‘Nobody heard him the dead man. But still he lay moaning. I was much further out than you thought. And not waving but drowning’. – Stevie Smith
‘Two hands clap and there is a sound. What is the sound of one hand?’— Hakuin Ekaku
It was an empty ache in my right hand that told me something was wrong and led to the diagnosis of PD. Two years later my left hand remains fairly normal with no significant tremors. It seems this can be quite normal: so the right side of my brain is producing dopamine fairly normally and aiding movement of the left hand side of my body. Nevertheless I still write, or more accurately, print right handed rather than left and wonder why my left brain cannot borrow a bit of dopamine from the right.
Aches and pains are right side biased and I have had a shake on my right side for maybe 40 years.
I drag my right foot but not my left.
My left arm feels fine when my right feels like a dead lead weight.
So I’ve given my brain to the Queen Square Brain Bank for Neurological Disorders who inter alia investigate the causes of Parkinson’s disease and atypical parkinsonianism. Specific projects include research into how PD begins and how it progresses: the new methods called protoeomics could be key to developing a strategy to alter the course of PD progression and ultimately to stop the disease in its tracks.
Notice of another fascinating and positive development in tackling PD came from the University of Buffalo, USA, via an old friend, Bob Emmerson based in Eindhoven, Holland, one of the funniest people I know (especially when beaming himself down, Scottie, into a supermarket car park mounted on an empty trolley). This is another illustration of how friends look out for me and ensure that I stay abreast of new developments.
PD is a degenarative disease involving loss of dopamine neurons in the brain, having a significant impact on patient motor skills. Essentially the Buffalo team recognised and overcame a key obstacle to cellular conversion which can now be manipulated to turn on a DNA modification enzyme so that dopamine neurons were produced. There is now potential for creating patient-specific neurons in the laboratory.
I finally took up the offer of a place on a circuit training course designed for newish PD patients, (stemming from something called ‘PD Warrior’) having been too worried about meeting people worse in condition than myself. It was actually OK and we swapped old PD yarns while the physios set up the room. Then we did a series of ten simple exercises, each for 2.5 minutes.
I felt good and gently tired by the session’s end.
And at the end I asked my neighbour what his first name was and he said ‘Douglas’, (names have been changed to protect the innocent), but that he preferred to be known as ‘Tony’, which is what his friends call him. He’s ‘Douglas’ to the NHS as it’s his formal first name on all of the hospital paperwork. Now he’s used to it and it works quite well so that he sees ‘Douglas’ as the alter ego with PD, while ‘Tony’ is fit and well and has never heard of PD. Will try it myself!
AT THE PUB
This week at the pub we talked about the following: LouisVan Gaal (again), beer range, prices and quality (for a change), Simon Danczuk MP, Jez Corbyn’s reshuffle, estuary English and the glottal stop, venison, advertising on BBC, the cost of razor blades, Blackpool FC, Spotify, work on Bob’s allotment, thoughtless car parking, peanuts, Valencia, the French right. Unusually perhaps, some conclusions were drawn, but unfortunately I can’t remember any of them.
And according to the Guardian, branches of Wetherspoon’s are allowed to choose their own carpet design, so there are over 900 unique carpets. That is my ‘important fact’ for this week.
AT THE POOL
The Naked Men bemoaned the growth in the number of picture framing shops and the loss of family run grocers and admired my new blue Christmas trunks.
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