Updated: Aug 19, 2018
I thought I would take a moment this last day of 2017, and do a little 'Year in Review' from my own point of view... Boy has it been a whirlwind of a year! A lot of 'firsts' for me this year, that's for sure.
Therefore, I decided that I would use my last post of the year (on the last day of the year!) to touch upon a few of the major items that has affected my life this 2017; maybe you too can relate a bit to some of these as well!
It's hard for me to believe, but 2018 will be the start of my 4th year since being diagnosed with PD; and my 6th year since first experiencing symptoms. It's a strange feeling - sometimes it feels like it's been much longer - I've almost become used to taking meds numerous times during the day. And at other times, it seems like yesterday I was younger and had no symptoms - and the only pills I took each day were a vitamin and allergy relief pill!
I've mentioned before that I am one of THOSE types who researches the heck out of anything that I don't know much about, and this year has been no exception. My wife and I attended three different conferences/events - first the "Team up to Beat Parkinson's with Kirk Gibson"; followed by "Partners in Parkinson's" sponsored by the Michael J. Fox Foundation; and finally "Grand Challenges in Parkinson's Patient Tract" - all of which were very informative. Plus I had the honor of being the honorary chair of our Kalamazoo's Michigan Parkinson Foundation "I gave my Sole for Parkinson's Walk" - our team raised over $1,500 for the walk! It was definitely a fun day - even if I did have to give a speech!
It was also an exciting year of advances and discoveries in Parkinson's research and drug development, with two new drugs coming to market; and other drugs in the final stage (an inhaled form of levodopa, and apomorphine under-the-tongue strip). Other trials, such as gene therapy, patches and under-the-skin pumps were moving into various stages of clinical trials. Even a new version of DBS was introduced (Boston Scientific's Vercise), and more research was done in this exciting field to make the technology even better than it is today! In addition, research has been moving forward on finding a biomarker for PD - something that can be tested for to determine if one has or will develop Parkinson's; and can also be used to determine if a certain drug or technology is actually slowing down or stopping the disease. Of course, the one thing we are lacking is, obviously, a cure - but we have seen progress this year, and that is exciting!
Deep Brain Stimulation Surgery
If you have followed my blog, you KNOW that this rates right up there in most significant events for me in 2017... Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever thought of willingly submitting to having wires placed in my brain - and being awake during the whole event!
Needless to say, the surgery was a success and has helped in relieving my dystonia (cramping feet). And although my neurologist is still working on finding that right setting for my 'problem child' left side, it is at least better than it was before!!
Along with this also came other firsts for me - first time having surgery; first time staying in a hospital overnight; and first time getting full anesthesia (being knocked out completely) during the second surgery. Based on things folks have told me, I expected it be much worse than it was - and although I wouldn't want to do it all over again, I made it through and even survived eating hospital food!
This was another significant event that I had no idea I would be doing this early in my life. I had planned on working a number of years longer in my career; unfortunately, Mr. PD came knocking, and I found that I could not handle an 8-hour work day anymore. Therefore, today marks my first full year of retirement - forced or not, it's been interesting. I thought for sure I would end up being bored; and although I can't do everything I would like to do because of the disease, I did start my bucket list; picked up some new (or renewed some old) hobbies; and even rode the train out west and saw the Rocky Mountains for the first time! I can only hope that I will be able to stay active as much as possible in 2018 and the coming years.
Well, I am not sure that this is a high point at all <grin>... but just last week I reached the six decade mark in my life (wow, when I put it like that I DO feel old!) I guess I do consider that an achievement, though - especially with Parkinson's! But now I suppose you could consider me an EARLY-senior (beginning senior maybe??) - hopefully some of those senior perks will be coming my way! I'm not going to go into all the stuff one says when one reaches this age (like 'It just seemed like yesterday that I....'), but will say it has been an interesting 60 years so far.
Deep Brain Thoughts Blog
Of course, this blog is one thing I thought I would never have been able to do! "Me, a writer? Yeah, right..." is what I would have answered; yet I found that I was passionate about writing and using that to help others out there in the same boat - either with some advice; hopefully some laughs; and also by letting them know that they are NOT alone in this journey!
So, as a recap, here are - what I think anyway - my top five posts from this my first year of blogging!
Top 10 Challenges of Living with a Parkie - Laugh with me as you see what it's like living with me (the Parkie)!
Tom's Common Sense 101 - My thoughts on what I would teach in a college Common Sense 101 class.
Retired - NOW What Do I Do? - What should I do now that I am retired??
What DBS DOESN'T DO! - DBS helps with a lot of things, but not everything...
And of course, my whole 4-part series on my DBS adventure.
2018... and Beyond!!
So yes, it has been an eventful 2017... And as I look back I am both thankful and proud of the things that have been accomplished. Oh sure, I wish I didn't have to deal with Parkinson's - but that ship has sailed and I am stuck with it, so I've had to accept that fact and move forward. Which is what I am planning to do in 2018 - I have a number of new things I want to try to do; new places to go; new friends to meet; old friends to catch up with; and maybe - just maybe - this coming year will be the one that finds that cure for Parkinson's! Ya gotta have hope, folks....
So with that, I wish all my readers a very happy New Year, and stay tuned - I have more Deep Brain Thoughts to share in 2018!