Dan's Thoughts on his Parkinson's Disease

I (Dan), in November 2013, received the first indication from a doctor that I am suffering from the early stages of Parkinson's disease.

I want to be as open as possible about this, because it's not healthy to keep secrets like this, it's freeing to have it out in the open, and I'll certainly get more support (and maybe actual help with the disease) this way!

Parkinson's is interesting...there's no definitive test for it. The diagnosis is made by ruling out other things, and looking at the symptoms. it's basically defined as a dopamine deficiency disorder. Also, symptoms vary from person to person...

My symptoms thus far have been difficulty with my balance (especially when stepping backward), and slowness of speech. I have NOT yet had any of the classic hand tremors that many associate with Parkinson's, for which I'm very grateful – that allows me to still do my target shooting, photography, and music!

Although...after some careful analysis, discussions with my wife Gaye, and prayer, I've decided that it's the better part of valor to stop flying small airplanes. I find that I'm really o.k. with it...it had been several months since I had flown anyway, and I feel like I've exhausted the potential of flying VFR within an hour or so of Warner Robins. This way, I don't have to fight the FAA Medical Certification folks either, who would have required convincing of my improved condition before approving my medical certification to fly.

I'm actually very encouraged by some recent research in Parkinson's treatments, and the improvements I'm experiencing under this treatment. It turns out that traditional drug-based therapies for Parkinson's symptoms do NOT restore normal balance of amino acids in the brain. A common drug, Sinemet, is primarily levodopa (or "L-dopa"), which is good – it's a precursor for dopamine in the brain – BUT, it also includes carbidopa, which further unbalances the amino acid levels (it's there mostly for control of nausea) and causes side effects and adverse reactions associated with relative deficiencies of amino acids in the brain.

My current treatment protocol, though, is based on some very recent research, that shows that pure L-dopa, when combined with other nutrients and precursors at the right levels, can resolve the relative nutritional deficiencies that are brought about by the disease, keeping the serotonin, dopamine, and sulfur amino acids in proper balance. So far it's been very effective...though I do sometimes feel like a mad scientist playing with a chemistry set, as I mix things up each day! (Let's see...7.0 grams of L-dopa powder...two capsules of 5-HTP...8 grams of l-tyrosine...5 grams of creatine...you get the idea!)

So, at the moment, I'm enjoying walking more easily, and speaking at normal speed!

(Prayers are still, of course, greatly appreciated!!)

Gaye and I are working on a "bucket list," so to speak...a list of things we want to do while I am still healthy enough to do and enjoy them. A major component of the list is travel – we'd both like to visit Israel and Ireland (and possibly Australia). Dan also wants – someday – to go to one of the flight school-type places that let you fly a real fighter jet! Dan's also working on a book of his photography... we'll keep you posted as the list grows!