DBS Basics: Dyskinesia

Dyskinesia is the writhing motion that most people associate with Parkinson’s. It is a side effect of the “gold standard” treatment for PD, which is a drug with the brand name Sinemet. Sinemet is basically dopamine, which is what our PD brains have stopped making.

The best example that you may have seen is Michael J. Fox, of course. When you see him interviewed, he’s moving around like a man possessed. That’s because he took his Sinemet and the levels (of the drug, and the stress of the interview) are too high. The alternative would be to see him in an “off” state, which in his case (and mine) means uncontrollable tremor, stiffness and rigidity, stooped posture and (for him) freezing — like a  statue, while walking or getting out of a chair.

Most people associate PD with dyskinesia, but that’s actually incorrect. PD is characterized by a lack of movement. I used to fluctuate between those two poles six times a day — the times when I had to take Sinemet. And that’s a different explainer altogether!

Diabetes Update

Our daughter is out of pediatric intensive care, off the IV drips, and rehydrated. Hopefully she got a good night’s sleep, because we’ve got a lot to learn today and tomorrow, before coming home from the hospital. This still seems unbelievable, surreal.

Dr. Hamill and the Soul of Neurology

I delivered these comments to 300 people at a testimonial dinner in honor of Dr. Robert Hamill, chairman of the neurology program at the University of Vermont, on Oct. 16, 2009. Both of the past presidents of the Vermont chapter of the American Parkinson Disease Association (I’m one of them) and the current president, Michael O’Connor, spoke, as did two of his colleagues, his long-time nurse, Jean Baker, the national APDA president, and Dr. Hamill’s three daughters.

Read more: Dr. Hamill and the Soul of Neurology

Happiness is … the remastered Beatles’ White Album

Santa came early this year. Thank you FedEx for delivering The Beatles stereo boxed set today. Where does one start? I figured that the remastering would show itself best on the work I’m most familiar with, so I started here. Good choice. The audio is substantially clarified, the stereo separation outstanding. Most dramatic is the bottomless depth and virtuosity of Paul’s bass, and the extraordinary revelation of Ringo’s drums. You can hear the kick, the subtlety of the fills. Incredible.

I remember the vinyl as having longer pauses between the songs, but this remaster restores brilliant details to those passages, making the whole package far more cohesive. The booklet’s notes from George Martin said the final session was a 24-hour marathon in which he and the band sequenced the sings and worked on the transitions and cross fades. I wouldn’t have believed it until listening to this package.

Prime cuts: The acoustic tunes, such as Blackbird and Julia, come through with a new level of intimacy. Dear Prudence brings a tear to the eye. The construction of Revolution #9, its sonic sweep … and to think that they created this on an eight-track? I’m running out of superlatives!  I’m So Tired: you can actually hear the mumbling at the end of the song. (I still don’t know what’s being said.) Other standouts: the overlooked tunes Long, Long, Long; Savoy Truffle; Cry Baby Cry.

Wow. There is much to be discovered in this massive collection.

Far Out! Far-Infrared Detox Foot Bath

It sounds pretty wacky, and it is, but in a good way. My long-time masseuse, Shelly, set me up with this spa treatment. Here’s what I experienced today:

With both feet immersed in a large bowl of clean water, an “ionizer” is placed in the bath. It’s connected to a control unit that also leads to a fingertip electrode and a “far infrared” belt that wrapped around my waist (clothes on). Lisa, the person setting me up, then handed me a laminated card with info on what I could expect.

During the course of the half hour, the bowl went from crystal clear to something I left in the toilet the last time I had the flu. Not pretty. I couldn’t see my toes a few inches down in the water, a color somehwere between green and brown with persistent bubbles and a cloudiness rather like chicken bullion. The laminated card had a legend that explained what the colors meant: brown means the colon is being detoxified, bubbles mean alcohol byproducts are being drawn out of the body, and so forth. I had a good number of bubbles, even though I’m not much of a drinker. The color of the water corresponded with muscles and joints being detoxified. But the turbidity — serious cloudiness — also correlates to “toxic overload.”

That water was seriously nasty, and there was no way it was being generated by some bit of trickery. To think of all that yuck being drawn out through the feet … what a mind-blower. Did I feel different afterward? Well, yes, I guess I did. I felt, and still feel, a little more clearheaded and alert. And besides, when it was over, my feet weren’t sweating any brownish goop, so what’s there to complain about?

Lisa said the electrode on the fingertip was part of a system of warming the viscera (internal organs, like liver, kidneys, etc) via the far-infrared belt. Far out! Only thing is that I’m not sure I’ll be able to do this after the DBS unit is installed — the electrical current might be a problem. Suzanne says I should go back a couple of times before heading down for the surgery. I’ll see what the schedule allows … and I can probably do the FIR sauna as an alternative.

A Google search turns up quite a few references, but not much in the way of science. But there is something there there.