May 26, 2017

My Blog Just Earned THIS Award:



What a pleasant surprise to receive the following email from Maegan Jones, the content coordinatior with Healthline.
Hi John, 
Healthline would like to congratulate you on making our list of the Best Parkinson's Disease Blogs of 2017! Our editors carefully selected the most up-to-date, informative, and inspiring blogs that aim to uplift their readers through education and personal stories. We’re glad to have you on the list! Congratulations and keep blogging!
OK, I'm one of NINETEEN blos about PD that Healthline recognized. Still, I'm familiar with some of the others, and am happy to be in their company. Here's the full list.

Healthline described my blog this way:
John Schappi was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2009, at 80 years old. If you’re older and living with Parkinson’s, you might relate to his blog. He discusses the various struggles he’s had to overcome, such as coping with Parkinson’s after hip replacement surgery and exercising after surgery. Despite his challenges, he aims to live life to the fullest, and he inspires others with Parkinson’s to do the same.
A nice gift on a guy's 88th birthday.

Last year Healthline also gave my blog this recognition by including it on the list of the  Best Parkinson's Disease Blogs of 2016. 

May 3, 2017

My Chronic Problem with "Orthostatic Hypotension" + My New issue with Hyponatremia = the Worst Time I've Had with My Parkinson's

What follows is the text of an email I sent to my internist, my neurologist, and the doctor I see about blood pressure. The note describes two setbacks from last last week. These incidents illustrate why I've been having the toughest times yet dealing with Parkinson's disease (PD). 

The culprits? Orthostatic hypotension and hyponatremia.

Here's that email:


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These two conditions -- orthostatic hypotension and hyponatremia -- are increasingly impacting the quality of my life. They are major threats to my physical well-being. Witness these two incidents that happened last week.

1) Wednesday Lunch
I'd been looking forward to this lunch with a treasured friend who will celebrate her 88th birthday in July, two months after mine. I was thoroughly enjoying our reminiscing, but toward the end of the lunch I sensed that my blood pressure was dropping and that I was about to have an attack of orthostatic hypotension. 

Sure enough, I ended up of having to get one of the waiters to hold me up as I tried to use my walker to get to my friend's car. On the drive home, I called my part-time caregiver so he could meet us at the house. He had to pick me up and carry me inside.

I have been having these so-called orthostatic hypotension attacks with increasing frequency and severity for the past year or so. The diuretic blood pressure medication prescribed when I was in Sibley's Renaissance rehab center seems to have triggered even more attacks.

Also compounding my current malaise is the newly diagnosed hyponatremia. The low level of sodium was first noted in the blood work done in Dr. Marcus's office just before I fell and fractured my hip.

April 6, 2017

My Hassle with the Hospital about my Parkinson's Meds

On January 20, I fell, fractured my hip, and knew I needed to go to the hospital. I remembered hearing stories from friends with Parkinson’s disease (PD) about complications they’d encountered getting their PD meds on time while they were hospitalized.

I didn’t want any of those troubles, so I packed a secret stash of my carbidopa/levodopa (Sinemet) pills before heading off to Sibley Hospital.

This National Parkinson's Foundation video describes this problem well:


The video offers some startling  stats:
  • People with PD are hospitalized 43 percent more often than others in their age group.
  • When they are hospitalized, 75 percent of people with PD don’t get their meds on time.
  • As a result, 61 percent of those patients develop serious complications. 

The video explains that patients with PD must be vocal and persistent with hospital staff about getting their meds on time. Many hospitals haven’t adopted the Parkinson’s Foundation’s training programs to increase awareness about the importance of maintaining timely medication schedules for people with PD.

As is typical for most Parkinsonians, my Sinemet dosage has increased through the years, and now I’ve reached the maximum dosage as far as my prior neurologist was concerned. These days, I normally take two pills every three hours: at 2am, 5am, 8am, 11am, 2pm, 5pm, 8pm, and 11pm.

March 30, 2017

My Walkers and My Falls since the Hip Replacement Operation

In my last post, I detailed why falls by the elderly are ominous. All too often, they put a once-healthy individual on an inexorable downhill slide.

I fractured my right hip on January 20, making that day (also #45's inauguration) doubly depressing. I had a hip replacement operation at Sibley Hospital here in Northwest Washington, followed by a week at Sibley's Renaissance rehab center. Since returning home, I've been working with an excellent physical therapist.

Much of my time in rehab was spent learning to use a walker. Before being released, I purchased a walker like the one I used there. I had another walker at home that I'd occasionally used during last spring's shingles attack.

I live in a split-level house. I spend almost all my time on either the ground floor (living room, dining room, kitchen, and screened-in back porch) or the upper level (master bedroom and bath, office, and guest bedroom and bath). I keep a small refrigerator and microwave in my office now, and the closet has become my  pantry, stocked with groceries, juice, and bottles of water.

The lower level and garage of my split-level house were converted into separate living quarters for my Kathmandu family -- Nimesh, Bhawana, and their daughter Nivah, who just celebrated her first birthday.

My Two Walkers
The Renaissance rehab walker is pretty basic, and not really suitable for use outdoors. It stays upstairs, where I use it to move between bedroom and office. Here it is:


We added the basket in the front and hung a tote bag from the side levers.

March 27, 2017

Falls and the Elderly and Me

My recent fall -- which fractured my hip and led to hip replacement surgery -- has become a major concern. Most of us have heard stories like this: an elderly person falls and breaks something -- a hip, a wrist, an arm. As a result, a once healthy, independent senior begins an inexorable downhill slide.

The statistics support my concern. Falls are the leading cause of injury-related death, and the third leading cause of poor health among persons aged 65 and older.

Nearly a third of older people experience functional decline after a fall, and many confront psychological difficulties directly related to the fall. Among these psychological consequences are fear of falling, activity avoidance, and loss of self-confidence. Together, these consequences have been labeled "post-fall syndrome."

Not surprisingly, seniors susceptible to falls also face higher rates of hospitalization and institutionalization. Hospital stays are almost twice as long in elderly patients who were admitted because they fell. Those same patients are at greater risk for subsequent institutionalization.

One in four elderly people who sustain a hip fracture die within six months of the injury. Over 50 percent of older patients who survive hip fractures are discharged to nursing homes, and nearly half of these patients are still there one year later. Hip fracture survivors experience a 10-15 percent decrease in life expectancy and a meaningful decline in overall quality of life.
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