Dan Levy Saved My Life

Many of my acquaintances have recently confessed something to me. They sidle up as if it’s early 2020 and they’re in possession of a secret stash of toilet paper. Do I look like someone in the market for bathroom tissue that fell off a truck?

They pull me aside and they tell me their dark secret.  They look around to ensure they won’t be overheard.  

“I don’t watch or read or listen to the news anymore,” they confess. “I just can’t.” They then report that they’re too stressed, too saddened, too overwhelmed to allow the world’s horrors into their lives.

These are bright people, many of them highly engaged news junkies. When I was working in public radio, I couldn’t avoid the news because it was piped throughout the station, including the restrooms. Imagine needing to use the facilities and the voice of the president accompanies you as you take care of business. My friends and I talked politics incessantly, at dinner parties, at lunch, on the phone – everywhere and all the time.

But that changed, sometime in 2020, or for some, even earlier. The world was in chaos and remains so, with the war in Ukraine, threats to women’s healthcare, more than the usual number of lying politicians, and whatever other dangers you want to throw in there.

I am in no way advocating for the burial of heads in sand, ignoring terrible events like the recent mass shootings when we all can – and should – do our parts to make the world a better place. I am merely describing a phenomenon that I’ve become acutely aware of in recent times.

This global malaise coincided with my diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease. It was bad enough that I’d been stricken with a treatable but nonetheless incurable illness, but my new personal health challenge was the last straw on this pile of misery.

I fell into excessive medical marijuana use to alleviate my Parkinson’s pain, while I searched for the antidote to my melancholy. And I found it in Schitt’s Creek.

As sometimes occurred with a book, movie, or television show, my first viewing of the series left me indifferent. It was nothing special; I may have made it through the first few episodes.

But a couple of years later, people seemed to be talking about the show again, so I figured I’d dip into it one more time. And this time, I fell in love.

On paper, it seemed too broad and silly to capture my fandom. But the characters were, each and every one of them, distinctive, hilarious, and all too human. Now it’s my turn for a confession so here goes: I binged it twice. Like, immediately after the first viewing, I wolfed down the entire series again in short order. I honestly think I made it through that period of pain with my sanity intact due to Schitt’s Creek.

If you’re not a fan, I encourage you to give it a shot.   If you are, I recommend watching an episode every once in a while when you’re feeling blue.  It just might help.

To entice you, I’ve collected some gems from the show.  Whether you’ve watched or not, these will give you some of the flavor of the characters.  Note: these are sort of spoilers; when you watch, you won’t be experiencing these quotes for the first time.  Just so you know. Enjoy!

Moira’s (Cartier South Sea, price upon request)  Pearls of Wisdom

  • Our lives are like little baby crows, carried by a curious wind.
  • Very dapper, Mr. Rose, like the maestro of a Lebanese orchestra.
  • Turtles do not a pet make. You may as well put a leash on a raw chicken cutlet.
  • Look at you, Bob, (clad head to toe in black leather) with a herd of Holstein on your back.
  • Let’s not count our poultry before it’s incubated.
  • David, stop acting like a disgruntled pelican.
  • Just taking a few reference photos…a few dozen snaps….picturettes really (Picturettes! Tee hee)
  • Gossip is the devil’s telephone. Best to just hang up.
  • Mucho dias, mes amies (my personal favorite)
  • You’ve just provided a Passover seder for a family of hawks (upon killing a cat with the car)
  • There’s a good reason I’ve avoided these conventions, taking your picture with a motley crew of pale dewy-faced salamander people.
  • How mercurial is life! We all imagine being carried from the ashes by the goddess Artemis.

