Blogging with Parkinson's

A personal perspective on Young Onset Parkinson's


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I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night)

Last night, I was entertained by an enthralling thriller, a road movie with good guys, bad guys, indeterminate sort-of-grey guys and, outside it all, the police (who stopped my car because I was carrying too many passengers). There was a bit of running around and rescuing people, too, but that bit’s gone rather hazy now. No doubt the plot – if I could remember it all – wouldn’t stand up to scrutiny, but it all seemed cohesive enough at the time, and it was a bit of an epic, too!

The reason I mention it – quite apart from the fact that it was one of those dreams that you want to return to in order to see what happens next – was that, right near the end, there was one of those moments that happen in dreams where you try to do something (in this case, I was trying to throw a bottle of chocolate milk at one of the indeterminate guys), but you just can’t do it. And the reason was quite clear; even in my dream, I had Parkinson’s. My arm wasn’t working properly. (The only worrying aspect was that neither arm worked properly in this dream. But I always was rubbish at throwing stuff anyhow.)

Apparently, violent or vivid dreams can be part of the symptom set of Parkinson’s, or a side effect of the medication. This dream wasn’t unduly violent, although it was vivid (not, I think, unusually so). I rather enjoyed it.

Anyway, here are the Electric Prunes, from whom I borrowed the post title:

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Going Viral: a potential new disease-modifying therapy for Parkinson’s

Cap'n Viral. By yours trulyScientists at the University of Cambridge have reported on a promising new concept in treating Parkinson’s. Harnessing the survival and invasive properties of two separate viruses, they hope to be able to prevent cell death in the human brain. The therapy should also be of benefit for other neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s disease.

While it is a little disturbing to read the familiar names of the two viral donors – herpes and rabies – the Cambridge news article assures its readers that “there is no danger of contracting any disease from either virus.” The team took advantage of the survival mechanism of the herpes virus and the rabies’ virus ability to cross the blood-brain barrier. Continue reading


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Oxidative stress may not be to blame

Yellow light signals emitted by the biosensor indicate oxidant production in the tissue of a migrating fly larva. Source: Tobias Dick, German Cancer Research Center

The antioxidant myth is a persistent one, and one that I have touched upon before. It has been suggested that excess oxidants may be a cause of Parkinson’s, as they are reputed to make cells die quicker. However, recently reported research from Germany knocks another nail into the coffin of the myth: it reveals how oxidative stress affects fruit flies.

Scientists at the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) added genes for special biosensors into the genetic material of the flies. The biosensors emit a light signal to indicate “the oxidative status of each cell […] in realtime, in the whole organism and across the entire life span.” Continue reading


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Coffee and Genes

"Coffee for Two", oil on paper

I like coffee, but I don’t consume large amounts of it (as may be evident from the cleanliness of my coffee-making paraphernalia in the painting).

But some people who do drink lots and lots and lots of coffee may be doing themselves a favour – as well as keeping themselves awake, of course.  It’s actually pretty old news that caffeine has, in large quantities, a protective effect against developing Parkinson’s. The new news is that the effectiveness of this extreme coffee consumption may be genetic. Apparently, heavy coffee drinkers with a particular variant of the GRIN2A gene (“which regulates brain signals that control movement and behavior”) are even less likely to develop Parkinson’s than other heavy coffee drinkers Continue reading


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Ropinirole Diary, Titration and a New Consultant

Drawing of a burette

I’ve given the weekly ropinirole diary a bit of a rest of late, not least because it was getting very tedious. I think there may have been some benefit at 4mg, but it hadn’t sorted out the dystonia in my left foot (a desirable target) nor given me confidence in my ability to tie shoelaces (a measure of sorts). I was also failing the automatic watch test. It hasn’t noticeably changed my personality yet, so that much is good.

As I had a regular consultant’s appointment a couple of days ago, I decided to bring the subject up there. I was slightly surprised to find myself meeting a new consultant – apparently the previous incumbent had decided to spend less time in my local hospital (I understand that he’s based 40 or so miles away), and so I have a new consultant. Naturally, the appointment turned into a sort of introductory session where she went over some old ground, as was only right and proper.

She wanted to know why I had chosen to try ropinirole rather than levadopa; was it that I was concerned about scares that levadopa made the Parkinson’s worse? I wasn’t aware of any such scare. My reasons were more to do with the apparent limited timescale that levadopa works without side effects. She didn’t seem completely convinced, but, equally, she didn’t offer any counter arguments.

We moved onto the dosage of my ropinirole. How many tablets was I taking daily? One – the prolonged release version, containing 4mg. She evidently would have preferred it if I was on the multi-tablet regime, but accepted my argument that I’m not very good at remembering to take them. She even admitted that the one tablet she takes is quite often forgotten. The reason it is “better” to be on the multiple tablet regime is that it is easier to “titrate” the dosage – basically, the simpler tablets are available in smaller increments.  (Titration is a means of adding small amounts of something to determine the minimum quantity required to achieve a desired effect. It is done in chemistry using a burette – a long, calibrated glass tube with a tap at the bottom). But if I forget tablets at random, the titration will not work. So we’re going up 2 mg.

My agreeable GP has already supplied me with a prescription. I’ll start tomorrow… and the new consultant says that the results should be observable within a few days, possibly a week.


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Ouch!

I must confess that my back has not been entirely right for some time. But I realise that the tension across my shoulders is most likely to be Parkinson’s-related, and I know that it’s something I’m probably just going to have to put up with. But a few weeks ago, something happened to my lower back – it may have been related to moving a big box of books (or it may not) – and I started getting sharp pains, when I leant at a certain angle, that were totally different.

I tried waiting for the pains to go away. I tried mild pain killers (paracetamol, ibuprofen). Still there. Painkillers had little effect. It seemed to get better as the day wore on and I went about my usual activities. Exercise seemed to help – but not running (too jarring), and I didn’t fancy cycling either (too fixed in a bent position). Walking good. Yoga OK, mostly. Housework quite painful. Painting (pictures), thankfully, quite acceptable, but probably not beneficial with respect to my back.

But the pains still came back. So yesterday I went to the doctor’s. The chap I saw is very agreeable (almost overly so; you suggest a cause and he says yes, that’s probably it. Must stop putting ideas in his head). He gave me a prescription for co-codamol (paracetamol with codeine) and some cautions about using it, and suggested swimming. Oh, and he agreed that being distinctly lopsided and stiff with Parkinson’s has probably inhibited the natural recovery. Probably.

Must make time to get to a pool. I know he’s right about that one. Even without the back pain.