The link between Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) and Parkinson’s Disease Under Investigation

The link between Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) and Parkinson’s Disease Under Investigation

28 September 2018


It is thought that human genetic mutations are only involved in a small number of Parkinson’s disease (PD) cases, while the vast majority of cases are of unknown environmental causes, encouraging a huge interest in identifying just what environmental risk factors are involved. The link between Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) and gastric ulcers has been known for several decades, but new evidence suggests that this harmful bacterium may play a role in PD as well. A new review in the Journal of Parkinson’s Disease summarizes the current literature regarding the link between H. pylori and PD and explores the possible mechanisms behind the association.
While doing a comprehensive review of prior studies, researchers uncovered four key findings:
  • People with PD are 1.5-3-fold more likely to be infected with H. pylori than people without PD.
  • H. pylori-infected PD patients display worse motor functions than H. pylori-negative PD patients.
  • Eradication of H. pylori improved motor function in PD patients over PD patients whose H. pylori was not eradicated.
  • Eradication of H. pylori improved levodopa absorption in PD patients compared to PD patients whose H. pylori was not eradicated.
This in-depth and comprehensive review summarizes all the major papers in the medical literature on Parkinson’s disease and H. pylori, the common stomach bacterium that causes gastritis, ulcers and stomach cancer,” as explained by lead researcher David J. McGee, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, LSU Health Sciences Center-Shreveport, Shreveport, LA, USA. “Our conclusion is that there is a strong enough link between the H. pylori and Parkinson’s disease that additional studies are warranted to determine the possible causal relationship.” Researchers also analyzed existing studies to try and find possible testable pathways between the bacterial infection and Parkinson’s to lay the groundwork for future research. They found four main possible explanations for the association:
  • Bacterial toxins produced by H. pylori may damage neurons.
  • The infection triggers a massive inflammatory response that causes damage to the brain.
  • H. pylori may disrupt the normal gut microbial flora.
  • The bacteria might interfere with the absorption properties of levodopa, the medication commonly used to treat the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
The onset of PD is often preceded by gastrointestinal dysfunction, suggesting that the condition might originate in the gut and spread to the brain along the brain-gut axis. In the review,  researchers found this has been documented in rats. Screening PD patients for the presence of H. pylori and subsequent treatment if positive with anti-H. pylori triple-drug therapy, may contribute to improved levodopa absorption and ultimately improvement of PD symptoms, potentially leading to a longer lifespan in patients with PD. “Evidence for a strong association among H. pylori chronic infection, peptic ulceration and exacerbation of PD symptoms is accumulating,” concluded Dr. McGee. “However, the hypotheses that H. pylori infection is a predisposing factor, disease progression modifier, or even a direct cause of PD remain largely unexplored.
This gut pathology may be multifactorial, involving H. pylori, intestinal microflora, inflammation, misfolding of alpha-synuclein in the gut and brain, cholesterol and other metabolites, and potential neurotoxins from bacteria or dietary sources. Eradication of H. pylori or return of the gut microflora to the proper balance in PD patients may ameliorate gut symptoms, L-dopa malabsorption, and motor dysfunction.”
Even though the evidence points to a strong association between H. pylori and the exacerbation of PD symptoms are accumulating, more research needs to be accomplished to make a positive nexus to Parkinson’s.

A Veteran’s Message

Good Morning to everyone in this great nation;

On this Sunday, 11 of November 2018, it is my pleasure to extend my appreciation and gratitude to all the Veterans, the families of Veterans and all the people who have supported the Veterans. I have no idea who wrote this verse/piece, but it sure resonated with me and I present it to you in honor of all Veterans:

“A veteran” — whether active duty, retired, National Guard or reserve — is someone who, at one point in his or her life, wrote and blank check payable to “The United States of America,” for an amount of “up to and including their life.” This is an honor for the veteran and there are way too many people in this country who no longer understand it.

