Category Archives: Accept

Chapter 7: A Parkinson’s Reading Companion on Persistence

“It is better to take many small steps in the right direction than to make a great leap forward only to stumble backward.” Louis Sachar

“We are human. We are not perfect. We are alive. We try things. We make mistakes. We stumble. We fall. We get hurt. We rise again. We try again. We keep learning. We keep growing. And we are thankful for this priceless opportunity called life.” Ritu Ghatourey

Introduction: The 62 students in my undergraduate course, “Biology of Blood Diseases”, submitted quotes on five of the following: hope, courage, journey, persistence, positivity, strength, adversity, mindfulness, and life (for further details click here). This blog post is Chapter 7 including all of their quotes about ‘persistence’ [click here to read Chapter 1 (hope); click here to read Chapter 2 (life); click here to read Chapter 3 (strength); click here to read Chapter 4 (adversity); click here to read Chapter 5 (positivity); click here to read Chapter 6 (courage)].

Persistence and Parkinson’s: Persistence is continuing to try, an effect that continues even after the cause has been removed or something that sticks around for a long time ( To me another way of saying this is that persistence is steadfastness.  I spend a lot of time staying hopeful and being positive in dealing with this disorder. Yet perhaps the best trait to have is to remain persistent. When you have an incurable progressive neurodegenerative disorder, your effort needs to be constant and unwavering. Your persistence in dealing with this minute-by-minute really will make a difference. May these quotes about persistence reinforce your will and effort to deal daily with this unrepentant disorder named Parkinson’s.

Persistence: I am pleased to present Chapter 7 about persistence with my co-authors: Angle, Hannah; Arthur, Kallie; Artov, Michael; Bagley, Kendall; Batista, Kayla; Blaylock, Allison; Byrd, Emory; Cabell, Grant; Catalano, Michael; Clark, Kendall; Cossaart, Kristen; Culpepper, Houston; Das, Snigdha; Davis, Eric; Defazio, Stephanie; Doudnikoff, Alex; Dua, Shawn; Evans, Jessica; Evick, Andrew; Farooque, Tazeen; Ford, Kelsey; German, Zachary; Gouveia, Katie; Hall, Nikita; Isler, Victoria; Kirkley, Joel; Koutleva, Elitza; Laudun, Katie; Le, Kevin; Little, Sarah; Mackey, Josselyn; Macon, Briana; Maddox, Kaity; Marquino, Grace; Mattox, Daniel; Mcknight, Kyle; Mcmanus, Brenna; Mcshane, Sarah; Monkiewicz, Caroline; Nguyen, Michelle; Nguyen, Teresa; Olinger, Emily; Patel, Darshan; Patel, Dilesh; Patel, Jenny; Perez, Abby; Peters, Daniel; Quirin, Julia; Rawlins, Shelby; Raynor, Nathan; Renn, Matt; Scott, Alicia; Sherry, Alex; Shin, Christine; Stanton, Kate; Story, Charlotte; Swango, Summer; Szyperski, Caroline; Windley, Taylor; Wooley, Caleb; Xu, Alice; Yang, Michelle.

“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. ” Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture 

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” George Bernard Shaw’s Man and Superman

“Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts for a lifetime.” From Lance Armstrong on his fight against cancer

”It always seems impossible until it’s done. ” Nelson Mandela

”A smooth sea never made a skillful sailor. ”  Franklin D. Roosevelt

“Success is never final. Failure is never fatal. It’s courage that counts.”  John Wooden

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” Thomas Edison

 “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” Calvin Coolidge

“A failure is not always a mistake. It may simply be the best one can do under the circumstances. The real mistake is to stop trying.” B. F. Skinner

“Failure is only postponed success as long as courage ‘coaches’ ambition. The habit of persistence is the habit of victory.” Herbert Kaufman

” The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried.” Stephen McCranie

“Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.” Michael Jordan

“The best way out is always through.” Robert Frost

“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” Winston Churchill

“Better is possible. It does not take genius. It takes diligence. It takes moral clarity. It takes ingenuity. And above all, it takes a willingness to try.” Atul Gawande Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance

