Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Parkinson's Disease from a Caregiver's Perspective

I did not intend to blog about Parkinson's disease (PD) , but I know that a former caregiver's viewpoint can be helpful. My mother had PD for sixteen years and I was her primary caregiver. She developed a tremor in her right hand that led to the diagnosis, but a year before that she had an impaction in her colon that was treated by a colon, rectal specialist. I believe that was her first symptom of PD because PD affects the involuntary muscles, the ones that move without us thinking about it. Involuntary muscles run the digestive system and are greatly affected by PD. The muscles slow and a PD sufferer becomes constipated. As the disease progresses such slowdowns can be life threatening. In the first years of my mother's disease, we fought constipation with prune juice and Metamucil and a high fiber diet. Eventually, my mother progressed to Miralax and Metamucil every morning. Every person with PD and their caregiver must be aware of the dangers of constipation and take an active role in combating it.

As I said, we ate a high fiber diet. One of the things that meant was no white bread. We always had a hearty dark bread to eat. The consequence was that when my mother and I went somewhere to eat barbecue (in Texas its always served with white bread) she was like a kid in a candy store. She would eat her bread and mine. I often wondered what people who did not know our situation thought of this little old lady so happy to have white bread.

No comments: