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Thursday, September 27, 2018

My Second Anniversary of Avalanche Day: 25 Thoughts and Related Learning for Life 2 Years into the Diagnosis

Birthdays are special. People celebrate us and rejoice that we're alive another year. We get presents. We're treated like the King or Queen of the World. I"m not an exception to being down with this kind of treatment.

My nephew Dylan can't wait to celebrate his birthday on October 4th. He'll be 5. Because my parents will be away for his birthday, they are choosing to have his celebration early on the 29th, so when my wife and I finish selling (hopefully lots) of copies of my books at Selma Mansion's National Haunting Day, we'll celebrate with him.

Thinking of that, I ask what would you do with a second birthday? I know what Dylan did with his.

Would you get a bouncy house, a clown, and an ice cream cake? Hit all the free meal places? Make everyone sing to you about how special you are? There are so many options. Where to begin?!!

Unfortunately, that's not a real world option for most people since we are only given one.

The only example that I know of people getting 2 birthdays is when people are wounded seriously in defense of our country. Here, military people who are injured and by all reasonable calculations should have died (i.e. "how did you get out of this? You must have a guardian angel looking after you."), get what's called an "Alive Day." They get a chance to celebrate being alive after they make peace with death or wake up long after the event to say,"What happened here?" 

I don't want 1 of those. I don't want 1 for anyone. That said, I respect the sacred nature of sacrifice in that loss to let in influence, but keep it separate from my own because mine wasn't about cheating death; it was about not inviting death to come to me.

For me, I didn't suffer my injury while defending country / way of life, but just like many people of all ages, I got hit with my a brutal landslide of "welcome to the word Parkinson's" news on September 27, 2016. After waking up the next day, I knew I would never be the same again.

For this, like anyone else who has a life-changing event, we pick ourselves up and start new. It's like a new life in a video game, except we still have baggage from the last life to sort through. The difference is that we get a new perspective on life.

I call this day "Avalanche Day" since it represents being knocked down by a ferocious train that lacks any and all respect for what it wipes out. We can choose to be buried, or we can choose to shake it off. It's our choice. What we do with our extra time and learning is our choice.

This could be any medical diagnosis. This could be the moment someone needed to leave an abusive relationship, quit drugs, go back to school, or get out of town rather than end up dead like all those around said person. It doesn't matter. We need to be prepared to deal with life's hardships, or... 

The Not So Good Place.

When it's done, you either clear off the snow and ice, or you freeze to death.

Mountain climber Cory Richards chose to climb out and clean himself off in order to live. What he didn't know when he took the above picture was that he'd battle some serious crap after shaking clear of the physical impediments to find a whole lot of mental ones. I recommend googling him. There's a lot of great stuff out there to include videos.

Because Richards' story was current at the time of my diagnosis, I reflected on this story and chose to make it something personal to me. Had I been watching NASCAR, I might have called this something related to a vehicular accident. Nevertheless, I'd like to think that, like Richards, we can get up after an avalanche (whether on our own or with help). We probably wouldn't get up if we were hit by something moving as fast and physically heavily as a freight train. Like Richards (who suffers from PTSD), we will have our demons, but our question is whether they will have us.

Who's giving who the Rock Bottom is very important.

Having the option to choose positive after negative news is a powerful thing. What will we do with the situation we've been given? Who will we become? Will we fade away, burn out, hold strong, or will we somehow become more powerful, like some Ben Obi-One Kenobi as he was struck by Darth Vader's clumsy light saber attack in the first Star Wars.

In the end, it's all about the Jedi training. No matter what battle we are going to face (bad grades, breakups, getting fired, getting a pimple on prom night, not being bought a pony), we need to wire ourselves to be stronger or...

The Not So Good Place.

That might seem like all or nothing, but winner take all battles usually are.

Because of that I'm different than when my diagnosis was confirmed.

I've changed from last year, too, for better and for PD making me a little less.

However, this is me today:

New years give time to reflect... here are my 25 things that Parkinson's taught me this year.

1. Love is a good thing. Family, friends, co-workers, random strangers, and Facebook acquaintances. We need one another in different ways. Share the happy. Be excellent to one another. Good people are all around. Just open your eyes. Encourage the fight and the joy when you get there.

2. Humor is a good thing. It's bad enough bradykinesia takes our smile and our melodious voice, but our sense of humor, too? No way. 

Case in point: a few weeks ago, my wife was doing the pet me on the head like a dog thing (I like it - I call it a brain massage), but I had to warn her about getting close to my ear, especially my left one. It's very sensitive to sounds (ice shaking around in glasses, crinkling potato chip bags) and touch. There went my brain massage. The next day we went to the Lehigh Valley Zoo. There, we chose to feed the lorikeets. The rules are simple. You hold a cup of nectar out, birds land and take it all in, you don't touch them, and life is good. Well, after finishing off the cup, the bird went for my ear and stayed there! If God / the Universe doesn't have a sense of irony, I don't know who does. As the volunteer tried to talk the bird off my ear (it didn't work), my wife and everyone laughed while I had a once in a lifetime experience with a bird enamored with eating my earwax.

And yes, I could feel myself doing the Parkinson's stiff forearm shake and scrunched up face as it all went down.

3. Parkies, while potentially having the PD seed in us from birth, lived for a while before the stuff came down. My main symptoms began in 2011, but I remember rigidity since the mid 1980s. That leaves us in a unique predicament of accepting diagnosis, recognizing disability, and fighting off the feeling of being "disabled" (a linguistic / self worth / health condition that comes with additional baggage and greater lack of independence for many people). The good people of Health Union let me write a great article about THIS and staying active. My point is that our disability and life issues are different, though we should stand for one another. Some people, instead, will see our accomplishments as the results of a good day or come with a warning to wait for the bad stuff (as opposed to advising on how to get through the bad stuff). On my GRR days, I'll go off about not letting people be a psychic vampire on who we still are and what we can do. On other days, I'll think about how our accomplishments are special, how talking tough about Parkinson's is a mantra to stay positive (remember - the Not So Good Place). Besides, if the first years are "easier" and people aren't able to accept their diagnosis to fight it, how will they ever comfort themselves in the "harder" years? To me, it has to be about that attitude. For that, I choose to be a Parkinson's warrior.

