Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Progress: My Days These Days

How I am doing, adapted from a few letters to friends and relatives: basically well if sometimes a bit frustrated, with only occasional moments of terror (;-)

I was never a couch potato before, but my undiagnosed symptoms slowed to stopped me for almost a year and I had to work to get back. Now of course I am rather at the other extreme, but there are worse things to be. Fitting it all into ones' schedule may be the hardest part even for childless under and self- employed me. I start with about an hour of stretches and the mile walk every AM (and first I must wake up, take meds, and have serious coffee, usually over the computer). I also do half the pigeons and all the hawk work, and some of the dog walking; Libby the other animal chores, most of the garden, and (infuriatingly for me if not her) has more or less taken over cooking because of my lack of dexterity and slowness. She of course also works more or less full time.

Then at 530 MW &F, I go off to the gym for an hour to work out (after a second lunch to keep my weight up--a new one!), returning so pumped up and high on endorphins it usually takes me two stiff vodkas and an hour before I can relax enough to eat! Then, though I am sleeping through the night for the first time in years, it usually takes another drink or two before I can fall asleep at 12 (I get up at 6 and am NEVER tired; before this exercise regime, at least for my "sick year", I was tired all the time and nodded off constantly-- go figure!)

Oddly, the meds, which I take at meals, give me two quick sleepy periods right after; coffee apparently blocks this-- thank God!-- after breakfast.

(On the gym; a ridiculous success so far. It is still improving, and not all that slowly. I was warned that though the weightlifting would probably help my general condition and strength, and stop or roll back symptoms, it might not affect my minor motor movements. For instance I would still type badly, which had been a problem, since I kept hitting the wrong keys. But a few weeks after starting lifting weights, I became able to type again, at least until I got tired– certainly well enough to write letters and notes. I think that the dictation software will be a lot of help for professional– length work, at least once I get it trained. But though I find the high–tech software exciting, I am even more amazed that being able to bench press three eight- rep sets of 180 pounds makes it easier to type. I am always enough of a naturalist that neurology astounds me more than technology).

After less than six weeks of this regimen (not JUST the weights-- stretches & meds too of course), I have not only gained back the 20 pounds I lost during the last nine months or so, but added another 10, all pure muscle as far as I can tell. I probably have the best muscle tone I have ever had. Tremors often don't even start until evening and are minor then. Cramps are almost nonexistent. And I am sleeping the best I have in years. My appetite is ridiculous. I can walk without the Parkinson's shuffle. Everyone says I look great, including people that thought I was dying six months ago.

Exaggerated? Sometimes I don't believe it myself, and I still get bad moments-- the road is sometimes bumpy. But consider my inspiration for finding out about this "therapy", Mark "Flyover Country" Churchill's uncle, whose ambitious weight program i showed to my instructor-- after 20 months, he's painting again!

Between all this, I have to find time to work (and correspond and blog, which feeds it) and do things to write about-- well, I have memories and notes for my Asia- travel- dog book already done, so that helps.

But the "how" is still being worked out because I am physically slower-- must find the right tech. The dictation software is the long- term thing I think and I am already using it even for long letters, but the right hardware becomes vastly more important when you are not 100% functional. I have this ergonomic wireless keyboard I like, but they are not cheap, break easily, and I am on my 2nd in 6 months. Two days ago my space bar started sticking so that it either made nospacebetweenwordslikethis, or, if I SLAMMED it (and broke my rhythm, which any writer can tell you is an obstacle to saying what you are trying to say), it made looong spaces, like this. (Apparently Blogger won't allow the illustrative two- inch break I wanted to put there!)

So I got out this regular keyboard, which we got in trade for something from our Mac maven in Socorro, who must have 50 computers-- a real geek's geek. It types fine, but the mouse, which I have never used, is FUCKING IMPOSSIBLE- I just can't click it, and it has a translucent panel on it that, if I touch it, instantly bounces me to the top or the bottom of the page. WTF?? It is so bad that I will write my letters in the AM with this board (maybe cutting and pasting things of interest--like this?-- into notes to other friends!), then put back the other keyboard in the afternoon and use the still sometimes surreal voice control (I am tempted to keep a log of its suggestions, including "church" for perch and "hugging"--!- for hawking), which should hopefully minimize my use of the space bar as much as possible. Write until late afternoon, feed the falcon, lift weights, begin again.

