diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2007, having had a hand tremor since 2002.
But around 1995, I had been running two or three miles a day, and wanted to go
farther on weekends - six or eight or ten miles. But I only got to five,
and only when I ran very slowly. I didn't breathe hard, my pulse wasn't
high, I just couldn't run fast.
In 2002, I
had been running three miles a day, three days a week, at about nine minutes
per mile. In 2003, still running three miles three days a week, I could
run ten minutes per mile. In 2004 I could only run two miles at a time,
and would have alternate running and walking afterward. By 2005 I could
only run about a mile, at 10½ to 11 minutes per mile. My writing was
almost illegible, and my typing had gone from 70 words per minute to about 20.
late 2005, I twisted my ankle. It didn’t heal, so in mid-2006 I went to
an orthopedist who put me in a cast for two months. After that my ankle
was essentially healed but I still couldn’t walk. Also in mid-2006 I saw
a neurologist about my tremor. He diagnosed Essential Tremor (which runs
in my family; that’s why I waited so long to see a neurologist). He had
me try a number of medications; Primidone helped me write legibly if I wrote
very slowly. He also had me try two sinemet per day; that did nothing at
By 2007 my
condition had deteriorated still further. I had bad hand tremors on both
sides, and couldn’t walk without a cane. (And even then, I couldn’t walk
very far.) When eating, my hand shook so badly my wife feared it would
miss my mouth. Dressing and showering took a lot longer than before.
So I was referred to another neurologist, a movement disorder
specialist. When I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, I was actually
relieved. I had been unable to strengthen my ankle, and feared I had ALS or
something similar. When I found out it was Parkinson’s, and was
treatable, I felt much better.
neurologist put me on sinemet – ½ pill daily the first week, one daily the
second, 1 ½ daily the third – until I went to four pills per day during the
eighth week. The sinemet did absolutely nothing until I went to 2 ½ daily
during the fifth week. Then my eating, showering, and dressing
improved, along with my energy, but my writing, typing and walking were not
As I went
from 2½ to 4 pills daily, I kept hoping that things would improve some more,
but they didn’t. I was able to exercise more (instead of two
15-minute workouts per week, I could do three for 20 minutes), which helped my
mental state. I’d been very active my entire adult life, and had used
exercise – usually running - to overcome the stresses of work and of life in
general. To be unable to run any more was devastating. I used the
exercise bike or the elliptical machine instead; by August 2007 I was able to
walk a few hundred feet at a time on the treadmill, by holding on to the rails.
I was hoping I could eventually improve my fitness to the point where walking
wasn’t too difficult.
2008 the neurologist had added Azilect
to my medications and I had gone to five sinemet per day. Although my
fitness was improving slowly (I could walk a mile or so first thing in the
morning), I would go off shortly thereafter and not be able to walk well most
of the rest of the day. My writing and typing were also still quite bad.
It looked like I was going to be semi-invalid (at least, that’s what I
considered my condition to be) the rest of my life.
In June of
2008, I emailed the Doctors at the National Parkinson’s Foundation Ask the Doctor
forum. You can see the posts for yourself. That summer, I
went to six sinemet per day, my writing and typing returned to normal, and my
walking became normal about half the day. By June 2010, after my
neurologist added more drugs (Comtan
my walking became normal most of the day. Most days I walk two or three
miles in under fifteen minutes per mile, and I can occasionally even run a mile
or more. And I’ve found that if I miss a few days of exercise, my medications don’t work nearly as well. I've put a number of my exercise posts at http://home.earthlink.net/~strkl/