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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Cold Feet, Warm Heart


            January is over. YEAH! Let’s call it a wash. It was for me, I know that. For many years, I used to look out the window of my apartment and see images of Reading's Pagoda. Now, I see images of Amish Paradise's side streets. While the Pagoda was more scenic, I'll take my cozy, warm home and wife any day. At least she keeps me warm and loves me and is my bestest bestest.




            TS Eliot talked about "April being the cruelest month," but methinks that title would be January pretty much every year. There’s nothing much going on in January except cold, snow, ice, and a long wait until spring while it’s cold, dark, snowy, and icy from beginning to end. There are snow days for teachers, sure, but they’re more work than they’re worth (reorganizing work and shoveling snow).

(this blizzard was in 2010, by the way - we have a snowblower now)

The conditions of January mean that we bundle up, get sick, stay indoors, and try to keep our resolutions while watching the finale of football’s secondary sports season of bowl games comes to a close. I’m not into that, but others are, so there’s that on weekends until February, but that still leaves 5-6 days of the week to wait. For me, the real sports season comes back February 13th with Pitchers and Catchers Report Day, which is also Mardis Gras’ Fat Tuesday this year. Other than hitting camp, it’s just a sign of winter ending. Real games are still 6-7 weeks away.


As for basketball, that doesn’t really kick in until March, and yeah, unless I’m with those who do care about results and brackets, I skip that other than to root for family (Notre Dame’s coach is a relative). While they're doing well this year, they've had some stumbles as well. Hopefully, someone bars Connecticut from March Madness this year. Since that won't happen, we can only hope Coach McGraw brings the fire to her team's game.
But I digress.
For those of us searching for things to do to avoid the winter blues, that leaves a few annual events like Fire and Ice festivals and movies, but other than limited run Oscar-worthy movies, there aren’t many movies to even go other than random releases here and there (though my wife and I did really like Insidious 4). My wife and I did see a live rendition of The Wizard of Oz and Mary Poppins since she loves local theater (they both were fun nights out), so there are things to do, it's just the finding things and venturing out to do them that makes this season so tough on people.
Give me April to October any day!



all falls in Ithaca NY.

Sure, there are frozen waterfalls (if you feel comfortable and able to access them - some are really close to parking lots like the final 1, though others require some doing), but when dodging winter flu and deep down illness season hits, we feel it for some time to come, so it's not like we (read "I") want to aggravate things. These conditions (as regular readers know) hit me prior to New Year’s Eve (which I’m not a fan of) so really from the 27th of December when pneumonia made me sick, I still am getting back to me and getting out of the post Christmas tree take down blues.

 our great niece Lydia


I’m sure many of my fellow Parkies are, too.
Thus, I leave you with the conundrums of January.
1)      What congestion / flu season medicines we can take while taking Parkinson’s medicines. There’s a whole lot of them no matter what you do or take, but I can reflect on my Azilect (ragsaline) interactions. Put simply, some can really affect you when you’re trying to kick chest congestion, weeziness, and other cold / flu nastiness. In short, PHENYLEPHRINE, PSEUDOEPHEDRINE create problems (due to blood pressure issues) and anything that says decongestant (DEXTROMETHORPHAN) is BAD as well, but from some of what I've been seeing Mucinex (guiafenisen) and Claritin are considered helpful. I had heard PLAIN Robitussin is, too, but It has dextromethorphan, so I avoid it like the plague (if I were you, I'd consult a real MD - not me). 

      PLEASE NOTE, I AM NOT A DOCTOR, SO ASK YOUR NEUROLOGIST AND PHARMACIST FOR ADVICE. I CAN SAY I’VE SEEN CONFLICTING / CONFUSING ADVICE OUT THERE, SO SEE WHAT’S OUT THERE FROM THE PARKINSON’S ORGANIZATIONS FOR WHAT THEY SAY FROM CREDENTIALED EXPERTS - NOT CHAT ROOMS - SINCE THEY’RE TRAINED AND EXPERIENCED MEDICAL PEOPLE; WHEREAS, I’M JUST A PATIENT WHO IS LEARNING AND ENCOURAGING YOU TO DO THE SAME. 

      I know it’s not easy to decipher medical / drug info, but hopefully, you have an advocate who can help. As I said, your doctor should be your first go to. I got through to mine via phone message in a reasonable amount of time for my advice. Additionally, I know some people use the term “Big Phrama,” but in a lawsuit happy world, they’re paid to be on top of things. Talk to the pharmacists, too. They’re credentialed and there to help. This guy typing? He just tells you what other people told him and that you should make sure what you’re doing is OK.


