"Uh, maybe we got that wrong!", I can sense my neuro's thoughts as I'm looking to him for an answer. I am in the worse shape I've ever been.
January 14-15, 2020: I'm in-patient at Halifax Hospital, Daytona Beach, Florida. I'm stuck between two diagnoses - Parkinson's Disease and Functional Neurological Disorder - with no definitive answer (as neither has a definite diagnostic test!) being treated by the only movement disorder specialist group in Volusia County. Knuckleheads. A second FND opinion after Shands Gainesville in June 2018, I am down from 18 pills of Carbidopa/Levodopa per day to 6 - 1/3 of the highest dose I've taken. Guess what? I'm titrated too low on my meds to keep all of my critical systems stable. My body swings every day from normal in the mornings after sleep to paralyzed from the waist down every late afternoon. Low blood pressure in the morning (100/56). After meds wear off in afternoon I'm 156/104. My legs swell and I have no center of gravity to stand myself up. I've taken four trips to the ER by ambulance since the last week of November. I'm not taking enough dopamine to run all my systems at the same time.
I have had such good fortune this year and the Universe seems to be expanding again for me. Finally the mystery of my ailment is truly solved. A second opinion this week confirms what Shands Gainesville first advised last summer; that living as an Early Onset Parkinson's patient for the last 11 years will soon be coming to an end. Ends up a misdiagnosis not caught by University of Miami or Mayo Clinic; the doctors at Shands are my heroes. The first scans of my brain since the DATSCAN in 2013 confirms that my brain is completely normal. My neurologist in Daytona ordered a CAT scan, functional MRI and functional EEG then reported the good news. I have PD symptoms from the large amount of Parkinson meds I take. The news is incredible. Its not going to be easy after 18,500 dopamine tablets and 2,790 unnecessary Neupro patches. Thank God I was turned down for DBS surgery 4 times. I could be regretting holes drilled into my head. With the help of Advent Hospital, I hope to be prescription drug free by next year. I cannot wait to get on my bike again and sleep through the night. Two things I miss desperately. Thanks to everyone who has supported me over the decade. Hopefully next time you see me, my tremors will be gone; replaced by a quiet peace, stillness and gratitude. I have a tough road ahead of me but I'm excited at the visions of me going through my day with tremor, falling or dropping everything. I will make it. Never give up and never give in.
We got this,
We saw some excitement with last year's "new diagnosis" of Functional Neurological Disorder by Dr. Deeb at University of Florida Gainesville / Shands Hospital. It seemed to work. I was titrating off of my high doses of medication and the same time I was working full time, plus taking care of my husband and children. There seemed to be a honeymoon period in there when I was coming off the meds that I seemed to be improving. But that was short-lived over about a 4 week period. Then all my symptoms returned with a vengeance.
My tremor as you can see from the video I made for my last posting announcing my ten year anniversary that I am living incapacitated. I believe my health has been made worse by playing around with my dopamine. Don't take it; do take it" - when? It seems logical that once the stores of 17,000 dopamine pills finally cleared my system, my Parkinson's symptoms went off the charts and has never returned to manageable. Add to that whole-body Dystonia that makes every inch of my body ridged. To the point that the combination of the two - rigidity with high velocity tremor - is causing nerve damage in my wrists, hands, fingers, groin, neck, back, and especially my legs and feet. I have no balance any longer. I fall and can no longer catch my fall so land with my full weight on my hands or my face (as I did in the Midway airport this winter when my sneakers were sticky against the newly polished marble floor. I started to fall forward on my tip toes and ultimately could not right myself so down I went - hard. I quickly picked myself up in pain and headed for my gate with other passengers looking like they just saw a train wreck. That's a good definition of my physical being today - its a train wreck that doctors make no effort to alleviate. I'm not quite sure how worse this needs to get?
For my 10 year Parkinson’s anniversary in 10 days - January 15, 2019 - I taped a video so you can see me in action. I was 44 when this started. I’ll be 55 this year in August. I’ve been alive 19,859 days. I’ve had Parkinson’s 3642 days that we’re aware of. That’s 18.3% of my lifetime. Thank God the majority of my life was tremor free. The trremor has been outward and underlying for half the time and has rebounded now that my dopamine dosage is low. Rest assured I don’t let it stop me. I have two stepchildren 13 and 9 that keep me on my toes. No one treats me special in my family. I’ve gotten used to being in public with it. I make an excellent party guest if you’re looking for shaken martinis or scrambled eggs or cake batter mixed. I got those covered. Here’s to figuring out what the heck is going on and fixing it before I shake my hand off. 😊👍
Great news to report!! Since being told I actually do not have Parkinson's Disease but that it is rather Functional Neurological Disorder I have been titrating my dopamine down from 18 tablets per day (3 tabs x 6 times per day) to 1 tax x 3 times per day to then get off the Neupro and Amantadine, if possible. I AM DOWN TO 4.5 TABS PER DAY (1.5 tabs x 3 times per day) AND FEELING AMAZING. I am back on my bike and have dropped a good deal of the nastiest symptoms of being on that extreme dosing level, Got me thinking tonight.....Just how many tablets of Sinemet have I taken unnecessarily?
