Life is getting scary. It’s Parkinson’s Awareness Month and we are trying our best to make the general public aware of how prevalent and devastating Parkinson’s can be. We are also trying to show that there are things patients with Parkinson’s can do to improve their lives. Rock Steady is a program developed to improve Parkinson’s patients’ balance, endurance and outlook. Channel 3’s report in which I am shown punching the crap out of a dummy got rave reviews. The fund-raising event I’m participating in, Move It Walk 2021-Charlotte, is not doing as well as I had hoped. If you click on the underlined words above you should find the donation page. Under the amount donated is a box where you can type my name. Thanks in advance.
Now, back to today’s topic. I’m on the same medications my father was on 30 years ago. Advances in treatment are around the corner but I can’t wait for them. I’m taking the next step and, frankly, I’m scared. I’m being evaluated for Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS). In other words, a neurosurgeon will bore holes in my skull and implant electrical wires into the part of my brain that is misbehaving. DBS was just starting to become recognized as a safe and effective treatment for Parkinson’s at the time of my father’s death. While it has come a long way since then, it’s still scary as hell. The risk of intraoperative stroke is low but still significant.
It’s really strange, but I can’t remember a single patient ever talking to me about fear. I saw the whole gamut of illnesses, yet I don’t recall anyone using the words scary or fear. I remember patients discussing doubts about surgery and procedures. I remember treating anxiety associated with treatments but never FEAR! Was I that good that my care allayed all fear? I seriously doubt it. Conversely, was I that bad that people were afraid to share their fears with me? I don’t think so either. Maybe it’s just a case of CRS.
Maybe, it’s a case of selective memory. Maybe my brain is trying to protect me by remembering only the good outcomes. My most vivid memories are of the miracles I witnessed. I vividly remember my first miracle patient. He came into the ER with a massive brain bleed. The neurosurgeon took him to the OR and worked for hours trying to save him but failed. He returned to the ICU in a vegetative state. The family was told he was essentially brain dead. Two days later his right toe started to move. The next day, he was found on the floor. No one knew how it happened, but it did. The next day, he was found on the floor again. Again, it seemed impossible; but, some way, he rolled out of bed. The next day, he woke up and started talking. One week later, he went to rehab. Eventually, he went back to work.
He was not the only “brain dead” patient of mine to be discharged home and return to a normal life. Miracles do happen! So, why am I scared? I don’t need a miracle. All I need is to be one of the many successes. Perhaps I’m worried because I’ve always looked at statistics from a different frame of mind.
If the odds of something bad happening are 1%, is it really only one in one hundred or is it really 50/50? I’ve always told my patients that, in the individual, it’s 50/50. Either it is going to happen to you or not. In the early years of my practice, I assisted the neurosurgeon several times. Boring holes in a person’s skull was always freaky. Having them bored in my skull is scary!
If you are scared about your health/a procedure/a loved one, share your fears with your doc. He/she may not be able to fully allay them but knowing they exist will help your doc understand you better.
Here’s your joke for the day:
A man is sitting at the bar, his head in his hands.
“Bartender: What’s the matter, buddy?
Man: It’s the worst thing ever. I caught my wife in bed with my best friend.
Bartender: Oh man, that really sucks! What did you do?
Man: I told her to pack her shit and get the hell out!
Bartender: What about your best friend?
Man: I looked him straight in the eyes and said BAD DOG!”