Count on David to be SO pithy

  • I’m gonna pass.  I’m not really in the mood to be a victim of a hate crime tonight, so….
  • From the looks of it, they’re blonde and mostly naked, so….
  • My sister’s a broken shell of a human being, that’s where that’s coming from, so…
  • There’s a woman in Paris who makes them by hand, so…
  • I do Coachella every year, so…
  • I have a thing about bugs with milky exoskeletons.  I have this irrational fear they’re going to crawl into my mouth at night, so…
  • Some snippy teen told me my life was a mess, so….
  • I saw a lot of my body and I didn’t like it, so….
  • Alexis said she wasn’t coming but this is a bar and she is single, so….
  • So……

Alexis’s Escapades and Misadventures

  • Taken hostage by Somali pirates on David Geffen’s yacht
  • Private jet with Tiger Woods
  • Escaped from a Thai drug lord’s car trunk
  • Blind date to Bali with Leo
  • Dated sultan’s nephew
  • Picked up by the South Korean secret police on New Year’s
  • Parallel parking for driving test wearing a burka
  • Seven-year-old child drove her around Mumbai
  • “I didn’t go missing. The FBI knew where I was the entire time.”
  • First kiss was Jared Leto
  • Trapped in the palace of a Saudi prince
  • Dated Sean Penn
  • Kirsten Dunst was jealous of her bangs

ATTENTION: AHEAD LIES A SPOILER for what may be my favorite moment in the entire series.  So if you haven’t seen the show, don’t read the next sentence.

And finally (or enfin as Moira might say), the show’s funniest moment, Moira in full papal regalia to officiate at a wedding.

And now, I bring you…Schitt’s Creek.

Bonus: Here’s another favorite for when I’m feeling low. For immediate uplift, Curb Your Enthusiasm can’t be beat. Larry David is a genius – who else could make comedy gold out of the words “Shabbat Shalom?” Just try it already. It’s prett-ay, prett-ay, prett-ay, prett-ay. good.

Finally, a terrific piece on the benefits of boxing for Parkinson’s patients.  

Till next week!


Final Jeopardy

The final Jeopardy answer is “This is the hardest question you can be asked.”
What is “How are you?”

But before we get down to business, here I am with my grandcat, Alex. He’s the sweetest.

My father used to tell about a man he knew who, when you asked how he was, he’d reply candidly and in detail.  Whether his knee was bothering him, or he was recovering from surgery, he gave you the full picture, chapter and verse.

Dad vowed he would never be that guy, the one who complains about his health to all comers. This approach made sense to me, and I too swore I’d never be “that guy.” I didn’t want people crossing the street to avoid me and my health complaints.

But I think my father took his rosy outlo. ok a bit too far. When I was in my teens, Great-Aunt Gertie went into the hospital. When I asked what was wrong, my father told me it was because “she wasn’t feeling well.” I wondered why a cold or other everyday ailment would land someone in the hospital, and I became even more confused when Aunt Gertie died of “not feeling well” which also goes by the name heart attack.

My friends and I are mostly in our sixties and seventies, and I hereby dub us “the kvetch queens.”   (Yiddish for complainer.)   We’re all experiencing changes to our bodies and challenges to our health – and not for the better.  It’s downhill all the way, baby!  

I honestly don’t mind hearing about my friend’s chronic headache; indeed, I want to comfort her and provide any help she needs. Same goes for the friend with gastric issues, and the one who developed a paralyzed vocal cord.

One very smart friend has suggested I write a book called “What to Expect When You’re Old.” I counter with “Who in the world would buy that book?” I don’t know about you but I am not keen on reading about Alzheimer’s, cancer, stroke, and all the other things that might go amiss in this aging body. I’ll learn about these eventualities as they arise, and not a moment before. Ignorance is indeed bliss.

At least it is for me. Maybe you want to know about all the ills that could possibly befall you. Perhaps the world is clamoring for such a book. I honestly don’t know.

Still, how do I respond to queries about my well-being, whether stemming from concern on the part of a questioner who really wants to know, or a casual inquiry arising from mere etiquette. The latter may require nothing more than ‘Fine, and you?” Yet it feels comforting sometimes to share health issues – as we do with dating or work problems – with a good friend.

Which brings me to the subject of identity.  As in mine (and yours).  As Walt Whitman said, “I contain multitudes.” In no particular order, here are my myriad identities:  I am a white woman, an American, a Jew, a mother, retired professional fundraiser, an aspiring author, knitter, a divorcee and now, a chronic disease patient. 

