March 14, 2014

My Internist Agrees: The Cruise Left My Energy Bank Seriously Overdrawn

I’ve had Parkinson’s for at least five years. Until now, the progress of the disease has seemed slow and gradual. As a result, I was surprised by the setbacks I experienced on my recent trip to South America.

My Internist Weighs In
I returned home last Saturday, made an appointment with my internist on Monday, and saw her Wednesday. I had two issues:

1). The falls:  I had two major falls.  The first one  left me with pain in my sternum, but it only hurt when I coughed or took a deep breath. My internist said it was either a bruise or a fracture, and -- either way -- I just needed time for healing.

2). The fatigue, weakness, and increasing unsteadiness: These symptoms were trickier. But she agreed with me: it was foolish for an almost 85-year-old to undertake such an adventure on his own.

Last December, I started using two electronic gadgets to help reduce blood pressure and stress. Since they seemed to help, I stopped taking my bp meds . . . with my internist's reluctant agreement. On the cruise, I experienced some scary bp spikes. At our session Wednesday, my blood pressure reading in her office was something like 175/95 (150/90 is the new upper limit guideline for someone my age). I told her the readings I'd been getting at home since my return were usually below 150/90.

We debated whether I should return to the bp meds and agreed that I'll stay pill free for the next two weeks while continuing to carefully monitor my blood pressure and record the results in the log I keep. We'll revisit the issue when I see her again on March 25 and I'll bring my log with me.

My Energy Bank
I went to bed Wednesday evening feeling especially punk. When I awoke at 3am for my usual bathroom visit and “joy of quiet” time, I meditated longer than usual; 90 minutes sped by and ended with my having lots of thoughts about where I am and what I can do about it.

During that time, I thought about my energy bank idea, which I really like (since the idea is mine). I particularly like the comparison of my energy bank to the regular bank account of someone my age who is living on income limited to social security benefits,. We're both pinched.

That guy is constantly making choices about spending his limited dollars. I need to make better choices about spending my own limited energy. Until now, my maxim has been -- anything worth doing is worth overdoing.
That approach needs to change.

Later I realized I'd been describing this as a "setback." I wonder if this indicates I'm in denial about the fact that Parkinson's IS a progressive disease. I'd been thinking that with a week or two of rest and relaxation, I'd be better than ever. Not likely.

Pause for Reflection
This recent experience, coinciding as it does with  my first five years with Parkinson's and the approach of my 85th birthday, has prompted some thoughts  that I'll share in future posts,

Sneak preview: Included is the question of whether I should continue driving.

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