Saturday, December 13, 2014

PD and Gastrointestinal Issues

I have written a previous article on autonomic dysfunction related to PD which includes gastrointestinal (GI) issues.  None of the PD symptoms are fun to talk about, but this is one of the least "savory" but most important in terms of impact on quality of life.  

It is extremely common for PWPs to have problems with constipation.  For me personally, I would rank this one right up there with getting a good nights sleep in terms of it's potential to impact the way I feel on a daily basis.  I was diagnosed early in 2008 and mild constipation became noticeable within the first year or so.  I managed it well enough with prunes, a laxative called Prunelax, adding fiber to my diet, and doing my best to stay hydrated (very important).  For the last six months or so, I have noticed that I feel bloated pretty much all the time to the point where I feel like I have swallowed a balloon even when I haven't eaten much.

The ways in which Parkinson’s disease can increase the risk of constipation include:
  • Lack of dopamine (a neurotransmitter) in the brain – impairs control of muscle movement throughout the body. Bowel muscles can become slow and rigid.
  • Uncoordinated bowel motions – the bowel muscles may be weak and unable to contract, or they may clench instead of relaxing when trying to pass a motion.
My movement disorder neurologist came up with a game plan to try to deal with this problem.  He started by prescribing carbidopa (the ingredient in Sinemet, which is a combination of carbidopa and levodopa, that enables the levodopa to cross the blood brain barrier in order to control many PD symptoms).  Apparently, there was a chance that this might help with my GI problems.  After about a week, I didn't notice and improvement plus I was experiencing significant dizziness and fatigue, so I stopped taking it.  He had also recommended taking Gas-X to help eliminate gas and reduce bloating. Unfortunately, that hasn't really helped either.

The next step was a prescription for a drug named domperidone (sounds much like the expensive champagne), which is described on the Mayo Clinic website as "a medicine that increases the movements or contractions of the stomach and bowel."  This drug is not available in the U.S., but is available online from Canadian pharmacies (prescription required).  This medication sounds promising.  I have it on order and will share its effectiveness (or lack thereof) once I have taken it.  Meanwhile, I thought this info was important enough to share with the PD community.

Update 12/28: I have been taking the domperidone for only 24 hours, but it is already helping a lot!  If interested, ask your doctor about it.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A Christmas Wish

Linda and I met the amazing and talented illustrator for my Shaky Paws children's books 

(, Alison Paolini, at her home in Paradise, CA in October.

Alison is a 78 year old PWP and accomplished artist. She will be moving to Canoga Park

just north of LA in the near future to live with one of her daughters. I am trying to help

Alison with her wish to have her fantastic collection of paintings (oil, water color,

sketches, framed & unframed, diverse subjects) sold to raise money for Parkinson's

research! A friend will be transporting the paintings to LA in December.  I hope all my 

PD friends will share this with their networks in LA. What is needed is  to put 

together some type of PD (or other-like a hospital) event in the LA area or tie into an 

existing one. 

I am going to try to channel Mickey Rooney so that all "us kids" can work together to find 

a way to make Alison's wish come true!  If I were Mickey, I would have a great idea for a

show and pull together the resources to make it happen.  This is where I need help. 

Anyone connected with the "PD world" in the LA area or who knows anyone in the 

LA area that might have ideas, connections, or be willing to help put together such 

an event, please email me at