Saturday, March 31, 2012

Feet - Human Paws

Bad picture of our Magnolia Tree this spring.

Dear Readers,

Todays post has nothing to do with Parkinson's Disease, but it is something you may very well be faced with in your lifetime - (Gasp!) Toe Fungus!   (Okay, you can stop reading here if you have any objections to this non-dinner conversation topic and come back again when I'm on a more pleasant subject.  he he )

I have had Toe Fungus for probably 20 years on one or more toes and avoided wearing sandals most of my adult life because of it.   At one time the doctor tried a dosage of Spornox on me to treat this problem, but I then broke out in a severe case of hives.   I stopped that drug immediately and just decided to live with the problem. Oh, I did mention my toes to my family doctor on occasion, and his comment was "Oh feet!"   It was very obvious he didn't want anything to do with the subject either.

Fast forward a few years and add arthritis to the toes and spine, in addition to the Fungus.   I recently had to go in search off a Podiatrist to treat the fungus problem and find one who could  cut back an ingrown toenail or a toenail that I felt was going to become ingrown.   That's when I found out that most of the podiatrists today don't want to see a patient for toenail trimming - or fungus nails.   Interesting!!   Why?   I don't know!

I finally found a Podiatrist that would treat my ingrown nail only (according to the receptionist).  (He would not trim the nails with the fungus.)   I grabbed the appointment while I could get one and went off to see that doctor yesterday.

Fortunately, he did decide to trim my horrendous nails that Don and I have trouble trimming because they are so thick.  I did not ask him to - he did it on his own,   He was hesitant to prescribe Lamisil (a medication to treat toenail fungus) because it can damage the kidneys and I'm already on lots of strong medication.   So we talked about removing the toenail covering the big toe.   I'm going to have that done - only will wait until early May so it's warmer outside and maybe I can wear open toed sandals while the toe heals.

I was really shocked when I heard doctor after doctor say that they don't do toenail trimming.   i'm fortunate that Don and I have each other, but what about those people who have no one to help them?   When you have Arthritis and get to be this age, it isn't always easy to trim your own toenails.   

Why is it that podiatrist after podiatrist office told me they were not taking any new patients for toenail trimming?   I know Medicare doesn't pay for that, and that's understandable.  But if a patient isn't capable of doing their own and is willing to pay to have it done, what is a person to do?  Yes, I could have gone to some salon for a pedicure, but I didn't want that.  I wanted to make sure the person doing the trimming knew how to work with toes that had a fungus and could maybe offer a solution to the ongoing problem.   I wanted a foot doctor!  Is that unreasonable?  

In the grand scheme of life, this is a minor problem, but it's very annoying.   

Does anyone else have that problem and have you also found it difficult to get in to see a Podiatrist for nail trimming?  


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Other Kind Of Dragon

Dear readers,

I think I mentioned in my last post that the program Dragon Naturally Speaking had arrived at our doorstep late last week.  I have spent 3 days playing with it, and i can honestly say I LOVE IT!   

In my opinion, it's a hard program to learn when you are old and technologically challenged.  But, it's getting easier each day.  Ha ha - those first 3 days were filled with my calling the Customer Service number probably at least 20 times, usually needing help with the blue tooth gizmo.   This is my first experience with a Blue Tooth - ya ya - I know we're behind the times here.  he he  - but at least I knew what a blue tooth was.  ha ha  

I have to say the customer service was wonderful, patient, and walked me through things step by step.   I do much better with learning via hands-on rather than reading.  

I'm especially happy that it will work on Twitter, which was my main reason for getting it - to keep in touch with the many friends I've met there and in the blog world.   

ha ha - I did learn the hard way tho that one has to be careful when one carries on a conversation within your own household while wearing the blue tooth.  Don and I had a conversation yesterday and Dragon transcribed the entire conversation and typed it on Twitter.   Fortunately, it was way way too long to send out, but I sure did have a lot of back spacing to do to erase all of it.

Probably the biggest challenge is to memorize all the commands one can use.   Presently, I use a combination of dictating to Dragon, but I then correct Dragon's mistakes or mistakes I've made.   Dragon and I are both trying to get used to each other.  ha ha - someone asked if I was going to call him Puff.  Actually, I think that's a good idea.   Once Puff and I get used to each other, life will be easier.