4. Time is a wasting, but we're not on a timeline (though some things that we love are: driving, working, dunking on Lebron). Fulfill your bucket list. Never stop finding things to sneak in there. Up next for me is taking my nana to the Vatican in January (in the form of a picture since she died in 1993). My wife and I will be doing Italy for its architecture, art, history, romance, and culture, but when we go to the Epiphany mass and Necropolis, she'll be there in spirit. I think she would have wanted this.

5. HANGRY - it's a combination of hungry and angry (as coined by my wife - she can feel it coming in me - yes, it is that palpable). It's also my evil nemesis in the game of Parkinson's emotional overload and irritability. Simply put, when Dan gets hungry, he gets really grouchy. It's not him; it's the PD griping. Warnings have been established, but in the brave new world of future issues prevention, a snack basket will be assembled. Dan has many other little irritabilities that cause these problems. He's working on it. It's in progress.

6. Not to sound like Nelly, but it's always hot in here (Not just getting hot). This is the first time that I'm going to say it, but I'm glad autumn is here and summer is over. Pennsylvania humidity is awful since I have hyperhydrosis from my Parkie engine running hot. To put it into perspective, my neck hump has been so hot this year that I feel like I could have cooked eggs on it.

7. My Parkinson's gait is establishing itself pretty solidly. I support myself getting out of the car, and I feel like I have a cement boot on my left foot. I seem to sway more, side to side (no Angel's Landing walks for this guy (see above - definitely not my video)). Also, my dystonia seems to be moving to my right foot. Both of my hands have been claws for ages, but it's not pro-wrestler cool. Some days, I feel the slowness in my joints... gone are the 80 word a minute days of typing. But still I type and write because I can. Nevertheless, my friend sciatica knows its way to the house. It has a key and can let itself in.

8. Yes, Parkinson's comes with politics: Stem cell research, access to healthcare, access to insurance, lifetime insurance spending caps, legalizing marijuana, disability rights + payments, making medical decisions, euthanasia, funding research, standards for healthcare, and affordable medicine. Partisan politics is not politics. It's hating people because they aren't your narrow identity of what your party should be. The politics of Parkinson's largely represents what we need for ourselves and our communities. It sounds kind of selfish, but really, it's about keeping us and our families / friends alive. I'm not here to tell you how to advocate since that's not my job, but I will say that we need to provide safe, compassionate treatment for people with Parkinson's / related disorders. We need to find a way to get better, and we need to be there for one another. Many people are 1 issue voters, and that's their right, but I will say that Parkinson's has me considering my beliefs in a more compassionate way than before. I'm sure it has affected many of you in the same manner. I'm glad to be alive, and I'd like to keep it that way.

9. On that note, my hemp oil experiment has been moving along. It's hard to tell what effect it has yet, since it's early, but between that and going back to Amantadine, things are getting better. I will continue to stay on it for the bottle and evaluate fully.

10. I recently began therapy with Mike. We had one session. He solved me. The End. Not so much, but we started talking about things like identity. Up next is how to avoid Parkinson's irritability, overload, and purring like a cat. Truth be told, he seems like a good guy.

11. I had a neurological baseline test done to tell me what my neurological and mental functioning is like. In the end, I think it did more to show just how "off" I can get when impossible problems are thrown out at me. Some of it was a fun kind of challenge. Other parts were worse than a spinal tap since they felt unsolvable and endless (6 hours on the test, 2 more on patient history). I'll get into a lot of detail with this when I get the results.

12. My newest symptom is drooling in my sleep. It's not nearly as cool as when Homer Simpson does it, but I have officially added that to the list minus the donuts!

13. A fair bit of people complain about their doctors. Not me. My doctor gets it, and I've been more than satisfied with my treatment from him. If you're near Reading, Pennsylvania, let me know, and I'll give you his info so that he can help you, too.

14. Working and disability and all that good stuff: I'm still capable of so many things, except when my symptoms get messed with. Two trips to the hospital took a big toll on me from Christmas to today. This led to getting investigated in sleep and swallow studies, which isn't a lot of fun either. It's like everywhere we early stages Parkies go, we have people wanting to give us another condition. At some point, it gets overwhelming. I understand that moment of wanting to say, "Screw you guys. I'm going home."

However, when we're getting told what we also have and being looked at as "the shaking person with the slow brain" when it comes to finding financial stability in the form of a job, it's really frustrating. That said, the disability process is a long, arduous one. Through it all, we try to be us, but we're fighting a lot of symptoms people don't see. I think you all get how contradictory and befuddling this whole thing is.

15. The only things I'm telling you that you HAVE TO DO:

A) Start figuring out who will LEGALLY make the medical decisions while you have time.
B) Stay loose and as active (and safe) as possible to cut down on the rigidity.
C) Find positive interests you like doing to replace ones you lose.
D) Figure out your financial future with organizations, advocates, and family.
E) Put positive messages anywhere you can to drive yourself forward.
F) Reward yourself for your victories, no matter how small, big, or fleeting.
G) Find a way to still love and be loved. Nothing ticks off Parkinson's worse than a truly "We're not gonna take this" attitude.

16. Nobody has a monopoly on sadness or grief in this Parkinson's game. With that said, sometimes, we're the ones who have to be tough for those around us. Work to get through the rough times by being there for others. Our strength, smile, and desire to be go further than you can imagine.