“Promise me you will not spend so much time treading water and trying to keep your head above the waves that you forget, truly forget, how much you have always loved to swim.” Tyler Knott Gregson

“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” Michael Jordan

“Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.” John Quincy Adams

“At first they’ll ask you why you’re doing it. Later they’ll ask you how you did it.” Anonymous

“A little more persistence, a little more effort, and what seemed hopeless failure may turn to glorious success.” Elbert Hubbard

“The phoenix must burn to emerge.”  Janet Fitch

“The quality of a persons life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence regardless of their chosen field of endeavor”  Vince Lombardi

“It gets easier, everyday gets a little easier. But you got to do it everyday, that’s the hard part, but it does get easier” BoJack Horseman (Season 2)

“Patience, persistence, and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success.”  Napoleon Hill

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” Maya Angelou

“Perfer et obdura, dolor hic tibi proderit olim.” (Be patient and tough; someday this pain will be useful to you.) Ovid (I saw this on The Walking Dead)

“The real glory is being knocked to your knees and then coming back. That’s real glory. That’s the essence of it.” Vince Lombardi

“The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential… these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.” Confucius

“Better is possible. It does not take genius. It takes diligence. It takes moral clarity. It takes ingenuity. And above all, it takes a willingness to try.” Atul Gawande

“Every man at some point in his life is going to lose a battle. He’s going to fight and he is going to lose. But what makes him a man is, at the midst of that battle, he does not lose himself” Friday Night Lights

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not: unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” Calvin Coolidge

“The best view comes after the hardest climb.” Unknown

Agent Smith: “Why, Mr. Anderson? Why, why? Why do you do it? Why, why get up? Why keep fighting? Do you believe you’re fighting… for something? For more than your survival? Can you tell me what it is? Do you even know? Is it freedom? Or truth? Perhaps peace? Could it be for love? Illusions, Mr. Anderson. Vagaries of perception. Temporary constructs of a feeble human intellect trying desperately to justify an existence that is without meaning or purpose. And all of them as artificial as the Matrix itself, although… only a human mind could invent something as insipid as love. You must be able to see it, Mr. Anderson. You must know it by now. You can’t win. It’s pointless to keep fighting. Why, Mr. Anderson? Why? Why do you persist?”

Neo: “Because I choose to.”
From the movie Matrix Revolutions

“When you find yourself feeling down, just think about how far you’ve come, all the obstacles you’ve managed to get over. You didn’t make it this far to quit now.” (from a dear friend, John Lian)

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” Martin Luther King Jr.

It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” Albert Einstein

“The most essential factor is persistence- the determination never to allow your energy or enthusiasm to be dampened by the discouragement that must inevitably come.” James Whitcomb Riley

“If plan A doesn’t work, the alphabet has 25 more letters – 204 if you’re in Japan.”  Claire Cook

“A river cuts through rock, not because of its power, but because of its persistence.” Jim Watkins

 “That which we persist in doing becomes easier to do, not that the nature of the thing has changed but that our power to do has increased.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.”  Confucius

This one is one of my favorites. I accidentally messed up a Michael Jordan quote in attempts to rally my softball team to fight back and win a crucial game, but I think this one is really cool…

So after Michael Jordan and the Bulls had gone 7 games with the Pacers to head to the NBA finals to face a well rested Utah Jazz. After they just won the game MJ was interviewed. The reporter basically said something to the effect of people are saying that you are all fatigued. MJ’s reply was great. He said “Our hearts are not fatigued. That’s the most important thing.”

My take on the quote was more like this… Our bodies are tired, but our hearts are not…so I was kind of close, and it worked for the Bulls to persist and win the finals, and it did the same for my team. I think it’s a pretty awesome quote.