Where does “patient” fit in the hierarchy of identities? I will do everything I can to avoid its becoming the principal way I think of myself, but that day may arrive. And how much detail do I provide when queried about my well-being? I don’t want to be bumming people out with sad tales of twitches and frozen muscles, but those things are, unfortunately, an all-consuming dimension of who I am at the moment.

I’d love to hear others’ thoughts on this subject.  Comment away!

Walnut Ricotta Pasta

And now, for your delectation, a favorite recipe that fits with dietary recommendations for those with Parkinson’s – nuts and green vegetables. I know we’re not supposed to eat a lot of dairy, so this can be a treat for “cheat day.”

Cook some pasta. In the food processor, grind walnuts, garlic, parsley (and/or basil), ricotta and Parmesan cheese until you get a thick paste. Thin it with olive oil if you wish. For added nutrition and flavor, add some cooked broccoli, green beans, whatever veggies you have around and grind those in. Mix the paste with the pasta and serve with extra Parmesan. Mangia bene!

TV Talk

And while we’re on the subject of television….I have some deep questions, which only make sense if you’re a devotee of British police procedurals.

  1. Doesn’t Nicola Walker tire of playing detectives?
  2. Don’t the Brits get bored with making the same detective show over and over again with just different people?

But I do love Nicola Walker. If you do too, or want to discover a terrific actress, check out The Split (family of high-powered divorce lawyers), Collateral (police procedural), and especially, (the best) Unforgotten (another police procedural).

In a lighter vein but still about British people solving murders is Rosemary and Thyme. People die wherever these lady landscapers go. Do not hire them.

Adults Only

We’re taking a wee break from Parkinson’s this week, in favor of a tale of a trip gone wrong. Thusly….

Twenty years ago today
Sergeant Pepper said take a vay-cay

And that was when I found myself at an all-inclusive resort in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.  Here’s my trip report…..

POSSIBLY my favorite part of any vacation takes place in my bed, months before I board the plane.  Get your mind out of the gutter, this isn’t about pre-vacation sex; I’m all too single.  No, it’s about lying awake in anticipation, the movie in my head starring moi sipping a café crème at the Flore, hiking the Atlas mountains with a Berber guide, swinging through the Costa Rican jungle tethered to a leather harness.  

So why am I on a last-minute flight to Mexico in March?  And an even bigger why, on my way to an all-inclusive, adults-only resort  (a welcome porno DVD on the pillow)?  My typical vacation M.O: Eject me from the plane, hand me my walking shoes, and point me in the direction of a little-known museum, an architectural masterwork, a backcountry hiking trail. Wind me up at 9:00 a.m. and set the timer to run for twelve hours.

But after vaulting the twin hurdles of a Bar Mitzvah (son) and college applications (daughter) over a period of several months, the thought of my usual forced-march style holiday makes me want to reach for the smelling salts.  A few days lazing by a pool, joined by some friendly singles or sociable couples from the hotel, sounded like just the ticket for a stressed-out single mom.

My suitcase is stuffed with paperbacks, tubes of sunscreen, and a brand-new beach cover-up to conceal my brand new body, ten pounds heavier than it was a year ago.  

I think I might be in trouble when, 3000 feet in the air, a twenty-ish guy in a Hawaiian shirt limbos down the aisle chanting “No Drinking in Cancun.”  Right on cue, up pops a commercial on my TV screen for one of the most popular DVDs of all time – that’s right, Girls Gone Wild – and it suddenly dawns on me.  I am fifty-one years old and I am en route to Spring Break In Cancun.  

But when I arrive at my hotel in the more sedate Playa del Carmen, I realize that isn’t my problem.  As I check in, a panel of six huge TV screens lights up with the words Welcome Andi Brown, and I know I won’t find bodacious young people puking in the lobby and hooking up on the lounge chairs.  Because I am on… a cruise.  As in, I’ve told my friends that if they ever hear me using the words going and cruise in the same sentence, to put me out of my misery.  Immediately.