17. I was going to die before I had Parkinson's. I'm still going to die with Parkinson's. A lot of us worry what the end will be. A fall? Dinner with a serial killer like aspiration pneumonia? Something with dementia? While we're all wrapped up in the King Kong and Godzilla of tomorrow, we stop thinking about today and enjoying ourselves. If we don't choose to live out loud now, we'll lose a lot of time where we could have done things. The truth is we don't know how or when or why we'll shuffle off this mortal coil when the time comes. I only hope my time has nothing to do with The Nun.

18. On that note, in between writing my next fiction novel (Ascensions), I still find myself working on my Parkinson's book, Real Life Monsters, which details what we face and how a positive mindset and a good support team go a long way to conquering the bad guys. Art is a great way to get our message out there. Draw, paint, write, sing, dance, whatever. Just get those creative juices flowing. Before you know it, you'll give birth to something uniquely you. With that, you'll find that giving life gives life meaning. Really.

19. All of this collective Parkinson's and related conditions crap we're going through has to be for something. If it isn't, it's all just a slow motion torture film. I don't want to think of my life in that way, so if I can share my story or encouragement with anyone, I'm going to do it. Even if I only affect one person, it's still one person who can change his or her life and the life of others. Positivity: pass it on.

20. I saw this sticker on a car. Yes, it's for autism, but it says a lot about lacking empathy and not understanding people, as well as what picture we need to paint to make up for it. It also shows love because we care about the well-being of those we love. It's not easy to "get" other people. We're challenging. We have baggage. You can't delete us if you don't like us. You have to communicate face to face with us. It's harder when our problems come with something we can't control and that hurts / irritates you. Yes, some things are harder to face than others, but by learning about other people, not just looking at our own little stable of perfect / wonderful contacts, we see that there is more than 1 way to do things. I'm working on this.

21. Heroes are a good thing. Take this story, for instance. Somewhere in the middle of a whole debate about who should endorse athletic wear, someone got lost. That man's name is Shaquem Griffin. Nike signed this man to endorse what's possible when a man with one arm wants to play pro football. Yes, he's having growing pains and isn't currently starting, but he needed to ramp his game up at every level. After being told he was "too heavy" to play in a football game as a kid, his coach challenged the other coach whose real reason to keep Griffin off the field was that he felt that only people with 2 hands should play football. Shaquem's response at that young age was to feel like that coach saw him:

“Like I was defective or something. Like I didn’t belong. And that was the moment I realized I was always going to have to prove people wrong.”

However, now he puts it more directly and empowering as he says:

“I feel like all the boys and girls out there with birth defects — we have our own little nation, and we’ve got to support each other.”

It makes me want to watch the Seahawks, and I don't even like football!

22. Now that I'm back on the Amantadine, my tremors are improving. I'm also dreaming more. They're doing that Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind thing. As long as I don't go back to fighting to escape the Holocaust, I'm good. No sign of livedo reticularis or itchiness at this point. Oh, and the Himalayan salt lamp helps a lot.

23. If it's fall, then I need to be getting some nature therapy hiking between the trees! You should, too. Remember National Parks passes are free to people with permanent disabilities.

24. While my official diagnosis day is November 1, 2016, I knew as soon as my doc called it on September 27, 2016. November 1st was anticlimactic. It's just the day I started blogging. Most of my everyday life friends knew by then, too, since we spoke. The tests were just about having an official diagnosis to be 100% certain about it (well, non-autopsy certain). From that day, being out has led me to write for you, the Parkinson's community, the world as a whole, my family, and myself. It's an honor to be able to have posts that have been read 2-3000 times (if not more - in one case, almost 6,000 - 25 THINGS I HAVE LEARNED ABOUT PARKINSON'S SINCE I WAS DIAGNOSED). Having taught English until last May, blogging allows me to do what I love (writing, researching, explaining, and encouraging people to rewire themselves into the best possible person that they can be). It's an honor to do that for you today. Thanks for sticking with my post!

If you want to read my HEALTH UNION POSTS, CLICK HERE.

25. Recommended reading:

When Bad Things Happen to Good People - Harold Kushner
Man's Search for Meaning - Victor Frankl
Deep Survival - Laurence Gonzales
Surviving Survival - Laurence Gonzales
Between a Rock and a Hard Place - Aron Ralston
Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are - Dr. Seuss
Lucky Man - Michael J. Fox
In Love and War - Admiral James Stockdale

Wednesday, September 12, 2018


In order to spend time working on my supernatural books and to not go into depressive overload from the news, I am working on my next novel with the majority of my free time. You can read about and from my books HERE. You can buy them HERE.

My only note on the news is to STAY SAFE PEOPLE! There's a hurricane brewing and you matter. Find shelter, support, and supplies. This one is for real.


Nevertheless, I am revisiting and updating older posts, too. Many of these were written before I had a lot of readers, so I'm going to give people a chance to reread them. Generally, I'm changing them very little, though I am adding search words, pictures, links, and some newer thoughts to express more things I've learned since then.

I plan to add one every couple days until my 2-year diagnosis is 90% certain anniversary on September 27th. November 1st was confirmation, but I knew for sure when I went to the neurologist that day. To me, this is the real diagnosis day since that one was so foretold.

The first post is from 2016 and deals with staying positive in spite of symptoms and diagnosis. It's called "Confident, but not the Demi Lovato Song."

The second post is from 2016 and it's a hiking trip in the snow and ice to Heberly Run with Rusty Glessner and Steve Rubano. It was a reward for kicking Lyme disease.

The real life influences of my book - my friend Will anda Heidi's kid Liam (above) and my sister's stepson CJ (below). My cousin David is at the top.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

9.11; To all Those who Sacrificed, Rest in Peace...