Today and every Veterans Day, I take time to reflect about a time in my life that no matter what happens I will never forget.  It is a wonderful but sad story of 4 young men that have the world by the tail and are impervious to danger so we thought. It wasn’t that we were reckless, we were young, committed and had no time for the obvious dangers. We had signed on to provide a service to our fellow service members, no matter what. Just like in the verse above, each of us had freely given a blank check for the love of our country and regrettably, two of finest crew members I have ever known had those checks cashed in full.

Today, I consider it an honored to be able to express my gratitude, not only for being their friend, buddy, and comrade and for being three of the most courageous Veterans in my life.  As you thank a veteran today, please say a silent prayer for those men and women who paid the ultimate price, as well as those who through the grace of God made it back and those who are still missing while serving our great nation. Please join me in saying “you are not forgotten”!

In closing, I stand and salute the Brotherhood and Sisterhood of all Veterans from the first armed conflict in 1775 to the current armed conflict in the Middle East.  Be you Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard or Air Force, this great country and it’s citizens owe you a great debt.

Should Combat Veterans with PTSD be prosecuted for crimes in the same manner as the civilian population?

This article is about “Should Combat Veterans with PTSD be prosecuted for crimes in the same manner as the civilian population?” nothing else. This is a fairly cut and dry subject once you have taken the time to remove your self-imposed blinders and ask as a society just what have we done to make these veterans act in a manner we object to.  After reading many comments on the subject, I am left asking myself why bother trying to inculcate people who have a closed mind or have no idea just what they are talking about or worse, a talking head, one who regurgitates everything they hear not knowing if it’s true or false.

So why do I bother to explain how PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) affects these veterans?  I am a US Army PTSD survivor. In able for you to understand the how and why of military PTSD, you first need to understand the major cause and why as a society are responsible for what has happened and then the need to help these veterans.

During the Vietnam War, at least for the US Army, about 25% of combatants were drafted, with the majorities of combatants 65%, volunteering and 10% were conscripted from the reserves.  This will become important later.  Then it was off to basic training where 18 – 20-year-old soldiers were told what to do and how to do it.  Lots of physical, psychological preparation, sleep deprivation, marching, weapons training, hand to hand combat to bring you down to your lowest psychological state and then re-trained in the Army way.

Then it was off to Advanced Individual Training (AIT) where they trained you for specialty combat actions and how to kill the enemy without a second thought.  Then it was on a plane off to war.

Once in country and assigned to a unit, within two days you were more than likely on a combat patrol or supporting someone who was.  During your time in combat, you learned to ignore the countless long days and nights in the bush, the smell of burning human flesh, dismembered bodies, standing by a buddy one minute and then seeing him without a head because a large round had hit him.  The mutilation of human bodies, a friend dying from falling into a pit of punji sticks, soldiers burning to death in armored vehicle and helicopters.  There was so much blood on the ground; it caked your boots like soft clay.  The screaming of the dying, especially the ones that had been hit by white phosphorous and nothing could be done in the field to stop it from burning or being in the wrong place at the wrong time when a flechette bomb went off.

For many, it was pure hell! They thought they were doing their duty as soldiers for their country and had no idea (because most had never served in a war) or what they were up against. Jungle, poisonous snakes/spiders, booby traps, heat, humidity, torrents of rain, foot rot, scabs on their body from cuts that got infected from moisture and dirt and while out in the field, a letter comes from your lifeline back home and it’s a “Dear John letter” thrusting any psychological state you had into non-existence.  From that point, most volunteered for the most extream and dangerous missions.

The horrors of this war also led many soldiers into a fog of drugs just to cope. Smoking Marijuana was like smoking a cigarette. They had no idea what type of enemy they were up against and the American Government had underestimated their enemy. Americans didn’t have snipers (at first) and it was the Vietcong that had them. They were picking off American soldiers right and left until they, in turn, relied on their own snipers.

It was difficult for American soldiers to tell the Vietcong from the villagers, and yes, the soldiers had no option except kill or be killed because the Vietcong would hide behind villagers and hide their weapons in the villages. Fear was the factor in this case for the villagers (they were caught between the Vietcong and the American soldiers.) Mothers would hand a soldier their baby or a little boy would walk up to a soldier (how was a soldier to know these were not the innocent like in his own country) and the baby would have a grenade attached to it or the little boy would throw a grenade at the soldier.

