Unfortunately, there’s not a single pill to take for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. People with the disease often feel like they’re unwitting participants in research as they scurry between specialists looking for relief from their symptoms.
Discussions in our women’s support group inevitably turn to talk about symptoms such as tremor control, itchy scalp, speech problems, balance, sore joints, medication conflicts, cognitive struggles, and corresponding treatments such as deep brain stimulation, medicated shampoo, speech therapists, balance classes, exercise, medication schedules, and brain games.
In a discussion on treating Parkinson’s with medical cannabis, Dr. Michelle Burack, clinical director for surgical therapies for the Movement Disorder Program at the University of Rochester Medical Center referred to symptoms of Parkinson’s as “the pieces of Parkinson’s.”
Each of us end ups with an assortment of pieces of Parkinson’s. Not every treatment helps every piece of Parkinson’s!
The American Parkinson Disease Association lists five primary motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease: tremor, rigidity, bradykinesia (slow movement), postural instability (balance problems), and walking/gait problems. Observation of one or more of these symptoms is the main way that physicians diagnose Parkinson’s. ParkinsonsDisease.net has a large list of Secondary motor symptoms that include drooling, micrographia (shrinking in handwriting,) and akathisia (restless movement that appears fidgety.)
The Michael J. Fox Foundation lists ten lesser-known symptoms including sleep disorders, depression and anxiety, voice volume, loss of smell, cognitive issues, orthostatic hypotension, dystonia, facial masking, fatigue and apathy, and medication side effects.
Other pieces of Parkinson’s may include bladder frequency, constipation, swallowing, sexual dysfunction, dry eyes, and vision problems.
There’s an understanding amongst our support group that we each display our own version of the disease so distinctively, we wonder how we could have been all diagnosed with the same chronic condition. Not only is there a variety of symptoms, the assortment may change daily like a chameleon.
In your quest for relief, its important to remember that you are not alone. There’s a community of Parkinson’s people out there and we’re all dealing with our pieces of Parkinson’s. They may not be as pretty as a bouquet of flowers, but they’re a one-of-a-kind adventure!
Support groups in Northern California: http://parkinsons.stanford.edu/support_groups.html