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Exploring the Relationship Between Parkinson’s and PTSD

PTSD

I was out gathering flowers, peach tulips, and blue orchids. It was a beautiful sun-kissed day. I wondered where I would discover new blooms in the garden.

Out of nowhere, a chasm opened beneath my feet, and I plummeted into unknown depths. Jagged rocks and outcrops tore at me and bruised every part of me. Mind you, this was a virtual game experience. I wasn’t really falling. But it still took a toll.

Days with Parkinson’s disease (PD) are like this. It’s sunny. I stop to smell the roses, have positive expectations, and then something inflames my PD symptoms. Like falling into that virtual chasm, I have to stop what I’m doing and go in a different direction. I call it “PD forcing,” and it is happening more often these days.

A doctor once told me, “All Vietnam vets have PTSD.” A generalization. However, military veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or a traumatic brain injury have more than double the risk of rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder (RBD), which is a risk factor for PD. RBD can precede classic PD symptoms by years. Researchers at the VA Portland Health Care System and Oregon Health and Science University plan to explore the incidence of PD among veterans with RBD.

Additionally, people with PTSD have an elevated risk of developing PD later in life. Further studies may clarify the relationship between PTSD and PD and the efficacy of prompt intervention for PTSD.

To some extent, I think that PTSD can be brought on or exacerbated by PD symptoms. The symptoms and progression of PTSD and PD are also very similar. For example, symptoms of PTSD include irritability and angry outbursts with little or no provocation, verbal or physical aggression toward people or objects when frustrations or challenges become “up close and personal,” reckless or self-destructive behavior, hypervigilance, exaggerated startle response, problems with concentration, and sleep disturbances.

Living with the ever-increasing and debilitating progression of PD can be traumatic. Coping through a variety of escape modes and old habits no longer works. Trauma doesn’t just come from military combat. It can come from combat with a chronic disease. The PD thief keeps coming back, stealing another skill or capability — unexpected, unwanted, and unforgettable. I never know where the next chasm will open beneath my feet.

Until now, I didn’t think that PTSD fit my experiences. The PD thief, however, continues to be a source of trauma and is just as powerful as my military experiences in Vietnam.

I could hear my suffering more clearly while I worked on physical healing. I’ve made progress with anger, but every day I’m afraid of being traumatized again. I’ve retreated into a cocoon: a lounge chair and a sedentary life.

A sedentary life is a dangerous one, but I needed time to heal. When I finally ventured into the world, I didn’t feel safe because of PTSD, PD, and vision loss. Interaction with the world results in a regular stream of, “You can’t do this anymore.” It is often overwhelming, and it is happening more often these days.

I know it’s time to leave my cocoon of safety. I know the world is not always painted with the dark palette of the PD thief. The sun still sends her shimmering fairies to dance on the lake ripples. Trees still whisper melodies in harmony with the wind.

Yes, it is hard to motivate myself to move and engage after being sedentary for months. But my gardens will bloom again, and so will I. Like chartreuse bulbs bursting through the soil, signs of wellness are showing up in my life: healed injuries, greater appetite, months spent retraining my eyes to see differently, less pain, and a significant decrease in the duration of vertigo.

I focused on healing while I was sedentary, but now it is time for me to leave the chair.

Moving out of a sedentary life isn’t easy, but the wellness map helps. There is nothing good about a prolonged sedentary life. It is time to get up and show up for the next destination on the map. As we enter the new year, it is time for me to beat back the PD thief and his sidekick, PTSD.

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Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

The post Exploring the Relationship Between Parkinson’s and PTSD appeared first on Parkinson’s News Today.

With Parkinson’s, a Suntan Just Isn’t Worth It

heat intolerance

Betty slapped George hard. There was no response, so she dialed 911.

Parkinson’s disease (PD) had forced George into early retirement. He loved basking in the sun, diving into a good book, and working on his tan on their deck. Betty was in the kitchen when she saw him slumped over in the chair.

This wasn’t the first time George had responded so severely to the summer heat. He had reacted similarly to the heat two other times. His heart rate was slow, almost imperceptible. His face was ashen. Betty cradled George’s face in her hands as she waited for the ambulance, and with tears streaming down her face, commanded, “Don’t you die on me.” To herself, she said, “The suntan isn’t worth it.”

Similar stories are reported by many PD patients and their families.

Like George, the heat hits me hard. A small increase in air temperature above 75 degrees can leave me prone for hours, if not the entire day. Relief isn’t found by staying still or avoiding activities. I can have a difficult time in the shade or even in the house if the temperature rises.