It's funny because in all my working years I used to do transcription of School Psychological Reports, and School Social Worker Reports.  All of a sudden I have to learn to dictate - which isn't easy.   You really need to pre-plan a little as to what you want to say before you start the paragraph.   Puff likes to be told punctuation, which you have to remember to toss in as you are dictating.   It will get easier as time goes on and I become more familiar with the program.  The other strange thing for me is writing something without typing it.  My brain has always automatically communicated with my fingers.   I never really gave much thought to what I was writing - it just seemed to flow out my fingers.   Now I have to think ahead.   I suspect this will become easier with use also.  

I'm sure a younger person could breeze through this without half the struggles I go through.   But, I'll get there - it just may take me longer.   Oh yes, the other downside is that it doesn't know cat talk.  So Mario has to tell me what he wants to say and then I have to tell Puff in human talk.   I could take the time to teach Puff some of Mario's special words, but that will take time also.

The entire program is rather amazing actually.   Now i wonder if Dragon can balance the checkbook for me and clean the refrigerator.


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Why Haven't You Posted?

Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska
(YES, that is one of many glaciers)

Dear Friends,

Last night two dear friends asked why I hadn't posted in awhile.   Well, I guess several reasons - it takes me longer these days to do anything (including think).  Then last week there were a couple of days that I could barely type because my hands were bouncing around all over the place.  I was also going through a "dumps" period for a week or two.   You know the kind - "poor me" - "why me"  - pity weeks.  No, I don't want anyone else to feel sorry for me - I did enough of that myself last week.  As I have said, there are many  young people in this big wide world with worse problems.   I really feel that way 99.9% of the time.  But I guess a case of the "poor me blues"  was bound to creep up on me.  It has been a year since I was diagnosed with PD, and this is the first time I've gone through it.      

My self-pity period may have been blessing in disguise as it forced me into doing something proactive.   I've purchased a computer program called "Dragon Nuance Naturally Speaking."    Several good friends on Twitter have been encouraging me for about 6 months to look into it.   After having a bad couple of weeks of not being able to type much, I decided it was TIME to at least check into it.

My big concern was that it might not be compatible with Twitter and Blogger, as those are my two big social outlets.   A call to the company representative assured me it was compatable.   And, it just so happened they had a little special going on whereby there would be $50 off the Blue Tooth head set.   My son-in-law (SIL) told me the Dragon has been around for years - they kind of come on strong for awhile, then fade away for awhile, then come back strong again after improving things.   He said there was no concern with my computer not being able to handle it.    After talking it over with Don, I decided to order it.

What is Dragon?   It's a system that will allow me to dictate the words to be typed and the program will type for me.   Beats me as to how this is possible. But I've always said (especially when there are problems with the computer) that there are little tiny gremlins running around inside the computer and every now and then they say "gotcha."   So maybe now the little gremlins are the ones who will be typing for me.   he he.    

I'm excited for it to come, which will probably be one day this week.  Unfortunately, there will be a learning curve for both me and the software.   Dang, I swear this computer stuff is smarter than humans sometimes.   I had to laugh when she said the program would have a learning curve too.  I wonder if it gets an A, B or a C and who will rate it.   

Oh, and does that mean I'll be pacing the floor while dictating.  ha ha - every boss I ever had that dictated paced the floor!!   Stay tuned for more news on this one.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Teaching An Old Dog New Tricks and Good News

Photo taken in Alaska May 2011.on our cruise

Dear Readers,

Happy Valentine's Day.  Fifty-four (54) years ago today, Don and I walked down the isle at our wedding.   Where have those years gone!!  How can it possibly be 54 years when in my head I'm still 40ish (not my body, but my head).  My body hasn't felt like 40 since - well - age 40.

The other morning I woke up with a good idea for a blog post.  I Should have written it down, but didn't.  Obviously, today I couldn't remember what it was. It's so frustrating when that happens.   

