Sunday, January 24, 2010

February Meeting

(Above: Composite photo by Pam Dunlap-Shohl showing a slice of the panoramic view from our nifty new room.)

Hello friends,

The February meeting will be a highlight. We'll have a presentation from Dr. Suzanne Strisik on depression. The meeting will be held in our palatial new digs high atop the Anchorage Pioneer Home in bustling Anchortown. Mark your calendars for FEB 20, 3:30 p.m. in the West lounge of the Pioneer Home.

Be there or despair!


Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Here is some good news. We have a terrific new space to meet now that the Anchorage Senior Center can no longer be open weekends. At the suggestion of Betty Berry I contacted the Anchorage Pioneer Home. Their activities coordinator Bob Montague was extremely forthcoming in accommodating us, and showed me a room that is pleasant, sunny and has a sweeping view of the surrounding area from its 5th floor perch. It backs up to a kitchen we can use. There is ample parking on weekends and the parts of the building we will need are all easily accessible by foot or Wheelchair. And of course, there are a number of people with Parkinson's Disease who live on the premises. Did I mention there is no cost to our group?

We are booked in there for as far into the future as we want on the third Saturday of the month from 3:30-5:00 in the afternoon.

Here is a link to a map locating the Anchorage Pioneer Home

How to get to the meeting room: Go in the front doors and continue straight ahead to elevator. Take elevator to the 5th floor. On exiting the elevator make a left. Continue ahead until you reach the popcorn machine. Make a left at the popcorn machine and you're there!


Saturday, January 9, 2010

Statin Schizophrenia (Updated 11-21-2010)

OK, I'm a pillhead, a bulwark of the vast international pharmaceutical conspiracy, er, industry. You got the pill? I got the ill. I take 3 kinds of pills for my Parkinson's Disease. Two of these I take every few hours. I also take a multi-vitamin, and a vitamin D supplement, and, what the heck, throw in some salmon-oil gels while you're at it. Even my dog takes a tranquilizer before a trip to the vet. It would be depressing, but I'm on a pill for that as well.

Still, when my wise old internist announced a year ago that he wanted to put me on something for my high level of "bad" cholesterol, I balked. He gravely showed me the lab report numbers that said "HEART ATTACK COMING" But the thought of more pills, pills, pills was just too much. He reluctantly agreed to let me try to cope with the problem by modifying my diet.

A year passed. Leaves turned to gold and fluttered to the ground, snow fell only to be pierced by the green shoots of Spring. Birds returned with their raucous calls, as buds swelled and then burst into leafy glory etc... etc... and with the same majestic inevitability, my bad cholesterol numbers got worse.

So I went back to my wise old Internist. While waiting for him in the examining room, I dimly remembered some controversy about Parkinson's and statins, the commonly prescribed remedy for evil cholesterol. I whipped out my cell phone and googled "statins" and "Parkinson's Disease" and was rewarded by the following: Statins+PD=BAD. But, what's this? I also got Specific Statin+PD= good.

The first article, from Science Daily in January, 2007 warns

"Researchers are sufficiently worried by new study results that they are planning clinical trials involving thousands of people to examine the possible link between Parkinson's disease and statins, the world biggest selling drugs, reports Patrick Walter in Chemistry & Industry."

While the second, from a July 2007 edition of the same online publication, heralds one particular statin as a significant hindrance to both Alzheimer's Disease and Parkinson's!

ScienceDaily (July 19, 2007) — Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have found that the statin, simvastatin, reduces the incidence of Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease by almost 50 percent. This is the first study to suggest that statins might reduce the incidence of Parkinson's disease.

For a brief moment I became more concerned about schizophrenia in science than the question of whether or not I should begin statins. I informed my wise old Internist of my findings, and he asked me where I came down on the issue, and what I wanted to do. Really what I wanted was for him to stop treating me like an intelligent adult and tell me what I wanted to do. After all, he is the one with a medical degree, and all I have is a smart phone. But this is the day of the empowered patient, and my responsibility to be the master of my fate and the captain of my pills was clear.

I opted for the simvastatin. I don't know if it helps with PD. I'm just hoping that if it actually prevents heart attacks, I'll live long enough to find out.

Post script: Here with an unusually well-informed view on the above question is a reply that appeared as an anonymous response the comments section. I am posting it here for people who do not read the comments. Thanks, anonymous,

I would have a DNA profiling done prior to taking a statin to make certain I do not possess either of the 2 SNPs discovered in the SLCO1B1 gene which encodes a transport protein responsible for moving statins into the liver for detoxification for elimnation. Some individuals with these SNPs have been found to have greatly increased plasma statin levels, toxic levels, in my opinion. Incredibly high levels of a fat soluble statin does not make for a healthy individual. Imagine severely depleted coQ10 production; severely depressed production of selnoproteins and thus glutathione reductase; severely impaired glycoprotein function; depressed cholesterol levels-how will neuronal and myelin cholesterol levels be maintained; depleted dolichol within the melanin of the substantia nigra (and what is the significance of this event?).Mutations in this gene are not rare, though many individuals develop such severe myopathies or myalgias that they stop the drug. I think for those who do not suffer the muscle myopathy problems,neurodegeneration may occur. my 2 cents worth of personal opinion

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

What It's Like to have Parkinson's Disease (Frustration, Fifth in a series.)

Parkinson's is shoelaces that won't tie, grocery store bags that won't open, limbs that won't respond to commands that they move. The symptoms come on slowly, so slowly that one is unaware that the problem lies within. Instead it seems the world itself is resisting you. Now, add complications to tasks that should be made simple, for instance, opening a bottle of pills. If you are not frustrated, you are not human.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Pete's Parkinson's Portraits: Arthur Koestler

The author as a dangerous man. Hungarian-born writer Koestler did time in prisons or internment camps in Franco's fascist Spain, where he was under a death sentence, in France, and later, Great Britain where he was jailed as an undesirable alien. A disillusioned Communist, he is most famous for his novel attacking Stalin's regime, "Darkness at Noon", but wrote on Science, Judaism, and the paranormal as well. He died by his own hand in 1983, suffering from both leukemia and Parkinson's. His estate established the Koestler Parapsychology Unit at the University of Edinburgh.

Koestler is the subject of a new biography which you can read about here.