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Chapter 5: A Parkinson’s Reading Companion on Positivity

”Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” Albus Dumbledore from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

“You can not have a positive life and a negative mind.” Joyce Meyer

Introduction: In 2015, I  posted a blog entitled “Words Worth Living” (to read it click here). The theme of the post revolved around quotes of inspiration. One of the exercises in my undergraduate course, “Biology of Blood Diseases”, is something called “Thought-filled Responses”  (the class also expressed their thoughts about cancer and HIV/AIDS). For this thought, the 62 students were asked to submit one quote on five (or more) of the following: hope, courage, journey, persistence, positivity, strength, adversity, mindfulness, and life. What to do with >300 quotes?  My original idea was to re-visit the above blog and post several quotes on the meaning of each word as chosen by the class. However, a great suggestion from a student was to  somehow include all of their quotes. If you have been reading along, this is Chapter 5 (of 9) of “A Parkinson’s Reading Companion”. This current post is Chapter 5 including all of their quotes about ‘positivity’ [click here to read Chapter 1 (hope); click here to read Chapter 2 (life); click here to read Chapter 3 (strength); click here to read Chapter 4 (adversity)].

Positivity and Parkinson’s: Your life is altered when given the news that you have a progressive neurodegenerative disorder like Parkinson’s. An important and constant theme of this blog  is remaining positive throughout the ups and down of this disorder.  There will be moments when you’re having a difficult time that your mindset turns negative; however,  I believe that’s when you need to be most positive in dealing with Parkinson’s. Our lives are  different now than they were before Parkinson’s and using positivity will allow us to creatively handle many obstacles ahead. May these quotes on positivity reinforce your attitude to stay positive against this unremorseful disorder.


Positivity:  I am pleased to present Chapter 5 about positivity with my co-authors: Angle, Hannah; Arthur, Kallie; Artov, Michael; Bagley, Kendall; Batista, Kayla; Blaylock, Allison; Byrd, Emory; Cabell, Grant; Catalano, Michael; Clark, Kendall; Cossaart, Kristen; Culpepper, Houston; Das, Snigdha; Davis, Eric; Defazio, Stephanie; Doudnikoff, Alex; Dua, Shawn; Evans, Jessica; Evick, Andrew; Farooque, Tazeen; Ford, Kelsey; German, Zachary; Gouveia, Katie; Hall, Nikita; Isler, Victoria; Kirkley, Joel; Koutleva, Elitza; Laudun, Katie; Le, Kevin; Little, Sarah; Mackey, Josselyn; Macon, Briana; Maddox, Kaity; Marquino, Grace; Mattox, Daniel; Mcknight, Kyle; Mcmanus, Brenna; Mcshane, Sarah; Monkiewicz, Caroline; Nguyen, Michelle; Nguyen, Teresa; Olinger, Emily; Patel, Darshan; Patel, Dilesh; Patel, Jenny; Perez, Abby; Peters, Daniel; Quirin, Julia; Rawlins, Shelby; Raynor, Nathan; Renn, Matt; Scott, Alicia; Sherry, Alex; Shin, Christine; Stanton, Kate; Story, Charlotte; Swango, Summer; Szyperski, Caroline; Windley, Taylor; Wooley, Caleb; Xu, Alice; Yang, Michelle.

“You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” -Winnie the Pooh

“And I know I can do this because I went to London on my own, and because I solved the mystery …and I was brave and I wrote a book and that means I can do anything” -Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

“Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.” Lyndon B. Johnson

“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow.” Helen Keller

“Talking about our problems is our greatest addiction. Break the habit. Talk about your joys” Rita Schiano

“If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.” Roald Dahl

“The important thing is not how long you live. It’s what you accomplish with you life. While I live, I want to shine. I want to prove that I exist. If I could do something really important…that would definitely carry on into the future…And so, if I were to disappear…I think all that I have accomplished will go on. That is…That would mean…that it’s living, right?” Grovyle, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Explorers of Sky

Success isn’t about what you accomplish in your life, it’s about what you inspire others to do.”

“Out of clutter, find simplicity. From discord, find harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” Albert Einstein

“Perhaps this is the moment for which you have been created.” Esther 4:14

“Don’t dig up in doubt what you planted in faith.” Elisabeth Elliot

“This old world we’re livin’ in is might hard to beat. We get a thorn with every rose but ain’t the roses sweet.” Stanton

“Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.” Joseph Campbell

“Positive anything is better than negative nothing.” Elbert Hubbard

“If you’re not having fun, you’re doing something wrong.” Groucho Marx

“The art of living does not consist in preserving and clinging to a particular mode of happiness, but in allowing happiness to change its form without being disappointed by the change; happiness, like a child, must be allowed to grow up.” Charles L. Morgan

