Saturday, March 11, 2017

Perseverance and my next Path through the Pacific

     When the World Parkinson Congress in Portland closed back in September, I was excited about the wonderful experiences I had, the great people I had met, and some potential new projects. However, I was also in need of a break from focusing on Parkinson’s Disease. Fortunately, an increased medication dose and a near void of any significant workplace stressors eliminated most of Parkinson’s impact on my life. So, with minimal symptoms and no major responsibilities or expectations – I fell off the Parkinson’s promotion grid and tried to spend my time on family needs and my non-PD related hobbies.
     One of my endeavors was to start playing soccer again. Over the past decade, since “retiring” from coaching my daughters’ youth teams, my soccer experiences have been limited to occasional parking lot kick-arounds as Eagleman.
    With an abundance of organized soccer in Portland, including an over-50 league, I was excited to return to the pitch. My club choice was obvious. Old Growth FC is affiliated with the Portland Timber’s supporter’s group and a true underdog, without a single win over the last few seasons. After a couple months of physical therapy to rehab the knee that had kept me from running for over a year, I turned out for the season’s last game. Almost immediately, I reinjured the knee and end up on crutches for the next few days. Not to be defeated, two months later I enjoyed an injury-free game as goalkeeper in a US supporter’s club event with the legend, Landon Donovan, as one of my teammates. The next week, I returned to the field for my club. My knee did fine, but ten minutes into the game I ruptured my plantar fascia (ligaments in the arch of the foot) and was back on crutches.
      Now, six weeks later I’m finally walking normally, but still a month or so away from any running. Although I’m determined to return to soccer. this latest set-back has allowed me to return to swimming and plan my next travel/exercise adventure. For this year’s World Parkinson’s Day on April 11th, I’ve decided to pursue a short 6 day trip that will allow me to achieve 3 major travel goals:

Explore Taipei - making Taiwan the 124th country I've visited.

Swim a mile in Palau - making it 3rd on my list of 11 “Swim the Pacific” countries.

Tour International Stadium Yokohama, Japan – leaving only 2 more World Cup finals sites to visit.

     In the coming weeks, I look forward to sharing my experiences and reengaging with many of the wonderful people in the World Parkinson’s Community!!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

WPC 2016

     When I attended the World Parkinson Congress in Montreal 2013, I had known about the conference for only a couple months and really didn't know what to expect before I arrived. After spending days attending sessions as both a patient and physician, I realized this was a very special meeting that brought together clinicians, researchers and those with Parkinson's. Therefore when I left Montreal I was already looking forward to WPC2016 in Portland.
     In the 3 years between conferences, I completed my travel and exercise challenges and I saw the need for Parkinson's awareness firsthand. This experience made me determined to do my part to spread this message at WPC2016. I was able to raise $5000 to contribute to the WPC Travel Grant Fund, became an Official WPC Blogger, had my video selected as a top 12 video in the WPC Video Competition, submitted an abstract for poster presentation and agreed to provide the introduction talk for the WPC Leadership Forum.  Needless to say I was as full of anticipation as the conference approached.
     In the days before WPC2016, family and friends began to arrive in Portland...
     The weekend before WPC2016, PRO held their annual Sole Support Walk in Portland...
     Then the wait was finally over and WPC2016 was here at last...
     It was a chance to look back on the fund raising activities of the past 3 years...
     I finally got to meet some of my fellow bloggers...
     I also got to catch up with many of those I had met over the past few years who are doing amazing things for the Parkinson's community...
     And I met many new friends and potential future collaborators...
     Now having attended the past two World Parkinson Congresses...
...I'm really looking forward WPC 2016 in Kyoto
...and so is Parky!!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Ten Tips for Traveling with Parkinson’s Disease

     With little over a month until the start of the World Parkinson Congress, I am sure many of you are busy planning your trip to Portland.  This is likely a time of excitement, mixed with at least a little anxiety. I’m fortunate to be able to look out my window and see the Convention Center just across the Willamette River and know my commute to WPC will only take a few minutes each day. However, it’s easy to look back on my previous travels and think about the many “I wish I had known better” moments - so I thought I’d share a few of my thoughts here.

     Years ago when I was on the Air Force Endocrinology fellowship teaching staff, I designed a study to exam the interactions between those traveling with diabetes and their providers. Like Parkinson’s,  diabetes is a disease in which care is greatly affected by travel.  One of our fellows eventually published the study: "How Do You Get There With Diabetes?"  The major takeaway point was that medical treatment is often disregarded when people plan their travels.

