Blogging with Parkinson's

A personal perspective on Young Onset Parkinson's


Just Walk 2012

Last year, I signed up for Just Walk and many generous people sponsored me to complete my 20 km over the South Downs in West Sussex. Unfortunately, I was laid low by the ‘flu and a chest infection, which prevented me from participating in the event… but not from walking my 20 km of downs. I did the distance over similar terrain (closer to home) later in the year.

This year, I’ve had the ‘flu jab. This year, I’m not going to be stopped. This year, I’m going to join in with everybody else and experience the organised event. This year, I’m going to find out how my version of the walk compares to the real thing…

And, this year, I’m asking for sponsorship again. My new Just Giving page is awaiting your sponsorship…
JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

All monies raised will go (more or less) straight to Parkinson’s UK, the largest and most influential charity for Parkinson’s in the UK. They fund research into cures and therapies, provide information and advice and lobby for better health services – among many other things. And they’re nice people, too.



Chiclet Keyboards and Recalcitrant Touch Pads

I have a new laptop. It’s very nice, but I really don’t like the keyboard. It’s one of those “chiclet” keyboards (the name is something to do with American chewing gum) that are supposed to save space and be generally wonderful. Well, I don’t like it. I was already having trouble hitting the keys on the left hand side hard enough – now it seems that I can’t hit any key hard enough. And it really is this keyboard, or this type of keyboard; I’ve been using a desktop elsewhere, and that is just fine and dandy (with the possible exception of those tricky A’s). Continue reading

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Non-lnvasive Brain Stimulation as a Therapy for Parkinson’s

Yes, I made this.

An illustrative tin foil hat.

Further to my recent post on DBS (deep brain stimulation), it has been pointed out to me that the brain can be stimulated without surgery to implant a stimulation device. Naturally, the effects of external stimulation are less – and, I imagine, are rather awkward to administer – but at least there is no brain surgery involved.

How effective are these procedures?

(And if you want to skip the academic science-y bit, I’ve included the following options:

  • Click here to go straight to my answer to the above question
  • Click here to go straight to the fun, “Wow, tDCS is cool!” bit)

Continue reading


Sarah Nock’s “Ponderings on Parkinson’s”

I’ve been dipping into this delightful volume on and off for a few weeks now. It’s that type of book; you can tell from the title. Sarah Nock may not be a “Young Parkie” (she writes, at one point, of having become “embroiled with PD at the optimum age: l was still needed, perhaps, but I certainly wasn’t indispensable.” I’m not sure that she mentions the age at which she was diagnosed, but one gets the impression that she may have been in her 60s.

Reading this book is a bit like going back in time, to an indeterminate period when everybody was more polite than they are now, and ladies had companions. (Not that there are any ladies’ companions in the book, although  the author does have a part time job as a lady’s secretary, which is vaguely similar.) It’s like sitting down and having a delightful conversation with the author, listening as she meanders from one Parkinson’s-related topic to another. She is wryly amused by the bizarre symptoms she encounters, and full of advice for other Parkies. She seems particularly fond of her folding walking-stick-cum-stool, which I think is this model from the National Trust. She’s also a fan of selected alternative therapies, which are best left to her to tell you about, if you are interested enough to get hold of a copy of the book.

It’s by no means a depressing book; Mrs. Nock has either had a reasonably easy ride of it so far (and she’s 20 years or more along her journey) or is remarkably good at ignoring the worst (possibly for her readers’ benefit). It’s a very English book, with the sort of quaint Englishness that Americans admire and which, I think, is gradually slipping from our grasp.

The book is available from Amazon UK or direct from the publisher, Ferry House Books. An audio CD version of the book is also available, as is Sarah Nock’s own selection of favourite poems.

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Successful Stem Cell Implantation in Primates Announced

A picture of a crab-eating monkey, borrowed from Wikipedia

Japanese researchers have successfully “cured” Parkinson’s-like symptoms in crab-eating monkeys by implanting nerve cells derived from stem cells into their brains.

[Associate Prof. Jun Takahashi of Kyoto University’s Institute for Frontier Medical Science and his] research team used the embryonic stem cells to cultivate a cell mass in which 35 percent of the cells were dopamine-producing neurons.

These neurons then were transplanted into the four crab-eating monkeys, whose conditions were observed over a one-year period.

According to the study, the monkeys exhibited reduced shaking of their limbs half a year later. They had remained nearly motionless inside their cages all day long before the transplant, but the improvement of their symptoms eventually enabled them to occasionally walk around the cages.

“Stem cells reduce monkeys’ Parkinson’s symptoms”, The Daily Yomiuri

This is positive, albeit distinctly uncomfortable. Continue reading