“I think if you just look at life in a positive way, positive things will happen” Jake Owen

“So far from forgetting this blessed place, I think my picture of it grows clearer every year: It was as close to magic as I’ve ever been.” Thomas Wolfe, UNC alum

“Every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day.” Alice Morse Earle

“In order to carry a positive action we must develop here a positive vision.” Dalai Lama

“It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be.” from the Harry Potter books

“Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!” Dr. Seuss 

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their own dreams.” Eleanor Roosevelt

“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” Winston Churchhill

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind” Dr. Seuss 

“Always turn a negative situation into a positive situation.” Michael Jordan

“I believe in the person I want to become.” Lana Del Rey

“Whatever comes today, look it in the eye, take a deep breath, and say to yourself “I got this”. Don’t let anything get the better of you until you’ve given it the best of you.” (from a dear friend, Randy Mullis)

“I am and always will be the optimist, the hoper of far-flung hopes and the dreamer of improbable dreams.” The Doctor (11th Doctor) from “Doctor Who”

“So I got that goin’ for me, which is nice.” Carl Spackler, Caddyshack (1980)

“Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.” Willie Nelson

“If you want to be happy, be.” Leo Tolstoy

“Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy. “Anne Frank

“The ship of my life may or may not be sailing on calm and amiable seas. The challenging days of my existence may or may not be bright and promising. Stormy or sunny days, glorious or lonely nights, I maintain an attitude of gratitude. If I insist on being pessimistic, there is always tomorrow. Today I am blessed.” Maya Angelou

Cover photo credit:

Positive-Negative Sign credit: and–Stock-Photo.jpg

Parkinson’s and the Positivity of Michael J. Fox

For everything this disease has taken, something with greater value has been given–sometimes just a marker that points me in a new direction that I might not otherwise have traveled. So, sure, it may be one step forward and two steps back, but after a time with Parkinson’s, I’ve learned that what is important is making that one step count; always looking up.” Michael J. Fox

Life-lesson plans and a living-syllabus: As a long-time educator, I feel that my daily lesson plans are partly derived from my life-experiences and that my syllabus is the sum of my life’s journey.  One view of how we live our syllabus is to see your glass either as half-full or as half-empty.  Someone with a neurodegenerative disorder like Parkinson’s might see life through a half-empty glass; however, anchoring life on a positive and hopeful tone, maybe you’d still see the glass as half-full.  When you think of Michael J. Fox and Parkinson’s, he’d definitely be a glass half-full person. Let me give some examples through his past comments.

Michael J. Fox: “We may each have our own individual Parkinson’s, but we all share one thing in common. Hope.”

Michael J. Fox and Parkinson’s: Michael J. Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at the age of 29.   He has lived with his Parkinson’s for over 20 years.  He waited seven years to share the news about his diagnosis with the public.  He also quickly committed to increasing awareness of Parkinson’s research; in 2007 he founded the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. He is widely admired for his tireless work with the Foundation and as a patient advocate for Parkinson’s.

Michael J. Fox: “In fact, Parkinson’s has made me a better person. A better husband, father and overall human being.”

Stay focused on the positive aspects of life: My own personal path to Parkinson’s (likely) started about 5-6 years ago with a firm diagnosis 2 years ago at the age of 60. My keys as I navigate life with Parkinson’s are to be positive, persistent, active (both physically and mentally), and to remain hopeful. I am a huge fan of Michael J. Fox. He remains focused on living positive with Parkinson’s, being honest about all the ups and downs associated with the disorder, and he truly believes some kind of cure is on the way.

Michael J. Fox: “My life is so filled with positives and blessings, and so filled with things I wouldn’t trade for the world.”

Practice mindfulness, take life moment by moment: Taking life as it comes, mindful to remain in the present moment is so vital to thriving (and living) with Parkinson’s.  Feeling your breath moving in and out of your lungs will help you to focus in the current time. Wake each morning and take your daily-personal-inventory. From that time on, be cognizant that you may have up-and-down interludes during the day. Try not to  worry about a future event; strive to live in the present moment.

Michael J. Fox: “Don’t imagine the worst… If you imagine the worst and it happens, you’ve lived it twice.”

