My Story of PD
I have always been interested in Holistic Nutrition, as I stated in My Story, but don't think that I have actually taken it seriously enough. Since being involved in the classes, it is really ringing true to me that what we eat can truly have a huge impact on our health.
I recently, started to see Dr. Crinion at the Southwest Institute of Naturopathic Medicine In Scottsdale, AZ. After reviewing my health history, we decided to do Food Intolerance testing. Because you are what you eat, it was important for me to know what foods that my body did not like, if I was going to change my diet. I got the results of the blood test back last week. And I am intolerant to all dairy, beef, lamb, pork and goat cheese. So, now onto a new lifestyle of eating.
I have read many books in the past about Nutrition, including Healthy Living, Living on Raw Food, Stop Inflammation now, Garden of Eating, The Makers Diet, Healing with Whole Foods, Eating Well for Optimum Health, Ph The Path to Optimum Health and many others. The one main thing that they all have in common is that "What you eat, can and does have an effect on the body". So why wouldn't it have an affect on my Parkinson's. There are plenty of documented personal stories of people being cured of disease by diet. Just do a Google search and you will find hundreds of personal stories. I searched cured by diet, diet cured me etc...
I have started on a journey that can only make me feel better!
I am going to call my plan My Optimum eating plan to optimize my body function. I am following the lifestyle suggested in the book Stop Inflammation Now; which specifically deals with diet and lifestyle, Dr. Fleming's primarily plant based diet may seem a bit drastic at first, but so are the consequences of disease. And the book The Garden of Eating; which specifically deals with a produce dominated diet, it is a comprehensive guide to natural eating. Both of these books have recipes that will help follow this new lifestyle. The recipes include Fruits and Vegetables, and Whole Grains, Legumes, Nuts and Seeds. And small amounts of Protein from Fish and Chicken.
According to the Stop Inflammation Now book written by Richard M. Fleming, M.D., "Homocysteine does much of its damage by being a big source of oxidants, which are the driving force behind most major illnesses, including heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, cataracts, arthritis, asthma and most other degenerative diseases". Homocysteine levels are directly related to what we eat. So, what does this mean? It means that what you put in your body is definitely going to have an effect on your health. We have got to look at these facts and realize that we can change how we feel. We just need to change what we eat...Sounds easy, doesn't it?
Here is another link confirming the above information regarding high levels of Homocysteine.
To be continued......
August 30, 2005
The last 10 days have been amazing... I started to follow the diet recommended by Dr. Richard Fleming in the book Stop Inflammation Now.
Now, I want to remind you that I did not just decide to do this off the cuff. I have been researching for quite some time about the effect of different foods on the body and have decided to do something differently, after consulting with my Naturopathic physician and doing food allergy testing. I feel it is very important to know if you have allergies to any foods. Otherwise, changing your diet may not do a thing to help your health, if you are still consuming foods that your body cannot tolerate.
I have had another health ailment for over 20 years and am just now finding out that by eliminating the foods that I have shown to be intolerant of may have an impact on that aspect of my health too. I am allergic to many different foods. Therefore, eliminating them from my diet is key to regaining my health. I also saw a holistic Dentist, who is doing blood tests to determine what dental material I may be allergic to prior to taking out my amalgam mercury fillings and replacing them. I thought that this was a good idea, I had never heard of a dentist doing this kind of testing prior to putting dental materials in your mouth, but it certainly makes sense to me.
My new eating plan began on Friday August 19, 2005. I started by going grocery shopping for fresh produce at my local Farmer’s Market and then to the grocery store for dried food items, herbs and spices.
Friday’s Dinner consisted of Fresh corn on the cob, baked sweet potato and steamed greens; made from kale, leeks, carrots, parsnips and vegetable broth. Recipe for the greens was taken from the book The Garden of Eating by Rachel and Don Matesz. Desert was fresh grapes.
It was awesome and very filling.
Saturday, breakfast started with dried fruit; stewed prunes, turkish apricots, one fresh-diced apple and a small amount of apple juice to steam the fruit, it took about 12 minutes to cook the fruit on the stove in a small pan. It was delicious.
Lunch was a whole avocado mashed with salsa and fresh raw blueberry flax crackers. Awesome!!!
Dinner was carrot ginger soup with fresh coleslaw and steamed wholegrain bread. Again, these recipes were taken from The Garden of Eating by Rachel and Don Matesz.
Sunday was a repeat of breakfast from the day before with the addition of fresh raw carrot, apple, beet and kale juiced in my juicer. If you have never tried fresh juicing, you won’t believe how good this tastes…
The rest of the week I ate many delicious foods, all of them natural, no preservatives, no flavorings, no added chemicals, only fresh and natural. All of the foods were delicious and easy to prepare. No meat, no dairy, no caffeine, no white sugar, no white flour. I only drank herb teas and fresh juice from my juicer.
After 10 days of eating this way, my husband said, you look like your losing weight, though I appreciate that comment. That is not the purpose of this new way of eating. The purpose is to try to regain my health.
I am sharing this with you, so you can see that you can make a difference in what you put into your body. Let us see if it makes a difference in how I feel…
To be continued…
September 9, 2005
Ever since I was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease, friends, relatives and acquaintances have made mention to me that they admire me. They say that it is amazing how I have been handling having this disease. Instead of letting it overwhelm me and overpower me, I have risen up to encourage and enlighten others about the disease.
In the first months of having the symptoms of the disease, it did not seem real. I just went along on my way just like every other day, until the symptoms started to progress and I decided to seek medical advice. When I was officially diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, it was very surreal. I did not really realize the full scope of what it means to live with Parkinson's, that is something that you learn to deal with on a day to day basis.
When reality set in, I was depressed, then I became upset and angry, then the real me kicked in and took over. I started to approach it wanting to learn everything possible about it, and thus developed this website. I choose to learn what I can and share that information with others.
So, Thank you all for your kindness. I feel that I have been given this disease for a purpose and I handle it, just like I have always handled any other challenge in my life. God gives me the grace and the will to do whatever is necessary in the face of adversity... and I will continue on whatever path that it takes me...
FYI... I am still following the Stop Inflammation Now program... I will give you an update soon!
To be continued...
September 13, 2005
Recently I have been reading websites that are predominantly devoted to the allopathic treatment of Parkinson's disease. I find it incredible that most of the sites usually have a negative tone when mentioning using any kind of Alternative therapy or in making any nutritional recommendations in the fight against Parkinson's disease. I am curious why anyone who has the disease would not want to try every possible modality available to help themselves in the fight against this disease. By changing something as simple as your diet; including more fresh organic vegetables, fruits and juices you have the chance to build your body's own immune system up. And by including daily rigorous exercise you have the chance to stay more agile and mobile. You can make a difference in your own care...
have been following the Stop Inflammation program for several weeks now
and find that it is fairly simple to follow... I have only had 2 small
set backs and they were due to the Labor Day weekend Holiday. I ate a
few items that were not included in the diet... but quickly returned to
the eating program.
Last week I started to include some chicken and turkey into my diet. I made chicken kabobs with zucchini, red onion, mushrooms, red pepper and orange peppers. Marinated them in Annie's Organic Maple Barbecue sauce; with a little added honey and Agave Nectar and then grilled on the barbie... They were delicious.
Tonight it will be Organic turkey meatballs and a green salad with fresh fruit consisting of pineapple, peaches, grapes, key limes, cantaloupe and honey dew.
I use my juicer regularly to make carrot juice, beets, spinach, kale and apple juice. This is something you have to try... it is so refreshing and revitalizing it has lots of live enzymes to help heal your body and mind.
I hope that this site is encouraging you to continue seek out your own health care path...Read, Read Read you never know when you may come across something that can make a dramatic difference in how you think and feel.
to be continued...
September 18, 2005
Have been doing pretty well on my program with a few minor exceptions on the weekends. I do have some splurges... but have not had any of my allergic foods.
I have been eating a predominantly raw diet and if not raw then I use the food combining method to keep my body alkaline and in the proper ph balance. The more alkaline your body is the better chance you have to fight off disease.
I found a wonderful new book to help you understand Raw food, it is called The Raw Food Detox Diet. Written by Natalia Rose. She is a certified clinical Nutritionist. I highly recommend you read this book. It gives very practical advice on how to start becoming Raw and tells you why it is so important to food combine. She also explains that you can consume some cooked food; and explains what those foods are in detail.
I hope that everyone reading this is also doing his or her own research regarding how what you eat can and does have an effect on your health...
It is something you can do to help yourself recover...to be the best you can be.
Keep the faith, keep moving...don't forget that the other best thing you can do for yourself is exercise. Include some form of exercise in your daily routine... along with eating better you will begin to feel better... I feel clearer minded and happier. Each day is something not to be taken for granted. Make the best of what you have, focus on the positive...your mind will eventually catch up. If you have a bad day, then get past it, focus on the day at hand. Smile when you wake up. Buy some flowers or a plant, put them in plain view and enjoy them.
to be continued...
September 21, 2005
After reading all of the positive effects that Glutathione IV therapy can have on Parkinson's Disease, I have decided to give it a try. It seems to be the most promising alternative treatment available for patients with Parkinson's disease. I went for my first IV therapy on Monday, Sept 19, 2005. Later that day, I noticed that my tremor in my arm seemed a bit less and that night I slept more soundly than I had for a long time.
The recommended treatment for Glutathione IV therapy is 3x per week... I am scheduled to get my second IV today and my third on Friday... wish me luck!
