Thursday, August 26, 2010

How Would You Like Your Deadly Lizard Venom?

Here's an approach that hasn't yet been tried for Parkinson's disease. And no wonder. Are you ready to warm up to trusting the healing powers of the Gila Monster? Scientists in Britain are developing a treatment for Parkinson's disease that incorporates Gila venom (or a sythetic substitute). They say the stuff works, stopping the cell loss characteristic of the Parkinsonian brain, and even improving symptoms. They cited success in 5 different rodent models of the disease. So once again, exciting news for rats.

For humans, further developments will depend on the results of a small trial being organized in Britain. One hopeful note is that this drug is already in use for diabetics, which means it can at least be used safely in treating humans.

And think of the boasting potential! "I'm a rip-snortin' Parkie with venom in mah veins! The juice of the deadly Gila Monster is mother's milk to me!"

You can have the first taste. No, really, I insist...

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Build Your Parkinson's Word Power, part 4

OK folks, time to dive once again into the wonderful world of Parkinson's vocabulary. (Previous posts on Parkinson's vocabulary here, here, and here) And isn't it like Parkinson's to sabotage your ability to speak at the same time it hands you a handful of shiny and slippery new words to master? Where to begin? Well, here is a confusing term "Parkinson's Disease Support Group" What's confusing about that? I hear you asking. It's plainly a group that comes together to further the cause of Parkinson's Disease, work to spread it and try to perpetuate it at home and abroad. In short, to support Parkinson's Disease, just like it says.

Well, what's confusing here is that is just the opposite of what these groups do. They actually exist to help those afflicted with Parkinson's to cope with their ailment and many raise money and work in other ways to end this scourge forever. So check out your local support group, and while you are there, see if you can get them to change the name to something more accurate, like Parkinson's Disease Patient Support Group. It will probably help immensely with membership.

Here's a word you don't see everyday, though as a person with Parkinson's Disease you probably experience it all the time: Hyposmia- the reduction of your sense of smell. Hyposmia? Well "Hypo" translates roughly as "not enough of" like in "hypothermia". So "osmia" must mean "smell" or "stench". Hold on while I check that out... and darned if "osmia" isn't Greek for "Smell". As it turns out "Hyposmia" is related to the word "Anosmia" the loss of your entire sense of smell. Again we can break anosmia down to its parts to get the meaning- "A"(which means "without") + "Nosmia" which is obviously (OK, I'm guessing here) Greek for "nose". Which gives us "Without a nose" or to have no sense of smell!

Another fabulous PD term is "cogwheeling". It applies to the lack of smoothness of motion in our joints, almost as though they had cog mechanisms instead of the standard-issue flesh and bone. While we're on the subject of mechanistic metaphors for Parkinson's, allow me to introduce you to a fine coinage my wife came up with: "Pinballing". This is a term she uses to describe my overmedicated, underbalanced locomotion through space, bouncing off this, running into that and generally threatening havoc wherever I lurch. He slams into a table!DING! DING! DING! 500 points! Sets a chair to spinning! (Light strobes) 650 points! bounces off the wall! BUZZ! 250 points per contact! And it looks folks, like... YES! ...Congratulations! an all-time high score! What do you win? Lucky YOU! You win another turn.

Saturday, August 14, 2010, make that Upcoming Anchorage Parkinson's Events

Hello friends, Here's what's coming up in the Anchorage Parkinson's world. August meeting will be held the 21st, Saturday at 3;30in the Anchorage Pioneer home. Betty Berry would be glad to lead a concurrent meeting for caregivers, She asks those interested to please email her at ( She also writes

"I received a notice in the mail regarding a Senior Housing Fair sponsored by Providence to be held at the Senior Center Thursday, August 19.

Learn about housing options available in Anchorage and Mat-Su for seniors in the areas of : Independent housing - Assisted living - Skilled nursing care and more -(so states the notice.)

Thought this might be of interest to those in the Parkinson Support Group.
Our upcoming meeting will be open phones, sharing tips and experiences."

For the September meeting we will have a group from Swedish Hospital in Seattle including Peggy Short, Advanced Nurse Practitioner and DBS programmer, and Dr Ron Young, a neurosurgeon with nearly 30 years of DBS experience, who is now practicing at Swedish, This meeting will be held the 18th and will also be attended by Keely Daily of Medtronic, the makers of the deep brain stimulator.

If you have a topic you would like to explore at a future meeting please email me

A final note, Yoga Instructor Karen Greenwood will soon be offering a Yoga class for the movement impaired through her Anchorage Studio. We will offer to pay class fees for members of the Anchorage Parkison's Support Group. Yoga is recommended for flexibility, strength and balance. Any of you who feel like you are better than average in these important areas, raise your hand. No hands up? Great, I'll see you all there! More details to come.