When the planes hit on 9.11, we were all some place with someone. I was in a 10th grade English class going to a 9th grade English class. I was 30 years old. I will always remember where I was since I will never be the same, nor will my family, neighbors, friends, co-workers, students, and random passers-by at the time. That day, 9.11 changed all of us. Even if we wanted to be the same, we were now new people in a new world.

Everything before that day is 9.10. It's a moment of innocence. It's Gary Condit's political crisis and a lot of news that doesn't matter in comparison to the next day's news.

Everything on 9.11 is just shock and sadness. It's an outpouring of unstoppable emotion.

As for 9.12, that's a day of anger, confusion, and imminent change. Who we were versus who we are versus what happens next. It didn't take long for the roadside t-shirt sales places with pictures of patriotic images and death calls for Bin Laden to go up. Looking at it now, in this partisan world, it seems absurd, but at that time, it was a way to work through the Kubler-Ross stages of death.

The moment is the denial of what our eyes see. The next day is anger. The next 3 stages are bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

The stages of this process is who we became as we moved toward October 7th, when America went into Afghanistan. Then came Iraq and the debates to go or not go. I remember reading how John McCain supported the Surge because it was a cause that would cost too much to lose. Here, I agree with the support of that. What happens if we give up? Lose? Don't fight until some real moment of "mission accomplished?" I'm not smart enough to answer that, but 17 years after 9.11, so much of that day is still so real and it's still so scary.

THAT SAID, let us temporarily forget that, though, and think of those who died and fought to save America and Americans on that day and all those days after it. They are the heroes and casualties of this day 17 years ago.

One of my favorite singers, Jeff Tweedy of Wilco was with his young son Spencer on the morning of 9.11. Instead of taking the buildings, planes, and death all in at that moment, he chose to play with slot cars with a 6-year old kid. There'd be enough time for the other stuff later. It was a beautiful father / son moment, with the wisdom of age knowing "sort of" what's next and a kid who needs to be sheltered from what he will never truly fathom. Then again, how can any of us make sense of that terrorist act / mass murder?

This temporary coping action reminds me of an Asian movie I watched in 1994. Chow Yun Fat and John Woo made Asian action films awesome, so I went to watch this movie, whose name I can't remember. The point was that there were all of these gangsters holed up in a safe house. Essentially, they were waiting to be killed. Instead of being sad, they played games and lived life with happiness and laughter. Wanting a solid action movie, it didn't make sense to me then, but thinking about it today, there is something in it that speaks of mindsets, which makes sense.

How many people, on either side, are still fighting that war? What will stop the engines and just let us be a people again? I'm not saying to naively stop fighting or staying on guard, but why does either side want this war without end anymore? With the White House even making themselves ready to negotiate with the Taliban, the question hovers for all of us.

One of my favorite journals to have students write was "Where Were You on 9.11?" Today, it's fair to say that a good deal of freshman college students have no memory of the day since they were in the womb or in diapers. A larger part of the population has no memory of the date anymore. 

Alan Jackson "Where Were You When the World Stopped?"

Even those of us who were there and affected with tears and anger find our memories growing hazy. It's something about the mind's coping mechanism. Really. It's called the Trace Decay Theory of Forgetting.

Additionally, I would say that if you aren't at least 25 (maybe younger, most likely older), you have no memory of the day. At our early ages, we don't have the power to remember completely, knowledgeably, and eternally, let alone process what happened on that day. If I think of my earliest memories, they're remembrances of memories. For instance, I remember Star Wars commercials before the movie in 1977. I know what I think they were, but were they?

If you were at a school like the one I taught at that day, your television was ordered off after about 10 minutes, if it came on at all. I remember watching a building falling. This would have been the South Tower. About a half hour later, the North Tower fell.

Today, I have no interest in watching that replayed. I don't want to see people jump to their deaths or think about box cutters. I don't want to rewatch The Path to 9.11 either (I thought about it, but politics are depressing me something fierce, so no... I'm also holding off on the Woodward book to focus on my own books and the one to come). 

If I want to cry, I just watch the following video from 2:48. A very well done documentary that features the daughter of a 9.11 pilot and how the Yankees (especially Derek Jeter) helped her cope with her father's death. And yes, I did watch that, and I cried my tears for all of these memories.

At some point, we all have to cope. It may not be pretty or preferred, but we have to do this to go on living. Wilma Derksen is featured in Malcolm Gladwell's David and Goliath for discussing how she came to accept her daughter's abduction and murder. It's a story that sends chills. Somehow, they forgive the killer / rapist in order to save themselves. Their story speaks for everyone suffering an unspeakable atrocity.

This doesn't mean that some form of punishment / retaliation isn't necessary. Even St. Augustine recognized the need for a JUST WAR. It just means that at some point, our meaning of the day will change, and enough will have to be enough. We saw this even in World War 2.

Students of history, like me, will still remember Pearl Harbor, D-Day, Kennedy's assassination and other events that we weren't there for. We'll think of what they meant. Being a Northerner, I don't remember when South Carolina seceded (December 20, 1860, it turns out). I don't remember when the shot was heard round the world.

Nevertheless, at some point, all Just and Lost Causes have to reach a point of finality. This doesn't mean to sacrifice our memory of the Just Cause's reasoning and necessities, but rather that we have to realign how we handle situations in the now to not sacrifice the present and future.

I used to believe this day should be a national day of mourning, but I'm not sure what I'm thinking today other than I watched the baseball video above long enough to cry. I wrote this. When I'm done, I'll look at today's other news, eat, and write my book.

However, just like many of you, I'll think about what I should never forget since we're still smack dab in the middle of so much of a never ending war on terror that would come with this heinous act inflicted on innocent American lives (as Bush told us we would be). I know that now is not the time to stop remembering, but I'm thinking about adjusting how I remember.

That said, historically...

