Friday, December 14, 2007

Tim, part VI, The Symptoms

Parkinsons Symptoms that I see.

A Parkinsons person will hold a glass at a tilt with the liquid almost spilling. Other people would automatically level out the glass, but with Parkinsons, unless it is actually spilling, it is not worth the extreme effort to adjust your wrist.
The Parkinson's mask: Limited facial expressions that limit interactions with new acquaintances. The family doesn't even notice because they read the eyes, which still dance and laugh just fine.
The hunch. People that have always had good posture will start drooping. I think gravity wins and you don't have the energy to keep telling the shoulder muscles to do their job.
The fish was thiiis big. If they are explaining the size of something, a Parkinsons person cannot just hold a finger on each hand six inches apart. They will touch their thumbs to create a bridge that keeps the two hands steady.
Rotating your hand. Try this at home. Hold your hand out with the palm down. Now rotate it to the palm up position. Notice that the whole assembly rotated around an axis that is almost at your middle finger, your “driving finger” if you are a New Yorker. To simulate how Tim and my Father would rotate their hands, try locking your thumb in one spot in the air and rotate your arm and hand around your thumb. Curl your fingers into a cup shape and you will approximate the look of a typical conversation. Both hands are connected by an invisible cable that goes up and over the shoulder so both hands will rotate simultaneously. Isn't that tiring? Are your arms sore? That is how every movement is when you no longer have an auto-pilot. You have to send a message to each muscle to tell it to move. They will still do it, but it is a lot of work. Sitting quietly and listening is much easier.
If you could bring me some food, it is even better.
Tippy toes. The knees bend, the arms reach forward, but you aren't able to shift your weight to actually lift one foot to slide it forward. You end up leaning into a crouch that looks like you are ready to jump off a dock, and then everyone stops and turns around to watch you jump off the dock, which makes it that much harder. Try walking across the room and concentrate on a few steps to take note of how you shift your weight from one leg to the other one, lift, slide, place, shift weight. It's very complicated.
Obstacles. When you have parkinsons you can step up over a curbing, but you can't walk down the sidewalk. A long hallway can stop you cold because there are no obstacles. Walking down railroad tracks would keep your mind from wandering so that you can concentrate on which muscles need moving. When you are in a long hallway, the person next to you will ALWAYS start chattering because THEY have gone into auto-pilot mode, and if they expect a reply from you, forward movement has to stop while you are talking. Very frustrating.
An interesting tidbit: Parkinsons patients do not burn. In nursing homes where parkinsons patients have been bedridden for years, if the fire alarm rings, the patient who couldn't walk will run to the sidewalk. They can't stand up when they are out there and will keep falling down, but they can run down stairs faster than anyone. It seems that adrenaline can make auto-pilot work for anyone.
Intelligence. This isn't official, but most people that I have seen with Parkinsons are very smart and very funny. The kind of people that I like to hang around with.


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