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When Life Gives You Parkinson’s podcast: Still me, but not the same

It's been two years since he was diagnosed. On Season 2 of 'When Life Gives You Parkinson's,' Larry Gifford catches us up on how his personality has changed.
It's been two years since he was diagnosed. On Season 2 of 'When Life Gives You Parkinson's,' Larry Gifford catches us up on how his personality has changed. Larry Gifford

A year ago, I started the podcast When Life Gives You Parkinson’s. I had been diagnosed a year earlier, on August 17, 2017, with young onset Parkinson’s disease at the age of 45. I can feel the disease progressing.

In this episode, I update my co-host Niki Reitmayer on my symptoms. In the last six months, I continue to have trouble getting a good night’s sleep and I’m now battling daytime fatigue. I have long stretches of numbness and pain from neuropathy in my feet, increased body pains, anxiety, hot flashes and unplanned weight loss. Maybe most concerning for me is that my wife Rebecca has noticed my personality is changing.

READ MORE: When Life Gives You Parkinson’s podcast — Dyskinesia

As I talk to others with Parkinson’s, “shift in personality” is not an uncommon observation. The spouses of BBC TV and radio writer, producer and comedian Paul Mayhew Archer, American Ninja Warrior Jimmy Choi and Amazing Race Canada winner Tim Hague all noticed personality shifts.

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Personality shifts in people with Parkinson’s can be triggered by many different things, including increased fears and loss of control of one’s life, medication side effects, depression, pain, anxiety, fatigue and missed or incorrect dosages of medication.

READ MORE: When Life Gives You Parkinson’s podcast — WPC 2019 comes to an end

Our partners at Parkinson Canada offer the following advice when a person with Parkinson’s begins demonstrating more aggressive behaviour, which occurs more subtly in the initial years and is more pronounced in the late stages of Parkinson’s, especially when accompanies by dementia:

  • Stay calm.
  • Review the PD medication schedule to see if a dose has been missed or taken incorrectly.
  • Give the person space to cool down. Try to leave about five feet between you.
  • Ask what is troubling the person so that you can identify the cause of the emotion and behaviour.
  • Listen to the person. Resist arguing or being confrontational, but provide reassurance. For example, “I know it is really frustrating when you can’t control what is happening…”
  • Speak slowly, and in a clear, confident and reassuring voice. Raising your voice may escalate the situation.
  • Redirect the person to focus away from the issue causing aggression. Offer to take a walk or do a calming activity together.
  • If your safety is threatened, leave the situation and return after a few minutes.

Thank you for listening. Add your voice to the show and leave a message for us here: https://www.speakpipe.com/WhenLifeGivesYouParkinsons

If you have a comment or question about the podcast, you can email us at parkinsonspod@curiouscast.ca.

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Follow me, Larry Gifford 

Twitter: @ParkinsonsPod

Facebook: Facebook.com/ParkinsonsPod

Instagram: @parkinsonspod

Follow Co-host and Producer Niki Reitmeyer

Twitter: @Niki_Reitmayer

Thank you to…

Paul Mayhew Archer 

Tim & Sheryl Hague

Jimmy Choi

Naomi Casiro BSc. (Kin), MPT, certified PWR

Henry Gifford

Rebecca Gifford

For more info on our presenting partner Parkinson Canada head to www.parkinson.ca.

The toll-free hotline: 1-800-565-3000

Follow them on Twitter: @ParkinsonCanada

Thanks also to our content and promotional partners

Parkinson’s IQ + You – A free series of Parkinson’s events from the Michael J. Fox Foundation

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Spotlight YOPD – The only Parkinson’s organization dedicated to raising awareness for young onset Parkinson’s disease and funds for the Cure Parkinson’s Trust.

When Life Gives You Parkinson’s was selected as one of Apple’s best podcasts of 2018

We LOVE that you are loving the “When Life Gives You Parkinson’s” podcast! If you haven’t subscribed yet — what are you waiting for? 

Subscribing’s easy! Here’s how…

On your iPad or iPhone:

  • Open the Apple Podcasts app, search for When Life Gives You Parkinson’s and select it from the list of results.
  • Once on the When Life Gives You Parkinson’s page, click the “Subscribe” button to have new episodes sent to your mobile device for free.
  • Click the name of an episode from the list below to listen.
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On your Android Phone or Tablet:

  • Open the Google Podcasts app, search for When Life Gives You Parkinson’s and select it from the list of results.
  • Once on the When Life Gives You Parkinson’s page, click the “Follow” button to have new episodes sent to your mobile device for free.
  • Click the name of an episode from the list below to listen.
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