2)      Cold toes – My Parkinson’s engine burns bright. My toes don’t get any of the heat, so I wear these snazzy socks (Man, are they fuzzy and warm). Even if I’m extending the underwear radius like Murray Goldberg (on the TV show of the same name), I probably have a thick pair of socks on as well. It's quite a sight, let me tell you! 


      Put simply, in the last couple of days, my toes were so cold, they felt numb like I was in the winter waterfalls hiking all day (when I was at Ithaca for single digits in 2015). Put simply, this is normal (i.e. the new normal, it's not OK, but it is what it is, and it's part of your PD welcome kit). The Germans had a saying that went “kalte hand, warmes herz.” According to my parents, we’re descended from Germans. I’m still waiting to hear back from 23 and Me to see for sure who I get other than who I know and a woman in Africa, but I always viewed them as a hearty mountain people with beer steins (that whole Oktoberfest memento thing from my aunt and Nana’s house, I guess (though this picture is my mom and me)). 


      Their language is always rough around the edges (“Ich liebe dich” – I love you - it doesn’t have the ring of Robert Fagles reading the classics in Latin from lit classes in college – and yes, you can always spot a geek because he / she says stuff like that and means it with no hint of irony). However, lately, I’ve been thinking about that phrase for Parkies, and it goes like “kalte eisebeine, warmes herze” to reflect our feet and toes not getting in the way of our kindness and wonderful traits (despite our PD masks that might make people think otherwise). Trust me folks; you aren’t getting commentary like this at just any old Parkinson’s site! MJF has nothing on me (though I don't have their med cred or charitable kick butt-ness).


3)      More tremors from the cold. Parkies don’t tend to do well in the too hot or cold situations, so we have to prepare for it about 330 days of the year (one way or the other). Shivering seems to multiply things in winter. I know my knuckles get sorer typing in winter. Let's just say, PD does rough things in the cold. Additionally, it seems harder to start the engine. Once, I go, I’ve got my meds to keep me up until the wee hours of the morning, but yeah… it’s the getting started thing (by the way, its 2AM here). 
4)      The winter blues – depression is bad any time. The reasons I listed in the beginning (cold, dark, ice, snow, isolation, etc.) multiply things. Remember, you’re not alone. Skype, call, or have others visit if you can’t visit them. If you can do things, try to get out for hobbies or outings. It’s the little things. On that note, caregivers and friends need to be aware without being constant guards. Independence is good; being loved is great. It's all about balance.


5)      And for my friends in advanced stages, be careful about those falls on slippery surfaces! Caregivers can definitely help shovel, salt, or support here.
6)      Let people know what you need. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You’re a great person, and I wish you good things, so keep on keeping on. Spring is going to be here… someday! I promise! Until that time, asking for help isn't weakness. Speak up!
7)      On that note, see Michael J. Fox Foundation’s list of winter prep tips. He’ll give you the score. He always does. 
As for today (February 1st) is a good day to start shedding those winter baggage things (albeit slowly) for the next 28-50 days.


            It also means we’re about a day and a half from me forcing my wife to watch Bill Murray in Groundhog’s Day, which could well be his funniest movie (and a good movie to watch on a February Friday where Punxsutawney Phil is doing his thing). Yes, he was funny in Caddyshack,  BUT he was out-staged by the back and forth of Rodney Dangerfield and Ted Knight, plus his part was really small compared to them, Chevy Chase, and the Danny Noonan character.


            Now, if you ask me which movie is better… Caddyshack, but he’s a supporting role, so for my 4 best Murray lead other movies (in no particular order) I’d put in the Bill Murray funny 5 (leaving out Lost in Translation for that reason):
            2. Kingpin (I could see this being Murray at his best also)
            3. Ghostbusters 1
            4. What about Bob
            5. Stripes
            If you look at his film history, it’s really long, and he’s definitely done some varied movies ending up in everything from Space Jam to The Life Aquatic. Should he be your cup of tea, there are lots of choices. If not, maybe dining out or a local event.
            If you aren’t sure what's out in your neighborhood or area, see Groupon for local events. There’s always something for half price (and that could include your dinner).
            Happier February, everyone! Think comfortable temp thoughts!

            

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