Hard to believe, but it happened. Unfortunately, this is where good old America back home heard the term “baby killers!” You can thank some of the reporters for these misleading bits of news. Only a very few reporters actually bothered to care enough to get the real story from the American soldiers. There were tunnels everywhere in some villages where the Vietcong hid out as well as tunnels throughout the jungle. Booby traps were everywhere.

The soldiers that came home were not only broken in body but mind and spirit. They came back to the call of “baby killers” and were spat upon.  No one took the time to hear their side of the story. Not all American citizens treated the Vietnam vets in a shabby way, but it was difficult for them to find jobs and many were ravaged by nightmares, drugs until eventually, some formed a support group of their own. No one could possibly understand the hell that they went through.  There was no PTSD support at that time and the government and VA provided no help to these soldiers.   A great many committed suicide.

Years later, because of public outcry, hundreds of more suicides, drug use, homelessness, unemployment and the destructive nature exhibited by some, the VA started the current PTSD support and treatment program.

So, the question asked, Should Combat Veterans with PTSD be prosecuted for crimes in the same manner as the civilian population?”  Not an easy answer is it?  My answer is no. To judge these veterans, you have to judge yourself. It was our society that trained and sent these soldiers into combat while you were at home enjoying your freedoms. When I say “our” this means “you”.  That’s the price you pay for freedom.

If you are part of society that reaps all the positive benefits but rejects the negative, you need to re-think your position, as you are responsible for causing the PTSD.  No matter what, no matter what excuse you make, you still have a responsibility for what has happened to these veterans and their care.



Only Time Will Tell


Well, it’s that time of the year where the good citizens of South Kitsap divide into two distinct camps; one voting for the South Kitsap High School Bond Measure and one voting against the Bond Measure.

The last time the district passed a bond was about 30 years ago and that includes the last failed attempt.  There have been many attempts to pass bond issues, but all have failed.  The sad part of these statistics would suggest there is a major problem between the South Kitsap Community and the South Kitsap School District.  The word that comes to mind is “Trust”.

To understand just why we find ourselves in this quagmire, one only needs to review the past relationship between the South Kitsap School District, the last South Kitsap High School Bond Measure results and how the district responded after the loss.

The last election was a fierce one. I don’t need to remind you how close it was. The mid-night fires burned in both camps as tempers blazed like an out of control forest fire.  After the election, it seemed everyone in the pro-bond camp made excuses why the bond failed.  I actually think the district was caught flat-footed when apprised of the results.  What I found interesting and somewhat insulting was the excuse put forth “poll results would have been different if everyone who has a vested interest in South Kitsap Schools (and South Kitsap for that matter), would have voted”.

It is unfortunate that the pro camp assumed the 40.08 percent who voted against the last measure didn’t have a vested interest in South Kitsap Schools or South Kitsap itself.  I guess the pro camp overlooked the fact that a non-vote might as well be considered a no vote, and if I’m not mistaken, this single fact ultimately made the final decision.  The simple truth is, it is just iniquitous for someone to imply only the 59.92 percent of voters who voted for the last measure were the only ones to have a vested interest in South Kitsap Schools.

If that wasn’t enough, there were other bizarre issues brought up like United States Post Office failed in their duties in postmarking, delivering or something like that and the lack of drop off boxes for the ballots caused a great hardship on the voters.   Look, we have been voting and dropping off ballots the same way for many years.  If it was good enough for our national elections, it should be good enough for this election.  Again, does the pro camp or the district lack confidence in the citizens’ ability to post or drop off a ballot?  Why is it, no matter what, the losing camp always has to bring up such petty complaints to try to add cannon fodder to these issues?  The pro camp should have been adult enough to understand “the people have spoken”, and to be fair if the other camp had lost, they would have been the ones complaining.

After the last election, the school district aggravated their local community by thumbing its nose at them and regrettably left themselves with a huge hurdle that now looms over the bond measure.  In the article “Election Update”, the author reports “The school district’s Board of Directors has stated that if the bond doesn’t receive voter approval this election, it would bring up the measure again until it is passed”.   This comment seems counterproductive when asking the voters to pass anything.

