Sirens, flashing red and blue hazard lights, and Dr. C slumped in a gray felt recliner with the pallor to match. A greatly worried Neo (the neocortex of Dr. C’s brain mentioned in previous columns) exclaims, “What is going on here?”
Mrs. Dr. C pokes her head out from around the kitchen. “It was a real rough night here, wasn’t it?” Dr. C nods his head and waves his hand to signal her to continue the conversation without him. “The carbon monoxide alarm went off and we called 911. They found the problem — a faulty water heater. The fire department cleared out the bad air and disabled the unit. But Dr. C had already had too much exposure to a toxic situation. I guess there is a crack in that new wellness shield.”
“I know Doc was really excited about his wellness shield, but it looks like it doesn’t work.” Neo looks at Dr. C, who resembles something from “The Walking Dead.” “He really looks terrible.”
Mrs. Dr. C calmly replies, “He’s been working on rehabilitative programs to help people with chronic illnesses like Parkinson’s disease for several years now. But it is not a magical shield to protect against highly toxic situations. He has been through a lot of physical, emotional, and psychological stress recently and is in a fragile place in the recovery process. Exposure to toxic or intensely stressful situations can overwhelm him. Then all his Parkinson’s symptoms flare up at the same time. It is just a big ugly mess. It’s not the rehabilitation program for every day that failed. It was the additional exposure to something we did not anticipate.”
“But don’t we all have protective measures we think will guard us against harm?” Neo inquires.
“We all have ways to incorporate lifestyle changes into our routines or wellness maps. If these steps are applied in a very mindful way, they can help. Unfortunately, there are situations or external causes that just exacerbate the Parkinson’s symptoms. Dr. C has always exhibited a sensitivity to detergent chemicals. He was given a sensitivity test to determine his reactions and ranked among the highest score of the ‘hypersensitive individual.’
“It took years for U.S. Veterans Affairs to conduct multiple studies to link Agent Orange used in Vietnam combat missions for disability claims. They did a study in the Camp LeJeune training camp and discovered that toxins in the water resulted in an increased development of eight different medical conditions, including Parkinson’s.” Mrs. Dr. C. continues, “Dr. C was exposed to both. But we are thankful that the Veterans Administration has stepped up to address the disability of veterans from these toxic exposures.
“But other chemical exposures possibly resulting in disease development have been discovered from the use of more common products like weed control. So, we try to avoid those products. Even something as innocuous as talcum powder has been identified as a potential carcinogen.”
Mrs. C pauses. “I can’t help but wonder if Dr. C is more susceptible to chemical hazards. I felt fine and did not show any symptoms from our recent exposure. Dr. C looked and acted like he had been hit by a ton of bricks. We try to keep ourselves safe, but situations are going to come up unexpectedly and we can’t always predict, or rely on past experiences, when something is going to adversely affect him. While many chemical exposures do not necessarily cause Parkinson’s, we have to be vigilant about the ones that exacerbate his symptoms — the ones that slip through the crack in the shield.”
Neo says, “That makes sense. Is Dr. C going to be OK?”
Dr. C clears his voice. Neo and Mrs. Dr. C look in his direction as he begins to talk. “The best program for improving well-being is one that is tailored specifically to the one individual seeking help. My personal program came with instructions on how to implement it. But life sort of took a turn I didn’t expect.”
Dr. C gives Mrs. Dr. C a hug and says, “The biggest lesson here — I am looking forward to getting back on track.”
Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.
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