I have transitioned my diet to mostly Raw food. Following the principles of food combining and the detox diet recommended in the book The Raw Food Detox Diet by Natalia Rose. It allows for cooked food at dinner, as long as breakfast and lunch are raw. If you go off the diet anytime during the day, she highly recommends food combining to keep your body's PH more toward the alkaline side.
I start the day with fresh squeezed orange, lemon and ginger juice, along with any type of fresh fruit. Today, I had fresh pineapple, bananas and black seedless grapes. Lunch will probably be a fresh salad with avocado and homemade honey mustard poppy seed dressing. Dinner is going to be grilled chicken kabobs with Portobello mushrooms, red peppers, red onion, yellow squash and zucchini marinated in homemade barbecue sauce using only fresh ingredients.
I usually snack on a LaraBar during the day when I get a craving for something sweet. You can pick these delicious raw food bars up at Hi Health, Whole Foods and most natural food markets. Hi Health sometimes has a special on the purchase of 4 bars for $5.00. They normally sell for around $1.69 - $1.79 each. They are really good. Made from all raw natural ingredients, they satisfy my sweet tooth, with fruit and nuts.
I stress the importance of eating live foods when you have a debilitating illness. The live enzymes help to regenerate your body inside and out. You will be amazed at the youthful appearance that you start to take on. The longer you do the diet the better you will feel. The emotional affects are just as positive. I swear that when I eat only live foods, I feel happier and more positive. I feel fortunate to be alive. Why not give it a try!!!
to be continued...
September 27, 2005
If you have been reading my journal you know that I mentioned above about Homocysteine levels and the relationship to disease in the body. Here is a interview with Dr. David Perlmutter a board certified neurologist on a CBS broadcast regarding Homocysteine levels and the brain.
After listening to his interview, it confirms my belief about what we put into our bodies does have an effect on how we feel. Please read as much as you can about food, diet and nutrition and the effects on your body.
I have had 4 Glutathione IV therapies in the last 9 days and would like to tell you that I feel positive about the effect it is having on me.
Over the last several months, I have struggled with pain in my limbs, stiffness in my joints and numbness in my left leg and left arm. It has been difficult to get myself going in the morning. My brain has been shutting down the chemical that helps me to move normally, this is what the medical community calls Parkinson’s disease. Your brain loses the ability to make and send dopamine to parts of the body that need it to allow you move.
I emailed a friend who also has YOPD and told her that I felt the pain in my limbs was coming from my nerves yelling out for help… they were saying, hey, we are feeling deprived; where the heck did the dopamine supply go. Each day that the dopamine did not come, it caused the nerves to continue to call out in pain. Thus, causing me stiffness and tremors, along with numbness and tingling sensations. It was like a strangle hold on the brain and each day it tightened, not allowing dopamine to the essential parts of the body that need it for movement.
Since, starting the Glutathione IV therapy 9 days ago, my body seems to be saying “Thanks” for sending some dopamine our way, now we can function the way we are suppose too. My tremor in my left arm has lessened and I have slept better than I have in months. The pain that I normally feel at night is reduced and my flexibility overall is better. I cannot say that this is directly related to the Glutathione IV therapy, it is possible per my Neurologist that it is a placebo effect. But, either way I will take it...for what it is worth... I feel better!!!
The frustrating part about the Glutathione IV therapy treatment is this, I went to see my Neurologist today and he said, “You are wasting your money on this treatment because there are no scientific facts to back it up.” I told him that I did not need scientific facts. What convinced me to try it were case histories of individuals who had seen positive effects from this therapy and the fact that it did not cause harm. He said, that it was up to me to do what I felt was best, but suggested that I still consider taking Amantidine. I told him, I chose not to take it at this time, and he said that was O.k. I would like to say that we respect each other and my hope is that he will open his mind to any and all types of therapy that help the patient to feel better.
I will continue with the Glutathione IV treatments and continue to research other Alternative therapies with the hope that sometime in the near future there will be a meeting of the minds between Allopathic and Alternative medicine and between the two; someone will come up with a cure for this awful thing known as Parkinson’s disease.
In the meantime, I will continue to eat healthier and exercise... you may want to do the same. Anything that keeps me up and moving, gets my vote.
A little information about why traditional Doctors think what they do....dopamine. This is well worth the time it takes to read this document. It gives an interesting account of 50 years of dopamine theory and how we have come to the conclusions that we have in the medical world today and how they arrived at treatment via L-DOPA. I highly recommend that anyone who has Parkinson's disease or knows of anyone with Parkinson's disease read the above mentioned article and come to your own conclusions. It could play a major factor in how you are being treated for your Parkinson's disease...
to be continued...
October 4, 2005
The last week has been a struggle for me. I have been dealing with the ups and downs of this doggone disease. My body seems to be going through a phase of tiredness and weakness. It certainly, makes me more appreciative of the good days...
As usual when I am feeling frustrated or need inspiration to keep me motivated, I look to the internet search engines to help me find information. Today, I found a tremendously inspiring story of a woman who has chosen the alternative path to treating her Parkinson's. I find it amazing that after each and every search on the internet for information about alternative approaches to treating this disease, I always seem to find something new and innovative... thank goodness that people find it important to post there trials and errors for others to read. Here is a link to read about her story and how she has been battling Parkinson's with alternative therapy.
Again, I feel encouraged to continue on this path of looking to alternative therapy to treat my Parkinson's disease and will definitely look into liquid deprenyl that Annetta mentions in her story.
to be continued...
October 12, 2005
Everyday seems to be a new and amazing journey living with this disease.
I have been going for Glutathione IV therapy for just a little over 3 weeks now; the first 2 weeks I had 3 treatments each week, the 3rd week we cut back to 2 treatments per week and that is the schedule we will keep for now. The cost of treatment is $52.00 per treatment. I was feeling a little sluggish the 2nd week of treatment. But, this week I feel more flexibility and better able to move. If you have PD you know what I mean. I hope that I continue to feel this way... I want to do everything possible to continue this freedom of movement... it makes me feel so normal!!! I even went to the gym and that's is something I have not felt able to do in a long, long time... Is it the Glutathione IV therapy and the Co Q10???... I can't say for sure, but I sure feel better than I did 4 weeks ago. The tremor is still in my left arm and leg, but doesn't seem so aggressive. We went to dinner with friends and they commented that my arm seemed much calmer.
I have cut back on the raw foods and added more cooked vegetables; due to an irritated colon. I think my body was cleansing too fast. I am still an advocate of the benefits of raw foods, just need to use in moderation at times.
I looked into the liquid deprenyl citrate and found out that it is drug... so I guess that I won't be using that therapy. But, am finding hope in the Glutathione treatment... I will continue on that path for now.
to be continued...
October 25, 2005
I think that I finally realize something else that we YOPD'ers have in common. Whether we are fighting this disease with traditional allopathic medicine or alternative medicine, like I am. Your life becomes all about the daily treatment. Everyone that I know that takes the traditional drugs, has had to adapt their lifestyle to the medication; adjusting dosages and adding new drugs to counteract the effects of the other drugs. In my case my daily routine has become about doctor appointments to get the IV therapy needed to keep this disease at bay and scheduling exercising at times when my body is cooperative. But, in either case it is much better than the alternative; not being able to move at all or have limited motion. I thank God for each new day and continue to be thankful that the IV therapy has improved my mobility tremendously. My Naturopathic Doctor has tremendous compassion and makes me feel very much like he cares about how I am doing. I am Thankful for all the support that my husband and friends give me and wonder how I have become so blessed...
On a side note I just recently became the parent of 2 little Yorkie male puppies... they give me tremendous joy and are so cute and funny.... I love being able to spend time with them and they are so free in giving there love back to me...I have named them Chesney and McGraw...the little one is Chesney and the bigger one is McGraw.
October 26, 2005
Just spoke with Becky Farley, she is the physical therapist doing research project at the University of Arizona in Tucson. She gave the lecture at the YOPD conference in June this year. I am meeting with her next week to get a therapy session on moving big... am looking forward to it. Also, we are riding in the bicycle ride for PD in Tucson on November 19, 2005. More information about this under the events button on this site... hope to see you all there. We are doing a test bicycle run on tandem bikes on Wednesday, November 9, 2005. It is called a Flag run...kind of a preview to the event on November 19, 2005.
Side note: My puppies Chesney and Mcgraw are doing great! I am going to post pictures of them sometime in the near future... You will fall in love with their adorable little faces...
November 1, 2005
Happy to report that after 6 weeks of Glutathione IV therapy I am feeling pretty good. Tremors have lessened and overall, I generally feel better. Here is an article I ran across about Glutathione IV therapy that may be interesting as to why it is not being used more frequently. Please read it and make your own judgments about why more Doctors are not prescribing this treatment for PD patients.
I know that this treatment is not covered by insurance, but is well worth the expense...after all you only get one go round in this life and you gotta make the most of it! I am thankful for each and every day that I can get up and going and be my true self again... I pray that God continues to bless me with ability to get these treatments.
I have been busy with my puppies, so have not had time to post pictures but will do so in the near future.
November 11, 2005
Wow! Time does fly by... I cannot believe it is almost Thanksgiving... and Christmas is just around the corner. What a truly wonderful time of year... I give Thanks for each and everyday. I give Thanks for my husband and friends and my sister and brother and my sister in-law and mother in law... I am grateful and blessed... Thank you to those of you who have emailed me after seeing this website... I look forward to meeting you all sometime in the future and for those of us who live in the Phoenix area I am trying to put together a monthly group support meeting and will email you with details... If you are interested in joining, please contact me via this website under contact us... and I will email you back promptly.
