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From Fly Creek

January 2, 2014

How good to be back!


Oh, it’s title is “Sam the Boa, Master of Absolute Uncapturabilityness.” (I know the last syllable is unnecessary, but he’s a very long snake, after all. . .)

Parkinsonism and I are still wobbling along, arm in arm. Some days I’m in the lead, and others it pulls well ahead of me. More balance problems, more diverting hallucinations, occasional speech sloppiness, and a memory that seems to be behaving like the front end of a glacier: big chunks breaking off and drifting out to sea. But there’s still enough of me left to work with.

People tell me that it’s important that I keep describing what this disorder feels like from the inside, and I intend to do so occasionally in subsequent columns. There is, however, something important to share with you right now.

Across six years or so, Anne and I have been assured that I’m not dealing with classic Parkinson’s Disease, but with some one of almost a dozen syndromes that are first identified by the basic symptoms of PD (tremors, imbalance, shortened gait, etc.), but also have other complicating symptoms. This “family” of diseases is called, “idiopathic parkinsonism” or “parkinson’s plus” or just “parkinsonism.”

So that’s where I’ve been parked, as it were, for a half-dozen years. I’m somewhere inside that family—a dysfunctional family, if there ever was one. 

Lou Gerhig’s disease, is in there, and Huntington’s Chorea, Multiple System Atrophy, Lewey Body Syndrome, and Corticobasal Degeneration. Besides sharing the basic PD symptoms, they all raise hell with one’s basal ganglia. These, which include PD’s origin, the “substantia nigra,” form a control complex that affects, to one degree or another, just about every function of one’s body and mind.

So, how does one find his place in the line-up of variations?

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From Fly Creek
  • From word to phrase to sentence As usual, Dennis Savoie started it. Old friends, we long ago discovered our mutual interest in oddities of words and language usage. His most recent challenge to me: Is our flag properly called "spangled" with stars?

    July 24, 2014

  • 'They were out of step but Jim!' All right, skip the drolleries about the headline. The quote is actually the title of a 1918 song by Irving Berlin, who, with George M. Cohan and other songsmiths, was producing patriotic pieces by the dozen as the Yanks were going "Over There!"

    June 19, 2014

  • Replanting has taken root Lots of boxes still to be unpacked and stuff to be put on shelves and into closets, but Anne's and my shift into Cooperstown is almost done. We're securely replanted at 24 Delaware Street and already feeling at home.

    May 8, 2014

  • There's reason to hope I hadn't planned this piece for my April column, but something happened that was impossible to ignore. Within a week, three different friends (count them, three!) from different parts of the country emailed to say they'd come across an old Crier column that they'd saved for twelve years and had sent to many friends because it meant much to them.

    April 17, 2014

  • Let not thy left hand know That headline's a Bible allusion, trenchant advice not to preen when doing good: "But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth." Amen, I say.

    March 6, 2014

  • How good to be back! "Tis I, the Spirit of a Thousand Columns Past, back after a twelve-month silence to talk at you again in the flesh!"

    January 2, 2014

  • Mammon Triumphs in Turkey Bowl Editor's Note: We're thrilled to announce the return of our columnist, Jim Atwell, and his legendary column "From Fly Creek." Jim's column will be an occasional feature, when he is able to write or he has something he wants to contribute. We celebrate his return with one of his classic columns.

    December 5, 2013

  • Rolling toward a stop I’m slowing down, friends, rolling toward a stop for this column. The best way to describe my reason is through an analogy: I want you to think of me as a horse-drawn wagon and driver â€" not just as the driver, but as the whole shebang.

    December 27, 2012

  • Giving gnomes a home Whack a mole, if you must, but never a gnome. You'd enrage those who dote on them. And there are many such people, though maybe not as many as gnomes. Gnomes are everywhere.

    November 29, 2012

  • Hauling history home Anne and I have a trip ahead of us. We'll be trundling south in our bought-used-but-still-great Mercury Mountaineer SUV.

    November 15, 2012