9.11 Fast Facts

Deaths in the military since 9.11

Cost of the War on Terror

Benghazi by the numbers

The men responsible for the Innocence of Muslims video - tied to Benghazi, though Al Qaeda used it as cover to attack

Things to Remember about 9.11

9.11 effects on stock market

9.11 Effects on Airline Industry

Terrorism in America since 9.11

Al Qaeda attack on Britain

Ryan Adams "New York, New York"

At the end of the day, my friend Karen posted this, so I'm using it here. I think it says a lot.

Seventeen years ago tonight, thousands of people in this country went to bed with their loved ones for the last time. Some were excited, looking forward to the trip they’d be taking in the morning. Others were perhaps dreading the usual commute to work. How many of them were rushed the following morning? How many didn’t make time to kiss their kids or their spouses? They mumbled a quick goodbye and headed out the door…not knowing it would be the last time they’d see their loved ones.
Tomorrow is promised to no one. Take nothing and no one for granted. Tell him or her that you love them. Forget the diet and eat the cookie. Make love. Stay up late. Apologize, even if it wasn’t entirely your fault. Forgive, even if they don’t know what they did was wrong. Laugh. Cry. Scream. Go for a walk. Find shapes in the clouds. Do something nice for someone. Let someone do something nice for you. Stop waiting for things to happen. Get off your ass and enjoy life. While you’re at it, help someone else enjoy their life as well. ~Jim Cobb
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Friday, September 7, 2018

Neurologist Visits / Alternative Choices (Beefitandhealthy)

The process of healthy living is an ever-changing and experimental design where we experience, learn, do, experience, readjust, learn, do, experience, readjust, and repeat. That's a good thing. Sometimes, we get it right the first time. Sometimes we don't. The point is we never stop trying to be the best us we can be.

In medicine, both pharmaceutical and alternative, the point is to find ways to heal a person, safely, quickly, and cost-effectively (though cost should never be a reason not to be healthy). This is done in ways that are meant to be beneficial and lacking in harm. Researchers test these processes to improve and review them. That's a good thing.

That's what I'm doing.

Scientists will say that the world is made up of chemicals, and that's true. However, some people will see medicines only in terms of harmful chemicals (like what's under their sink) mixed together in ways that lead people to see their strange, long, and unpronounceable names as some evil force.

This is not to say all medicine, regular or alternative, is bad or good, but it is to say that pronunciation and personal lack of understanding should not define anything's effectiveness.

Due to many medicines' side effects, alternative medicine has become popular for people by boasting its products as all natural. Here, many people have come to want to experiment with / experience the effects of naturally grown plants and the like to avoid medicines when it is safe to do so.

Keep in mind, your doctor and scholarly research can help you make informed choices on this.

It's easy to understand, but it's important to remember all of our bodies work differently, so effects may vary. Also, as based on peanut and shellfish allergies, even "natural" products may not jive with our bodies.

For my time with Parkinson's, my body has been very "sensitive" to some pharmaceuticals (as my neurologist says). In fact, some of these medicines' symptoms are downright scary.

PLEASE NOTE - I talk about my symptoms not to disparage a medicine, but rather to express my experience and stimulate informed conversation with your providers - not an absolutism for all people everywhere.

Whether we get better living through one or the other type of treatment, it is often our body's choice on how we handle things. For instance, I had problems with Artane (trihexyphenidyl) though other people don't. I had problems with Requip (ropinerole) though other people don't (nevertheless, its problematic side effects are more common in people than some other medications - a discussion I had yesterday with my neurologist). I almost instantly had problems with Benztropine (cognitive) and Prozac (weird woozy / nauseous). Thus, I quit both inside a week.

My time on Benztropine was so short, I had to look up the name of it again! Thus, sometimes, we just know when it's bad, so I removed it from my life pronto.

Also note, while I wasn't thrilled to be needing to be on Prozac (my problem is anxiety / obsessing on what if - not depression), I did find SOME NOT ALL of Lexapro to be OK for the time I was on it. I liked the purr like a cat feeling (oh, the sky is falling. that's OK). I didn't like the lack of amorous / positive feeling. Also, while on it and Azilect, I couldn't drink. Not that I need a Yuengling now, but it wasn't an option anymore.

Now, I'm going without it, which my doctor felt was better in spring and summer since it doesn't coincide with seasonal affective disorder kicking in at the same time. I feel more under control, but I do recognize that this may change and necessitate a return to it.

I have had luck with Azilect (rasagiline). It's my go to zombie killing medicine. Put simply, my body thinks my dopamine producing cells are evil. Hence, it tries to kill them. The medicines kill the defense system, which allows dopamine to flow free. If it doesn't, my brain gets filled with Lewy bodies, which are zombie-like.

As a former educator, I am big on empirical understanding as well as hermeneutic phenomenology, which is me describing what's going on in detail so others can find meaning in it.

That said, sometimes, we need to accept life's problems for what they are. Don't touch a hot stove. Don't put a fork in a socket. Don't touch a snake that looks like a copperhead (even if it just turns out to be a non-venomous northern water snake - it still bites). However, when we have a choice...

Then we should try all of our options. 

Thus, at my wife's urging and through one of her friend's advice, I am trying HEMP OIL. 

First and foremost, I was never a big fan of medical marijuana as the be all / end all answer, so I'm not going into this looking to promote that cause. However, in this version of treatment, I am willing to see what will come. 

When I asked my neurologist about medical marijuana, his statement was too little bang for too much money. This Pennsylvania government website explains some of that. Insurance tends not to cover it as well, which makes it cost ineffective. Also, while it stops tremors (helps symptoms), it doesn't replace or create dopamine. There are also side effects with it. Additionally, while it is legal in some states, it's regulated, and it does have issues (see Michael J. Fox Foundation).

Once again, it might work for you, but it might not. 