Chesney and McGraw (my yorkie puppies) are keeping me pretty busy... I cannot believe how cute and adorable they are... I highly recommend them as companions to anyone who is home during the day... as they do need a lot of care in the beginning. I still have not posted pictures, yet!!! My husband has the digital camera and keeps forgetting to give it to me... as soon as I get it I will post some pictures...
I am still taking the Glutathione IV therapy and was happy to see an article in the Parkinson Report, The official Journal of the National Parkinson Foundation. They report that the University of Florida is now conducting a double blind study and will have results of the study in 2006. I guess that this means that there really is something to this therapy... otherwise they would not bother with an investigative study... I personally, can attest to the positive affects of this therapy... and am happy to see the study underway. I highly recommend reading about this all natural therapy... Keep the faith, keep moving.
November 30, 2005
What a wonderful time of year... Thanksgiving has come and gone. Christmas is just around the corner and I am thankful again for all that I have been blessed with....
I have been struggling for over a month now with pain my left hip and leg, it has been affecting my ability to walk and have not been able to exercise like I would like too... My doctor has added magnesium to my Glutathione IV to ease the muscle spasms in my leg and it is beginning to help. We have also increased the dosage of Glutathione in each IV to help ease the tremors and muscle contractions in my left arm, left leg and foot. I am so thankful for this natural treatment, but like conventional drug therapy it seems that it always has to be tweaked and adjusted to adapt to the new things happening in my body. But, again I am thankful for this alternative and would like to prolong taking any drugs as long as I can...
My puppies are growing by leaps and bounds and are still the cutest things ever... I am having problems posting their pictures, but hope to get this worked out soon.
I look forward to hearing from anyone who is reading my journal and would like to know if anyone else is trying alternative treatments... please contact me under the contact us button. For those of you who have written and said Thank you for this site, I appreciate your thanks and will continue to seek out alternative therapies along with new traditional treatments for this thing we call PD.
December 3, 2005
An article on Dr. Mercola's website may prove interesting to those of you who think that nutrition may have an affect on Parkinson's disease. You may want to read this interesting article.
December 6, 2005
It has been awhile since I have talked about the alternative therapy that I have chosen to use, so I thought that I would give you an update.
I started the Glutathione IV therapy in September, so it has now been over 3 full months of getting the treatment. I would have to say that it has not cured me but, it has definitely helped. My tremors still fluctuate according to the daily stress that I am under... However, I would have to say that it seems to have helped the muscle contractions that I was experiencing in my upper left arm. It has also helped with getting a better nights sleep and it seems to have helped with depression. My overall mood is better and I feel much better in being able to cope with this disease. .The magnesium they have added to the mix has helped alleviate some of the muscle contractions in my leg. Ahhh, the wonders of this mysterious disease.
It seems to me that no matter what method of treatment that we choose to fight this disease, the disease seems to manifest itself in ways to outwit the treatment! Does that make sense to you? What I mean is, no matter if you take medication, like Sinemet or the agonists, or try alternative therapies like Glutathione, our bodies seem to find a way to manifest new symptoms that are not covered by the medicines or alternative therapies... My Naturopathic doctor has added several other items to the IV now to try to help subdue new symptoms that I am having, like the leg and hip pain that is affecting my ability to walk. I am thankful that they continue to have ideas as how to help me. Currently, my IV consists of Glutathione, Magnesium and Taurine. This is another new website that has lots of information on how to treat many different conditions naturally. It is called The way up...
I have decided to see a new Neurologist at the Barrow's clinic in Phoenix... It is my understanding that this doctor is willing to work side by side with alternatives and allopathic treatment for Parkinson's.
One thing that I can say about going to the Southwest Naturopathic Clinic in Scottsdale, everyone there is very kind and respectful and I feel blessed that I have found such a compassionate group of people to go through this journey with...
I hope that this information is helpful to anyone wanting to try the Glutathione IV therapy or would like to see a Naturopathic doctor.
December 7, 2005
This is an interesting website that I stumbled across today, provided by Dr. Lieberman. It has current information about what is happening in the allopathic medical community, along with information on what role anti-oxidants play in Parkinson's.
December 11, 2005
Here is a link to the Holistic website hotline...
December 13, 2005
Found out last week that I have to have a referral from my primary physician in order to see the Barrow's Clinic Neurologist, so went to see him this week. Had a x-ray done on my hip and leg to see if they could determine what was causing the pain in my leg when I walk... the x-ray showed chronic inflammation. My doctor said, he thought it was sciatica... which can be associated with Parkinson's Disease. How lucky am I to have that too!
But, still glad that the Naturopathic Doctor seems to have alternative's for me to try...
December 16, 2005
I am very excited to tell you about a new medical facility opening in Arizona. The Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine has announced the opening of a Medical Center of The Future... when they break ground in 18 months, the Center will be a model in pioneering, Three aspects will set it apart:
It will support the principles and practice of Environmental Medicine, the Center will feature hydrotherapy, far infrared saunas, IV therapies and other treatment rooms essential to detoxification of the body. (This could be very beneficial to those us of diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease)
It will be the first Complementary and Alternative Medicine medical center to combine patient care and research in the same facility.
The Center's design will be eco-effective, using non-toxic, safe building materials facilitating intrinsic healing qualities into the building.
Why am I so excited about this new facility opening. More and more studies are now showing that many of the Neurological diseases, like Parkinson's, ALS, MS and Alzheimer's may be directly related to our bodies becoming overburdened by Environmental toxins and may respond beneficially to detoxification of the body by the above therapies. Can you imagine a state of the art facility that provides hope to people with all kinds of illness and they treat you holistically. No harm, to the already stressed body. Cleansing your body to help you fight off disease naturally.
These therapies may be the answer to our epidemic of chronic, degenerative disease. By using Natural treatments that restore health by addressing the cause, strengthening the immune and other systems.
They may not cure the above mentioned diseases, but certainly is a step in the right direction to help ward off disease, and possibly reverse or help stop the progression of many disease's, like Parkinson's; until a cure can be found.
This is a huge undertaking and millions of dollars are going to have to be spent to make the Medical Center of the Future a reality...Thanks to a $1 million dollar donation from The Herb Alpert Foundation, they are well on there way in making this a reality... If you are interested in learning how you can help make a contribution to this significant undertaking go to www.scnm.edu and learn how you can make your donation count.
I encourage everyone reading this to do more investigation on Environmental toxins and disease. If you know someone with Parkinson's Disease or any other Neurological disease you owe it to yourself and them to share this information with them.
Even if only one person reads this and a light bulb goes off and says, "I need to do this", or you share this with one person and it helps them. I would be happy...My hope is that more than one person will read it, and more than more person will use this knowledge to help themselves or someone that they love. Together, we can make a difference! Read, and share knowledge with a friend or family member. Maybe, someone you love will be helped...No one should have to live with Parkinson's Disease...
Side note: I have a friend who is Korean, she has lived in the United States for over 20 years, but visits her country several times per year. She goes to visit her family of course; however, she also goes to get sweat therapy at one of the many local Sauna's. She has taught me that sweating is the best thing your body can do. It is our bodies natural detoxification system. Our skin is the largest organ we have and when we sweat, we get rid of poisons that have accumulated in our body from pollution and toxins in our water, air and food. Maybe we should all sweat more...Maybe we would be sick less!
December 21, 2005
Christmas is almost here and the time seems right for reflection...
I am thankful for all that God is and does for me, my family and friends. I am blessed everyday when I wake up and see the Sun shining through the window to my backyard, it glistens on the water from the pool. I smile, while walking from my bedroom to the kitchen. I am greeted by the sound of my puppies; Chesney and McGraw, they are so excited to see me. I am blessed that they are in my life, they have added tremendous joy.
What a wonderful life I have been given. I am thankful to wake each day. Even though my tremors remind me of my disease, I would not change the past year for anything.
I have met many new friends via this website and I'm grateful for each and every one...we share a special bond and it really makes life more meaningful. Maybe, this disease is really a gift in disguise...it seems to be making me a better person, making me see what is important. I have always been a very compassionate person, but I think I'm learning that serving others and helping others is truly what it is all about...
Merry Christmas to all of you and best wishes for the upcoming Year. Maybe, 2006 will be the year of Miracles for all of us...
Keep the faith, keep moving (exercise) and stay positive...
April 14, 2006
Many of you who have been following my journal probably have wondered what happened to me over the last several months.
I didn't fall off the end of the earth...but it sure felt like I got knocked out of the universe for awhile.
All I can say is wow... you never know what curves life will throw your way.
Just after the new year started my husband of 15 years told me that he was not happy being married anymore. Talk about being in shock. I still am and I wonder everyday how this happened. Talk about a rude awakening, this certainly was it.
It is amazing when something like this happens to you, it is like a wrecking ball hitting you in the stomach and knocking you to who knows where. I am still trying to recover, but since my husband has put me in limbo, (he is still telling me he does not know what he wants to do) it makes it very difficult to put your life on some path of what use to be normal.
For now, I just try to take each day, one day at a time, and hope for the best.
I think I am just starting to come around and feel like writing again, so I will do my best to get back on track.
I have continued with the alternative treatments and have actually gone to work at the clinic where I receive the Glutathione IV therapy. It has been a lifesaver for me.
I am happy to say that it has really been helping with my tremors and I have actually felt like I could try exercising regularly again. I will let you know how that goes...
