This will be a weekly posting from now on. I'll report on how I'm doing in living with Parkinson's. As is the case with the blog itself, while 5-HTP is in the heading of this post, the journal will cover Parkinson's-related issues in general.
I hope to make the weekly posts fairly succinct, but this one will be long, since I want to establish the base line on where I am today.. Bear with me.
Week's Events in Brief
This was a busy week. Lots of bridge -- my regular Monday bridge at the Iona senior center, the every-other Tuesday bridge at the Westchester Apartments, a very enjoyable game at my house on Friday with good friends, and the frequent Saturday game with a bridge-playing friend at an assisted living facility. Interesting visit on Sunday to the National Portrait Gallery's excellent Hide/Seek exhibit and supper that night with one of my Nepali pals, lunch at the National Gallery on Tuesday with three fellow BNA retirees, very enjoyable lunch on Wednesday with a friend I've known since 1956 followed by the evening performance of the Shakespeare Theatre's Candide (see note below), and ending the week with a gourmet meal at a good friend's condo Friday night. .
It was nice to see Candide sober. My wife and I saw (sort of) the original Broadway production of Candide on the night of our wedding (January 19, 1957). We were married in Washington in the morning, had a many-martini lunch after the wedding and drank our way to NYC on the train. A friend had given us tickets to Candide as a wedding present. We decided early on in the show that we didn't like it and we were vocal about our opinions. We were asked to leave.Now, 53 years later (32 of them sober!), I found Candide delightful.
Interesting week. I mistakenly took two 100 mg. pills Sunday night. The Manic Monday that followed is detailed in earlier posts below. I kept with the regular dosage for the rest of the week until yesterday. Since I had nothing on my calendar for today, I decided to experiment with taking a 50 mg. pill Saturday afternoon and the usual 100 mg.at night. I was wide awake at 4 a.m. this morning. I woke up with the idea for this weekly journal and laid in bed for 10 minutes or so as ideas came surging in on how to go about it.
I've mentioned before in other postings this unusual waking up with ideas for resolving things that had been bothering me or with a bombardment of new ideas. Prior to taking 5-HTP, I'd never experienced anything like this. My 5-HTP research hasn't uncovered reports on similar experiences, however.
I may continue to experiment with an extra 50 mg. of 5-HTP every once in a while in the future just to see if I continue to have these bursts of creativity and energy. But I'm not too keen on the hyper mood this extra dose generates.
I don't have the tremor problem usually associated with PD. Instead my issue is balance. Sinemet and now its generic (carbidopa/levadopa) alleviated the serious problems I was having with this prior to my 9/09 diagnosis. I also have benefited greatly from training I got this summer at Georgetown University Hospital in BIG -- an exercise program devised for people with PD. (I'll do a posting on this in the next week or so.)
The PD meds I take are 1 mg of Azilect on awakening and 25/100 mg of carbidopa/levodopa (Sinemet) three times during the day -- wake-up, 11 a.m., 6 p.m. and a bedtime 50/100 extended release carbidopa/levodopa. The dosage is the same as I started with back in 9/09 except that early this year my neurologist (Dr. Laxman Bahroo who is affiliated with Georgetown University Hospital's center on movement disorders and Parkinson's) changed the bedtime dosage to the ER(extended release) carbidoba/levodopa since I was waking up in the morning with some aches and pains in my legs.
Normally I'm a pretty upbeat person with lots of energy (bordering on ADHD!). But I had a bad spell with a very unusual and sudden onset of depression, insomnia and panic attacks that began in May 2006.. I attributed this at the time to a reaction to my abuse of Tylenol PM and ambien during and after a trip to Nepal. Over the course of the summer, I was prescribed trazodone, remeron, Lunesta, Rozerem, Lexapro, and clonazepam, none of which worked. Most made it worse. Finally it was suggested I try a holistic approach, which eventually did work (see my earlier posting on meditation). I remain convinced that overuse of Tylenol PM and ambien was the triggering culprit.
After that (and the 11/06 installation of blackout curtains-- see insomnia heading later in this posting), I had several years of feeling great. Often I'd be out for a walk and would find myself saying spontaneously "I love my life!" Then I had a year or two of Parkinson's related depression.
After the PD diagnosis (9/09)., I was prescribed the old-line antidepressant Elavil. It addressed both the insomnia and the depression but it resulted in my gaining 5 pounds and in feeling groggy in the morning. When I switched neurologists to Dr. Bahroo in January 2010, he expressed concern about the cognitive side effects of Elavil. Since that's the last thing I need given my fears about Alzheimer's, I decided to try 5-HTP. Bingo! I'm now back to "I love my life" and I'm fairly energetic for an 81-year-old.
Before the onset of Parkinson's, sleep had not been a problem until 1997 when, without warning, as I started to drift off to sleep I would experience a body jerk and then would be wide awake for much of the remainder of the night. This continued most every night.
I'm faithful about performing my BIG PD exercises just about every day. The program calls for doing the exercises twice a day. I only do them once, but I also do some exercises that my physical therapist had recommended for dealing with PD.