did have one minor set back of late. Not even sure I should call it a setback as I don't know for sure if it affected me at all. I was going to change out a light bulb over the washer and dryer, which are in a closet area of a room in the house. So I set up the step stool and ascend it, only to have my head bump full speed into a door frame of where the doors would be if it were a closet.

It hurt, and I almost fell off, but instead ended up sitting on the bed (yep, the guest room is also our laundry room, weird house for sure). I waited to see if anything would happen. Upon feeling the top of my head where it hurt, I could tell I'd scratched it up pretty good. Luckily, it missed the spots where the appliances were installed, so no damage there. That would have been the worse case scenario, potentially requiring surgery to fix whatever might have been busted. The only other thing I  was worried about was potential swelling of that area of the brain. I haven't noticed any changes in my thinking or ability to move. So I think the fluid around the brain did its job in protecting it.

At any rate, I believed I dodged that bullet. I worry about what might happen if the appliances ever take a direct hit. Could even shift the leads enough to make them ineffective. I also scratch my head more where the wire goes down along the left side of my head. I worry if I could scratch enough that a hole appears and exposes the wire. I know logically that isn't likely to happen, but I still worry about it.

There are only two PD symptoms to date that DBS hasn't had any effect on. One, my runny nose. I had a constantly runny nose ever since the fall of 2012 when I first started showing signs of getting PD. I had a cold at the time, the cold ended but the runny nose didn't. And even though I've not had any cold since (thanks to the Vit C I take nearly every day, and the Zinc) my nose runs almost constantly. Some days are better than others, but I always have a box of kleenex next to me at my desk.

At any rate, this is a symptom that the drugs didn't even help with. The doctor at first thought it was allergies, but that medication didn't help relieve it. Then I ran across a study saying around 60% of PD patients also have runny noses. But it makes sense that this very non-motor symptom would still be there, being that DBS only helps with motor symptoms.

Some motorish symptoms, like constipation, I was also warned DBS might not affect. However, in that area DBS has definitely improved. I still take magnesium to aid in other areas, but I don't have any serious constipation problems anymore. Your mileage may vary if you have PD.

However, another motorish symptom hasn't been helped by PD. That is swallowing. Now, I do have pretty good swallows. My main area has been in taking pills where problems occured. Even that has improved some, and I usually now take them with Walnut milk, which has Omega-3 oils in them, which helps to not only provide more "slide" but also is thicker than water, so it makes the pills easier to swallow.

Where it is most evident, however, is in drooling. Everyonce in a while, I find myself trying to slurp drool back into my mouth. Doesn't happen all the time, so I guess normally it isn't a big problem. However, on occasion, it escapes! This is a symptom I know the carbadop/levadopa took care of. I could gage it I was overdue on my meds before on whether I would start drooling.

So the DBS has had some effect on that symptom as well. If it didn't, I'd be a drooling fool for sure. But it isn't 100% as good as the medications. I can hear my speech therapist saying, "Swallowing exercises." Yep, I need to do more of those to strengthen those muscles. I know that would help.

Other than those two things, however, I feel pretty normal most of the time. The only time it shows up more is when I'm playing pickle ball. I have it turned down as low as I dare to increase my ability to move smoother and play smoother, so the stress of playing often has my right arm tremoring somewhat. What they call "break-through tremors." But that happens to some extent (just not as bad) when it is up higher and I'm holding anything with my right hand. For some reason, that activates some tremors. If I'm not holding anything, it is steady. So since I'm holding the racket in my right hand, it would make sense that it would tremor somewhat. Once I start moving my right arm, though, it goes away.

Though I've wondered if that is also due in part to brain swelling. Mainly I say that because lately I've noticed at my regular setting, that it doesn't happen as much. I just picked up a pin and held it out, and no tremors. Before, it would have started tremoring. So that is some of the fine tuning that is happening as the remaining bit of brain swelling goes down.

On the cataract surgery side of things, nothing new to report there. I can still see great out of that eye. Good as new! Thank goodness.

The other news is the progress on my work. I probably mentioned that I started adding window washing to my wife's cleaning business back in December. Since then, work has gradually started to pick up. I just did a 2 hour job today. (Actually, yesterday as it is officially 12:04 am.) I did a full day job earlier this week, and a pressure washing job about mid-week. So work is coming in. Business is growing. I have an ad coming out in the local paper soon that is scheduled to run for 7 weeks. So that is likely to generate some extra work. It had better! I need that to pay for the ad.

Also, I'm zeroing in on getting two new books ready to publish, hopefully a fiction book by the end of the summer. It will be the forth and final installment of my Virtual Chronicles series. The first three are: Mind Game, Hero Game, and Virtual Game. This one will be Reality Game. The other one will be a religious non-fiction book that I hope to get published through a publisher,  called: Looking into the Christian Orthodox Church. It is basically a book designed for Orthodox inquirers and answers some of their questions. Very limited audience, I'll admit. But it is a book that has been on my mind to put together long before I started writing fiction in 2005. Figured I needed to get this out now if I was going to do it, since who knows how long I'll be able to write once the DBS isn't able to keep me stable enough.

So that's my "brief" update. Yea, yea, I know. Not so brief. But I'll have more, including me dancing on my next video when it comes out. Hopefully next week. Until then, imagine the unimaginable! (My favorite saying from my new book.)

Monday, December 18, 2017

My Parkinson's Journey: DBS and Cataract Surgeries Update

I've delayed getting  an update on my cataract surgery. Not because of anything bad happening, but just real busy it seems. So here it is, without further notice, here is my video!

Friday, December 1, 2017

I'm Doing Great So Far.

I've been doing great!

Just wanted to give everyone a heads up who has been following this blog. I can tell, so very slowly, that I'm getting more stable. Still doing steady enough and can type well enough, that I just finished around 25K words on my novel during the second half of November. Woot!

But still not quite good enough to do Zumba. But I can tell when I helped vacuum at a job the other evening, that wasn't quite as erratic in vacuuming as I was the time before. So there is some progress, however minor it may be. I was actually encouraged by a study on DBS. They wanted to see what people's experiences were before and after DBS surgery. The evaluated them shortly before their DBS surgery, but then waited between 9 and 12 months after their surgery before evaluating them again. Supposedly, by the time that rolls around, a lot of the getting used to it and settling down of the extremities should have happened. IOW, in around 6 months, when my doctor says is the outside time frame when I can expect to be back to normal, is when, well, I can get back to my normal life before DBS, except without the tremors!

I'm also going to have my cataract surgery on Dec. 13th. Two Wednesdays from now. I'm praying that I'm not one of the very few who end up with any complications. I know it chances of happening are pretty slim, and most come away from it seeing great, but there is still that chance. It may not be brain surgery (had it, survived it), but it is eye surgery. So pray that everything goes well.

That's the updates for now. I'll be checking back in with you shortly after the 13th.


Friday, November 3, 2017

My Parkinson's Journey: Post Deep Brain Stimulation Update

Hi. Time for another update. Some new news to report, as well as updating for old news.