“One isn’t necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.” Maya Angelou
“Life is not a problem to be solved, but an experience to be had.” Alan Watts
Don’t You Get The Summer Off?: My favorite check out guy at Whole Foods asked me recently, “Don’t you get the summer off from teaching medical students?” And one of my weekend golf buddies routinely jokes about the fact that I’m in academics and says “I only have to work nine hours a week.” In reality, being at a medical school has always meant to me to work essentially everyday. As long as my brain is functioning, I will continue to follow this lifestyle. I have spent the summer getting ready for the fall semester, catching up on my research in the laboratory, and doing all the things I neglected to do during the school year. Yes, in the summer I do take more opportunity to play golf during the week; however, I make up the hours working either early in the morning or late in the evening. I realized today that I had not posted a blog in over a month; I have been busy and just not had time to sit at my computer to plan, research, think and write. The goal of this current blog is meant to be an update including future planned posts.
“What I have learned from life is to make the most of what you have got.” Stephen Hawking
Letters of Recommendation: One of the obligations of a university professor that teaches undergraduate students is to be willing and able to write supportive letters of recommendation (well, that’s my opinion). Many of the students I’ve taught in the past year are applying to medical school, dental school, graduate school, physician assistant school, pharmacy school, nursing school, and postbaccalaureate programs. Several of my former students are also reapplying to some of the same programs. In a typical year, I will write 40 to 50 letters of recommendation. And of course, the goal is to write a uniquely different letter for each student; to describe their key highlights, give evidence of their potential, and to find the most appropriate descriptive adjectives for each person. Thus, each letter becomes its own journey from my perspective, and it takes time and considerable attention to compose such a supportive type of letter. And writing for me is always a struggle, because I have to be in the right mental frame of mind to compose any document. My goal for the rest of July through August is to try and write one or two letters of recommendations every couple of days.
“Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.” Marie Curie
Parkinson’s Empowerment Symposium: Options for Care and Living Well for Patients and Families (June 18, 2016, Asheville, North Carolina): The UNC Movement Disorders Center hosted a 1-day symposium on Parkinson’s. The focus was described as follows: “This educational program is intended for individuals diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and/or PD care partners, with the goals of reviewing treatment and therapy options, discussing effective coping, and providing a space to ask questions.” Seeking refuge from the summer heat, we combined a fun weekend in the cool Smoky mountains in the wonderfully eclectic city of Asheville with great cajun food for dinner, cool dry mountain air to play 18-holes of golf and just relaxing fun; we also attended the Parkinson’s symposium (see pictures below; the tattoo shop story will be reserved for a future blog post). Being around a large group of people with Parkinson’s was inspiring and motivated me further to work managing/dealing with my Parkinson’s. All-in-all, a great experience.
“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” Albert Einstein
Awakenings: Awakenings is a 1973 book by Oliver Sacks; he found beneficial effects of the drug L-Dopa when given to catatonic patients with encephalitis lethargica. Awakenings is also a 1990 American movie on the same topic staring Robin Williams and Robert De Niro. Use of L-Dopa ‘awakened’ the patients after years of being catatonic and now they are confronted with renewed life many years beyond their comprehension. The idea behind the treatment came from the success of using L-Dopa for treating Parkinson’s.
For the past few months, I’ve been feeling more stiffness, moving less-well and generally had a slight foreboding sense of dread. My Neurologist, during my recent visit, decided that my treatment strategy had become less effective and we needed to ‘add-on’ something. After several minutes of options and dosing of various compounds, I made the decision to move to Sinemet (the generic formula of Carbidopa-Levodopa 25-100 tablets); in addition to the dopamine agonists (Ropinirole extended release tablets and Rotigotine transdermal patch). My ‘awakening’ moment happened with the first small dose of the generic Sinemet. Absolutely felt better, less stiff, more flexible, and totally different. I am excited to see what the future brings in continuing my new group of drugs; ready to keep exercising with renewed hope and ready to keep the rest of my life moving more efficiently. So far the addition of the generic Sinemet has been simply positive and my own awakening.
“Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyze you, they’re supposed to help you discover who you are.” Bernice Johnson Reagon
Coming Attractions: There are 4 categories to posts for this blog: i) “Life Lessons” (describe living with Parkinson’s); ii) “Medical Education” (report emerging medical strategies for treating/managing/curing Parkinson’s); iii) “Strategy for Living” (support mechanism to anyone with Parkinson’s or other neurodegenerative disorder); and iv) “Translating Science” (educate by presenting scientific aspects of Parkinson’s). Listed below are the posts that are coming later this summer (my hope/plan is to get ~2 posts finished/week):
Immune System and Parkinson’s (Part 2): Role of Innate Immunity.
Anatomy of Parkinson’s.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Associated with Increased Risk of Parkinson’s but not of Alzheimer’s.
Update on the Anti-leukemia Drug Nilotinib and Treatment of Parkinson’s.
Strategy for Living
Parkinson’s Wellness Recovery (PWR!) Exercise Program and Neuroplasticity.
Part 5: Journey to Parkinson’s and Transradial Cardiac Catheterization.
Part 4: Journey to Parkinson’s and Electromyography.
Part 3: Journey to Parkinson’s and Polysomnography.
Part 2: Journey to Parkinson’s and Magnetic Resonance Imaging.
New Face of Parkinson’s and the World Parkinson Congress.
A Simple Plan.
Where Were You When?
Love in the Presence of Parkinson’s.
c-Abl and α-Synuclein Interactions Linked to the Development of Parkinson’s.
Less Clueless About Parkinson’s.
Genetic Profiling of Parkinson’s Disease and Parkinson’s Dementia.
Arginase in Alzheimer’s: A New Hope.
Deletion of Huntingtin Gene in Adult Mice Suggests a New Treatment Strategy for Huntington’s.
NAD+ is Neuroprotective in a Drosophila Model of Parkinson’s.
“Life is an opportunity, benefit from it. Life is beauty, admire it. Life is a dream, realize it. Life is a challenge, meet it. Life is a duty, complete it. Life is a game, play it. Life is a promise, fulfill it. Life is sorrow, overcome it. Life is a song, sing it. Life is a struggle, accept it. Life is a tragedy, confront it. Life is an adventure, dare it. Life is luck, make it. Life is too precious, do not destroy it. Life is life, fight for it.” Mother Teresa