    Given my recent travel challenges, I’ve fielded a number of questions in different forums that deal with the impact of travel on Parkinson’s management and some of my responses are highlighted in this month’s edition of “More Than Motion”.  You can find out more about this publication and sign up for free copies of the magazine here: "More Than Motion"

     If you are planning to travel to WPC 2106 next month or have other future travel plans on your mind – here are some things to consider.

Ten Tips for Traveling with Parkinson’s                             
  1. Discuss your travel plans with your provider, with special attention to any need for adjustments in medication doses or timing of doses.  
  2. Research medical clinics and pharmacies at your destination, in case a need for care arises while traveling.
  3. Ensure your travel companions and guides are aware of any medical needs you have.
  4. Pack medications in multiple bags, in case one is lost or stolen.
  5. Carry a medical alert bracelet or other form of notification for emergency personnel.
  6. If you have a medical device, take appropriate documents to allow you to clear security.
  7. If you have mobility issues, plan ahead to coordinate any assistance you may need en route and at your destination. 
  8. Make sure your itinerary accounts for fatigue associated with “jet lag”, Parkinson’s, medications, etc.
  9. Plan to meet with Parkinson’s support groups at your destination.  It’s a great way to meet locals who can immerse you in the culture.
  10. Know your true limitations, but don’t overestimate them.  Most “limitations” to travel are actually challenges that can be overcome by appropriate planning
      For those wanting to read more about traveling with Parkinson’s, there are a number of articles that can be found on Parkinson’s organizations’ websites.  Here are a few:

     Of course, no article on travel and Parkinson’s would be complete without mentioning the true champion of those who have Parkinson's and want to travel….Parky!  Check out his website and see where he’s been lately at  Where is Parky?

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Moving to Portland….via the Long Way Home

     It’s now only 2 months before the World Parkinson Congress and I hope many of you will be traveling to Portland in September. I’ve gotten a head start on the travel to Portland by actually moving there - 23 years ago after graduating from medical school. Since I took a rather unique route to Portland that took me over a month to complete, I thought I share some of my travel images here.
      My trek started with a 1000 mile road trip to move a dog and two fish from Las Vegas to Portland and allow me to meet the first shipment of our household goods. I was fortunate to have companions, because my path took me along a lot of open roads including “The Loneliest Road in America” – US Route 50 in Nevada.
     Two days after reaching Portland, I flew back to Las Vegas to begin a journey to attend six US National Team soccer games within a month’s time. We flew to San Juan, Puerto Rico for the first game and the start of a week long journey to visit  three of the major cities in Caribbean. The other two cities were Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic and Port au Prince – with this stop in Haiti added one more countries to the list of those I’ve visited.
Puerto Rico                                                                        Dominican Republic
Haiti                                                                                 Haiti

     After a brief two day stop in Portland to begin unpacking, I traveled to work a few days in Seattle and Denver.  Then we were off on a cross country journey to watch Copa America games in four US cities:  Santa Clara, Chicago, Philadelphia and Argentina  

     Our month of travels culminated is a very special event when Lila and I spent 4 days in Bermuda to renew our wedding vows and celebrate of our 25th wedding anniversary.

    Our return to the States was then followed by another 1000 mile drive from Las Vegas to Portland to move our second vehicle and finally unload the second shipment of house goods in Portland.  Now that we are somewhat settled back in Portland I am beginning to plan for some activities during WPC 2016. Here are a few highlights:
-    I will be emcee for the Parkinson’s Resources of Oregon Sole Support walk on the weekend leading up to WPC.  I hope to see many of you there, so here is the link to further information:  Sole Support for Parkinson's
-   I’m looking forwarding to coordinating get-togethers for my fellow WPC bloggers and those that have been involved with my travel challenges in the past...more to come later.
-  Finally, I was fortunate to have my video for WPC selected to the top 12 and therefore, eligible for “People’s Choice Award” voting. You can view all of the top 12 videos and place your vote at the following link:  WPC Video Competition voting

- Mark

Monday, May 2, 2016

Views from Portland and the Parkinson's Resources of Oregon Gala

     For all those planning to travel to the World Parkinson's Congress in September and those already living in the are some images that you might enjoy.
     Parkinson's Resources of Oregon Gala 2016
Pre-party with my wife and Parky
An opportunity to share my thoughts on Parkinson's awareness
There's nothing like the support of family and friends

Things Not to Miss While in Portland During WPC 2016
Take in views from the waterfront
Get a bite to eat from the food carts
Stop to smell the Rose City roses...and other flowers
Attend a Timbers game