Accept the diagnosis, absorb the details, live your life fully:  Accepting the diagnosis is critical because there are so many treatment strategies available; there are many  potential life-style changes possible.  Please do not resign yourself to the no-zone of care and treatment; your heart is still beating strong.  It take courage and conviction to resist the subtle changes from your disorder; you gain life-dividends from this effort.

Michael J. Fox: “Acceptance doesn’t mean resignation; it means understanding that something is what it is and that there’s got to be a way through it.”

Volunteer, serve, understand what progress is being made, own your Parkinson’s without retreating: Do what you can with what time you have. I am trying to stay upfront with research trends in Parkinson’s; I want to understand  and translate the science here in this blog. My newest task is a big reach for me because I am now part of the World Parkinson Coalition Communications Committee. As I get to know this amazing and talented team of communications experts, I will learn so much. And I truly admire their fierce devotion to all-things-Parkinson’s.

Michael J. Fox: “Medical science has proven time and again that when the resources are provided, great progress in the treatment, cure, and prevention of disease can occur.”

“Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitude”, assemble a good supporting team because your life-world is changing:  You can move onward without any assistance; however, bring your loved ones, family, and friends along for the journey. Have good people around you. They provide love, stability, encouragement and fuel your resilience.  Maybe with time, you might need their assistance; but for now, enjoy your life to its fullest. Manage your life and disorder, forge through it.

Michael J. Fox: “So what I say about Tracy is this: Tracy’s big challenge is not having a Parkinson’s patient for a husband. It’s having me for a husband. I happen to be a Parkinson’s patient.”

Be able to laugh and smile, even in the presence of Parkinson’s: Having Parkinson’s is a serious life-event.  However, humor can be found despite its seriousness. The 2 video clips are from “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and use humor at the expense of Michael J. Fox’s tremor and other difficulties from Parkinson’s (be prepared for ‘colorful profanity’ in their dialog).

Parkinson’s and the positivity of Michael J. Fox: For many years, Michael J. Fox has spoken honestly and openly about his Parkinson’s. His Foundation is at the forefront of funding research to help cure and/or slow the progression of this disorder. Throughout it all,  he has remained positive and hopeful during his journey.

“If you see the world and yourself through a lens smudged by negativity then you’ll find much misery. If you look outwards and inwards through lens brightened by positivity you’ll find much to be happy and appreciative about.” Henrik Edberg

“If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it – then I can achieve it.” Muhammad Ali (The Soul of a Butterfly: Reflections on Life’s Journey)

11 Tips And Character Traits For Living Better With Parkinson’s

“In the New Year, may your right hand always be stretched out in friendship but never in want.” Irish Toast

“As long as I am breathing, in my eyes, I am just beginning.” Criss Jami

Happy New Year!

Thanks for all of your support, feedback, responses and suggestions in 2015; they were most appreciated.

2016 begins with something old and something new; advice (and quotes) for living better with Parkinson’s. Listed alphabetically, the topics include: Believe; Courage And Strength; Exercise Is Your Best Friend; Gratitude And Contentment; Hope; Journey On; Mindfulness; Persistence; Sleep,Sleep Some More; Stay You; and Understand Nutritional Needs.  It is presented in the Table below (for a full-page image click here: 11_Tips.Traits_Living_Parkinsons.160101).


Best wishes to you; may you have a wonderful, happy, productive, successful, loving, fulfilling, and most healthy 2016.

“Above all, don’t fear difficult moments. The best comes from them.” Rita Levi-Montalcini [Dr. Levi-Montalcini was a neurobiologist. She was awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Dr. Stanley Cohen for the discovery of nerve growth factor.]

Poetry to Parkinson’s

“The greatest wisdom is in simplicity. Love, respect, tolerance, sharing, gratitude, forgiveness. It’s not complex or elaborate. The real knowledge is free. It’s encoded in your DNA. All you need is within you. Great teachers have said that from the beginning. Find your heart, and you will find your way.” Carlos Barrios, Mayan elder and Ajq’ij of the Eagle Clan

Defining Parkinson’s disease: Parkinson’s start from the loss of dopamine-producing neurons in the substantia nigra region of the brain.  Lewy bodies are found in these cells; they are denatured aggregates of the protein named alpha-synuclein. Formation of Lewy bodies promote neuronal cell dysfunction and death. Parkinson’s presents mostly as a movement disorder (rigidity, slowness of movement, postural instability, and resting tremor).

