I treasure the work of the late Dr. Tom Graboys, esteemed Boston cardiologist.
I reread his memoir about PD (“Life in the Balance”), and was riveted by two words: diminishment and control.
Graboys’s major PD undertakings were managing his diminishing capacities and keeping control of his life.
Those are my issues, too.
I give you a sampling of my tactics to counter PD’s relentless drive to diminish, and wrest control, of my life.
- Loss of sensation in dominant right hand: go left-handed. (Neuroplasticity at work)
- Clumsiness when eating (dropsies): substitute spoons for forks.
- Can’t remember where I left keys and like valuables: tether items to a constant in life. In my case, a small leather pouch that’s always at my side. (Boy Bag)
- Leaving home without vital documents (wallet, driver’s license): always have them in shoulder bag (Man Purse), which contains Boy Bag in marsupial fashion.
- Driving uncertainty: get technology loaded car (GPS, blind spot displays, radar and cameras everywhere); stick to middle lane; U-turns rather than left turns into four-lane roads; care partner drives in unfamiliar areas.
- Emotional volatility (emotional incontinence, in a Parkie friend’s unforgettable rendering); think twice (maybe 10 times), before acting on impulse (binge shopping, gambling, etc.).
- Thanks to a nOH-like condition, peeing every 30 minutes, urgently: always know (and plan around) location of nearest toilet; wear quick-exit gym pants; stow your pride and employ adult diaper for trips.
- Difficulty moving from sitting to standing: use chair with arms rather than deep sofa; employ booster toilet seat.
- Life in the slow lane (bradykinesia): add 30 minutes (or more) to a planned task (packing for trip, gym date, doctor visit).
- Unstable balance: forget cane or walker; use balance sticks. Sexy and pleasantly eye-catching (“Cross Country skiing in Florida! How neat of you!”)
- Forgetting must-do tasks: place visual reminders in front of you. For example, monthly investment report as reminder to call investment advisor.
- Loss of multi-tasking ability: KISS principle always. (Keep it simple stupid) Rely on care partner for help.
- Leaving stuff in and around car: rigid discipline to ALWAYS check roof, door locks, rear hatch and ground around vehicle.
- What-to-wear-today dilemma (due to not remembering your calendar obligations): choose clothes night before. For this once well-dressed guy, this is a new challenge. I need garb that fits the day and is quickly and easily removed, thus assisting me in avoiding the ultimate public embarrassment: pissing in one’s shoes.