Okay, so this hotel isn’t about to leave its moorings, but here are the dead giveaways that all that’s missing are the lifeboats and a guy in a cap and gold-trimmed double-breasted blazer.  Four restaurants – Asian, Tapas, French-Mex and Whatever-You-Want-We-Got-It.  Fitness center. Volleyball.  Elvis crooning Can’t Help Falling in Love with You on the loudspeaker.  

I head to the tapas place for lunch, where, when I’m served my ensalada Mexicana, I learn that the English translation for the Spanish romaine is… iceberg lettuce.   For tomato, it’s wan supermercado fruit substitute.  

Around noon, I’m able to get into my room, where the dominant feature is a marble-enclosed jacuzzi-for-two.  The fact that I’m only one means I can spread out my, um, spread, and relax.  How to operate this thing, anyway?   The faucet works the normal way, and I figure those buttons on the side will do the trick for the whirlpool.  I fill the tub, ease myself in, push the button, and help! A fire-truck’s worth of water is headed straight for my head at 100 mph.   I’m madly pushing buttons, trying to get this thing to shut off, or at least calm down.   Since I’m not on fire, I hop out, frantically pushing those defective buttons.  I call housekeeping, and while I wait for the downpour in my room to subside, I reminisce about my last aqueous adventure.

I was in Rome, when, on a stroll by the Colosseum, nature called.  Urgently. Thinking it ill-advised to answer the call by crouching behind a Corinthian column, I run to the nearest public building, a subway station.  Miraculously, someone had just exited the bathroom, and there’s no wait.  I tear into there, and the door slams shut behind me.  The room is as dark as Hadrian’s tomb.  I stumble around, seeking the toilet, which my toe discovers first.  Ouch.   I sit in the darkness and take care of business, forced to “drip dry” since my groping of the wall fails to yield a single square of toilet paper.  

As I rise from the seat, I hear a giant whoosh, and, before I can get out of the way, my rear end, shoes, and pants are sopping wet.  Is this some sort of fun-house, upside-down shower?   Are the Romans so fastidious they need a high-power bidet every time they go?  After a bit more drip-dry time, I pull myself together and make for the door…which is locked.  It’s still pitch black in there, and I now cover every square inch of the stall searching for a light switch.  Niente.  I begin to shout, Aiuta me!   

After about five minutes, some subway functionary appears and promises to arrange my release from my Roman jail cell-cum-bathroom.  Five minutes later, I hear what sounds like a crowbar land on the floor outside.  Lots of banging and swearing ensue, then silence. Ten minutes pass.  I spend the time singing camp songs in my head.  The warden returns with a new set of tools, and five minutes later, I am a free, albeit very wet woman.

Maybe my cruise aversion is due to bad karma with water.

Nonetheless, I spend my first vacation afternoon strolling the beach, calmed by the turquoise sea and cheered by the warm sun and the knowledge that back home in Boston, the temperature hovered around a frosty ten degrees.  When I return to the hotel, I sign up for the next day’s excursion to the nearby Mayan ruins at Tulum, coupled with a snorkeling trip to Akumal.  This will necessitate rising at 6:30, but ten’s my usual bedtime anyway.  

Ha!  The party’s just getting started at ten, and they want me to join, since the local Grade Z garage band is serenading me right under my window.  A week’s salary I’m paying for El Hotel Todo-inclusivo, and I can’t even control my own bedtime.

A snorkeling landscape ought to feature lovely flora among the fauna, but the cove at Akumal offered no more than plain old garden-variety rocks and I could’ve encountered a greater variety of ichthian species at my local pet store. I later learn there was more spectacular fish-viewing to be had in the area, but those sites weren’t offered at the travel desk in my lodgings.

Back at the hotel, I check out the French-Mex place, where the staff asks where my esposo is, their shocked faces at my admission that there is none signifying that they saw my like about as often as they might spot el unicorn. 