Defining poetry and a poet: Jane Kenyon said “The poet’s job is to put into words those feelings we all have that are so deep, so important, and yet so difficult to name, to tell the truth in such a beautiful way, that people cannot live without it.”  Likewise, Robert Frost remarked “There are three things, after all, that a poem must reach: the eye, the ear, and what we may call the heart or the mind. It is most important of all to reach the heart of the read.”

TED talks and a poet with Parkinson’s: Most people have heard of TED talks. TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conferences follow the slogan of “Ideas Worth Spreading”.  Many  universities and organizations have TEDx meetings (e.g., TEDxUNC), which are both fun and inspiring to attend.  The primary reason for writing this particular blog is to connect you with Robin Morgan’s TED talk. Robin is a poet with Parkinson’s.  Her poems she presented at a recent TED conference are beautiful and moving.  I can definitely agree with much of her description of Parkinson’s. Clearly, it is a well-deserved honor to be chosen to present at a TED meeting.

TED talk:

Difference between prose and poetry, and prose to Parkinson’s:  Maeve Maddox writes “What makes a poem ‘good’? The answer ultimately lies with the reader of the poem, but there is a certain consensus as to what makes a poem ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ According to the critic Coleridge, prose is ‘words in their best order,’ while poetry is ‘the best words in their best order.’ Poetry demands precision…The job of the poet is to create a picture in the mind and an emotion in the heart. Every single word counts.”  [go here for the complete article: ]. Based on this description, I am clearly not a poet.  However, here’s an attempt at prose to Parkinson’s.

Live on, life has not yet been cancelled
Living with Parkinson’s is like walking on the beach as high-tide approaches; sand moving under your feet while the water hits your ankles that brings some imbalance to your movement.  As high tide continues in, walking becomes even more difficult. Likewise, with Parkinson’s you handle the difficulty, adapt to the changes, manage the progression, and live on.

Living with Parkinson’s says your future life will be different from your life before.  Accept the diagnosis, do not let it define you, challenge it, continue to thrive and be happy, and live on.

Living with Parkinson’s says subtle progression is expected. Stay active, keep exercising, be mindful, remain persistent, be positive, show gratitude, and live on.

Living with Parkinson’s today says there is still no cure.  We must remain hopeful and stay educated because advances are being reported weekly for neurodegenerative disorders.  Small steps to better understanding brings us closer to new therapies, slowing progression and more, please live on.

Living with Parkinson’s says you are still you today.  The same you from before the diagnosis. Stay active, be focused and, as always, remain hopeful. Live on, life has not yet been cancelled.

Day-by-day with Parkinson’s
Daily life after the diagnosis, I feel the following
Physically; a little different but getting stronger.
Inner-self; mindfulness matters.
Intellectually; focused, very focused on learning more.
Emotionally; stable but brittle, determined to expand.
Psychologically; seeking to understand.
Outreach; ready to help others understand Parkinson’s.
Consciously; ready, awake, hungry, capable.
Educationally; able, capable, ready to expand.
Mood; happy, want some red wine.
Motivation; ready, really ready to understand the brain.
Sleep; too many sleepless work-filled nights, sleepy.
Future; the big unknown, focus on the moment, breathe.

Dopamine, my constant symbol of hope
The molecular formula of dopamine is C8H11NO2. In terms of chemical structure it’s relatively simple; however, in terms of functional value it’s the missing ingredient to my disorder, to the one named Parkinson’s. My new life-pattern can be blamed on the reduced synthesis of dopamine. The result is my newfound reliance for a dopamine agonist; a complex chemical to mimic my simple dopamine.

Dopamine is more than just a neurotransmitter; it is truly my symbol of hope and renewed possibilities. C8H11NO2 solves my new life’s-riddle and confounding mysteries. This allows me to learn a lot about Parkinson’s science; which further gives me opportunity to educate others. And remember Mark Watney’s words (Matt Damon in “The Martian”): “I’m going to have to science the shit out of this.” The key, to never lose hope and to remain persistent, optimistic, and informed.