I don't know if you have been noticing the various headers at the top of this blog and Mario's blog or not.  But I recently took advantage of a 30-day trial program that PhotoShop Elements 10 was offering.   WOW, I'm not sure if this old dog is up to learning all these new tricks or not.  It's very complicated.  They only use video's as a teaching tool.   By the time I've watched the video and then try to put in practice what I have seen, I've forgotten half the steps involved to get there.  I guess I'm just going to have to view one video every 3 days, try to take notes as I'm watching, and than practice those techniques for the next 3 days.   Since I have shaky hands, it's not easy to take notes while watching the video, and what few notes I take, I have trouble reading.

Now on to the Fantastic News.  Last week, while reading the blogs, I happened on an update in the Parkinson's Disease Foundations's Blog written by James Beck, Ph.D., Director of Research Programs.

It seems that two different scientists have discovered independently that Alzheimer’s disease may spread from brain cell to brain cell much like a virus.

Now what does all this have to do with Parkinson's? Well, there are similarities in that their theory is whatever causes Parkinson's reacts much the same way - traveling from cell to cell (cell might be the wrong scientific term here). I'm not going to try to explain it here because it's way too scientific for this old brain and I might not use the right terminology which could cast an entirely different light on things. I suggest you take a minute to read Dr. Beck's interesting article.

There is now hope that perhaps a vaccine can be developed to stop the spread of the disease and maybe even prevent it. I had left a comment in his blog that I wouldn't mind being a part of that test group - whenever and if it reaches that point. Of course, in reality, that is a long way in the future and probably won't happen in my lifetime. So, I'm not going to hold my breath or get too excited about the possibility of being a part of scientific research. But it is the most hopeful thing I have read about this disease - ever. If interested in reading the article - just click here: Parkinson's Disease Foundations Blog It's a short article and easy to read.

This has been a half way decent week pain wise. I got my two shots in the sacroiliac joints one week ago yesterday. The shots also helped my back a little bit. I don't know how long this will help, but I can't get another set of shots for 4 months.   I'm going to enjoy this time now while I have it for however long it lasts.

Happy Valentines Day!


Friday, February 10, 2012

Mother Nature's Return Visit

Dear Readers,

Mother Nature decided she wasn't calling an end to winter yet.   It started snowing early this morning , we have about 3 inches of snow on the ground with strong winds wildly re-arranging snow.   We have a pretty, colorful flag which you can barely make out in the picture because the wind is whipping it around.   I was hoping the flag would show up better as it helps brighten up the day with the new snowfall.  Tonight the temperatures will fall below zero.  Hopefully Mario will really snuggle in bed because that little guy acts like a furnace - you don't get cold with him next to your back.

A funny thing happened while grocery shopping this morning.  As I was headed to check out, Don took off and was shopping in the "card" section.   I made the statement to the checkout girl that "I seemed to have lost my husband."   She replied with - "That's okay - another one will be along shortly".  ha ha! Sure enough, a couple of minutes later a man fell in line behind me at which time the checkout girl stated "See - I told you."   Now at this point I burst out laughing because it was so funny.   The man behind me had no clue why we were both laughing, and neither did Don when he finally caught up with me.  It's probably the most fun grocery shopping trip I've had in months.  ha ha - doesn't take much to make a highlight in my day.

I continued to laugh until I was presented with the total bill.  Talk about sticker shocker!   When are those rising grocery prices going to stop.   

I have another post planned for tomorrow and it's pretty exciting, but today I just had to share something fun for a change.   I'm having some good days this week - thanks to a Cortisone shot in each of my sacroiliac joints on Monday (right where your "sitter" is).   I've been able to get rid of the pain pills for now anyway, and just go with 2 Tylenol three times a day. 

Until tomorrow - hope you are snow free and having a great Friday.


Friday, February 3, 2012

Flat Mario on a Cruise to Alaska - Blog Hop

Flat Mario on an Alaskan Cruise
Dear Readers,

Last May 2011,  Don and I and our daughter and her husband took a cruise to Alaska.   At the time, Mario, our cat, had a Twitter friend visiting from Germany.  Lippi, a stuffed bear, was on a world tour of various Twitter animal friends.   When we found out about the cruise, we asked Lippi's human if maybe Lippi's schedule could be changed slightly so he could go on the cruise with us.  Fortunately it could be arranged and we ended up getting Lippi 3 days before leaving on the cruise.  Lippi was in Chicago at the time visiting @BusyButtons, and Buttons was gracious and sent him on to us early so he could go on the cruise.