Good news this week regarding the Glutathione treatment... my Naturopathic Doctor told me that he went to a conference and found out that you can take the Glutathione in a nebulizer. This would allow me to use the Nebulizer at home at regular intervals and help maintain the Glutathione levels in my body, thus helping to allow the dopamine levels to remain higher throughout the day. This is really exciting. I will let you know more about this when I actually get to try it.
to be continued...
April 15, 2006
I was doing some research today on Glutathione use in a Nebulizer and found this information... it is not related to using for Parkinson's, but is related to using it on people with Environmental/Chemical sensitivities. I find this very interesting, due to the fact that in the late 90's I started to develop chemical sensitivities... and now have Parkinson's. It is definitely an interesting correlation.
I think that it is an interesting article and gives information regarding the amounts to use in the Nebulizer, it also gives information about using Glutathione in a nasal spray.
I will continue on my path of research and keep you informed as I go along.
Here is more information, well worth reading regarding Glutathione supplementation for chronic disease.
June 18, 2006
I'm back on track... been using the Glutathione in a Nebulizer for about a month now... and the results are good. Sometimes my symptoms are so minimal I forget that I have PD. So, anyone who wants to give it a try go ahead, I think you will see good results with it.
I am also taking CO Q10 supplements, usually around 800 to 1200 mg per day. I think that this is a good combination for me.
Someone who found my website while doing research for her mother who has PD, sent me this link Parkinsons a case history I think it is worthwhile to follow his story and his own personal trials of using different approaches to treating his PD symptoms.
A Natural source of Levodopa is the Fava Bean read more here about how they may benefit the PD patient.
June 20, 2006
I mentioned back in October that I was struggling with Leg and Hip pain...well just last week I decided to try Prolotherapy injections and am pleased to say that with only one treatment my leg and hip pain is almost completely gone... I am scheduled for 2 more sessions with Dr. Schwaiger at the Southwest Naturopathic medical center and am very hopeful that this will continue to help me be able to function more normally... with exercising and walking. Here is another site with information on Prolotherapy.
July 22, 2006
I would like to say a big Thank you to all of you who have found my website and are forwarding me new information to be posted on my site. Keep up the good work... if we all continue to do our research, it gives all of us new hope for the future.
Received some interesting information from a young onset pd'er today and would like to share it with all of you GMI Parkinsons study.
According to the study it may show promise for those of us diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson's, I suggest following up with this website regularly to see if they have posted any new information...
March 13, 2007
I know that it has been a really long time since I have written anything... and now feel the urge to write again.
So, here goes...
In the last year I have experienced so many changes in my life, where do I begin?
I am still in what I hope are the final stages of going through my divorce... It has been a long a drawn out process, not anything on my part, but my husband has been dragging his feet. I now feel that he is ready to really get this over with and sign the papers. Once that is done I will be able to continue on my new life path...
My health continues to improve, I have continued with the Glutathione IV therapy; it is actually almost a year and a half ago that I started that treatment.
I can truly say that it has been amazing... when I say amazing... I am talking about how I feel. My tremors are still with me... but I have had many times when I feel normal. Only those of you who have PD can really know what I mean when I say I feel normal.
When the tremors started over 3 years ago... it changed my life. I didn't really know what my future would hold. The traditionally treatment was not the path that I wanted to travel. It did not prove to be beneficial and only seemed to exasperate and speed up the symptoms in patients that I had seen on the drug sinemet.
Now, I can happily say that my future is bright... I know that this was the right choice for me... even though it is costly; do to the fact that insurance does not cover the cost of Glutathione IV therapy... but I knew that it would be worth it.
I believe that in 5 years and even 10 years from now... I will be the same as I am now. I know this because I haven't seen any progression of the disease in myself.
My Neurologist told me that she is amazed at my progress... other patients that she is treating in the same age category are on a spiral down hill... typical of the disease. She told me to keep up whatever I am doing, because it seems to be working.
I fully intend to keep up the treatments and am now experimenting with tapering off... I am going to start lessening the frequency of the IV therapy. Instead of doing it 2x per week, I am going to try once a week and then twice a week and see if there is any notable difference. I will then continue to lessen the treatments until I find a point where I see an increase in my symptoms. If no increase in symptoms, my hope is to find a maintenance dose that will allow me to continue to feel well.
The Doctors at Southwest Naturopathic medical center are supportive of this and are anxious, as I am to see if there is a difference.
On a personal note: I started dating last summer. To say that it has been exhilarating and disappointing at the same time is probably an understatement... Until recently.
I met someone in December of 2006 who is genuine and kind... sweet and supportive and makes me feel as beautiful as if I were 20 years old again. We met online on one of those dating sites. I can only tell you that when you are diagnosed with PD you feel that your life as you knew is over... let alone any chance of having a love relationship with someone new. I thought that no one could love or care for someone with an illness that was progressive. But, now I know that I was wrong.
I look forward to each day with renewed faith and hope in my future. I have dreams about a future that is bright and can only be thankful for the joy and happiness that he has brought back into my life.
You never know what the future holds.... but I say keep dreaming and hoping.
to be continued.....
March 14, 2007
Well, today is an important day in my life.
My husband signed the divorce papers...
It's amazing that this could be a happy day... but it is.
Now my future is looking brighter... life is an amazing journey. Like Forest Gump said, "life is like a box of chocolates... you never know what your gonna get"
We have choices and I chose to look forward and try not to take it for granted.
Another important update on Alternative's to treating PD...
A friend and Student from SCNM sent me some information that may prove to be an important part of future treatment for PD... here is the link for you to read and discern for yourself what to make of it
January 30, 2009
Well, I am finally able to work on my website again. I am so happy to be able to do this again.
I can't believe that it has been almost 2 years since I have written anything on here.
So, much has happened to me... I am excited to give you my updates on my journey with YOPD.
I also want to say Thank you to all of you who have emailed me with your well wishes, along with how you are managing your PD symptoms.
Ok, so here goes it......
So, at my last writing, I mentioned Mucuna Pruriens an herb used in managing Parkinson's symptoms. Since then it seems that this herb has gotten a lot of attention from the Parkinson's Community. It seems that they may actually recognize this as an alternative/ complimentary treatment to the traditional medicines being prescribed today.
More later.....been a long day for me already. Stress is taking it's toll on me right now. I will continue this a little bit later.
February 3, 2009
Someone sent me this information www.neuroassist.com It talks about using a combination of amino acids to control or halt PD and also gives reasons why the current standard of medication's don't work.
I am really thankful for this website. When I first started this project I really had no idea how it would affect me or those who have found it on the Internet.
All I can say is WOW!!! it really does reach a tremendous amount of people.
I would also like to post a link to a website that I found to be really helpful. It is called www.patientslikeme.com it is a wonderful way to connect to others and get first hand helpful information from others with PD.
February 5, 2009
Others with PD would like to share their story with you. Here is a link to a blog that I received recently. www.marian-pathwalk.blogspot.com I think you will enjoy reading what others have to say, so, if you have a blog or website that you would like me to add to my site. Just send the information to me and I will post it for you.
February 7, 2009
I thought that I would share a little of how I am feeling these days...
I can hardly believe that it is almost 5 years since I first noticed the little tremor in my left hand. My Mother always told me that when you get older, time goes by faster and faster. She was certainly right about that...
I am currently using Mucuna Pruriens in the form of Zandopa and Carbidopa of 70 mg per day, divided into 2 doses. The Carbidopa was Prescribed by my Naturopathic Physician and is made by a compounding Pharmacist. The combination of the herb and medicine help to keep my symptoms under control. But, still am dealing with wearing off effect and some side effects; muscle cramping and twitching in hand and left foot.
I have decided to try the Amino acid therapy that is mentioned on the www.neuroassist.com site and have contacted a Physician trained in this therapy. I will let you know how it goes...
February 24, 2009
www.neuroassist.com this website offers an explanation of how complimentary therapy with Amino acids can help to alleviate side effects and wearing off effect of L-Dopa. This site is well worth taking the time to read.... I hope it helps you! I know I mentioned earlier in the month, but really think it is worth looking at.
March 3, 2009
I was going over some of my old research information today and wanted to mention NADH supplements. I have posted a link for you to read more information about NADH and Parkinson's.
I received an email recently from a Mother whose daughter, age 28 years old was recently diagnosed with Parkinson's. She thanked me for all the information that is posted on my website.
I am glad that she finds the resources available helpful... but it also makes me wonder how could someone so young have this disease. Is it the environment we are living in today???
March 8, 2009
Well I went to see the NMD who does the Amino Acid therapy that is recommended on the www.neuroassist.com site. I purchased the supplements and just started taking them yesterday. I will keep you posted as to my progress.
July 21, 2009
Wanted to give you an update on the neuroassist.com program that I started on back in March of this year.
Had to stop all other therapies and go only on the supplements that I purchased from the NMD that I went to see in Phoenix. The therapy consists of taking Amino acid supplements along with Mucuna Pruriens.
It was a little challenging in the beginning as the amino acids caused stomach distress and some nausea. But, am seeing good results in controlling the tremors. Still having some muscle spasms in my left foot and hand, along with some heaviness in my left leg, but over all I think that it was well worth changing over to this program.
One of the side effects and benefits from taking the supplements has been a welcome relief and that is they help me to sleep really well. The first week that I started to take the supplements my sleep improved tremendously.
I am not sure how many other people have tried this program, but if you have tried the neuroassist program or are on it now and have any information that you would like to share with me and others who have PD, I would love to hear from you.