In order to see firsthand how HEMP OIL works, I am working with the good folks at Beefitandhealthy in West Reading, Pennsylvania, to see how their HEMP OIL product (not medical marijuana and not cannabis-originated sources - rather hemp sources) might help my tremors and anxiety.

Note that hemp oil is LEGAL. CBD oil is not legal in many places since it contains THC. Hemp oil does not, AND it's from a different plant.

The legality of CBD is still a slippery slope. I am not a lawyer. I'm just a blogger. Take my advice as an opportunity to further research this at qualified sources through people who are pros.

I found this site, which said the following on legalilty (see it for all states - the columns are recreation use, medical use, both, and legislation):

In short, my goal is to not have to Take a Walk on the Wild Side (detailed descriptions of dopamine agonist effects on MY - NOT EVERY - BODY), not have as many tremors, and feel relaxed. Fortunately, I have this option because the Farm Bill of 2014 helped pave the way. Now, as my doctor said, "Many patients swear by this."

My journey will begin as soon as I go back on AMANTADINE or switch to GOCOVRI (a newer, improved Amantadine - name brand only, so I might not be able to get insurance to cover it - NOTE - after looking at manufacturer's website for effects, I chose against this. Money was not an issue). Amantadine was my original anti-tremor med. It kept me up late, but I woke up ready to go. It also gave me a rash, but it isn't a concern (except when it is), though it isn't sex-a. No chance of me doing Magic Mike sessions any time in the near future if I'm on that.

In short, that option for dopamine benefits is my last option before going Levodopa / Carbidopa, which only lasts so long before a body becomes requires more of it to benefit from it (when symptoms become worse and create more potential side effects like dyskinesia). Then, it's deep brain stimulation time.


My goal is to let Lisa and Amy help me out in this journey to keep being Dan by testing their medicines to see how they work for me.

In Lisa's words regarding the hemp oil I'll be using...

"Our company spent nearly a decade developing a highly effective strain of hemp.  Most hemp companies rely upon CO2 extraction because it is cheaper and easier than lipid infusion. Our lipid process infuses the full range of plant nutrients directly into a carrier oil. we use organic coconut oil and MCT oil."

She does make it clear that her product still contains ".03% THC which is legally allowed due to the 2014 US Farm Bill."

Finally, she added how "lipid infusion provides the highest terpene and phytocannabinoid profile as well as vitamins, minerals, flavonoids and polyphenois from the hemp plant."

I'll be detailing my journey as time goes by. I look forward to seeing where it goes. Being healthy and tremor free sounds like a good thing!

They also offer other services, if you're so inclined (such as ionic foot detox and reiki). I recommend going in there to see for yourself. 

In the end, your future has options. Some work; some don't. Explore the possibilities and share them with others!

Learn enough to make your life the best it can be!

When it comes to hemp oil, I have nothing to lose but my tremors.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

RIP John McCain. In Death, You Began the Journey to Save the Republicans from Trump. Long Live the Resistance.

NOTE - the second half of this was originally written before his burial. Obviously, the things at the beginning were added to it. 

We are living in historic times. Today, Cory Booker risked being thrown out of the Senate for releasing confidential e-mails on Brett Kavanaugh's judicial feelings on racial profiling and abortion. Yes, he's a potential Presidential candidate, but desperate times call for definite responses. Like or hate his politics, you have to respect his decision to put it all on the line while the partisan status quo rushes forward Trump's Supreme Court nominee.

That said, Kamala Harris has been incendiary on taking the nominee to task as well.

The future will not wait with so much at stake... such as whether a Supreme Court nominee feels Trump could pardon himself for his own crimes. 

But Kavanaugh is "empathetic" to those people not like him. In his own magnanimous words:

"I understand for example, well, to start, I understand the situation of homeless people because I see them on a regular basis when I’m serving meals."

Yesterday, an anonymous senior White House staff member wrote an op-ed for the New York Times.

It said the following (as well as other things):

There is a quiet resistance within the administration of people choosing to put country first. But the real difference will be made by everyday citizens rising above politics, reaching across the aisle and resolving to shed the labels in favor of a single one: Americans.

It may be cold comfort in this chaotic era, but Americans should know that there are adults in the room. We fully recognize what is happening. And we are trying to do what’s right even when Donald Trump won’t.

The majority of the essay was about how Trump's own team has to babysit him and keep him from signing orders that could mess up the world.

With a "President" who is hesitant to reign in Moscow, it's scary to think about Russia telling the U.S. it is prepared to attack an area in Syria where American troops patrol.

Prior to John McCain's death, the following last letter was released saying this (as well as other things):

Do not despair of our present difficulties but believe always in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here. Americans never quit. We never surrender. We never hide from history. We make history.

We are three-hundred-and-twenty-five million opinionated, vociferous individuals. We argue and compete and sometimes even vilify each other in our raucous public debates. But we have always had so much more in common with each other than in disagreement. If only we remember that and give each other the benefit of the presumption that we all love our country we will get through these challenging times. We will come through them stronger than before. We always do.

Thank you for the privilege of serving you and for the rewarding life that service in uniform and in public office has allowed me to lead. I have tried to serve our country honorably. I have made mistakes, but I hope my love for America will be weighed favorably against them.

Farewell, fellow Americans. God bless you, and God bless America.


Today, Twitter ejected Alex Jones rather than allow itself to be a platform for his conspiracy hate. Yesterday, he tried to instigate Marco Rubio, who didn't bite.

"I know you've got to cover them, but you give these guys way too much attention," Rubio told reporters on Capitol Hill. "We're making crazy people superstars. So, we (are) going to get crazier people."