I found my first neurologist's records online purely by accident. They share the same patient record online vendor that my new CBT therapist does. What a surprise to learn the exact dates of the progression since he was the first neurologist I was finally referred to after my first symptom appeared in January 2009. My first visit date was December 8, 2011. Almost 3 years after my first symptom.
My first prescription for Sinimet was given to me on May 8, 2012 for 1/2 tablet x 3 times a day before meals, then titrate up to 1 tablet per day x 3 days after 7 days.
Great news to share!!! My doctor at University of Florida Shands Hospital Movement Disorder and Neurorestoration Center is titrating me down from 18 dopamine pills a day to 1 tab 3x per day. I was taking 3 tabs 6x day. I'm down to 2 per dose but only needed 3 doses yesterday so down from 18 pills to 6-8 per day.
RESULTS SO FAR: My internal tremor is GONE. Overall my stability is instantly noticeable. No shaking when I walk or stand. Physically and mentally stable. I am aware of everything again. My thoughts are clear so I'm flooding with all the things I need to do or haven't done in a while, like communicating with people. I didn't realize how much 18 tabs suppressed my fluid thought process. Instead of making me tired, dopamine sped everything up every day making me race through every action and did not allow me to go to sleep or stay asleep.
Yesterday I sat down & sat still (YES) and wrote a to-do list in perfect penmanship. Washed my own car. Did a complete grocery shopping trip. Here is the ultimate - - - I took 2 two hour naps and last night slept through the night for 8 hours. SLEEP!!!!! WELCOME BACK!!!!! I have not slept through the night in about 2 years. This morning I woke up refreshed with no tremors. Up until 6/20/18 I lived 3,443 days that ended as Stage 4 Early Onset PD and was being evaluated for DBS. Instead I got the shock of my life when I was advised, "In my opinion you do not have have PD. I believe you have FND (Functional Neurological Disorder)". Stunned silence. A bombshell out of left field. I was expecting a date for my surgery. Instead I thought I just heard what you have is treatable & curable. I burst out crying. And now that I've done the research, I am positive this doctor is spot on target.
Watch this and be amazed as I improve and return to my former self. Here are two websites to investigate then check with your doctor about the possibility that you might have FUNCTIONAL NEUROLOGICAL DISORDER which presents identically to PD. The difference PD lives in the motor region in your brain. Find more information at these two websites:
Titrating off high levels of dopamine and reacting extraordinarily well is the first sign we may be on the right track.
God bless you with good health..............
On June 20, 2018, My 3,443 Day Nightmare Has Ended in a Miracle thanks to Shands Hospital at the University of Florida
Under the heading of, "YOU ARE NEVER GOING TO BELIEVE THIS......."
All went better than expected yesterday at the UF Health Shands in Gainesville. The staff at the Movement Disorder and Neurorestoration Center is incredible. Their protocol was unlike any I had been through in the past three attempts at other well known facilities that offer Deep Brain Stimulation surgery I so desperately needed as a Stage 4 Early Onset Parkinson's Disease patient.
My day began with one hour of PT with Alison Kraus, PT, DPT, NCS, and one hour of OT with (my personal guardian angel) Heather Simpson, MOT, OTR/L. I then saw my doctor, Wissam Deeb, MD, who together with the two other health professionals worked as a team to properly diagnose. Dr. Deeb had the very good fortune to deliver unexpected, jaw dropping news to me. I am not able to share the results with you at the moment, but I promise I will soon.
This open letter is to thank the unending love and support from the hundreds on my support team that were praying hard for a miracle. We got one. I lived 3,443 days as a Parkinson's patient. My decade long struggle has a final twist that (just like in a movie) leads me with no forewarning, to a happy ending; one reserved for Miracles from God books.
I am overwhelmed, blessed, and dumbfounded. I have accepted God's miracle with blind faith and am allowing myself some private time to process the last 48 hours.
I go between elation and crying and back. I still have work to do, but its not what you think. I will be back soon to explain what happened.
You seriously are never going to believe this.
I NEVER GAVE UP. Don't you ever, either.........
With joy in my heart,
P.S.: I just re-read my most recent blog posts where I write
DON'T GIVE IN
DON'T GIVE UP
PARKIINSONS WILL NOT WIN
There is a reason everything in life happens, in the order it happens. Their "NO" may have saved me from dying the day that surgery may have been planned. Their "NO" may lead me to the right timing of "YES". Their "NO" may have made me work harder to take care of myself and naturally improve my quality of life in the interim. Their "YES" may have stood in the way of something positive I would have missed out on. Maybe its not time to put holes in my head. Maybe a medicine that will stop my progression will be released and that is what I meant to take. My thoughts are not pointing to sadness. They keep pointing to: Something keeps stopping me from having brain surgery. What? It wasn't supposed to happen today. Why?
Now I know why. The Universe was guiding me to the right answer. My intuition was right on the money!!!!! Trust your gut.
Wear Your Heart On Your Sleeve
"Lisa Chalker is One Face of Early Onset Parkinson's Disease. Come along on her journey from symptoms to diagnosis; through treatments and therapies. There are highs and lows, miracles and heart notes, and the determination to never, ever, ever, ever give up on the power of HOPE."