August 26, 2009
Update.....on latest protocol
It has been about 5 months since I started the neuroassist program, which consists of taking amino acids; 5htp, L-Tyrosine, Cysteine, several other amino acids and vitamins along with the herb Mucuna Pruriens.
The results are really good. I am not cured by any means, but I have been able to find the right combination and dosages of the above to control the tremors tremendously. I want to note that I am not on any medications of any kind. Only the supplements that are mentioned above along with herb Mucuna Pruriens.
And I still find it amazing that this combination of the above all Natural supplements is not being used by more people suffering from Parkinson's Disease.
Is it because the majority of the Population has no idea that these Alternatives are a available to them. I am not sure... all I know is that I want people to know that this is an alternative to taking the traditional drugs that are being prescribed today.
Of course, every person is different and may respond differently. We are each unique in how we are made. You could have a better response than I have had or you may have a less response. But, I believe it is worth looking into. Here again is the website information neuroassist.com
Of course, as always I would love to hear from anyone who is using this or any other Alternative Protocol in the Battle Against Parkinson's. We all need to share as much information as possible in order to win this fight.
May 20, 2010
I recently visited a Chiropractor for lower back pain that has been bothering me. Upon arrival I was asked to fill out New Patient paperwork. No problem I said, “I have Parkinson’s Disease, so I am a little shaky, but I’ll get it done for you.” With that said I filled out the paperwork and returned it to the Doctor.
During the New Patient interview he asked me a question. He said, “How do you think you came to have Parkinson’s Disease?” And it made me realize that even though I have strong thoughts on this subject. I have never addressed this on my website.
So today I have decided to write about why I think that I have Parkinson’s Disease.
I worked for a Pewter Manufacturer in the mid to late 1990’s and
during this time I believe I was exposed to heavy metals.
Of course proving my theory is probably impossible. It’s mostly a gut intuition thing.
After reading about how the Environment has such a strong impact on the human body, their is no doubt in my mind that it was a major contributing factor in my being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.
You know the strange thing about visiting the Chiropractor was this, he was only the third Doctor who had asked me why I thought that I had Parkinson’s. The only other Doctor's who had asked me this question were Naturopathic Doctor's. None of the Neurologist's that I had seen at the Mayo Clinic or Barrow’s Clinic had asked that question.
Now with all the information that has been published about the Environment and our Food sources and their affect on the body, it is clear to me that my intuition was and is definitely on tract.
So, why aren’t the Neurologist's asking their patients more questions about how and why they think they have come to have Parkinson’s Disease; or any of the other Neurological Disease’s that are so prevalent today? If more information was gathered from the patient, maybe it would help the Doctor’s understand how to help the public prevent these exposures to Heavy Metals and Chemicals in our everyday life. Thus, preventing these serious illnesses’ from occurring in the first place.
I have my own opinion on the reason why they don’t ask the patient more questions about exposures to toxins and chemicals. They really don’t want to know. But, I want to know. I want to know why more and more young people are being diagnosed with Neurological Disease’s everyday.
I know that since my Diagnosis, I have read many books about the Food we put into our body and the effect it can and does have on our health.
With the release of the movie Food Inc., the whole world has the opportunity to see for themselves how our Food source has changed over the last decade.
Now it is up to us as individuals to do something to make a difference in our own lives.
The information is out there… Read more, Listen more, Learn more, you can make a difference in your life and of the lives of others around you.
Here is a website that has tremendous information available that just may help you in your journey to help yourself.www.thedoctorwithin.com The website is presented by Dr. Tim O’Shea
Hope you have a Great Day!
To be continued……..
August 16, 2010
Someone recently sent me a story. It is written from a Caretaker's perspective. He was the son of a man who had Parkinson's Disease for over 25 years.
I asked him for permission to reprint and put it up on my website and he agreed.
Twenty-Five Years of Parkinson's
Mark Anthony Tierno
Dedicated to William P. Tierno
It started with a hand tremor.
Some background first. My father was from a family where having a job meant you usually had your own business or at least knew well how to fend for yourself. He'd done some of that himself before leaving the clan to come out to California. Disagreements with his father and family lead him out there and made of him a very stubborn man. He would make a decision and not even an earthquake could move him. It made him both a stern disciplinarian as a father and one not prone to showing weakness or emotion in front of his family... or much of anyone else, for that matter.
As a kid he'd gotten hit by a truck, then the next year did an encore with a car. Between the two of them he'd spent many long months in a hospital hooked up to needles and tubes while they sewed parts of his leg back together. A good enough reason to gain a dislike for needles and hospitals. But he never really talked about this part, this dislike of needles and hospitals; like I said, you don't show weakness to your family, especially your kids.
Did the "disease" start with those long-ago accidents? Possibly. Or it could have been the time when we were waiting to go to Disneyland. Not everyone was ready yet, so he decided to pass time with my sister's skateboard. He'd done a few turns on it before in his bare feet- having been a quite good one with skates in younger years- but now he was wearing shoes; those stiff Italian-leather things. Not exactly the most flexible nor with much of any traction. He ended up slipping and falling backwards on our cement sidewalk. Right onto the back of his head.
Time to rush him to Emergency, you say? No; remember him and hospitals. Instead, my mother fearfully helped him up and walked him over to the swing to rest it out. Was he injured? Hurt? She didn't know, he just sat there wordless and unmoving. He should be looked at, an X-ray maybe, but that would be hospitals again. Minutes passed, still nothing said, and then... He got up and said we're going to Disneyland.
He would neither show weakness nor disappoint his family. He'd said we were going and that was that, no matter a little fall. But it was soon after that that we come to the shaking hand.
Just an uncontrolled tremor at first, a curiosity the doctors at first didn't know what to make of. By this time he was selling furniture, but that was not all of himself. He'd picked up the making of some pieces as well; the playhouse out back we'd used, some cabinets around the house, a few shelves, and greatest of all the hutch. Growing up, I'd just taken it as a given that dads built things, whatever was needed. That it came with the title. Then there was his singing; between church choir and barbershop, he loved to sing. Never one for really exercising, he had to be doing something. When not working long hours he would find a project, something around the house that needed to be done, fixed, or built. Hands and voice, that's what he used a lot of. Though he did also love watching cartoons, Bugs seeming to be his favorite. Those and Westerns.
A couple doctors later and the tremor had spread up his arm. His long-time personal doctor then finally identified what it was when watching him walk; a slight drag of the foot. Some condition known as Parkinson's Disease.
I didn't know what it was or how it came to be, but then from what I understand that puts me in the company of most of the professional doctors out there. It was a name and a curious tremor, nothing much more; at least not that the parents were yet willing to tell the kids.
It progressed slow at first; I was in high school when it had started and had school to worry about, and soon college. Other doctors were seen, medications looked into. I suggested acupuncture and then something new called electro-puncture. Sounded like it might work but then there were those needles again. Electro-pressure maybe? No, still too close to hospital stuff.
He went into physical therapy, joining a health club for a short time when I was seventeen. That didn't last long, more for the fact of a badly managed establishment. His arm was shaking now but he was still able to walk and live normally enough. After the health club there was a more medically-based physical therapy and that actually lasted for a few years. At least until they heard the word "Parkinson's", then they couldn't get him out of there fast enough.
The shaking arm evolved by degrees into a slight stumble to his step, tripping over things not there. His father, my grandfather, had told him he'd never walk again, that this disease would get the better of him.
Did I mention he was stubborn? Italian blood and Taurus the Bull make for rather fixed determinations. He would fight this out of sheer will power if needed.
He'd walk long distances. When driving to work became too hazardous for one with a shaking arm my mother would drop him off in the morning, then he'd try walking back home when he got off. Not a near distance but he'd still manage to get pretty far before she met up with him. Determined and stubborn, fighting it all the way.
It didn't seem so bad then. Some tremors making the way across his body with my dad fighting it all the way and even making jokes of it. Turns out he had a sense of humor; who knew? But then he began tripping at work, falling down and scratching the display furniture as he flailed for support on the way down. Starting to cost the store some concern, but they would bear with it. He was one of their best salesmen after all. Those plaques they give you for selling over a hundred thousand dollars worth of furniture in a year? He had one... for each of several years in a row. We still have a stack of the things.
But the stumbling became worse, so when new management took over they suggested he take a vacation. They didn't know from Parkinson's, just thought it was stress. Take a break and come back later. But we knew better. He was still the bread-winner though, and I was nearly through college, or at least my first bout of it. According to Social Security he had to make it to age 59 and a half before he could start getting benefits, so he kept on going for just a bit longer so there'd be enough money for his eldest to finish school and food to keep coming in. The appointed age came and then that vacation, and my parents decided to turn the break into something more permanent. The company was on the rocks anyway. He retired.
But getting money out of social security was not easy. They based their figures on his last year's earnings, and since he'd spent more time falling over furniture then selling it this was not what it used to be for even just the previous year. So, my mother went down to the Social Security office in person, carrying that stack of plaques and a few angry words. We got the cash.
Still a fixed income, though. My sister had long since moved out once she'd turned seventeen but the shy schoolboy that I am, I had yet to find employment. Seems companies want you to have experience before they'll let you earn it and schooling doesn't make an ounce of difference. Of course I probably set the record by walking into eight Chapter Eleven's in a single day of job hunting. Amusing and perhaps a sign that the world didn't want me employed, but that doesn't bring in any money or help the self-image of someone with already terminally low self-esteem. My dad went from wondering when I was going to get employed to giving me "pep-talks" about it, though non too peppy.
