Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Ups and Downs of On and Off

The Honeymoon stage is over and I am now in the stage of Parkinson's that is called "On and Off" - I know, the technical terms are tough to keep up with. On and Off means that my medications don't work smoothly any more, so everyday I ride a roller coaster of symptoms, usually with a few hours of "on" time where I am almost pain and symptom free.

In the morning, I go through a dystonic stage. This means that my muscles and tendons cramp up - my fingers and toes curl up, my feet turn inward so that it is impossible for me to walk (I used to try to walk, until I broke a bone in my foot), and my whole torso and my neck get twisted. This human pretzel routine can last anywhere from a few minutes to several hours. It is more painful than giving birth without medication, and I know because I did that twice. This is worse.

The thing that keeps me going is knowing that it will end. If I had to experience that kind of pain all day I would be begging my doctor to put me out of my misery. After the dystonia wears off, I get my good hours. Even then, I have to be careful to not overdo it, or the next stage will start too soon. Yesterday and today I had the extremely embarrassing problem of not being able to get to the bathroom on time. Fortunately, I just have to wait a couple of hours,, and then I can clean up after myself. I'm not looking forward to the days when I will have to rely on my daughters or a nurse or home care worker or someone to take care of me.

In the evening, I usually go through a phase that is difficult to explain. I can't stop moving, which is called dyskinesia, but I am too exhausted to do anything. It's emotionally draining, although the pain is not quite as intense as dystonia. Usually the pain gets worse as the evening goes on. With medication, I am able to fall asleep, and then it starts all over again.

I am not saying this to complain about my life, and I don't think that I deserve any praise just because I have a nasty disease and I am still alive. This is just my life right now. It is what it is.

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