January 13, 2011
My Parkinson's Week (4) -- Ambien vs. 5-HTP, progress on incontinence
Here's a rundown on the major PD happenings of the past week:
Ambien vs. 5-HTP
One night last week I ran into a technical glitch on the computer that had me panicked and working until 2 a.m. to come up with a solution. As a recovering alcoholic I should know better, but I decided to try an ambien at bedtime to assure a good night's sleep. I did sleep for a solid 8 hours but the next day I felt terrible -- groggy, mildly depressed, apathetic. This even continued, although lessened, into the next day. I gladly returned to my regular bedtime 100 mg 5-HTP. No serious side effects have been found with 5-HTP.
Contrast this with the list of warnings agreed to by Lunesta (ambien) and the FDA and recited in the Lunesta commercial you often see on TV:
Here's a funny spoof:
More Incontinence Training
I had another training session at Georgetown University Hospital on the incontinence exercises I described in earlier posts ( ) I was doing fine on the basic Kegel exercises, but I found out that I'd been doing the "transverse abdominal exercise" all wrong. It took all of the scheduled hour for me to get the hang of how to do this exercise. We found that, for me, trying the exercise lying down just didn't work. So now I do it both sitting and standing. It requires (1) taking a deep in-breath,inhaling up (raise the body), not out, (2) slowly letting it out while pulling in your belly button and stomach as though you were tightening your belt, (3) at the same time tightening your pelvic floor muscles (Kegel exercise, and (4) doing this exhale exercise to a count of five.
It's tough, at least for me, to learn this without the help of a trained physical therapist.
But it does produce results. As I reported earlier, the basic Kegel exercises almost immediately reduced my nighttime trips to the bathroom from 3 or 4 per night to one. Now, combining the new exercise with the Kegel, I've found that in the past week I've been able to sit through a two-hour-plus movie without a rest room break and a similarly long play.
Lisa, my physical therapist, also is encouraging me to extend the time interval between bathroom visits during the day to at least an hour or longer. And then gradually increase the interval. This is to reprogram the mind not to give in immediately when the urinary urge first arises.
Meditation and 5-HTP
My bedtime 5-HTP combined with meditation when I wake for a bathroom break at 4 a.m.
has resulted in my looking forward to the 4 a.m. wakefulness as one of my favorite times of the day. Previously I had viewed this as a time of anxious concern about whether I could get back to sleep. Now I meditate for anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, usually, but a couple of times the interval extended to nearly 2 hours. I count this meditation time as the equivalent of sleep time. Then I go back to bed and easily fall back to sleep for another couple of hours.
Another good week.