I follow the recommendations to avoid heatstroke: I hydrate with water; complete any outside activities in the earlier, cooler parts of the day; and wear light, loose clothing. Our house is cooled by central air.

Despite all of these precautions, I can sense the losing battle with the heat as it rises. A comfortable summer day for others becomes a debilitating challenge for me due to heat attacks. This reaction to heat is an attack on my ability to function, a magnified response, such as my descriptions of fatigue and pain.

Researchers claim that heat intolerance is different than heat illnesses like heatstroke. Heat intolerance is usually a side effect of medications or a symptom of endocrine disorders or other medical conditions, rather than the result of too much exercise or hot, humid weather.

Up to 64 percent of PD patients report thermodysregulation, which includes symptoms of heat and cold intolerance as well as excessive sweating. PD patients have problems with their autonomic nervous system, which controls sweating. While perspiration helps regulate the body’s temperature, too much or too little perspiration can result in overheating.

Last month was the warmest July ever. It also included the worst bout of heat attacks ever recorded. It’s time for a tweak in the wellness map.

I’m trying to shift from thinking that I can work in some heat to understanding that it’s not worth the suntan. It’s not something to ignore or push through, distracting the mind from the physical issues, like hiding one’s head in the sand. It must be met straight on with reason and sensible action. Most of us are not yogi masters who can change body temperatures at will. We must use what we know and take steps to prevent serious harm from happening.

This is me telling myself not to take this risk lightly. I tend to push myself too hard.

The symptoms of heat intolerance can vary from person to person, but may include:

  • feeling very hot in moderately warm temperatures
  • excessive sweating
  • not sweating enough in the heat
  • exhaustion and fatigue during warm weather
  • nausea, vomiting, or dizziness in response to heat
  • changes in mood when too hot

If you experience any of these symptoms, time to get out of the heat! It’s just not worth the suntan.

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Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

The post With Parkinson’s, a Suntan Just Isn’t Worth It appeared first on Parkinson’s News Today.

Have You Joined Our Parkinson’s News Today Forums Yet?

forums

The Parkinson’s News Today Forums were created to allow those of us with this disease to lean on and learn from each other, and most importantly, laugh together. The forums also aim to help caregivers, family members, and friends to understand the daily challenges of those living with Parkinson’s disease (PD).

Have you ever tried to explain to someone without PD how difficult it is for you to fold sheets or put on a seat belt? Only another PD patient can empathize with this disease of “little losses.” We hope that these forums can facilitate and encourage these conversations.

Our goal is to be the “one-stop-shop” forum for information and experiences related to PD.

Why should you check us out?

Our forums differ from other platforms in the following ways:

We have moderators

I moderate the forums alongside my BioNews Services colleague Ally Macgregor. We remove advertisements, links, and promotional posts, and we ensure that discussions remain respectful and relevant.

Regular contributions

As moderators, we keep the forums active with discussions on topics related to new research and shared experiences. We respond promptly to questions and concerns from members, and we hope to lessen feelings of social isolation.

We monitor the audience

We will quickly delete spam and promotional content. We don’t tolerate bullying or belittling behavior, and comments that violate our policy will be removed.

Additional features

You can add media to your posts, including videos, images, links, and podcasts. A private messaging option also is available for members.

Keyword search

You can search for a topic using specific keywords related to your area of interest.

Someone to lean on

Knowing we are not alone with our disease is empowering. Being part of an online community can help us to heal and to cope with PD’s challenges. The forums allow you to share your personal experiences and frustrations with challenging situations.

To learn from

We will keep you up to date with posts about cutting-edge treatments for PD. Participants can share their symptoms and experiences and the treatments they have found to be most effective. However, please remember that PD symptoms, medications, and side effects vary from patient to patient. While an alternative treatment, medication, or supplement may benefit one patient, another person may not have the same response.

To laugh with

Laughter is the best medicine. Having a sense of humor about the absurdity of some PD symptoms can help with the healing process. If we can share our stories with others, it may lessen the embarrassment caused by our symptoms.

When and where

Our PD forums launched in 2018 and cover a broad set of topics, including:

Convince me

Following are three examples of topics currently being discussed in our forums. Click on the links to join the conversations.

Count me in!

Getting started is easy:

1. To create a profile, go to “Register,” located at the bottom right of the “Log In” section.

2. Once you’ve entered your details, you can head to the main forums page. Discussions are moderated and inappropriate comments will be deleted.

3. Start exploring the forums now.

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Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

The post Have You Joined Our Parkinson’s News Today Forums Yet? appeared first on Parkinson’s News Today.