The upshot of all this is, that we were poor. After years of cycling through one medication after another, all of them having only temporary effect, we'd settled on Senement and Artane. Those unwilled prat falls became more frequent and he had this amazing sense for grabbing onto the most unstable piece of furniture around to try and stop his fall with. A table nearby with a lot of junk on it would end up on the floor often enough until it was not anchored down. He takes a walk outside and manages to wait until asphalt to fall instead of all that grass we had. So many falls onto his knees that now they began to swell up; a lot. That stumbling gate became an exercise in trip and fall. I finally got the idea to get him some knee-pads, but those were more often forgotten or just ended up falling down around his ankles. Still, it helped and the five-inch globe of water and puss behind each knee subsided to a mere two or three inches.
He could not walk upright anymore, and the medications only helped to slow things. He developed a stutter, another manifestation of the "disease". Then there was the bladder control.
The first incident was in my parent's bed. He'd never wet the bed before but he did now. After cleaning up, it was decided that he would sleep in the den- the one he'd helped build along with the professional contractor those several years ago- and make his bed on the couch. At least until we could get a handle on this urination problem. His temporary residence would end up evolving into something more over time. The dining table became the place where his pills and later anything else he needed within reach were kept, one corner of the room began to fill with those adult diapers, and he was always moving the furniture around to get a better angle at viewing the television with.
But despite the stumbling and shaking hands, the increasing difficulty with speech that needed an interpreter, he was still determined to beat it. One day he pulled out some wood from the wood pile and took out his old drill and other tools and began to work. The intent was to build a shelf- no doubt for his many decades worth of National Geographic- but at the first hole drill it wasn't working. He ended up with a long plank of wood with a few random holes punched in it; a more disheartening thing this man could not have been through. He who had done so much with his hands would never build another thing again.
He refused the wheelchair at first, because that was for the old and infirm. Even when a friend of the family had given him one and another friend had gotten the local church to donate a second, he would not use one. He would walk to the coffee shop, stumbling along the way, or when we went to Disneyland with him and my mother for the last time that he would be there, it was my mother's arm that would support him, their last dance to have on one of the dance floors along main street.
Let me digress into his faith. A devout Catholic from way back, he would be at the local church every Sunday with his Missal that he'd have since before I was born. I think he'd read more from that Missal then actually listen to the priest, and I have mixed memories of him trying to roust me out of bed early on Sunday for the seven-thirty AM mass. You could not find someone more devout without getting into a cult or the over the edge born-again types. His two favorite things seemed to be church and barbershop singing.
We finally got him into a wheelchair, more at the instance of the local coffee shop then anything else. Even so, if he could get away with walking on his own power he would.
I'd have friends over and when my mother was out, he would try walking outside. You would then see me running across several yards of yard to catch him before he'd fall. Friends became more annoyed then sympathetic when I'd spend the time to straighten him up or help him back inside with the promise that my mom would walk him once she was back. More often he'd just sit down on a chair we'd finally gotten fixed up for him outside.
That brings up the other thing that was going on with him; facial muscles. As his stuttering and inability to form words properly increased, his array of possible facial expressions decreased. You would end up having to guess what he wanted, if he was happy or angry, and your friends would be uncomfortable with him just sitting and staring at them. But let's not get too far ahead of myself.
The wheelchair became common for public outings and some times for sitting outside. He still went to church and barbershop, Missal in hand for the first and trying to sing along at the second. His friends at barbershop ended up tolerating him; his singing was reduced to just mouthing with the occasional stuttered utterance. He'd been in this award-winning Chorus for about twenty years now, but the man in the wheelchair was proving more a nuisance then anything else. The day came when they asked that we keep him at home. Now he would never sing again.
No singing, no working with his hands. What was left?
We were with a meals on wheels program by that time, and I was in college again going for a second Bachelor's and then my Master's, so cash was very thin. I had a six-dollar savings account and a bad tooth which I decided to put off having filled because I knew we couldn't afford it. That medication he took cost a dollar a pill, which when taken four to six times a day really adds up, and low fixed incomes go a rather limited distance with that sort of thing. He could have had an operation years earlier which they say might have either helped or left him worse off, but that would mean a hospital and lots of needles again. The medication would slow his stumble but was proving less and less effective.
Except for the side effects of course. The doctor said that hallucinations were common with these meds and perfectly normal. Perfectly normal amounted to seeing people that weren't there, talking to wooden posts, seeing rats scurry across the floor when there never were any, and in general things that they usually give people other medications for. He was in a diaper a lot now, having tried and failed with a catheter, and the hated wheelchair was a grudging necessity.
Oh, and those diapers? I guess what finally prompted their more then occasional use was one day a friend was visiting and my dad was in his wheelchair just outside, dressed and ready to leave for somewhere. His face was slack because that was about his only expression then, and my friend was giving his greetings to my dad. That's when I saw the stream of urine out from the bottom of the wheelchair and quickly distracted my friend to another sight, putting myself in the way of the view. You couldn't even tell if my dad cared or noticed his own problem.
We ended up keeping a large cup next to his bed for the many nighttime needs, emptying it in the mornings.
He had a bed by now, replacing the couch, and makeshift ropes for pulling himself up. The den was a crowded explosion of diapers, medicine bottles, stores of candy and polls of pennies, and covered with a carpet that had been victim to one too many missed trips to the bathroom. In one last act of constructive frenzy, he then did something that I know his younger pre-Parkinson's self would have not approved of. He had a larger screen television to make viewing easier but couldn't get it up at the right level unless he put it on the hutch, which was not made to hold something that wide on its main exterior shelf, there being a stack of other shelves taking up the rear half that rose higher up. So, he chipped away at the edge of one of the shelves of that beautiful hutch, that work of art, haphazardly removing just enough of the shelf to fit the television in. Of course, by this time Parkinson's-induced acts of destruction had become rather common.
His old doctor had died by now, the only one that knew how to handle his "disease" and in his place was a younger doctor that had never heard of "Parkinson's" before this and seemed more concerned with his practice then his patients. The word "clueless" came to my mind on more then one occasion.
I'd gotten into herbs and such by this point and hit upon an idea. L-Glutamine is an amino acid that helps to improve brain function, so I reasoned it might help out my father. We started giving him some, at the height of his hallucinations, when his stumbling was the worst. A half tablet a day for week after week. Then about three months into this we began to notice a change. Those hallucinations disappeared, never to be seen again, and his stumbling lessened during times just after taking some L-Glutamine. The doctor was surprised and confused, could not account for actual improvement in a patient and asked what we were doing to him to achieve this. My son's idea, my mom told him, though the doctor was still confused with this minor miracle. He's a doctor after all, so if there's any miracle making he should be the one to do it, not some person's son from just off the street.
Of course, I just have a Master's degree in Physics, what do I know about anything?
I was starting to understand my dad's lack of faith in the medical professions. Anyway, he started to improve, at least in the seeing things and walking departments, and soon Artane was dropped. Senement and L-Glutamine became his regimen and now my mom began listening more to what I'd recommend then what the doctor said. He became a running sad joke for my friends, walking and stumbling, but they didn't see him clutch desperately at anything on the way down or have to pick him up afterwards. If you think it's difficult having anything breakable in the house around toddlers, you should try a stubborn Parkinson's patient. At least a toddler will eventually get better.
Keep him in a wheelchair you say? Remember, he's still trying to prove his father wrong. If no one was immediately around, he'd get up by himself and go for a walk outside. I don't blame him for not wanting to remain cooped up, but without a guide trouble was inevitable. He'd walk out to the front corner or to the store even when told we'd be right back from some errands of our own- we did have lives to try and lead, after all. But coming back there'd be some angry neighbor that didn't know better, spending more time complaining about how dare we leave him just lying around on the ground like that instead of helping him up, or someone else would just call the police when he would fall down and lie there struggling to get back up instead of helping. Once he'd managed to sneak out when I was working on my computer and my mom was gone, and next I heard were some police coming up with him; he'd been trying to make it to the local grocery store and fallen along the roadside. Once he'd made it all the way inside the store before my mom could catch up with him, but by then they'd called an ambulance out of concern.
Only a very few people just bent down to help out without screaming "elderly abuse". To those few I give my thanks and to the rest I say this. Short of physically tying him down when no one was there, there is no way anyone was going to keep this man down if he wanted to start walking, Parkinson's or not. We weren't going to drug him just for the sake of our convenience, and tying him down would be abuse.
My sister would visit as frequently as she could, but employment and the need to keep food in her mouth kept her away most of the time. Still, when she came she offered him the occasional massage, having become a Licensed Massage Therapist a few years back. But since her visits were so infrequent, she would be shocked each time at how much worse some aspect of my father's condition had gotten since last time. She didn't have to live with it day after day like me and my mom, not exposed to the horror in gradual increments but rather in sudden spurts.
Eating was another problem. Hands shaking so much, and even sitting he would start upright and gradually slide down to one side. At a restaurant he would leave about as much food on the table in a slow trail across its length as he'd eat.. My sister treated him to dinner once and was astonished and shocked to see the mess he'd make trying to feed, and as much as she loved him vowed never to take him out again. She hadn't lived with him all this time like I had. A disgusting sight to see even as you're thinking how sad it all is.
I'd started writing by this time, nothing published naturally but that didn't stop everyone from saying how good I was. I guess my dad finally found something to be proud of in me because he was always wanting me to send a copy of my first book back to the relatives in New York. But twenty dollars for copying and mailing were a lot, especially when I didn't want loose copies floating around for someone to steal from. The questions changed from "when are you going to get a job?" now to "when are you going to get published?". Now it was not bad enough to watch my dad deteriorate, now not enough that I had to feel guilty for not being able to get my life started and some money coming in for something like a nurse or even just a normal standard of living, now there was the depression of having something great and no one listening, not agents or publishers. I know my dad meant only to encourage me, but every time he'd ask if I was published yet it would be like another stab to the heart. I didn't need anymore things to feel guilty about, nor anymore reasons to feel sad; looking at my father's condition did that.
The local coffee shop finally requested that he not come again. One too many times of food trailed all over the table and floor.
By this time you get so involved in just dealing with the situation you've little time to feel. You're struck by the inconvenience of it all then have to catch yourself and remember about what's really going on; the analytical part of you wondering how much worse it might be if some disaster took your mother and how it'd be better if he went first instead, but then your emotional part wakes up and starts slapping you around for such thoughts. His voice so far gone that conversations amounted to trying to anticipate what he was stuttering about or trying to point to. That carpeting in the den that had become so smelly and urine-soaked that you ended up just throwing it away, and getting a rash on your arm just carrying it out to the trash bin. You try to clean up, and the smell in the den does get better, but things still worse over all. He takes baths, and you end up being the one to pull him out of the tub when finished, but still a faint smell of urine emanating from his body; I've since heard that's an actual medical condition now.
As much as he is unable to, he still tried to walk. I'm typing another book on my computer while my mom's away then hear this slow step and drag from the next room. Five minutes for him to make it twenty feet just to start stuttering out the question "Where's your mother?". Five minutes of distracting step and drag when you're on a roll on your story. So, you start trying to head him off when first you hear it, but stubborn as he is he must finish walking to your room to ask, won't just answer back when you call to him. Then you march him back, using your feet to kick his along from behind in the only effective way of getting him walking.
I'd become the one to do the heavy lifting, the one to lift him up and get him back to the den from the front yard, or out of the bathtub, or into or out of the car on the way to church. When he was feeling good, he'd try walking around, and sometimes actually make it somewhere. As proof to how much stubborn determination can overcome, there was one day when the ice cream truck was jingling along past the house, me and some friends out around the table outside. We have a long yard, so the ice cream man would take a while to pass us up, but suddenly there you saw it. My dad running out of the den and across a hundred feet of driveway shouting and waving to the truck as best he can with not a single stumble along the way. We were amazed! He came back with his ice cream at a much slower pace, now suddenly needing to watch himself as he resumed his stumbling along. Comical, sad, and many other emotions.
Then he stopped going to church. Another request, this one by necessity of getting him there and back with my mother behind the wheel. Such a devout Catholic, he'd still break out his Missal on Sundays or watch some televised mass. The church that he'd gone to every Sunday for longer then I'd been alive, always putting something into the offering basket, and now having to stop attending. His last source of regular outing and that which he treasured the most. Maybe the priest would visit him, check on how he was doing, talk to an ailing long-time parishioner.
Sorry, that only happens in old movies. Long had they known of him- he'd used to sing in the church choir back when they had one- and his wheel-chaired presence, so it was not like he was some anonymous figure no longer there. But not once did we see a priest or even hear a phone call from a concerned church voice. I guess they were just glad to have the stumbling one out of their way.
I didn't stop believing in a god then, just in churches and religions. It seems to me that they now do more harm then good, but that's another subject.
He's around the house constantly by now, unable to go anywhere and by default neither were the rest of us. My mom or myself had to be here, or the both of us together gone for no longer then an hour or so lest he try and get up for a stroll or try his shaking hand at fixing something. He'd still manage to perform the occasional miracle of having something cleaned up when we'd return, still puzzling considering his condition, but he was still stubborn and fighting it. More often would be a mess, something to clean up, or some position he'd fallen into and be unable to right himself from.
He had grown afraid of the world now, or at least of how helpless he was. His first revelation came once when he fell in the kitchen and stumbled right into my mom, landing the both of them on the ground in a painful position. I rushed to help my mom up but he balked; he wanted to help her up himself but couldn't, was angry at me that he could not. I ended up getting them both up and that became the first time that he found himself unable to help and protect his own wife. He had shown a weakness and that was not in him to do so. After that, showing weakness seemed easier though no less disheartening.
He became insistent about locking the door when he was even risking being alone, afraid of someone coming in. Fear in one who had never shown it, not to us kids or to his friends. Hard for the son to take, hard to watch. But that would not be the worst, not by far.
He had regular trips to the doctor, the one amazed by what one little amino acid could do, and each time the guy ended up by saying that my father was fine and looking better. Yet I with my untrained eye could see the same man stumbling along and lose complete faith in the standard medical practice. If the doctor was stuck for any answers, he just should have said so.
He had but one facial expression now, a blank slack look that was hard to look at. He'd stare at you as he tried to form words or just to see what was happening and you'd find it difficult to do what you were doing with that stare. So, back inside the den you would take him even while regretting it, but you just cannot concentrate with that blank stare.
The den had a couple of urine cups lying around; not too sanitary but better then before with the carpet when the smell had wafted in through the house. No choice here; you're poor and making do as best you can. Some insurance money comes in from your mother's father's house burning down- that grandfather having been long since dead- but the medicine is still expensive as is caring for him, and yourself still unemployed, at least not with anything that can be called other then an "odd job". Several books awaiting a publisher to be sure, but the agent you found is a bum.
A mess in the bathroom once, and I'm still not sure how. He'd gotten himself to the toilet and been sitting down doing the expected but something went amiss when reaching for and using the toilet paper, something for which he was truly embarrassed and angry about. He'd missed and gotten the feces on his hands then when trying to stand up managed to get it on the walls nearby. Still determined to fend for himself, he apparently tried cleaning himself and the wall off but only succeeded in rubbing it in, including in spots I would have judged impossible for him to reach. Not until years later was I able to get to it and scrub and sanitize every last bit of it off.
Then on more then one occasion there was the matter of pieces of feces getting stuck in the hair around his rear, stuck and tangled. For the sight of my mom taking a pair of scissors to cut it out, I closed the door in disgust and sadness.
He spent most of his time in the wheelchair sitting in the den, aimed at the television. I say "aimed" because he had grown beyond the ability to work any form of remote control. He liked cartoons but the cable networks we were too poor to afford had taken up all the good classic ones, so we'd tune in Sesame Street and let him watch the colors and listen to the sounds. Every time I went into that den, signs of sickness all around, the death bed against the wall, it was to see him watching expressionlessly the television, unable to move or change the channel, unable to see some of it most of the time. Yet, he was aware, you could see it in his eyes, and it pained me to even look into the den and see this man who was my father reduced to this sorry state; I have too much the ability to empathize with someone else and seeing him there I knew what it'd be like for me in that position and it was horrible. Once one who was one of the best salesmen a store chain had ever had, once one who made things with his hand, once someone who sang with a barbershop choir. Now when I helped him in through the door, saw his stooped shoulder, the head tilting to his left, and the face unable to express what he felt, I could see only a walking corpse.. I could not walk into the den without holding both my breath and my emotions. I wanted to mourn his passing but he was still alive.
I tried to keep my tone normal enough, to talk in normal tones when going to see him and my mom in the den, even when told to be quiet for I figured the effort of him quietly scolding me was some form of interacting, some means to involve him and make him think things at least a bit normal. Still, every time I came home I would fearfully glance up to see if the television lights still danced in the den window, every ambulance siren would have me jerk, and even late at night when editing or on Internet I would check in on occasion, standing in the den's doorway looking for his chest still moving up and down, so faint the breath.
My sister showed more the reaction of horror every time she came by but managed to keep it from his presence. As much as one can be filled with emotion over such an ailing person, one can't help but be concerned with the minor things. In her case it was a spaghetti sauce and meatball recipe that he had made since when we were kids. One of those family handed-down things which he'd worked on perfecting and now she was afraid would be lost forever. Like I said, the oddest little details can come out at you in the midst of such pain and suffering.
How long can agony and suffering like this go on? Too long. No miracles, no dramatic interventions, not even a son getting published to justify his father's faith in him. Nothing but day after day trying to cope with the sight of the thing in the den that used to be your father, while trying to put your soul into your writing. You get a menial job at a computer store but the owner seems more intent on forgetting that you have a master's degree and more on getting his jollies at your expense. The only time with some relief is on weekends with your friends over for gaming but the "friends" are often more concerned with arguing with one another then complaining when you have to rush off across the yard to pick up your father. Some relief; then they wonder why you're always uptight.
Two more years of the worst of it, two years during which every day I knew I was watching my father die. Keeping emotions pent up that I dare not show around him for fear of his own emotional state, two years of abuse by friends and the world in general, two more years of the failure that is myself and thinking that I should have been successful enough to at least give my father some comfort. The suffering of the patient is a part of it, the suffering and inconvenience put upon his family is another part. But little is said of the guilt suffered by those who help as much as they can but can only watch, the guilt of thinking over how much else could have been done. Guilt, and the sight of that drawn expressionless face propped before a television like a doorstop.
Then it happens, the last straw. Winter was long and rainy at the start of the new millennium, my father unable to venture outside for fear of a cold or worse. So, he was kept in bed covered in blankets while we waited out the rain. He couldn't really go anywhere and barely move now and to top it all off had gotten himself a cold. My mom closed herself up in the den with him to care for him, keep him company and hope for the bad weather to cease. When it finally did clear we peeled him out of bed to give him and his mattress a good cleaning and found the new problem.