The statement begs one to ask, just who the hell do you think you are not abiding by the will of the people?  How much does it cost each time this issue is placed before the voters, and then what is the cost when you multiply that by “until it is passed”?   No voter likes to be told “you do it or else” on any voter issue.  Statistics show that when trying to pass an issue multiple times, using the “until it is passed” attitude seldom achieves the desired goal.

I would like to remind the School Board that the age demographics of South Kitsap indicate roughly 46% of voters’ children have already passed through the education system and they voted or abstained because they do have a vested interest in South Kitsap Schools or South Kitsap itself.  I would think a better choice of words than “until it is passed” is needed when you address this segment of the voting population as these folks have the absolute power to make or break an issue.

I, as well as others in the community, find it very suspicious that additional students were moved from the middle schools and added into the high school population after the election when there was already a major issue of overcrowding.   Then came the publicity and pictures taken at the high school showing the severe overcrowding, but nowhere did that article say the district made its own overcrowding worse to embellish their cause.  In my opinion, that was one of the dumbest events series of events to take place as it makes the district look vindictive.

It would also be very interesting to see the statistical analysis for this move and review the ratio of middle vs high school overcrowding data.  There are many in the community that perceived this move as “punitive” because the bond failed.  After all, there is that huge hurdle “until it is passed” raising its ugly head again.

So today, we now find ourselves in that precarious position of voting on not one, but two revenue measures for school construction and renovation on November 6th.. The school board has put forth a new strategy that may prove to be a game changer, and if I may say so, it’s brilliant.  The district appears to be separating the high school and renovation issues.  The district now proposes a 25-year, $185 million bond measure for a second-high school plus a four-year $22 million capital levy for major renovations at existing schools, new technology and improved security throughout the district.   A capital levy only requires a simple majority of 50 percent plus one vote whereas the bond would still require 60 percent approval to pass.

Yes, we need a second high school, and while I voted to approve the last measure, I am not so naïve that I don’t recognize just why there was such a high percentage of no or non-votes.  It is a well-known fact this community is worn-out from the districts’ glad-handing, murky transparency and lack of trust.  Believe it or not, an opportunity has presented itself and it would be beneficial to both camps.  The School District needs a new high school and the community needs employment; it’s a win-win solution which can possibly gain common ground for both camps.  The district would do themselves a great service with respect to the mistrust issue and to show they support the community by taking advantage of this opportunity.

No glad-handing or lack of transparency, just black and white contractual terms stating the project prime contractor would first seek local (Kitsap County) workers and suppliers.  I have written thousands of contractor contracts and as long as it’s to code or specifications, you can have the contractor doing almost anything including wearing pink hard hats with feathers.  Below is just a brief example of problematic questions that need to be answered by the district that directly affects this community;


  • What is the current rate per square foot with respect to this bond measure as compared to the current commercial rate per square foot in Kitsap County?


  • Is the contract being written to provide local contractors with a real chance to obtain work instead of bringing in outside county or state workers?


  • Will the contract be written to disallow weasel words when it comes to the prime contractor hiring local contractors, such as; may, should, can? You get the idea.


  • Will the contract be written to use local suppliers for the building materials needed?


  • Is there a place where the citizens of this community can review/look at a complete set of building plans? In this digital world that should not be a problem.  I doubt that anyone wants to tell the district how to build the school, but someone needs to ensure you’re not using gold-plated light fixtures, imported Italian marble, or buying administrators $13,000 desks.  That’s called fiscal responsibility and that means getting the best bang for your buck.  I am sure others, both pro, and con, will have equally important questions.


  • Who is going to ensure there will be no cost overruns charged back to the district, and eventually to us, the citizens of South Kitsap County? We all know, or you should know, that a contractor makes a great deal of profit on change orders or modifications to the contract. These need to be kept to a very minimum and if there is a mistake, someone needs to be held accountable.


