October 26, 2017

Read All About It!

It’s here! The book you’ve been waiting for:
April 7, 2017

Looking Up to Wayne & Looking Up Parkinson’s

We lost one of our own this week. Wayne didn’t die from Parkinson’s. But he did soldier through living with Parkinson’s, which, to me, means he died a war hero. I didn’t know Wayne well, but I did know two aspects about him. One is that he battled it all and then some, having a variety of medical conditions. The other is that he had a sparkle in his look, as though behind the dusty blue of his eyes was an enormous filter that sifted through the muck for those shiny moments of fun and humor. That quality likely got him through the daily skirmishes with PD. There are ten million of us worldwide (according to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation) who make up the ground troops in combat with rigidity, dystonia, dizziness, dyskinesia, insomnia, meds that sometimes work and sometimes don’t. April is Parkinson’s Awareness month. So, in addition to […]
January 3, 2017

Flu-like

The flu isn’t particular. It didn’t skip me because of the Parkinson’s. Nope, an equal-opportunity virus, it has me lying on the couch coughing up a lung same as anyone else in its path. I could blame holiday travel strain. Or not.  The past week in San Francisco presented a mix of utter delights (restaurants at every turn – Burmese, Vietnamese, Mexican, Californian) and unusually warm and sunny walks (across the Golden Gate Bridge and along Castro Street). Admittedly, there were upended schedules and unpredictable circumstances. But what traveler doesn’t face a few obstacles? The balancing act between being away from home and being on an adventure, I’ve learned, requires  adaptations. To keep the scales tilting toward the joyful, for example, I factor in nap times and often pack my own blanket (my PD gets me tangled up in puffy duvets). Among a litany of modifications, the most helpful has […]
November 16, 2016

Try It

People say and do things in the presence of a service dog that are harmful, even when they often meant no harm. When I post about such encounters, I tend to write them in essay form. If I simply ranted, it would be, to me, like spitting on the page, leaving only a mucous glob for readers to see. Simple narrative seems just that: too simple, especially when the topic at hand isn’t. Essay – which, in French, means to try – gives me the opportunity to rant some but also to explore, maybe educate, and perhaps discover for myself some deeper insight as I write. The essay fails me right now. Try as I do, no aha moment emerges from what came from a recent dinner conversation. Seated at the dinner table, the three of us talked as we ate crockpot chicken and cornbread. A typical evening. Until my […]
October 29, 2016

Ask Not What My Dog Can Do for You

Remember that old cartoon character with a little animated devil whispering snarky remarks into one ear and a tiny angel on the other side saying kind words? I am that character every time I grocery shop. The other day, I backed my cart  and turned, Sir T in step beside me, when the young couple stopped and stared. “Oh, I won’t pet him,” she said, not to me so much as to Thomas, based on the focus of her gaze. The husband locked eyes on him, too, adding, “We love the big dogs.” Devil: “They love dogs? They hovered over him baring their teeth. That’s totally intimidating in doggie world. Did they not see that his tail is completely tucked? And where’s the love in interrupting his work?” Angel: “They meant no harm and were simply being friendly.” I went with the angel and offered a quick smile, which I […]
October 4, 2016

Balance Dogs and U

Sir Thomas rose from his bed only once in the first forty-eight hours at home after last week’s Parkinson conference. True, Sir T is an excellent sleeper. But there were more than 4,200 attendees from dozens of countries and connections to Parkinson’s and it felt as though each one of them commented, queried, or captured a photo of us. Some twice. Tommy’s eyes weren’t the only ones bloodshot at the end of each day. One afternoon, I started a count. I gave up after the twenty-ninth stopper – not including the  “handsome dog” passer-bys, but actual stop to talk/ask/admire/poise cell phone camera encounters. In the four years we’ve been together, I’ve not been so exhausted. Even the restroom wasn’t safe.  Washing my hands, Tommy doing his such-a-good-boy best to remain in a stand-stay beside me, I watched in the mirror as the crowd gathered. The restroom echo grew louder, spooking […]
September 13, 2016

The WPC: My Big, Fat PD Wedding

I’m packing up a folder full of schedules and notes on all that I plan to partake in at the World Parkinson Congress (WPC) next week. Sir Thomas’s toenails are trimmed (he knows something’s up) and I located and even used the iron before adding a couple of blouses to the suitcase.  I can’t help but feel as though I’m off to attend a giant wedding. Like with a modern event where the bride and groom have shared equally in the planning, patients and practitioners of this event have both contributed to the preparations. And, when guests arrive, we aren’t relegated to sit on one side or another. This multi-day gathering encourages intermingling among all those related to Parkinson’s disease (PD), from individuals living with it to researchers seeking to strike it from our lives. There are speeches, toasts, even dancing, and the fully-stocked program is the buffet table of tasty […]
June 11, 2016

Happy Birthday, Sir T

Look who’s turning five. Among the myriad causes for celebration of such a marvelous event lingers one I’d rather see fizzle. No. Die. And quickly. Sir Thomas’s fifth year among us marks three-and-a-half years of partnering with me. In that time, strangers have been taking our picture. That’s 42 months. Make that 182 weeks. Shall I continue? Okay, in days, we’re talking 1,274. Surely, you say, his handsome face isn’t snapped on someone’s cell phone every day? No. There have been, however, numerous days when more than one click of some unknown camera captures our likeness. Therein lies my issue with the puparazzi. First, it is not our ‘likeness’ that is being captured. Second, consider that word capture. Our images adorn the digital photo albums of people’s vacations (tourist camera-at-ready stroll-by shots), individual’s wow-ya collections (the stop-and-comment crowd who must show their neighbor, brother-in-law, dentist’s sister’s uncle) who pull out […]
March 23, 2016

Fear Not

Art? Literature? Travel? All are fine topics to wrap a conversation around. Politics? Not so much, for me. There are times, however, when a discussion must include the very topic that sits in the living room like the proverbial pink elephant. The only way around is through. And my only way through is with the help of my service dog. Climate of Fear Fear factors rise with each news story of the verbal and physical attacks occurring at Trump gatherings. Disagree and you might become disabled. It seems not to matter that rules are broken or laws overstepped. For a wee sense of balance, counter those images with clips of Sanders on stage, arm-in-arm with musicians singing, “This Land Is Your Land.” It makes me wonder if Trump protesters could be so easily tossed out if, linked together at the elbows in a human chain, they held no signs but […]
February 12, 2016

Dog Days

Love seeing stories of real service dogs and the real lives they impact. Meet one of Sir Thomas’ younger cousins:  Sienna at work And click here for another glimpse at the beneficial pairing of a service dog with its human.