Sometimes my facial muscles are affected, in that they don't function "automatically" as they did at one time (neurologists
call this "facial masking"). Unless I remember to tell myself to "smile," it may appear that I am uninterested or in a bad
mood. When I have the opportunity, I explain my situation to those interested, telling them that I still enjoy taking part
in conversations. Also, I say that I have chosen to smile on the inside.
Because of side effects to medication, and progression of the physical components of this disorder, after considerable investigation
and thought, I elected to undergo a procedure called "deep brain stimulation" last March. It is a two-stage surgical procedure
(details are easy to find by searching for "deep brain stimulation" on the Internet).
At first I thought I had made a poor choice, as I had a rough rehabilitation period (one physician labeled me as cachectic;
I dropped to 128 pounds). These events were confounded by iatrogenic factors, leading to complete obstruction of my urethra
for approximately 16 hours (I can now truly empathize with male dogs and cats with urethral obstruction), followed by the
need for an indwelling catheter (ugh!) and transurethral prostatectomy. (Sometime I will have to tell you about my hospital
escapade due to a sleep medication.) However, I gradually recovered, aided by the fact that I came to detest daytime TV and
by the fact that I passionately missed being a participant in teaching and research.
In May, I returned to full-time effort at the Veterinary Medical Center. How fortunate I am to have the opportunity to be
involved with helping others. I can think of no other mission that gives one such a feeling of worth and satisfaction. Let
me state it this way: I have the privilege of going to work each day; I don't have to go to work each day.
You may be wondering why I have chosen to pen a Diagnote about my encounter with Parkinson's disease. The reason is to share
some information I think you will find valuable.
Some of you may know that some PPs have varying degrees of dementia. I have chosen not to be counted among them. However,
I want to do everything I can to minimize any form of dementia, since in order to "first do no harm" to my patients, to my
students and to my colleagues, I need to maintain and even increase my cognitive skills.
You might be asking, "How can you choose not to develop dementia?" Read on. Mozart's brain and the fighter pilot are coming
to the rescue.
For reasons too numerous for me to share with you in this Diagnote, it is vital that PPs maintain an upbeat, optimistic and
pleasant outlook. Helping others often makes it difficult for me to dwell on my own problems. This is sometimes referred to
as the "helpers high" (please see the article titled, "Join the 51% club. Benefit from the helper's high." DVM Newsmagazine 33, No.9, p. 20-21, Sept., 2002).
In addition, there is much evidence that, no matter how old we are or whether our brains are healthy or sick, there is great
power in positive thinking. However, there can also be great power in negative thinking.
According to Richard Restak M.D., a neuropsychiatrist and author of the book, Mozart's Brain and the Fighter Pilot, positron
emission tomography (PET) studies indicate that persons who think sad thoughts versus happy thoughts can change their brain
chemistry. I am sure that many readers of DVM Newsmagazine have experienced the physical symptoms associated with anger.
Likewise, if you have a strong conviction that a certain drug will be of benefit to you, that benefit often occurs even though
you were given a placebo. Restak provides compelling evidence that it is never too late to change your brain for the better.
To a large degree, the amount of benefit that occurs is dependent upon us.