All the information provided by the district so far has been tongue-in-cheek except for the small artist rendering of the conceptual site plan showing the layout of a second high school.  I hope the school board has taken note of how the contract was written by the State of Washington for the tunnel in Seattle.  I have no doubt a document like it will become a model document when using public money to hire a contractor in the near future.

Having had the pleasure of living in South Kitsap for over 50 years, I have seen both camps go at it for many years and while both have merit, very seldom do they find any middle ground.  One camp has always accused the school district of fiscal irresponsibility and lack of accountability by reallocating bond monies, while the other camp wants to provide the best facilities available to educate their students no matter what it costs.  This is extremely unfortunate because many feel the district has lost touch with the community and the kids are paying the price when both camps are unable or unwilling to reach common ground.

One additional note to remember;  this community has been “bonded to death” in the last few years.  Everyone wants money, Fire and Rescue, EMS, Maintenance Operations, and Public Safety are just a few bonds/levies that South Kitsap has been asked to approve.  The district needs to make a concerted effort that the new revenue measures they seek, when added to the existing tax base, would not be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back.

By now, you would be justified in asking if I still support South Kitsap School District, and at present, I would have to say yes and no.  Yes, I support the overworked, underpaid teachers and principals at the individual schools and No, I do not support the School Board, Administrators or Superintendents Office.  In my opinion, the Board, administrators and Superintendent should be required to take a remedial course on how to effectively deal with the parents and the public, as well as attend a lecture on “why did I forget the world doesn’t revolve around us.”

Why such a negative attitude?   I, like a lot of parents, are sick and tired of the administrators trying to placate parents and students when there is a real problem.  Yes, like a lot of parents, I have had problems with the district.  In my case, they were Special Ed issues.   The school administration ignored the IEP we had just negotiated with them.   It seems before they act, they want to see just how far you will go and how serious you are.  They challenge everything and make it extremely difficult knowing that many parents give in.  I didn’t give in and I achieved my goals.  That being said, like a lot of the community, it is getting harder to not let my personal feelings cloud an achievement that would create a real, substantial, life-altering benefit to our kids in this community.






This is a blog I wrote earlier this month and posted to another Parkinson’s Support Group, “Parkinson’s Road” and now they are asking questions about ALL aspects of Parkinson’s or Parkinson’s related issues. In my opinion, this is one of the best peer-to-peer international support groups for Parkinson’s to be found.
At the time this article was written, I had made the decision not to post it because it might have ventured into one’s personal space and I did not want to offend anyone. After reading Debra ~~~~ post yesterday and the positive responses it was given, I have changed my position and will post it. Here goes;
I am of the opinion, traveling down the Parkinson Road with other folks displaying the same symptoms and associated problems, we should be able to discuss all aspects of the disease freely. It seems that people are somewhat hesitant or possibly embarrassed to talk about these related issues and what they have possibly done to curb or help relieve them. Please remember, don’t be embarrassed or hesitant to ask questions, we all have Parkinson’s in one shape or another. One additional item to remember, if you’re a member of a peer-to-peer site like “Parkinson’s Road”, you’re a not stranger, you’re a friend, a confidant, a parky and a PD warrior.
In my 72 years of life, I have found that people all over the world are resilient, very creative and willing to discuss their accomplishments and share helpful ideas, hints that may help you with the devastating symptoms of Parkinson’s, all we need to do is ask. Let me give an example; it seems that a while back I developed what you might call a leaking problem. Without me knowing I would mark my spot like an old Harley leaking oil. My yoga instructor offered help by doing pelvic floor exercises.  I leak no more.  See how easy that was.  My yoga instructor passed along a tip that helped her.  I know this sounds very simplistic, but in many cases, it works.
Think about what advice can you give to another PD warrior that may help them with any of the problems below if they ask? The key word is “ask“. No one knows what problem you need advice on unless you ask. Remember, we’re all in this together.
It is unfortunate that even the best doctors/neurologist have little information when it comes to palliative care for patients with Parkinson’s. It’s not that they don’t care because they do. The suggestions/advice that makes our lives a little better are generally developed by Parkinson’s patients out of necessity and it would be awesome to pass it along to the Parkinson community.
I know you have heard this before, but it never hurts to review the troubling areas that Parkinson’s may cause.
Motor problems: There are seven distinct areas: Balance, Communication and Speech, Dyskinesia, Dystonia, Freezing of gait (feet stuck to the floor), On/Off Fluctuations, as well as swallowing problems.
Non-Motor Problems: Anxiety, Apathy, Bladder problems, Constipation, Depression, Cognitive problems, Drooling, Excessive sweating or chills, fatigue, Impulsiveness, Loss of smell or appetite, Pain, Sleep problems, Sensations of tingling, aches, cold feet/hands, Sexual dysfunction, and vision problems.
One thing to remember, we, at least most of us, are not medical doctors, so we can’t give true medical advice, we can say what our doctors are doing for us and we can give non-medical advice as to what helps us individually.
Ok warrior’s, I’ll get off my soapbox and have an awesomely productive day.