After what the Trump fans called the FLIGHT 93 ELECTION (the linked article mirrors the alt-right with the alt-left in how they are both choosing to disrupt politics as usual with radical change - and not in a good way), there are 2 takes on whether McCain's funeral was a resistance event... FOR people to stand up for necessary change and AGAINST radical change, but rather to collaborate to make things better in a taking back the Republican party kind of way (from the Breitbart / Hannity / Alex Jones gangs). As the latter article says:

For those of us who’ve never been Republicans, it’s easy to say that perspective is wrong. For those who are, it must be a genuinely difficult choice. But it’s a choice that has been made — in 2018, America will either elect a Congress that continues to bolster Trump’s regime or it will elect one that tries to erode it. Those resisting Trump are pushing for one kind of Congress, and those not pushing for an anti-Trump Congress aren’t resisting Trump.

With the next event in the Trump resistance being THIS explosive book Fear (which Trump talked to writer Bob Woodward about HERE), I feel it's a call to take back our country. Whether that classifies as resistance or not, it may not be for the radical left, like we often view protest, but it is a declaration against the insane right.

The same can be said for the intentions of the 2017 Women's March and the March for Science, though this holds more power.


In a world where Brett Kavanaugh's history is deliberately hidden, to fight against a rush job confirmation with so much on the line (pre-existing conditions), the Republican force to push him into a lifetime position, is the correct thing to do. We don't need more time. We've had enough. Eject him from the position before he gets to it and can allow Trump to Pardon himself. Prepare the 25th Amendment to remove an out of control man from a seat of power. This isn't the WWE. This is real life.

Meghan McCain (typed speech here)

John McCain was defined by love. This love of my father for my mother was the most fierce and lasting of them all, Mom. Let me tell you what love meant to John McCain and to me.

His love was the love of a father who mentors as much as he comforts. He was endlessly present for us. And though we did not always understand it, he was always teaching. He didn't expect us to be like him. His ambition for us, unmoored from any worldly achievement, was to be better than him, armed with his wisdom and informed by his experiences, long before we were even old enough to have assembled our own.  

As a girl I didn't appreciate what I most fully appreciate now; how he suffered and how he bore it with a stoic silence that was once the mark of an American man.

I came to appreciate it first when he demanded it of me. I was a small girl, thrown from a horse and crying from a busted collarbone. My dad picked me up. He took me to the doctor, he got me all fixed up. Then he immediately took me back home and made me get back on that very same horse. I was furious at him as a child, but how I love him for it now.

My father knew pain and suffering with an intimacy and immediacy that most of us are blessed never to have endured. He was shot down, he was crippled, he was beaten, he was starved, he was tortured and he was humiliated. That pain never left him. The cruelty of his Communist captors ensured he would never raise his arms above his head for the rest of his life. Yet he survived. Yet he endured. Yet he triumphed. And there was this man who had been through all that with a little girl who simply didn't want to get back on her horse.He could have sat me down and told me that and made me feel small because my complaint and fear was nothing next to his pain and memory. Instead, he made me feel loved. "Meghan," he said in his quiet voice that spoke with authority and meant you had best obey. "Get back on the horse." I did. And because I was a little girl, I resented it. Now that I am a woman, I look back across that time and see the expression on his face when I climbed back up and rode again, and see the pride and love in his eyes as he said "Nothing is going to break you."
For the rest of my life, whenever I fall down, I get back up. Whenever I am hurt, I drive on. Whenever I am brought low, I rise. That is not because I am virtuous, strong, resilient, it is simply because my father, John McCain, was.

When my father got sick, when I asked him what he wanted me to do with this eulogy, he said, "Show them how tough you are." That is what love meant to John McCain.

Barack Obama (full speech HERE)

“It’s a politics that pretends to be brave, but in fact is born of fear. John called on us to be bigger than that. He called on us to be better than that.”

Joe Biden (speech quotes HERE)

"It wasn't about politics with John. He could disagree on substance, but the underlying values that animated everything John did, everything he was, come to a different conclusion. He'd part company with you if you lacked the basic values of decency, respect, knowing this project is bigger than yourself."

Lindsey Graham (best friend in the Senate)

George W. Bush
"We are better than this. America is better than this."

Larry Fitzgerald (football player)

After hearing all of these speeches, I wonder what Putitn's speech will be like at Trump's funeral. I can't imagine too many other people other than Vince McMahon coming (since Trump's NFL knee comments benefit him the most). 

I like to think of myself as a middle of the road, slightly to the right guy. Sometimes I lean right. Sometimes I lean left. I have no use for the garbage peddled by outlets like (what has become of) Slate and (what has always been) Breitbart, who take their extremes to never be happy with anything except for what caters to their every further to the side whim. That said, our resident Twitter News Network is still the worst of all the CRAP NEWS outlets when it comes to finding ways to deride anyone who doesn't tow it's party line. This is really bad with their thoughts on McCain's contributions to America. For instance, reactions like THIS made me ecstatic that McCain did THIS.

It's one thing to not like a person. It's another thing to tarnish the office you work in with intentional disrespect toward a fellow government servant after he / she dies. This is why I WILL NOT RESPECT a  de facto President who can't respect his position.


We can't always get what we want, no matter what side we're on, as the Rolling Stones sang, but Obamacare went on, even if the individual mandate later vanished, as did the birth control mandate. However, before it did, McCain tried to force debate in a utilitarian way - not just whoever is in charge at the minute gets whatever he / she wants.

McCain was a Republican who knew that sometimes it costs money to get the right things. I can imagine this "maverick" wore his RINO (Republican in Name Only, as they called him) tag with pride, crossing the aisles to save the filibuster to debate Bush 2's judicial nominees and to create an immigration plan. Hell, he even stood against his friend Lindsey Graham's plan when Trump was in his by any means necessary, destroy ACA / Obamacare as fast as possible (as well as anything else Obama did).

