December 4, 2013

Parkinsonian Bum Arm = Shorter Blog Posts?

I hear a crescendo of voices shouting “Hooray!”

Parkinson’s Disease and My Right Arm
Most people -- including doctors -- recognize Parkinson's disease (PD) when they see the  tremor, which usually begins in one hand. But about 20 percent of us with PD don’t experience the tremor . . . an absence that often delays diagnosis, as it did in my case. That belated diagnosis four years ago came only after my kids, noticing that my right arm didn't "swing" naturally when I walked, urged me to see a neurologist.

Thanks to medication and exercise, I'm doing pretty well. But I see increasing signs of PD-related muscle stiffness and rigidity. The disease continues to target my right side, particularly my arm. A ligament tear three years ago weakened it, compounding the problem.

For the past couple of months, I've been frustrated by the many typos and other errors I'm making when writing on the computer.  I'm probably averaging six or more errors for each line I type. I'm trying to cut back on the time I spend on the computer.  This doesn't help.

The Damn Computer Keyboard Doesn’t Work!
Typically, when things go wrong, I look to assign "blame" elsewhere. So the computer keyboard was my first target; So I tossed it out and tried a new one. When that didn't work, I tried another. Here's evidence of how well that worked:

The Keyboard Wasn't the Problem
I ended up with a pricey ergonomic split keyboard that helped . . . 

. . . but errors continued. At the World Parkinson Congress in Montreal two months ago, I attended a session for bloggers with PD, like me. The experienced facilitator asked each participant to identify his biggest problem. I said "the deterioration of my keyboarding skills." His immediate response: “Get Dragon voice recognition software.”

Old Dog, New Trick
Within a week, Amazon one-click brought the software to my home office.

And there it sits.

I'm a “neophiliac,” addicted to novelty, especially when it looks like fun. But Dragon involves reading instructions that probably will border on incomprehensible and will require more patience than my ADD provides..  

Increasing errors have probably doubled my time at the keyboard. I need to do something. Hoping to extend my Dragon procrastination, I scheduled an appointment this week with an occupational therapist. Maybe I'll get some new exercises to revive my right arm.

Wishful thinking? Probably. I suspect I’ll have to make friends with the Dragon by year's end.


I joked that my bum arm might mean briefer blog posts. In fact, shortening my posts is an early New Year’s resolution. Please don’t hesitate to remind me  -- in blog comments or emails -- when I've ignored this resolution.

My “less is more” mantra applies here, too.

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