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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.

Filtering by Tag: medical marijuana

Stem Cell Story

Terri Reinhart

It was a strange time to talk about stem cell research. We were at a post funeral reception in one of the most beautiful gardens I have ever seen outside the city's Botanic Gardens. I knew only a few family members, who were all busy greeting people, so I found a place to sit and tried to make light conversation with the person next to me.

What do you talk about after funerals with people you've never met? The obvious answer is, you talk about the deceased. How did you know him? Wasn't it a beautiful service? And then you share a memory or two in hopes it will spark something and your small talk won't fizzle. 

This time it was a challenge. The woman I spoke with didn't know the man who had died or his family, whom her husband had known growing up. I was definitely starting to fizzle when she mentioned her husband has Parkinson's disease. Imagine my relief! That doesn't sound right, but at least it gave us something to talk about.

I was even more excited when she told me he had participated in a study on stem cell treatment soon after he had been diagnosed - years ago. I asked if I could talk with him. She agreed and led me over to where he was having a smoke with friends. What he told me was impressive. The study had been done through the University of Colorado with private funding. This was during the Bush years and the moratorium on federal funding of stem cell research.

He has never been on medication for Parkinson's and has only the occasional tremor when he is very tired. Otherwise, he's fine.

I didn't have time to ask any more questions. It was a funeral reception, after all, and I didn't want to take up too much of his time. I have a whole list of things I'd love to ask, such as:

Did this involve brain surgery? What were his symptoms before the treatment? How many participants had good results? Did he, or does he use any alternative remedies to help with his Parkinson's. I wanted to ask him about one remedy in particular. I couldn't have been sure, but he had the aura of permanent mellow which is often associated with the early and enthusiastic cannabis researchers.

Oh well, I was glad I had the chance to talk with him. I'd love to learn more about past studies in stem cell treatments. I'll definitely be asking my neurologist about this when I go in to see her again. It would be really cool if Colorado was one of the leaders in this research.

If nothing else, we know Colorado will be right in the forefront with cannabis research. If we can't be cured, at least we can be mellow.



Terri Reinhart

(With apologies to the late Gene Amole, former columnist for the Rocky Mt. News, and his Idea Fairy.)


The jitters were still affecting me last night after having that cup of coffee at 9:00 am. I know, at 7:30 pm, it should have worn off long ago, but it hadn't, which was why I was still enthusiastic and excited, and why I was looking through business papers and paying bills, planning my next step for the business, and writing with long run-on sentences with lots of commas, regardless of whether they are needed, or not. The only problem was that it was hard to focus; which is why it took me awhile to notice the fairy that was sitting on top of my computer screen, looking down onto my work. I decided to be polite.

Me: Who the hell are you and where did you come from?

Fairy: I'm the Opinion Fairy. I've been watching you for awhile and thought I'd come and tell you what I think of your work.

Me: Isn't that supposed to be Idea Fairy?

Opinion Fairy: That's my cousin. She's nice. Now, are you going to tell me? What are you so excited about?

Me: I made it through the meeting with my vocational/rehab counselor and it went well, in fact, it went even better than I expected, especially as he started by telling me what I hadn't done that I was supposed to be doing, and which papers I hadn't turned in.

O.F.: You're doing it again.

Me: What?

O.F.: Speaking in long run-on sentences.

Me: But I'm excited! Just listen. I blew him away with my promo video and how clear I was with what I wanted to do with my business and how much I had sold already and my connections with wholesalers and authors, and how practical I am.

O.F.: You don't sound practical now. You sound manic. What's going on?

Me: I had a cup of coffee this morning. I said that already.

O.F.: This morning? Come on. I drink coffee every morning and it doesn't do that to me.

Me: But I don't drink coffee.

O.F.: You just said you did.

Me: I was invited over to have coffee with someone this morning and it was, like, coffee. Usually when I go out for coffee, I have tea.

O.F.: It'll take me awhile to work that one out. So, you had coffee this time.

Me: Yeah. She poured a cup of coffee and handed it to me. I thought, “I'm an adult. Adults drink coffee. I can do this.”

O.F.: You've never had coffee before this morning?

Me: Of course I've had coffee! Thirty-two years ago, we went on a road trip through the midwest, in August, and we left at night so we wouldn't have to drive through the heat. I drank a half cup of coffee with lots of milk and sugar in it, just so I could stay awake.

O.F.: Meaning, of course, that there must have been a whole tablespoon of actual Java in there?

Me: Yeah. Something like that. I have weird reactions to things. My family still gives me a hard time for getting tipsy from drinking an O'Doul's. Don't worry about me. I'm okay now. It's starting to wear off. I'm calm. I'm calm.

O.F.: Calm!? You're like a chipmonk that's just gotten off a roller coaster, a hummingbird on speed, a person with Parkinson' disease who's forgotten her medication.

Me: Okay, now that's getting personal. I'll have you know I've taken all my meds today.

O.F.: If this is calm, what were you like earlier?

Me: Well, when I got home from my visit, my husband had to take me for a walk.

O.F.: A walk is good.

Me: Yeah, except I was walking backwards...

O.F.: Backwards...?

Me: ...and sideways.

The Opinion Fairy raised one eyebrow. She wasn't going to comment on that one. I was impressed. I've always wanted to be able to raise just one eyebrow.

O.F.: I'm glad you made it through. Now, can we get on with your writing? It's just that, I've got another gig tonight and I shouldn't be late.

Me: Someone more important than me, I suppose.

O.F.: That's classified information; and don't feel sorry for yourself. Now, I see you've got several ideas for articles written down there.

Me: Leave it to me to get an Opinion Fairy. Okay, I've narrowed it down to three – “choosing the right kind of pillow”, “the benefits of an afternoon nap”, or “sleep-a-thon raises money for Parkinson's research”.

O.F.: Sounds like you need another cup of coffee. I'll tell you what. There's another idea here that's worth exploring. “The benefits of low dose medical marijuana for Parkinson's patients”. I'm sure a lot of people would be interested in that.

Me: That's a good idea. Of course, that means I'll be coming out of the closet and admitting that I use it. There's still a stigma to that, you know, even if you just use it now and then. People don't realize that you don't have to get high or stoned. If used as a medicine, it's a medicine.

O.F.: Yeah, and it controls your startle reflex, takes the edge off your dystonia, and can knock out a migraine. People just need to be educated about it, you know that. It even has fewer side effects of any other drug you take for your Parkinson's.

Me: Including coffee. You have been watching me, haven't you?! I suppose you'll want to get credit for the idea?

O.F.: No, no. You'd better leave me out of it.

Me: Why? You don't trust my writing?

O.F.: Well, it's just that, if you tell people that a fairy helped you to write an article about medical marijuana, they might not take you seriously. At least, that's my opinion.

I sighed and admitted that she was probably right.