This is a great expression of McCain's fight to force debate on a plan that mandates coverage for pre-existing conditions (something that my Parkie self can and does fight for). In the same way that he didn't like the party line vote for Obamacare, he sure didn't like being dragged back to symbolically be the person to destroy it. Why make the same mistake twice just to obey his theoretical party-line master?

Yes, McCain may have voted for things that came next (as some people attacked him for), but at least he created debate first... not caving into partisan politics and step in line with the blowhard in charge (or else - no matter who that is - from the right or left). Real leaders know that very few decisions need to be made immediately, and if they don't, the point it to ponder.

For all of his disagreement with Bush 2 and Obama, they will speak in his honor at his funeral this week.

Despite their differences, Obama still said THIS about his one-time opponent, even after McCain caved to his party's ideology to think he had a better chance to get elected (even taking Sarah Palin onboard to completely sink his ship instead of his choice of Joe Lieberman).

Despite their differences, W said THIS to eulogize his opponent.

Lots of people who weren't aboard the McCain train said nice things. As for the "president," Trump had to be made to fly the flag at half mast.

McCain, though running for election against Obama, once took down a racist making stupid comments to defend Obama. He also braved the party-line hatred to honor the man who would be president when it came time to concede. And yes, they traded barbs along the way with McCain's inability to know how much property he owned being used against him, but in the end, they mended fences.

Because that's what civil people do.

In a world where people who never served try to vilify McCain for his time in POW Hell, John survived those horrible days with permanent injuries. I'm not sure how long it would take ass clowns who attacked his character (like Milo) to scream "Do it to Julia," but the fact is McCain endured torture, came to oppose torture, and still had to deal with barbs like that while being accused by W's campaign of being too angry and reactionary to lead the nation (and Obama's campaign of being so old he might die in office - then again, the GOP did that, too - more on Kelli Ward later).

AUTHOR'S NOTE - even in the eulogies, much was made of McCain's "famous" temper.

That said, if you're a former POW, like James Stockdale (who never gave in), have at. That said, Stockdale respected McCain for his years in that nightmare. If you're so inclined to believe the smear merchants, keep on keeping on. That's what you're inclined to believe, and you have the right to believe what you want.

This is still a free country where you're allowed to think for yourself, even if it's to spread hate to encourage an all out holy war (though Wilders is Dutch, there's enough American whackos that would have came out to play on THIS - see this about Pamela Geller's American Freedom Defense Initiative's 2015 Texas soiree than ended with a security guard shot and two attackers killed).

Shouldn't there be underground Fight Clubs so these people who want their extremist crap can take each other out instead of hurting the rest of us?


For the rest of us, just use your rights to believe what your eyes see... not what the party line and conspiracy nonsense tells you to believe.

As the anonymous op-ed in the New York Times said:

The root of the problem is the president’s amorality. Anyone who works with him knows he is not moored to any discernible first principles that guide his decision making.
Although he was elected as a Republican, the president shows little affinity for ideals long espoused by conservatives: free minds, free markets and free people. At best, he has invoked these ideals in scripted settings. At worst, he has attacked them outright.

UNFORTUNATELY, the partisan right looks at this act to restore dignity to the administration (which it stands with and for) as TREASON and demands the writer quit.

It's like they want the ship to sink.

Mind you, losing the House and / or Senate in fall will ensure the demise of the Republican party as those who are a part of it know it to be. In a country that needs many voices and legitimate middle of the road debate, for either the GOP or the Democrats to go off the rails, we would sink further into the swamp.

This can't be.


That said with opposition like those in charge, sometimes, I'd like to have my own restaurant to keep people out when they can't play nice with others. Let's face it; some people's money just isn't worth it. Then again, some companies make money to stand up for their ideological causes, whether we agree with them or not. For those who feel hate for it, cut off your Swoosh. The money is in the bank.

You don't have to pay to play anymore, but there are plenty more who will, and many of them are Nike's target audience as opposed to many opponents who weren't.


That said, for the self righteous, just remember, it's OK to protest when it's for slights to Sarah Huckabee Sanders or Trump, not his enemies. I may not be a Kaepernick fan on or off the field, but he has his 1st Amendment right to make a political stance for his cause. People have the right to tune out and not buy, but this is America... not partisan fueled outrage. While I don't support all of what he's saying, I realize why he does. Oh yeah, this is a great ad campaign that must have inspired Senator Cory Booker.

BTW - this is a great editorial on the situation.Historically, see Muhammad Ali's conscientious objection and Curt Flood's "well paid slave statement."

When you look at most of McCain's haters, they were either harder right (a respectable place to be since they've at least rationalized their beliefs as I have my own and they stand by them when they make sense) or downright "crazy" (a place unworthy of respect because it defends thee old cause no matter what - let's call it Palinland, where one minute, you're ready for war with Russia and the next, they want to hang out with you).

Ben Folds / Nick Hornby - Levi Johnson's Blues

In a world with an administration that hates the McCain point of view and appoints candidates to head the EPA on the basis that they would never do this (SEE VIDEO BELOW), I'd love to own a Chinese restaurant so that if I had to serve people like Sanders (which this new Supreme Court said I don't have to do - provided it goes against my core values), I could bring out the new and improved pu pu platter to people like her and KELLI WARD who somehow think McCain's choice to go off meds and DIE was aimed at her campaign. Oh, to live in Arizona so I could at least vote against her.

In the end, John McCain was my favorite politician who lived in my lifetime. He made a difference for many people. What's more; he chose to die with dignity, calling off the fight against cancer treatment and choosing to shuffle off this mortal coil on his terms. Politics aside, we can look at a beautifully imperfect life and say, "He made a difference."

It sure beats letting a draft dodger tell us what isn't heroic as he gets bought and sold by the KGB and the US really and truly needs to be made great after we sanitize this administration's office.

Joe Biden / Cory Booker 2020.