IMG_7656“It did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life—daily and hourly. Our answer must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.”  Viktor Frankl

Parkinson’s and Dementia: Remembering Robin Williams (1951-2014)

“No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.” Robin Williams

Hiding behind the initial diagnosis: When I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s 18 months ago, I told my immediate family, a few close friends, and some key people in my research group.  Receiving news that you have a progressive neurodegenerative disorder strikes hard in your world and will re-define your life priorities.  Mostly, I kept the news to myself.  At first I didn’t want to believe it; thinking that there was no way the dopamine agonist would make a difference (so very wrong!).  Partly, I was worried either of pity or of prejudice.  In reality since going public and accepting the diagnosis, I have received only incredible and lasting support.

Acceptance of the Parkinson’s diagnosis brings clarity, which allows you to challenge this sinister and slowly evolving disorder. You are ready to keep living by reinforcing your emotional well-being, by enhancing your physical strength, by renewing your life-forward strategy, and by staying hopeful, wholehearted, mindful, persistent and positive.

“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”  Dr. Seuss

Remembering Robin Williams (1951-2014):  A year ago this month, the world heard the incredibly sad news of Robin Williams’ suicide. We each have our own favorite memories of his genius, whether it was comedy or drama; there was only one Robin Williams.

“Comedy is acting out optimism.” Robin Williams

Parkinson’s and Robin Williams: We also heard that three years earlier he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s; he had kept the diagnosis a secret. It was revealed in a pathologist’s report that he also had something termed ‘diffuse Lewy body dementia’ in his brain. Parkinson’s affects your mid-brain region that controls movement.  By contrast, dementia with Lewy bodies affects your brain in different areas that regulate vision and it leads to spatial-awareness problems, nightmares and hallucinations.  Thus, It is possible that Robin Williams had both Parkinson’s and dementia with Lewy bodies.

“I believe in destiny. There must be a reason that I am as I am. There must be.” Robin Williams

Parkinson’s and dementia: Parkinson’s usually presents as a movement disorder. The most common symptoms of Parkinson’s include rigidity; slowness of movement (bradykinesis); postural instability and gait problems; and resting tremor. There is also another side to Parkinson’s that includes cognitive dysfunction, depression and dementia (dementia definition: a persistent mental disorder with memory losses, personality changes, and impaired reasoning).  It is estimated that >50% of those with Parkinson’s will eventually develop Parkinson’s-related dementia.  This could be a subtle cognitive problem expressed mainly as an executive dysfunction (executive function allows you to manage time, pay attention, plan and organize, remember details, and do things based on your experience).  In a subset of people, it progresses to dementia, which is a progressive executive dysfunctional syndrome with attention deficit, fluctuating cognition, and some have psychotic symptoms.

“Make your life spectacular, I know I did.” Robin Williams

Lewy bodies, Parkinson’s and dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB): A culprit in the development of Parkinson’s is accumulation of the protein alpha-synuclein. These aggregated protein deposits in brain neurons are called Lewy bodies [for more information see: ; ]. In Parkinson’s, Lewy bodies accumulate in neurons of the mid-brain substantia nigra, which substantially reduces dopamine production. Loss of dopamine-producing neurons leads to the movement disorder found in Parkinson’s.

Lewy bodies in other regions of the brain can result in DLB. Some of the key clinical manifestations of DLB are progressive cognitive decline, alertness and attention changes, visual hallucinations, and motor symptoms consistent with Parkinson’s.  We know that Lewy bodies are found in the brains of people with Parkinson’s. The occurrence of Lewy bodies in DLB implies that DLB is somehow related to Parkinson’s.  This further indicates that someone could have Parkinson’s and DLB.