Lippi had all kinds of adventures.   You might enjoy reading about them in Mario's blog at   This is the first of several posts, but you can go to the bottom of each post and click on "older post."    We had some great adventures with Lippi.

Now why did I talk about this now?   Because I've joined a Saturday Photo Hunt and the subject this week is "Flat."   Well, Flat Mario went on the cruise with us because the real Mario couldn't go.   Here's the link to the Photo Hunt:  

Would you believe Lippi is still on that world tour and is visiting, I believe, the State of Washington.   I hope Lippi writes a book because he really had some great adventures.   Shhh, don't tell anyone, but Kim and Ken taught him how to drink Beer and he had a couple of hang overs.  Silly bear.  

Thanks for visiting today.  


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Parkinson's and Skin Issues - Leprosy?

Dear Readers,

Did you know that it's very common to have skin issues with Parkinson's?   Yes, I know, it's typical anyway as we age.  But I can tell you I have noticed many more skin blemishes on my body in the past year since being diagnosed with PD.   In fact my family doctor had mentioned (when I had showed him a couple of moles) that I can plan on getting many more of them too, along with other skin issues.   I used to wear makeup to cover up all the skin things, but have finally decided this is "who I am" - take it or leave it.

A couple of days ago  I went to the beauty shop for my monthly trim, after my guardian angel of hair coloring (A special friend who colors my hair for me monthly) had applied hair coloring the day before.   My beautician noticed  a couple of areas of dry, sand-papery skin on my forehead.  (See picture with arrow in the middle of my forehead).  I know it doesn't show up very well on the picture, but it is very noticeable in person - looks like dirty skin that just won't scrub clean.  Or somewhat like a birth mark.  

My beautician had a name for the skin condition, and typical me, I can't remember what she called it.   But she did show me a product that she uses on her face as a moisturizer (she has severe rheumatoid arthritis) and also has skin problems.  She recommended Cocoon, which is full of Amino Acids.   Now it's too early to give a report on how it works because I just started using it a few nights ago.   I will keep you posted though.  But, already, after only 6 nights  my face does not feel so dry.     
It is pricey, but will be worth the price if it works.  None of my other moisturizers worked for this problem.  (No, I'm not being compensated for mentioning this product or the product mentioned below in any way!)

I meant to ask the doctor about something to use on my face, but forgot because I didn't have it written on my list.  But for now the Cocoon seems to be helping.

According to The Parkinson's Disease Treatment Book by J. Eric Ahlskog, M.D., what I have on my face probably is Seborrhea Dermatitis.  "The jury is still out as to what really causes skin problems with Parkinson's patients, but it is suspected that the various medications are the cause."   If i were to make a guess -  YES - IT'S THE DRUGS!!   What is that old saying - "Better Living Thru Modern Chemistry!"  

By the way, I saw my family doctor two weeks ago and showed him all my moles (just to be safe).   I'm happy to report none of them are cancerous.  That's another thing that has worsened since being diagnosed with Parkinson's.   The amount of moles on my skin has increased two-fold in 1 year, along with little bumps that look like warts.   

Overall my skin is extremely dry - to the point where it's very itchy.   I was talking to a friend on Twitter one day, and she suggested using "Palmers Cocoa Butter Formula, with Vitamin E."  Let me tell you - that stuff works magic.   I do have to apply it daily, and if I don't, I really pay for it big time with excessive itching.  Cocoa Butter is an old product as I remember my mother using it when I was a kid.  It's also Fragrance Free for anyone needing that feature.   I don't know why it didn't work on my face, but it didn't.  You can also pick it up at the local drug store.  

Now dry skin is typical in the winter if you live in a northern climate.   Our houses are dry with the heating unit running full force in the winter.  But my skin is dryer than it has ever been before, and this is the first year I've had the itching to go with it.   I also drink a lot of water, but that hasn't made a difference either this year.  The Palmers Cocoa Butter takes care of the itching for almost 24 hours.

Would you believe I even looked up  Leprosy on the internet to see what that looked like?   Horrible, don't even bother to look.   ha ha - at least I don't have that!

Thanks for visiting once again, I know this is a boring post - guess it's reflective of the mood I'm in these days.