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Aardvark Daily

New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 25th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

Content copyright © 1995 - 2019 to Bruce Simpson (aka Aardvark), the logo was kindly created for Aardvark Daily by the folks at aardvark.co.uk



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Good days, bad days

21 May 2020

I don't often grumble about the challenges that life throws at me.

Okay, I lie. Ask my wife and she'll tell you that I grumble far too often.

Normally however, I just suck it up and get on with things. Grumbling doesn't really do much except make other people annoyed and cross -- further contributing to one's own problems.

As regular readers will know, I'm dealing with the effects of Parkinson's and that has some rather negative effects on the quality of life I enjoy. To be fair though, there are upsides (believe it or not).

For example, yesterday my wife was complaining about an awful smell outside -- probably someone spraying excrement on a nearby upwind farm or such. Quite a stench apparently. Thanks to the wonders of Parkinson's, I couldn't smell a thing. Ah... bliss!

The downside of is that I couldn't smell (nor really taste) the lovely fresh bannana cake the old sheila cooked yesterday, as it came out of the oven. Damn!

But today I'm writing my column at 3am, having been awake for three hours and up since 12:30am.

Why am I up so early in the morning, especially today?

Well it's not that I'm not tired. I'd love to be asleep right now and I feel as if I haven't slept in a week. My eyes are drooping, my thoughts dull and slow. Really, I do need sleep.

Unfortunately I know full-well that the moment I lie down and close my eyes, I'm wide awake -- and still tired.

This is just the worst part (for me) of Parkinson's -- the completely destruction of my circadian rythm.

I now live in a pretty constant world of fatigue and drowsiness, brought about by the inability to get more than 2-3 hours of sleep at a time. What's worse, there are plenty of studies that correlate this lack of sleep with dementia/alzheimers, another consequence or symptom of Parkinsons.

Does the lack of sleep cause the alzheimers or is it the very early stages of alzheimers that causes the sleep disruption? Nobody seems to have worked that out yet.

I've tried having a glass or two of wine before bed and that sure helps me get off to sleep but doesn't change the fact that I'll be wide awake two or three hours later.

Lots of exercise also helps a little, but nowhere near as much as it used to six months or a year ago.

Ah well... the options are limited I guess. In fact there is really only one option: adapt.

And that's what I've been doing.

My energy comes in "bursts" during the day so I make the most of those periods where the fatigue recedes and my enthusiasm for things comes to the fore. Yeah, life is still good (enough) so I take advantage of every moment I can to carry on life as normal.

So I'm not grizzling... in fact I find it intensely interesting and a great challenge to come up with mitigation and management strategies to cope with the changes that this aging body throws at me. We all get old, bits break, stuff starts failing... that's the way we're built. Accepting this is (IMHO) the best way of dealing with the disappointment and treating every little hurdle as a challenge to be overcome adds interest and motivation to every day.

My wife sometimes accuses me of being too damned cheery and optimistic -- perhaps she's right but I figure life is what you make it and I know what I want mine to be -- fun and interesting.

So there you go... that's my little bit of self-indulgence for a while and my attempt to keep readers updated on what's happening, at least in respect to this little battle.

Now if I could only remember what I had for breakfast :-)

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