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My Parkinson's Journey

In which Terri shares a humorous look at her journey with Parkinson's disease and Dystonia:

For me, illness and health are not opposites but exist together. Everyone has something that is challenging to them. Mine just simply has a recognizable name. My life will take a different path because of this but that's okay. Everyone has changes in their lives that create their path.  I'm learning how to enjoy whatever path I'm on.

When does a Hiccup become a Kerchunk?

Terri Reinhart

Having a diagnosis of Parkinson's disease means learning a lot of new terminology. Some we learn from our neurologists. Some we learn on our own as we go. Here are a few recent additions to my new vocabulary:

Hiccup  /hik' əp/ noun -  an off day. An irritating, but temporary new symptom or the return of an old symptom that usually is managed well with medication.

Ripple  /rip' əl/ noun  -  a hiccup that lasts more than one day, often blamed on stress as in "the ripple effects of driving elderly parents to three doctors appointments and a shopping trip in one week."

Kerchunk  /ker chəNK'/  noun  -  a hiccup that turned into a ripple that never went away. The feeling of missing the bottom stair and landing hard on to a new normal.

One of the benefits of having a chronic health challenge is we have somewhere to lay the blame for every little quirk, clumsy moment, or forgetfulness, ie, hiccups. This is valid for many things. Tripping and dropping your spouse's favorite coffee mug could honestly be attributed to PD. Not being able to come up with your second cousin's wife's name even though they lived down the block from you fifteen years ago is also valid. Throwing up after a night of drinking? Probably not.

When we're in the middle of a hiccup, there are a few things we can ask ourselves to eliminate other possible causes: 1. Could it be a bug? It's good to know what is connected to PD and what might be something contagious. 2. Is there blood gushing anywhere or severe chest pains? These are not connected to PD and you might just want to call an ambulance. Now.  3. Did you go out drinking with your second cousin last night?

If, after a thorough self-evaluation, you decide this is definitely a hiccup and not a life threatening emergency or a hangover, now it's time to wait. Think positive. It's a hiccup, it's only a hiccup. Tomorrow is a new day. 

Two weeks later, it's still there. Is this a lot of hiccups or did it turn into a ripple? Got to be due to stress. Just wait till everything calms down and the ripples will slowly ripple away. Meds don't work as well when we're stressed. I tend to give it a few months to even out. Uh... make that 18 months. I like to think positively.

At some point, it's a positive move to stop trying to use positive thoughts to convince ourselves it's still a ripple or a whole lot of hiccups, especially if the hiccups are multiplying and the ripple looked more like a tidal wave. My thoughts were so positive, I convinced my doc it was just a tidal wave sized ripple. At least I think I did... maybe.. when I finally called and let her know I was ready to admit that all the hiccups in my ripple were actually a kerchunk, she had already called in the new prescription. 

On to learning how to live well with the new normal. It's not so bad, once you've landed on your feet. The kerchunk seems to have scared my hiccups away, too. 

Or maybe that's just the new meds.