His legs had atrophied to a degree I'd thought impossible. Those guys playing the sick and dying you see on movies? They're healthy and athletic in comparison to this. His upper legs near his thighs were no bigger around then my forearms, and I have skinny forearms. Sticks wrapped in skin drawn loose. Almost a broken puppet, his paunch drawn into a skinny frame. I make a joke about his finally loosing the weight, just to keep his spirits up and my own hope but all I can see is this impossibly skinny frame with this huge head atop it. My dad's head was always large and now it was about the only thing left not shriveled, leaning though it was into his left side. I started to wondering just how much of his collar bone was actually still there. Then we turned him over.
They weren't just bed sores but some kind of infection that had literally eaten into his back. A brief glance I had but enough to see a blackened hole I could have shoved a few fingers through, or at least that's what it looked like before I quickly turned away. Immediate reaction? In my dad's presence I played down what I felt. His mood was important, that I knew, and as much as a part of me felt the inevitable, both myself and my mom were determined to squeeze some hope out of this. We quickly covered the blankets back up over his legs and cleaned him up as best we could.
The plan was this. We'd had some extra money now and would use it to get him a room in one of those convalescent places. A hospital was out of the question, of course, but we needed some place with an IV. We tried to feed him but he could barely open his mouth and couldn't swallow at all anymore. So we desperately called around while my dad slowly starved. We figured it'd be easy; find him a place, get an IV tube in him to feed him no matter what he thought of needles, then build up his strength enough to get his legs back and those wounds cleaned up.
Except that his doctor got in the way; that one that had replaced the original and much better one that had first treated him. We told him our plans to get his help but he said he was not going to approve him going to a hospital or convalescent place without an examination. Fine, we say, but hurry over and examine him because it's urgent. Turns out doctors don't make house calls even when it's literally a life or death situation. The doctor said to bring him into his office and he'd examine him there, but my dad was weak to the point of breaking. He could only be moved once. The doctor didn't see it that way.
My dad did manage to move once. I was alone with him and he wanted to have a walk around, just pulling himself up out of bed when I'd gotten to him. With legs like sticks and that heavy head of his, I'd had visions of both legs snapping off on his way down. I got him back into bed, telling him he could have a walk around once my mom had returned, anything just to keep him off those week legs long enough to get him someplace where we could get some meat back on them again.
So, we called around. To the hospital, to different convalescent and care places, but each time this doctor intercepted us just when we'd have things arranged, telling the establishment not to take us in because as the man's doctor he hadn't given his permission. He was trying to cover himself from litigation but by doing so was violating his care-giving oath as a doctor and killing my father. This went on for two months, the doctor running interference to cover his own rear while my dad got progressively worse. The last two weeks my dad's face had the drawn skull-like grey look of death, and let me tell you they have yet to fake that properly in the movies. No mistaking that look, that aura of death, the raspy breathing, the head still digging deeper into his left shoulder-blade. The look of death yet we were still determined to see him get better.
We finally made an arrangement with a care-giving place that didn't care much about the doctor. They would have an IV ready for him and a room and get him up on his feet. But even here the doctor managed to interfere, telling them that my dad must first be brought to an emergency room for a look at by himself before he would sign any papers. So, we arranged for an ambulance to pick him up one Saturday evening; no lights or noise so attention would not be attracted. It happened to be another day with my friends over, and I told them I would be on call to help with my dad yet even with this warning there was impatience. I would be called over by my mom as she cleaned him up to help turn him over or move something, but I would hear from behind me someone shouting to hurry up that I was slowing the game down. I'm watching my father die and they're more concerned about their game?!
Well, evening came and all I could do was sit in my room and watch television and wait. The plan was for my mom to accompany my father in the ambulance ride and me to stay home as the contact point. You see, my sister was hard to contact so someone had to be here to take phone calls and tell her where to go. That would leave me all alone wondering, worried.
My dad awoke once and I was called in. A few cheery words and a smile to tell him we'd get him better- and at that time a part of me still believed that we could. He was unmoving except for his eyes and in them you could see that he was still aware of everything that went on. Aware, cognizant, but trapped. A light touch to his head then I was dismissed back to my room. She didn't want me in the way for when the ambulance came, the den now being crowded enough with the junk of the sick as it was. I saw the ambulance pull in, waited, then watched them leave. The drivers had been warned about his neck and spent such great care to wrap a collar up around it, then ever so carefully put him onto the stretcher and bring him away into the ambulance.
I was alone, waiting. Nothing but the television for company, no one to talk to, no one even home to phone. More alone then anyone should be allowed to be. My complete failure, you see, is that not only was I still unpublished and basically unemployed, but the closest thing I'd had to a girlfriend was back in grammar school; I don't even have any girl's phone number to call, so you can see the true extent of the loneliness and fear of waiting.
My sister called and I relayed the messages, pointing her to the right hospital; Arcadia Methodist Hospital. She hung up and I was back to waiting again.
The next phone call I got was a little after Eleven at night. It was my sister and she could barely speak...
I later learned that it had gone down like this. The ambulance drivers brought him to the hospital where that doctor apparently had some clout, and the first thing they said was to be careful of his neck and that he needed an IV. The head nurse, apparently having more self-opinion then she had training, not to mention a husband high up in the hospital hierarchy, immediately took over, bullying aside even the doctor on call. The brace around the neck was ripped off with a clunk and the first thing she'd ordered was pictures to be taken. No IV yet, no care given, just pictures to prove that's the way they received him and so how it's not their fault if he dies on them. More concern with their own rears then the sick. My mom frantically asked for the IV, then when trying to give him his medication was stopped by the nurse; no pills in the emergency room. Didn't seem to matter that my dad could barely breath much less move without another dose. Besides, the nurse said, he's already in a coma and dead anyway.
Last I checked, it's a doctor's duty to pronounce such things, but the doctor was nowhere to be seen. This beside the fact that his eyes were flickering open seeking out my mother. A fixed gaze doesn't always mean a coma, you could see the fading life behind them. But this nurse seemed to think that having a doctor for a husband qualified her to make important medical decisions. Under her command my dad was hefted onto a table like he was a sack of groceries, the neck brace ripped off, then the picture-taking begun.. No concern at all for his health, all confident that since he was on his way out it was best to prove their lack of fault. The doctor that had run so much interference never did show up, and it was a full hour before the one doctor on call that night came in with an IV. Naturally, it was too late.
I figure this way. After being hefted about like a lumpy bag, treated so roughly, then the pictures, my dad must have just gotten fed up with so much incompetence and just gave it up, once again taking matters into his own hands. Parkinson's tore cruelty at his body and soul but he never really gave into it and we never stopped trying to save him from what some might term inevitable. Even with him entering into the ambulance we kept thinking of what could be done next to improve his chances, despite all the future burdens on finances and life it might bring. That's all you can do really; not merely hope but believe there's no such thing as inevitable or insurmountable when you fight against the cruelty, suffering, and stupidity of the world.
Still, receiving such news late at night, all alone, even after so much time of thinking him the walking dead with conflicting emotions lancing through you, it's the worst possible way to hear it, if ever there is a good one. No one to mourn with, I had to look into the mirror that someone see my face as I openly wept.
My father, William Patrick Tierno, passed away on a Saturday evening, shortly after turning 73. The worst day yet or since of my entire life.
My dad was buried dressed in the jacket from his barbershop chorus and with his prized Missal placed between his hands.
I since learned that the Arcadia Methodist Hospital in Arcadia California has a high incidence of patients dying and that its doctors are more concerned with the value of their cars then that of their patients.
The head nurse was later hit by a car in the parking structure of that same Arcadia Methodist Hospital but was smart enough to have herself shipped to a different hospital for treatment. I hope she gets kicked out of the nursing profession some day.
My dad's doctor never did show up at the Emergency Room even after all the trouble he gave us, and we haven't heard of him since. It's my dream to see his license pulled and himself banned from any sort of medical profession or any job where he'd have to care about people.
My mom was at first more depressed then even she knew but I saw it and took steps. Now she is in good cheer and of better health then most others her age. I wasn't about to lose a second parent.
My sister missed the spaghetti sauce my dad was known for. But fortunately before she could lament, I reminded her of all those years I'd spent looking over his shoulder every time he made up a batch. According to my mom mine came out at least as good as anything my dad had made. My sister spent some time regretting her lack of time spent with my father, but having been the one constantly around, I consider her the lucky one.
For myself, I now distrust mainstream medical doctors and organized religions, and as of this writing I remain unpublished, though opinions are in favor of my deserving some attention. If or when I do get published, I know what the dedication on the first book is going to include...
"To my dad. For good and for bad, I love you."
August 29, 2002
November 6, 2010
After reading the story above I hope that it really helps us each to understand that the journeywith Parkinson's is certainly an individual one.
Each one of us has different experiences.
I also hope that it helps you to understand how important that it is for each of us to find our own path in how we treat and cope with our symptoms.
I am still choosing to use the www.neuroassist.com protocol. It has not cured me of Parkinson's but has allowed me to function at a greater capacity then anything else that I have tried.
It is a combination of using the herb Mucuna Pruriens and Amino Acids. The specific formulas that I use are made by the company neuroassist and purchased through my Naturopathic Physicians Office.
If you would like to learn more about using this protocol, please visit www.neuroassist.com
I would like to add that since starting this protocol last year, my symptoms have not progressed. Coincidence? I will let you decide for yourself... but, I think not!
I have added a new blog to my website. I hope that you will check it out and follow me on this journey to health and healing.