Only a perpetual half- day behind, as usual. And I still have to go to Socorro and get a different mouse, and/ or either fix the @#$%^& space bar or replace the board!

Seriously though, present problems are lighter than any for an age; many are funnier than sad. As my friend the Montana mystery writer and fellow pauper Peter Bowen says; "Writers! Whine, whine, whine-- we'll be rich when we're dead!" If I get my tech refined, become able to walk another mile a day, maybe get a shorter range hawk for fall or drink a bit less vodka (though my "new metabolism" seems to burn it right off, not like last depressed year) I'd feel I was improving even more. And if I ever sell the Asia- dog book-- or even "revive" Querencia- the-book-- a whole other project I'll talk more about when I figure more out but which I think I can do, at least in NM-- I would feel like a success, even with Parkinson's!

Enough of what Libby calls "the organ recital"-- I'll keep it rare, but people have been asking. Besides, time is pushing on me-- no more blogging for now, as I must feed the hawk and go off to the gym!


Mike Spies said...

Steve, I am pleased to read that you are taking control. The 'victim posture' is a terrible place to be.

Matt Mullenix said...

What a turn-around!

Anonymous said...

May I suggest Glacier Bay vodka. Its made in Idaho with real potatoes. Tastes like the good Russian stuff.

Anonymous said...

...good year for sharptail and huns here in Eastern Montana...sounds like you have the legs for it! Tom Condon

LabRat said...

In order to press a large amount of weight over your chest, your hands must be capable of holding the bar rigidly in place, which requires (and therefore trains) strength and stability... any large, compound movement should have similar beneficial side effects. I got similar results rehabilitating a seemingly permanently weak ligament in my right ankle with back squats.

Have you ever heard of Turkish get-ups? The history of strength conditioning has a lot of little gems hidden and forgotten in the spot-training insanity of the eighties. (Yes, I know I am out of shape, but I enjoy reading about this stuff as much as many other subjects...)

And, yes, we have lots of hardware scattered around to share, especially if I ever get off my butt and make Razer send me a replacement mouse.

smartdogs said...

Glad to hear you're doing better. Nice to see you posting again!

Steve Bodio said...

Tom-- not ready for sharptails yet but I'm working on it!

Anon- will check out Glacier Bay.

Stingray/ LabRat: we'll have to talk re hardware. You do know we're all Mac? (Most recent OS 10 I think).

LR: "Turkish get-ups" sounds like costume or something vaguely sexual. No, never heard of it, and would be afraid to ask my body geek instructor, Tell me more!

LabRat said...

Stingray will have to answer re your Macitude- all I can say is "plug n' play" and I have no idea to what that applies and to what extent.

"Turkish get ups" are a complicated term for an exercise that basically boils down to the art of rising from the floor to a full standing position with a weight held at with your arm at full extension overhead. There are several different ways to approach the rising process, often depending on if you're holding a dumbbell, kettlebell, barbell, or sandbag/other unstable weight, but all of them amount to a full-body, multi-stage strength and stability challenge.

I'll e-mail you with more tomorrow if it's not sounding in the wacky/undoable range.

Steve Bodio said...

They sound both doable and interesting-- sort of a combination of my weights & stretches. Tell me more!

Stingray said...

Keyboards and mice are (usually) pretty platform agnostic. If you're using a USB or PS/2 connection now, anything else with a matching cord *should* do the job. If all else fails, I'll just have you send a picture of the back of your computer and the various connections.

paivi said...

Great to hear it's going so well, and I really enjoyed the increased posting activity too. :)

Anonymous said...

This is great and inspiring news!

Annie in Va

mdmnm said...

Great to hear things are going so much better!


Janeen said...

Have you seen this?

Parkinson's is on the list

Steve Bodio said...

Thanks-- will see PD doc Monday and will ask! Cheerful update soon...