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Aardvark Daily

New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 24th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

Content copyright © 1995 - 2018 to Bruce Simpson (aka Aardvark), the logo was kindly created for Aardvark Daily by the folks at aardvark.co.uk



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I am part of a new trend

15 November 2017

About a year ago I was diagnosed with Parkinson's.

Yeah, it's a growing annoyance but any day above ground is a good day in my book.

I first noticed that I had a growing tremor in my hands -- something which became particularly noticeable to me when I was editing my videos and I was watching my own body from a third-person perspective.

Perhaps the onset has been so slow that from a first-person perspective, I've adapted and simply filtered out the effects of these tremors - but watching them on video makes me realise just how bad they are at times.

The tremors aren't the worst bit though, no... not by a long stretch.

The most annoying aspect of this affliction is the way it slows your body down.

I used to be able to sprint everywhere. Any time I had a short distance (just 100m or less) to cover, I'd often use it as an opportunity to get some exercise by engaging in dash that would lift the heart rate a bit and make me feel more alive.

Sadly, over a period of about 12 months, those sprints have become jogs and when I try to run very fast it's like I'm wading through water.

So now, in my futile efforts to remain fit, I focus more on resistance exercises -- but I find that I no longer have the strength I used to. My 25 press-ups in one set fell to 20 and now I'm lucky if I can do 15.

However, the most annoying (and worrying) effect is the way it affects my swallowing.

Usually, when you swallow, you consciously initiate the swallowing process and your body takes over to complete the action. There are times when this automated part just stops working.

I can be eating a meal and suddenly I have to stop -- because I can no longer swallow.

Give things a few minutes to settle and I'm all good again -- but I guess one day things won't be all good again. Perhaps I'll just ignore that possibility for as long as I can.

So why am I writing this column today? What has prompted me to speak about the annoying condition that increasingly takes the edge off life?

Well apparently I am not alone -- well I knew that.

What I wasn't quite so aware of however, is the news that researchers are observing a significant increase in the number of Parkinson's cases being reported. They have warned that there's been a doubling of cases in just 25 years and that it is about to become a problem of pandemic proportions.

Apparently the incidence of people with Parkies (as I prefer to call it) is growing at a faster rate than those with dementia -- but it's still largely an issue related to an aging population.

I guess you could say, based on this information, that I am now "a mover and a shaker!" :-)

Hmmm... like most teenagers, I figured when I was young that I'd never make 60 -- but here I am, almost at the end of my 64th year.

As a species, we've been pretty good at extending our lives -- from the paltry couple of decades that our early ancestors endured, to almost four times that length today. The only problem is that although we might live much longer, sometimes the quality of that life is severely diminished in later years, as a result of degenerative conditions that we still don't have a cure for.

As for me... well I still intend to live forever and so far things are going pretty well.

Right now I consider this Parkinson's thing to be just another one of life's challenges and have come up with an increasing number of strategies for managing the effects. All is still good and I expect it to stay that way for some time to come.

I don't however, expect some miracle cure (because we all know that, like controlled nuclear fusion, this is still 10 years away) and it may be that at some stage, perhaps when I'm drowning in my own saliva or when I put an eye out whilst trying to pick my nose, I'll opt to "move on" before things get too uncomfortable or undignified.

One thing that I am aware of is that, like most people my age, I don't have a lot of time left to leave my mark on the world and pay back others for all the fun and enjoyment I've had (and am still having). Right now I'm thinking hard of ways to be a little more selfless and shine light into other people's lives. We'll see how that works out.

In the meantime... your daily dose will continue for the foreseeable future. Stay tuned!

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