Thank you Robin Williams for showing the world that one man can make a difference in the lives of millions, while still fighting his own personal demons. You are missed, but never forgotten.” Steven Wolff

Dementia, the ‘dark side of the force’ of Parkinson’s:  There is no silver-lining to Parkinson’s but there is substantial hope.  Managing the movement disorder is possible with sustained effort and a positive approach to life. Cognitive changes add complexity to living with this disorder; tackle these changes with all your might.  Adding dementia to the progression brings a new dimension of severity to Parkinson’s.  Your proactive/protective shields are your cherished loved ones, family and friends.  Their love, help and hope will allow you to sustain your grasp on this insidious disorder.  As always, you still matter a lot; focus on the mounting challenge, and stay you.

We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering – these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love – these are what we stay alive for.” Robin Williams

Life Happens: Believe, Accept, and Understand

“Life always waits for some crisis to occur before revealing itself at its most brilliant.” Paulo Coelho

“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

Believe in yourself, as you live with/through ______ [you fill-in-the-blank (for me, it’s Parkinson’s)]:
I believe that staying hopeful allows me to better understand my Parkinson’s.
I believe that being persistent will help me resist progression of my disorder.
I believe that remaining positive is life re-affirming.
I believe that having strength/courage enables me to live-forward.
I believe that self-pity fuels the fire of my Parkinson’s.
I believe in the power of education.
And I believe in the amazing support of my family/loved-ones, friends, students, colleagues, and health-care team.

“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” Theodore Roosevelt

“Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact.” William James

“Believe in yourself and all that you are. Know that there is something inside you that is greater than any obstacle.”  Christian D. Larson

Accept the cards you are dealt, but you decide how to play the hand with ______ [you fill-in-the-blank (for me, it’s Parkinson’s)]:
I accept my Parkinson’s, but I refuse to let it define me.
I accept that my future days will range from great to not-so-great, yet I won’t make excuses.
I accept my future life and will use my educational credentials to inform others about Parkinson’s.
I accept the challenge of living with the insidious Parkinson’s, and its subtle evolving manner.
I accept that my life, work, and leisure time will remain focused for years to come with my disorder in the background.
And I accept and acknowledge the wonderful encouragement of my family/loved-ones, friends, students, colleagues, and health-care team.

“You have to accept the storms and the rainy days and the things in life that you sometimes don’t want to face.” Bai Ling

“You have to accept whatever comes and the only important thing is that you meet it with courage and with the best that you have to give.” Eleanor Roosevelt

“Accept responsibility for your life. Know that it is you who will get you where you want to go, no one else.”  Les Brown

Understand that your life may be challenged by obstacles like ______ [you fill-in-the-blank (for me, it’s Parkinson’s)]; however, it’s still your life to lead:
I understand my journey ahead; although I may stumble occasionally, I will get up and keep going-working-living.
I understand my future involves listening to many different experts; using, learning, and embracing their advice.
I understand my biggest ally is me; and my ability to balance and manage life minute-to-minute, day-by-day.
I understand my success in mastering my Parkinson’s will require constant effort because it will never ever take-a-day-off.
I understand my future is full of life and wholeheartedness; by staying involved, I can try to handle the advancing subtle adversity.
I understand that I must stay educated/informed of advances on neurodegenerative disorders; I am convinced that better therapies and cures are coming.
And I understand the strength of constant help from my family/loved-ones, friends, students, colleagues, and health-care team.

“Keep your dreams alive. Understand to achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, vision, hard work, determination, and dedication. Remember all things are possible for those who believe.” Gail Devers

“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” Marie Curie

“People fear what they do not understand.” A.J. Darkholme

Life Happens- Believe, Accept, and Understand: The path our lives take are all different/varied; how we accomplish the journey is how our lives live out. At times, life is figuring out how to hit the best curve ball pitcher in baseball.  Whether we hit or miss the pitched ball, life happens; and it can be easy/hard, simple/complicated, happy/sad, successful/unsuccessful, and healthy/sick.

We must believe we have all the ingredients available to overcome the challenges in our lives.  We must accept that obstacles may exist; but like any speed breaker, the road of life will (hopefully) smooth out just ahead. We must understand that our lives can remain full while we deal with adversity; remember the sun usually follows the summer’s afternoon thunderstorm.

And don’t forget to thank and acknowledge those along the way in your journey, including your family/loved-ones, friends, and colleagues (for me I add students and health-care team). Stay hopeful, positive, persistent, strong/courageous, educated, happy, and loving while your life happens.