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness My Constitutional Right?

While helping my grandson research information for a paper he was required to write on “The Declaration of Independence and how it compared to the Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech” we happened to view a video that made a reference to our “Constitutional Rights to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” and these were set down by the US Constitution, one of the foundation documents of the United States of America. 

We both looked at each other as to say hold on, stop this train as it is heading down the wrong track.  We know this fact to be in error because we had been studying the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution for the last couple of weeks.  The video reminded me of Nancy Canfield, who in 2010 published an article for the “Yahoo Contributor Network” titled “Constitutional” Rights: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness?  It was a serious but funny article that pointed the finger back at those arrogant, superior know-it-all who seems to have trouble differentiating between the US Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

In Nancy’s article, she questions and rightfully so, “why is it that every time people chastise her for her unreasonably restrictive attitude on some hot-button issues, they speak of their “Constitutional” right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Little do they know the phrase, “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” are not from the Constitution, but from the Declaration of Independence.  One only needs to read the preamble of the Constitution.  It reads:

 “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

 As you can see, there is nothing in the preamble about life or the pursuit of happiness. Of the seven original articles in the Constitution, Articles I, II, and III pertain to the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government. Article IV pertains to the states, Article V, amendments, Article VI, debts, supremacy, oaths, and Article VII, ratification. There are 27 amendments to the United States Constitution, the first 10 being called the Bill of Rights.  Absent from this document is anything about Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

Now, just for fun, let’s review the Declaration of Independence, you know, to see if that “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness” thing could be here. The intent of this document is rather magnificently stated.

“When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness……”

I don’t know about you, but I get goosebumps every time I hear or read this.  So by now, it should be very clear that you’re Rights to Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are guaranteed by the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution.  Well, I looked at my grandson with a smile and said I guess that shows all those arrogant, superior know-it-alls that keep saying my “Constitutional” Rights to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness were misguided.  I also explained that he needed to remove all the data about this video from his citation and reference page since data is not reliable and it couldn’t have been peer-reviewed.

Thinking this was the end of the subject, I started on another project when he asked “how many people do you think know that you’re right To Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is guaranteed by the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution?  I have no idea and continued on my project.  He looked at me and said let’s find out by conducting a poll.  A poll, you want to conduct a poll?   Ok, you figure how we are going to do this and get back to me.  Thinking this would be the last time I would hear about a doing a poll, I went back to my project.

About two days later my grandson came running to the house with a hand full of papers yelling I’ve figured how to do the poll.   Ok, let’s take a look at it.  To my surprise, he had calculated everything we needed to take a poll.  The question was simple with two answers.  What guarantees the Rights to Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?   (1) Declaration of Independence or  ( 2)  The Constitution.  The place he selects was a shopping center standing next to, of course, a snack bar.  Getting permission from the shopping center, to say the least was nothing but interesting.  Had to show the sign be used as well as the question and answers.  Could not be construed as political, could not offend anyone, must wear shoes, no firearms, make no disturbance and the two-page list went on and on.  Right, we have been approved for one hour!

