Lacock English Cottage

Ivy covered stone cottage

Lacock English Cottage

If you see something that moves you, and then snap it, you keep a moment. ~  Linda McCartney

Lacock is a quintessential English village with charm galore. Streets are lined with ivy-covered stone cottages and timber-framed buildings. It has appeared in Downton Abbey, BBC’s Pride and Prejudice, and Harry Potter. I was fortunate to visit Lacock on a field trip while attending The 2017 Oxford Experience. Now I could live in this captivating little abode. Look at the blue and white jardinière in the window. My kind of place!

Photo Credit:  Linda A. Mohr

3-Year Timeline of Parkinson’s Signs

Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.
Soren Kierkegaard
Danish philosopher (1813 – 1855)

I embarked on a circuitous route for three years headed for an unknown destination. Only later would I understand a myriad of Parkinson’s signs.

What Does It All Mean?

March 2011

A four-hour drive to a book  fair left me struggling to get out of my car. I had driven the same car for five years and now I had to drag myself out of the car. I thought this challenge came with “aging” since I had recently turned 61.

November 2011

I was walking awkward. My gait was off. I used to walk fast. My long fluid strides were gone. It seemed like I had forgotten how to walk.

February 2012

I was at a weekly yoga class. I don’t recall what pose I was attempting on my right side. What I do remember is my teacher’s comment.
“I recommend you see a neurologist.”

March 2012

One morning a professor was running late. She asked me to write a note on the chalk board so students would wait. To my astonishment, I could not write big. Over two years, my handwriting got tinier and almost illegible. Joe had trouble reading my notes. I could barely read my own minuscule handwritten “To Do” lists. Still I was not alarmed. I thought my problem was right elbow tendonitis. Even a doctor thought so.

When it was time to prepare hand written Thanksgiving cards for the faculty, my graduate assistants wrote the message. I managed to sign 50 cards.

April 2012

While walking on the campus, a colleague on an adjacent sidewalk called out to me.
“What’s wrong with your arm?”
“What do you mean?”
“You are holding your right arm funny.”
I looked down and the arm was stiff and slightly curved across my stomach. That’s odd.
“Oh, nothing. It is fine.”

May 2012

I paid attention to my arms and noticed my right arm did not swing when I walked. It just hung at my side. I was perplexed. I watched people walk and arms moved. Even children moved their arms! My arm responded to my command:  swing that arm. However, I never had to talk to my arm before to get it to move.  I thought maybe I had suffered a mini stroke.

Summer 2013

Pain in my right elbow was unbearable. The year before I moved a piece of furniture and then aggravated the injury while carrying a heavy shopping bag. I also spent most working hours on the computer. I managed the pain with acupuncture and a steady diet of Aleve.  An orthopedic surgeon diagnosed tendonitis. A physical therapist administered treatments for several months. I eventually got better. In October, a can of cat food hit the top of my right foot causing a hairline fracture and pain that trumped the elbow pain!

January 2014

After my foot healed, a balance problem developed. I tipped backwards without warning. If I stooped down, I landed on the floor. I consulted an ear specialist certain he would find an inner ear issue or worse yet an acoustic neuroma. After various negative tests, a MRI also ruled out a brain tumor. I was advised to see a neurologist.

April 2014

I saw a nurse practitioner for an unrelated issue. A casual conversation led to mentioning my balance and walking challenges. With a serious look and tone she said, “You need to see a neurologist immediately.” The next morning she called with a referral.

May 13, 2014

I reached the destination of a long  three-year journey. In a simple  two-hour consultation that uncovered  Parkinson’s signs, the neurologist puzzled out diagnosis.

Question:  What were your Parkinson’s signs that led to diagnosis?

I would love to hear your story.

Blessings!

Linda

Photo Credit Jamie Street

Neurology Exam Reveals Parkinson’s Diagnosis

fountain, palm trees, flowers

In the midst of loss, there is beauty. A favorite site I photographed at The Breakers, Palm Beach.

Some statements I will remember the rest of my life because they changed my life. Like the hospital call about my boyfriend—Mr. Kraft has taken a turn for the worse. Like my veterinarian’s call—You have a very sick kitty. Like my sister’s call about mother—She’s gone. Like my neurologist’s diagnosis—You have Parkinson’s.

My first neurology exam

I was ninety minutes into a neurology consultation. It started with an electroencephalography (EEG) to check my brain wave activity. I rested on a bed for an hour while a technician gelled my hair and attached electrodes all over my scalp and connected leads to her computer. The diagnostic test was simple and painless. I had a blanket to snuggle under, and I even got to close my eyes most of the time.  I looked funny after the test because my hair was a gooey mess reminding me of too much Dippity Do. She mentioned the doctor always wondered what she’d create next. She gave me a comb to try to make it look better and assured me the gel would shampoo out. But I did not care. I wanted to see the doctor.

The Parkinson’s diagnosis

He watched me walk straight down a twenty-foot hallway, make a turn and walk back. Then we sat down in an exam room. He asked me many questions about my past health and family medical history. Did I have trouble sleeping or getting dressed? Had my handwriting gotten smaller? Had my sense of smell changed? Had I fallen in the past year? On and on! He typed on the computer keyboard as I talked. I drew a clock and placed hands and numbers around it. I performed some physical tests like standing up while he pulled me backward and forward by my shoulders. We played finger games as I responded to commands. I tapped my fingers together in a coordinated way as fast as I could. I moved my finger from the tip of my nose to the tip of his fingers. I gripped his hand.

Then the defining moment that came this time in a question—Has anyone in your family had Parkinson’s Disease? As I whispered, No, I felt like I had been punched in the solar plexus. The game changer question was suspended in the air for the last painless test. The electrodiagnostic test on my legs and ankles measured the electrical activity of muscles and nerves. When he completed it, all I remember are two words—Parkinson’s disease. He may have said, “You have the early symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.” Or “you have several symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.” Or simply, “You have Parkinson’s disease.”

How long can I live with Parkinson’s?

I was stunned speechless. I probably had a deer in the headlights dazed look! He explained that symptoms were different for each patient. I was glad he talked because I was incapable of putting two words together. Not everyone has tremors or shakes, I learned. I did not—at least not yet. He tried to reassure me that he had patients who had lived good quality lives for over two decades even though there is no cure for a Parkinson’s diagnosis.  As the consultation ended, I managed to ask what references he recommended that would not scare me. He suggested that Parkinson’s for Dummies was light reading.  I did not know if he was serious or not.  He gave me three weeks of sample pills to take daily with instructions to schedule another appointment. I left the office on a glorious sun drenched  South Florida day, Tuesday, May 13, 2014—my life going down an extraordinary path I would have never imagined.

Question: How did you find out your Parkinson’s diagnosis? I would love to hear from you.

Blessings!

Linda

Suppertime

A bee on a white wild flower

Suppertime

When I was growing up, my mother took us wild flower hunting in the spring. In April of 2017,  I was at the Missouri farm and decided to reenact the adventure. Usually I visit in summer, fall and winter, so finding wild flowers was a treat. I have long forgotten the name of this plant, but there was no question about the bee!