I owe you a year’s updating on Parkinson’s and me, but most of it can be summarized as “more of the same.” More imbalance and falls, more memory loss, more cognition that sometimes jerks and judders like an engine screaming out for servicing. And still no name for the kind of Parkinsonism that is moving forward at a wobbly pace of its own choice.
There is a specific symptom that is quite close to what my willful arm was doing. You can look it up on any search engine: “Alien Limb Syndrome.” Most entries carry video clips of people dealing with it. You won’t want to watch more than one.
The syndrome often follows a severe brain surgery to quell uncontrollable grand mal epileptic seizures; it consists of severing a link between the brain’s two hemispheres and is usually quite successful—except for an awful side-effect: alien limb syndrome, and much, much worse than what I was experiencing.
Thank God, between Dr. Deringer and Michael Quinn, Bassett’s gifted physical therapist, another possible cause for my assault and battery has emerged. It may be closely related to the gross startle reflex that’s affected me for perhaps five years.
All we animals are blessed with startle reflex; it saves the life of numberless gazelles and gnus from being gnawed by lions and such. A subtle, almost subliminal warning sounds in them and causes a huge surge of adrenalin. And off springs the graceful gnu or gazelle, leaving the lion cursing the startle reflex.
And so with us humans. If someone clashes a set of cymbals just behind us, we jump, are flooded with adrenalin, and are instantly ready for flight or fight. But, as to me:
Well, in a restaurant, let someone at the near table burst out with a sudden roar of laughter, and I’m ready to leap, gazelle-like, right across my own table and into a dining companion’s lap. Or worse, let a cook drop a steel pot lid, or a busboy a stack of plates, and your usually genial friend all but climbs the drapes.