Another Visit With the Brain Doctor

If you’ve been recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, do yourself a favor. Don’t just see a neurologist. See a movement disorder specialist. They’re up to date on everything related to Parkinson’s and all the various other movement disorders and won’t mistake your PD for a case of “carpal tunnel syndrome” like one regular neurologist of my acquaintance did years ago.

And go regularly. I see mine three times a year.

Just had my regular 4-month checkup with my neurologist. All in all, I’ve lost five lbs. (after working my HINEY off on the treadmill since June), I have no sign of rigidity, which is great, but I’m still very unstable and my gait remains a huge problem.

I love my visits with Dr. Grill.

First, he wanted to measure my reach. So I put my toetips on the green line on the floor, extended my right arm and leaned forward as far as I could — which was not far. My legs began to shake uncontrollably. “Well, that’s new,” he noted. He had me do it again. I reached out with my right hand as far as I could without leaning on the wall or falling… the legs began to shake again. I’ve noticed recently that they do that, like when I’m in the bathroom and lean in close to see something in the mirror or when I’m in the kitchen and look out the window over the sink to see if Shiloh is doing anything. My legs begin to “bounce.”

“What causes that?” I asked him. And he gave me a typical doctor answer, laden with medical terminology and scientific hoo-hah that… if you need help understanding it, just send me an e-mail and I’ll translate.

“We really don’t know,” he said. “We think it might be something related to the muscles in your legs providing feedback to your brain that your brain can’t figure out so it sends signals back to your legs, which send signals back to the brain, and there ya go!”

Anything I can do about that?

“When you lean forward, make sure you’re hanging on to something.”

Ok, then.

Did OK on the “put the blocks on the pegs” test and the “how many dots can you make on a page” test. He tested me for muscle rigidity and found none. This means the deep brain stimulation is doing its job. It can do nothing for gait or balance and it doesn’t seem to help with my slowness of movement, but I’m loose as a goose!

We did the balance test. He got behind me, gave me a tug and I pressed him into the wall. “Try to stop yourself, try not to fall,” he said. “I’M TRYING NOT TO FALL,” I whined.

“Try taking a step back when I tug,” he said. “I’M TRYING TO TAKE A STEP BACK,” I wheedled.

He did it again, and once again I flattened my doctor against his office wall.

We did the open and close your hands thing. Left hand, great! Right hand, a lot of start, stop hesitation. We did the flap jack flip on your thigh thing. Left hand, easy as can be! Right hand, more of the start and stop hesitation. Then we did the “stomp your heel on the floor” thing. Left leg, dandy! Right leg, start… stop… start… stop… foot dangling in midair as I clutch my chair… drop… lift… stop… drop…

When he had me do my timed walk in the hallway using my walker, I did well in the first run. In the second run, my right foot dug into the floor and I froze up for a few seconds.

Now, it’s important to keep in mind that I had Deep Brain Sti

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