The 3 Fs of Parkinson’s
Last updated: May 2023
I actually began seeing a movement disorder specialist for another disorder about 7 years before I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD).
Primary orthostatic tremor is a neurological condition that causes your legs to tremor when standing. As soon as you are seated or begin walking you no longer tremor. Some medications, similar to those used for PD, may be prescribed. I had been using a rollater for stability for about 2 years with good success.1
Imagine my surprise when one day on my way from the living room to the family room both my feet literally froze to the floor when I had to cross a threshold. The tremors were unbelievable and my husband had to bring out a chair until my body stopped shaking.
At my doctors appointment the nurse practitioner did a few simple tests and prescribed carbidopa/levodopa, explaining that if the freezing improved I had Parkinson’s. It seemed an odd way to diagnose such a serious condition.
However, the medication did help at first. More than the medication physical therapy, particularly the Lee Silverman Voice Treatment program was amazing in teaching me strategies to overcome the freezing and how to use my body more efficiently.
About a month into my diagnosis I was hit by an incredible wave of general fatigue. My night time sleep was good, about 7-8 hours with no sleep aids. Yet after going through my slow morning routine of dressing, exercises, and medication I could nap in my recliner for an hour and a half, and nap again for a good part of the afternoon.
What had happened to me? I had always been so energetic. I had to teach myself to find something of interest when I felt that grogginess creeping up. I have developed a few new hobbies as a result.
How disappointing to be planning on a special activity and then have to cancel due to exhaustion. Your good friends and family understand why you have to cancel but you feel as though you are letting them down and wonder if eventually they will just stop asking.
Fear of falling
To me the worst "F" in Parkinson’s is the fear of falling. I have had several serious falls - one resulting in a broken femur and another in a displaced clavicle. I am extremely cautious when walking and if someone is trying to help me because I’m in difficulty, I tend to panic and hang on to anything stable which fights that person.
Actually the only one I trust to lift me is my son who lifts me like a small child. Unfortunately he cannot always be here. Falls are not only dangerous but frightening as well. I have learned how to fall if I know it is coming and then just need help getting up. We have a dog who stations herself by my side if she senses I am off balance which is a real comfort.
I did not include facial masking where you tend to lose facial expression as it is not something I have experienced but can imagine how frustrating it is to look angry or unhappy when you are not.
For all of us who experience the 3 "Fs" of Parkinson’s stay strong and employ as many strategies as you can to make life as enjoyable as possible no matter what stage you are.
Do you experience issues with spatial awareness?