The next day, I decide When In Rome.  In another words, chill by the pool with one of the three books I’ve brought.  I slather on my 60+ sunscreen, grab a lounge chair, and start to read when an announcement comes over the loudspeaker. It’s  time for the Sport of Queens (as in Flushing) – Bingo!   The guy next to me pumps up his arm and yells “Yeah, Bingo!”  In the spirit of I’ll Try Anything Once, I grab a state-of-the-art Bingo card, which features, instead of the usual markers, strips of plastic that slide over the numbers.   We’re playing a fancy variation – two rows to win.  N43.  Nope.  B10.  Nada.  O59.  Yes!  I’m back in third grade.

But after no luck with G44, my neighbor yells out Bingo!  and we hear that Randy from Milwaukee is the winner.  Of what, it’s not clear, but I’m game to try again.  Oh my God, G59, got it.  I22, got that too, and suddenly I have two full rows.  I yell Bingo! as if a Mercedes were at stake (I later learn we’re playing for t-shirts), and the caller comes over to check.  He eyes me sadly while informing me that this time, we’re playing for a full card.  I am many squares short.  But a few numbers later, Randy jumps out of his lounge chair and shouts the magic word again!  Could Bingo at this Hotel Playa Grandissimo be…fixed????   Is Randy sleeping with the caller?

Bingo’s over for today.  Pool music ranges from Elvis to Tony Bennett to the BeeGees.  My book and I remove ourselves to the lounge chairs on the beach, where the music is fainter, though I can’t totally escape the day’s next activity:  Team Chicago vs. Team Ohio in a relay race featuring kayaks in the pool, the transport of water from ocean to land, and the blowing up of balloons. The stakes are higher this time – a bottle of Tequila.  I’d join the game if the prize were the silencing of the loudspeaker.  

I slip into the lobby rest room.   From my stall, I hear a gentle crooning.  It sounds like a Mexican love song, low and lilting.   I emerge to find a hotel staffer singing as she polishes the toilets to a pearly shine.  I smile and thank her for the impromptu concert, a rare moment of quiet grace in this boisterous monster of a hotel.  

Just before leaving for Mexico, I read an article about cenotes¸ limestone sinkholes connected to caves, which dot the Yucatan peninsula and were hallowed places to the Mayans.  One in particular, Cenote Azul was cited as especially lovely and advantageously located fifteen minutes from my hotel.  None of the three concierges have heard of that particular one, but they do know where I might find a cenote.  And then I do something I’d bet no one at this hermetically-sealed hostelry would consider without a loaded gun to the head.  I take public transportation.

The ten-seater van I catch in downtown Playa del Carmen fills quickly with tourists and locals.  I tell the driver where the concierge has advised me to disembark and he nods energetically, “Si, Cenote Azul.”   Exactamente!

I get out at the entrance to Cenote Azul, where, at the small entry booth, I pay my 50 pesos, around $5.   The cenote itself is a ten minute rocky walk through a landscape that’s half woods, half swamp, featuring spindly vegetation and, blessedly, the only sound that of the birds.  I pass two small cenotes before arriving at the larger one, the size of a small pond.  The water is greenish due to the moss-covered rocks on the bottom, but clear and clean.  There’s no one there but me.  

The signs say “Only biodegradable sunblock allowed.”  My #60 is probably the Exxon Valdez of sunscreens.   Can I save myself from cancer and wrinkles without creating an oil spill?

I spread my towel on a small wooden deck, whip out my book and read for around half an hour, savoring the quiet beauty.  I’m joined by visitors eventually, first a group of American birders carrying a telephoto lens that looks powerful enough to capture craters on the moon.  They lend me their binoculars so I can get a close look at the brilliant yellow orioles. Two local families appear, and I watch the kids chase each other around a tree, hitting each other with small sticks and laughing hysterically.  I jump off the deck for a swim; the water is bracing, but I warm up quickly enough, and head for the small cave at the far end of the cenote, where I see my first-ever stalactites.  They’re smaller even than the icicles that dangle from the eaves of my New England home, but I can now claim to have seen an actual stalactite.  

Not usually much of a swimmer, I feel I could spend hours in the water.  Eventually I emerge, dry off, and lie on the deck, listening to the birds and the Babel of Spanish, French, Mayan, and English.  

