Monday, December 29, 2014

Parkinson’s mind


Denver-based writer Kirk Hall collaborated with Paradise artist Alison Paolini to produce two children’s books to help kids understand Parkinson’s. “Carson And His Shaky Paws Grampa” and “Carina And Her Care Partner Gramma” help adults explain in a non-scary way what may be happening to loved ones.

And yet, as Hall recognizes, the progressive nature of the disease can be frightening indeed. As a “person with Parkinson’s,” he’s written a book that is part memoir and part guidance, honestly confronting his own fears and providing resources.

Window Of Opportunity: Living With The Reality Of Parkinson’s And The Threat Of Dementia” (self-published through Smashwords; available for Amazon Kindle) wrestles with an aspect of Parkinson’s that is not often addressed. Diagnosed with the disease in 2008, Hall, a “high functioning” individual with a good but stressful job in the corporate world, had to deal not only with tremors but with “cognitive issues.” 

He recounts times when it was hard to understand what people were saying and times of memory lapses. He and his wife Linda got mixed messages from the array of doctors they consulted, and that added to Hall’s fear. Was his brain scan normal, or not? Were times of “slow thinking” just part of being in your mid-sixties, or is there a neurological disorder?

He wanted to find out as much as possible about the cognitive effects of Parkinson’s. “I remember thinking that God may have provided me a ‘window of opportunity’ and I wanted to make the most of it if that was the case.”

Chapters deal with stress, faith, cognitive impairment, deep brain stimulation, resources, and more.

A breakthrough came when he became a patient of Dr. Benzi Kluger, Associate Professor of Neurology and Psychiatry and Director of the Movement Disorders Center at the University of Colorado in Denver (who provides the book’s foreword). Dr. Kluger focused on the question of Parkinson’s-related dementia, and Hall found a measure of hope in adding Namenda to his medications, which improved his “mood and working memory” so that he was able to complete the book.

The book is an invaluable gift to those with Parkinson’s.

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