 The day finally comes.  We’re all set up ready to do some polling.  Hold on, here comes someone briskly walking down toward us.  Oh no, it’s Paul Blart the mall cop with papers in his hand, yelling stop! stop!.  Now I have to sign a waiver just in case someone dislikes our poll taking and decides to hurt us.  I had to ask, do people get this upset at poll takers?  His response was, lots of weird people come to the mall.  Have a nice day; call this number if there are any problems.  Off he went.

Alright, contestant number 1 is approaching.  She looks at the sign and quietly marks her answer on the paper.  We thank her and off she goes.  The next 10-20 people do the same thing without much interaction between us and them.  The next contestant came over and asked my grandson if this was a “demo” or “replumb poll?.  I interjected it was neither.  He said it had to one or the other.  I told him the poll was a school project and strictly nonpartisan.  He stood back and blurted out; I knew you were demos.  You’re the ones trying to take away my gun. 

Right about then Paul Blart the mall cop happened by and winked at me as to say, I told you lots of weird people come to the mall and went to the snack bar to enjoy a cup of coffee and more than likely the muddled look on my face.  I turned to readdress this man who was upset, but he had turned around and was headed for the door.  At that very instant I thought, let’s make a break and hide in the car.  No, we had 10 minutes left and I wasn’t going to disappoint my grandson.  Just then, 4 senior citizens walked up and said they would like to take our poll.  Three of them made their selections and handed it back to us.  The fourth lady said she didn’t need to mark a paper and then recited the Declaration of Independence.  Wow, just who is this lady?  After chatting for a few minutes, she acknowledged being a retired teacher from Iowa and her teaching career started in a one-room school teaching all grades.  During that time the only items they had to hang on the wall was a map and a copy of the Declaration of Independence

It was time to gather our stuff, head home and tally our results.  We tallied all the results, twice.  We were not impressed, maybe slightly embarrassed.  What had we just done?   We did this poll knowing we could get the positive results showing it was a minority of people who did not know the correct answer.  So, just what were the results?  Let’s just say we did not obtain the results we were looking for and are very disappointed, to say the least.  On the plus side, the four seniors were spot on the mark.




I was having lunch with a group of parki’s the other day and one of the conversations lead to a fascinating question. “Why do we lose true friends when diagnosed with Parkinson’s?” What an interesting subject to say the least. In my opinion, there are two very distinct causations to the problem, they are complex and both linked together. First, one day you are told you have Parkinson’s and then sent out alone with emotions on high alert, not knowing whether to cry or strike back like a junkyard dog.
Then that day comes you have that good fortune to meet with one of your friends. You tell them you have Parkinson’s Disease. Unfortunately, they have no idea what Parkinson’s is and the first spark of brain activity puts them on high alert because you mentioned the word disease, then the second spark of brain activity asks is it contagious. Their rationalization is now in full panic mode, asking if it’s not contagious, why are you shaking so much or what happened to your balance?
You try to explain without much success because their brain hasn’t moved from “is it contagious”. One fact to remember, humans are hard-wired for self-preservation, normally referred to as “fight-or-flight response”. Backing off from a perceived danger is normal and we with Parkinson’s must live with this.
Then you, because of the disease, have to change your priorities, way of thinking, daily schedule and a general attitude about life itself. Then to add to your new life, the stress of those sweet little munchkins called kids, you’re significant other, the pain, the fatigue, constipation, exercise and your overall feeling like crap, it’s a wonder you have time for friends, let alone yourself. Unfortunately, your true friends have no idea just what you’re going through, they just know you have changed and have no idea where they fit in new your circle of friendships.
So, were they, good friends, to start out with? I think the answer is yes. Generally, once they are educated correctly on what Parkinson’s is, they become more understanding and less stressful. Should you expect your friends to change their schedules because you can’t participate that day, worse yet any longer or to continually hear you complain about Parkinson’s? These last two questions will require some deep soul searching and need to be answered by you.
When it comes to friendships, attitude is paramount in making or keeping friendships. Once you have decided this disease is not going to rule your life, you have changed priorities, set a realistic schedule, are on an established treatment plan and feeling better yourself, reconnect with those old friends, you very well might be surprised.
Ok folks, one last comment; Remember, “You are the captain of your ship, the master of your destiny”.