A little girl approaches and tells me she’s happy about the rain – it’s started to drizzle – and I ask if I can take her picture.  She runs to ask her mother, who looks over at me, smiles and nods.   The girl poses fetchingly, then, suddenly, she turns into a performing monkey, jumping about and making silly faces.  I’m not fast enough to capture all of them, but I manage to get some good shots of darling little Maria.

I join her parents and baby sister; her dad, a waiter, spent three years selling mangos and bananas in a Manhattan fruit store.  He’s determined to raise his children trilingually, and Maria is happy to teach me the words for water in Spanish, English and Mayan.   I spend the rest of the afternoon swimming and chatting with the family, applauding the dad as he dives from a promontory above the cave. 

What surprises me about my day at the cenote is that I didn’t realize how much I needed it. Maybe it’s time to rethink my inertia –body in motion staying in motion – approach to vacations.  

After on-and-off drizzle, the sky looks more ominous, and I pack up my towel and book. I bid adios to my companions and catch the next van back to the hotel.

On the return trip to Boston, I sit with a young couple expecting their first child, who’d spent a week in a quiet nearby village.  They describe their charming, small hotel, within walking distance to beach and town.  The mix of families and couples.  The excellent local restaurants.  I feel a pang of regret that I haven’t shared what sounds like the perfect vacation spot for a stressed-out single traveler.  

So, what have I learned? Vacation in haste, repent at leisure. It’s really okay – salubrious actually – to rest on vacation. And finally…I’d probably hate a cruise even more than I ever imagined.

But now, with my Parkinson’s diagnosis, I just might find myself cruisin’ down a river somewhere. Though I guarantee it won’t be on a ship the size of a city, requiring formal dress for dinner and schlocky entertainment.

Speaking of cruises, you MUST read David Foster Wallace’s expose, Shipping Out, in Harper’s.  It’s way funnier than my piece and I guarantee you will laugh out loud.

The Lost Month

What do Seth Rogen and I have in common?

  1. We’re both human.
  2. We’re both Jewish.
  3. We’ve both been high for much of the time. Or in some cases, ALL of the time.  But I’m not saying who.  

Okay, time for a digression.   

Unstaged view of my night table during the “Lost Month”

I entered college in the fall of 1969, a peak period for marijuana use.  Raise your hand if you know what I’m talking about when I mention towels under the door of your dorm room to contain the aroma of said substance being (unsanitarily!) passed from mouth to mouth by a bunch of not-quite-adults who were indulging in a controlled substance in order to end the war in Vietnam.  We were more afraid of the RA than the cops.  If those inattentive police were paid a bounty for every stoned college kid they turned in, they’d be, maybe not as wealthy as Jeff Bezos, but surely rich enough to buy a ticket on one of his flights.

I was watching something on TV not long ago that took place in the 60’s but was made recently, and one character referred to the substance in question as “weed.”  No! No! and NOOOOO!!!!  I never heard that term until my kids’ teen years (not from them, but you know, in the media they consumed).  

Mostly we called it grass.  Also pot.  And dope.  And that’s all I remember because, as you may have guessed, I was under the influence for much of that era.  

And that’s a lie.   I was an occasional user.   Enjoyed the feeling. Social lubricant for a very shy young woman.   Provided me a VERY thin veneer of cool.  

 Enter into the marijuana glossary the word pothead (sometimes shortened to “head” as in, ‘He’ a real head.’   One could enhance one’s “head” status upon entering one’s 8:00 a.m. history class sporting a forest green fringed suede jacket and declaring “Man, I got so wrecked last night.”  Stoned and high were your other word choices, but I believe that “wrecked” lofted one’s intoxication to a higher plane.  

End of history lesson. 

I had read that a glass of wine might help minimize Parkinson’s symptoms.  I’m not much of a drinker, but figured I had nothing to lose.  What I lost was a couple of drunk hours of my life.  What I didn’t gain was symptom relief.

