October 1, 2013

Parkinson's Update: Entering Year Five

I'm in Montreal this week for the World Parkinson's Congress, so it seemed an appropriate time for a quick update on my own Parkinson's disease.

Checkup Visit with My Neurologist
I got a regular check-up last month. My doctor -- after asking some questions and administering a few physical tests -- tallied the results using the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale. Points range from 0 (no disease) to 199 (worst possible). My score has typically been nine or ten. This time, it was again ten, so . . . I'm still enjoying the Parkinson's "honeymoon" period after four years living with -- and managing -- the disease. I'm lucky: I've had no seriously disabling symptoms.

But Is My Honeymoon Coming to an End?
Despite my neurologist's encouraging report, I've experienced some peculiar symptoms recently. Since July, I've often had sinking spells after lunch, particularly on hot, humid days . . . and especially when I'm working in the garden or otherwise exerting myself. In addition to the unusual fatigue, I've had balance problems and -- a few times -- came close to fainting.

I check my blood pressure regularly, and have seen significant drops in my numbers during these spells.

I told my neurologist that -- on my own -- I'd started taking an extra half pill of levodopa at 5am and 11 am, hoping to avoid these unsettling spells. As a result, he increased my prescription so I could take five pills daily, not my customary four.

Now, my research shows I've probably exacerbated the problem with the extra medication. I'm eager to read more, and to try a few other suggestions to correct these midday problems .I'll report back on this shortly.


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