my favourite things – parkinson’s novels

1. The imaginative, hilarious, and moving memoir of a 43-year old woman coping with both Parkinson’s disease and breast cancer. With irreverent and at times mordant humour, Most of Me chronicles Levy’s early, mysterious symptoms of Parkinson’s (a dragging left foot, a frozen left hand, and a crash into “downward dead dog” position on the yoga mat), and her life dealing with her diverse disease portfolio. Both heartbreaking and hilarious, Most of Me offers a unique glimpse into a creative mind and the restorative power of humour and fantasy (adapted from CBC books). You can check out my previous review HERE! and her wonderful blog HERE!

2. Combining his trademark ironic sensibility and keen sense of the absurd, he recounts his life — from his childhood in a small town in western Canada to his meteoric rise in film and television which made him a worldwide celebrity. Most importantly however, he writes of the last 10 years, during which — with the unswerving support of his wife, family, and friends — he has dealt with his illness. He talks about what Parkinson’s has given him: the chance to appreciate a wonderful life and career, and the opportunity to help search for a cure and spread public awareness of the disease (adapted from goodread.com). Please check out the Michael J Fox Foundation to see how you can get involved!

3. Kondrake writes a deeply personal and bracingly honest account of how he and his wife, Milly, have coped with her diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. Milly’s passionate enjoyment of life made it very difficult for her, at the age of 47, to accept a doctor’s opinion in 1988 that the tremors she was experiencing were the beginnings of Parkinson’s disease. The Kondrackes finally came to terms with Milly’s condition and began searching for a treatment. Milly underwent several operations and has had various drug therapies, but her condition continues to worsen. She is now dependent on others for physical care and can barely communicate. Kondracke provides a harrowing overview of how organizations for other diseases such as AIDS or breast cancer compete with Parkinson’s advocates for badly needed research dollars (adapted from publishers weekly). You can check out my previous review HERE!

4. Inspired by her father’s (boxer Muhammad Ali) interaction with her children, Rasheda Ali wrote this book to address most commonly asked questions from children who may not understand why their loved ones with Parkinson’s disease behave in certain ways. Written for adults to read to children, the book encourages dialogue through the use of colorful illustrations, situations depicting symptoms, and interactive questions. Medical facts are provided at the end of each page to help readers answer children’s questions with greater ease (adapted from amazon).

*BONUS READ*

keeping my nose in the books!

Awakenings, by Oliver Sacks

The remarkable story of a group of patients who contracted encephalitis lethargica after World War I. The patients were frozen for decades in a trance-like state. The catatonic behavior of the encephalitis patients is similar to that of Parkinson’s patients, so Dr. Sacks (or Sayer in the book, played by Robin Williams in the movie version) investigates the latest advances in Parkinson’s treatments. In 1969, Dr. Sacks/Sayer gave them the then-new drug L-DOPA, which had an astonishing, explosive, “awakening” effect. However, patients who are treated with the drug develop a tolerance for it, and soon his patients return to their former state. Dr. Sacks recounts the moving case histories of his patients, their lives, and the extraordinary transformations which went with their reintroduction to a changed world. I love Robert De Niro’s character Leonard Lowe in the movie version (see the trailer below)!

HAPPY READING! much love

**note: click on number to be taken to where you can purchase these great reads!

the power of music in Parkinson’s

i love music. i love finding new songs, bands, genres, instruments, etc. I wasn’t blessed with natural musical talent, like a greater part of my family, but i still have the passion and ear for it. music has the powerful to lift my spirits and inspire, and i love sharing this with others.

my first attempt at music, piano recital (1990)

my brother Jesse, the guitarist (1989)

aunt jen, grampy and dad playing tunes (1996)

music is used as a form of therapy and self-expression in a variety of medical conditions. music therapy has demonstrated significant improvements in persons with PD, especially for bradykinesia (stiffness), daily activities such as eating and dressing, falls, emotional well-being and quality of life.

music is also shown to improve rhythmic limb movements, walking and freezing in PD; and combined with physical therapy can have improved effects. music can act like a rhythmic cue or timekeeper that can stabilize the internal rhythm formation process and sequencing, such as initiation, execution and cadence. also, music can evoke strong emotional and motivational responses.

watch this video of a person’s with PD who is very stiff and rigid, with a shuffling gait at the beginning, and once the music turns on is able to “boogie”! pretty incredible!

Dr. Oliver Sacks is an author, physician, and professor of neurology/psychiatry
who was involved in the first administration of Levodopa for people with post-encephaletic Parkinson’s. enjoy this clip of him speaking on the power of music for PD…

if you are interested in learning more, here’s a selection of articles to check out…

so, crank the tunes and enjoy the beat! much love.