But there was some evidence that my old buddy pot might do the trick. I trucked on over to my local pot shop (actually, there are three within walking distance of my home), and ordered some of what a former boyfriend used to call “that good, good stuff.” I proceeded to get high for the first time in maybe forty years. Instead of the joint I’d deployed during the college years, I’d purchased a box of gummies, which, to my surprise/chagrin took about two hours to activate. But once the substance kicked in, my symptoms kicked out! The tremors in my left leg diminished significantly and the attendant pain disappeared. An added benefit: I enjoyed a pleasant, if mild high.

I mentioned my use of the formerly illegal substance to my neurologist and she thought it a fine idea, but felt I might do with some expert guidance from a professional.  She referred me to a physician who specializes in prescribing for medicinal usage and so now I had my very own dealer, I mean PotDoc, as he will hereafter be known.  

I started by taking my gummies at night only, not wishing to be impaired during the day when I was working. When my symptoms retreated but didn’t disappear, PotDoc suggested a small dose in the morning, and a larger one around dinner-time.  And I was a little better!  As much as I’d like to be?  No.  I still got those all-over creepy-crawly sensations otherwise known as tremors and muscle tightening, especially in my left leg.   When I first upped the pot dosage, I would float every night into a TV-watching daze, an overall enjoyable  feeling.  But after a few weeks, the gummies didn’t work so well, and I needed more.  Since PotDoc was a bit stinting with his dosages, I consulted an acquaintance who’d become a marijuana consultant.  We practically bought out the dispensary with tinctures, a pipe, a vape pen, some joints, and gummies.  Lots of gummies.

And they worked!  No more pain.  Also no more brain.  I felt as if my head were encased in a pillow.   The cost of a painless life was one in which I spent most of the day in bed  (I had recently retired) watching mindless TV.  Schitt’s Creek was a favorite and I honestly don’t remember what else.  Reading?  Whatever powers of concentration I’d possessed had exited my brain like OJ fleeing the cops.  Knitting?  Out of the question.  Cooking?  Might as well ask me to walk a tightrope.  I lost much of January and February lying semi-comatose in bed.  Good thing I had recently purchased pretty new sheets.

And then my friend marijuana turned on me.  Now, upon ingesting the substance, in whatever form, it was if I’d injected a hot poker into my body.  After about an hour in agony, the pain subsided and relief returned.  But not as much as when I first starting “using.”

Then one morning, I awoke feeling as if I’d risen from the dead.  Sure, I wasn’t pain free, but the discomfort was considerably less than what I’d come to expect.  I tried an experiment: no marijuana all day.  Of course I experienced uncomfortable waves of Parkinson’s symptoms but they were at least somewhat bearable, and certainly preferable to those burning pokers.  It’s been several months since I “got clean” and I have no desire to “use” ever again.  Though, true confession, my “works” (joints, gummies, etc.) remain within reach in my night table drawer.  Because with this disease, you never know.

Note to former boss: I never talked to donors while high.  

Please don’t assume from my experience that bad things will happen if you try marijuana for symptom relief of Parkinson’s, or any other condition. As I’ve been told dozens of times since my diagnosis “If you’ve met one person with Parkinson’s, you’ve met one person with Parkinson’s.” It’s difficult if not impossible to extrapolate from one person’s experience to another’s.  In any case, I’m not a medical professional. Do talk to yours about any treatments you’re considering.

Marijuana is being rigorously studied for use in many illnesses. It may very well be, well, just what the doctor ordered for you. As for my future use, the jury’s still out.

If you have come to rely on any products or tactics to help you feel better, PD-wise, please do share.

And now for some more TV recommendations to keep you smiling and sane.

A Place to Call Home is an Australian, let’s be honest here, soap opera. Set in the years just after World War Two, it features a fractious family that essentially owns the town, a mysterious nurse who shakes things up, a lovelorn young woman, and, well, you get the drift. It’s totally addictive and, with six seasons, should keep you engrossed for quite a while.

I Love This For You features two SNL alumnae, Molly Shannon as the star of a home shopping channel, and Vanessa Bayer as her young acolyte with a secret. It’s lots of fun!

My thoughts are with all of you who are not feeling as well as you’d like to.  I hope you find some relief soon!

Till next time,