When I was 10 years old and saw a Guinea pig in a pet store. I begged my Mom to buy it for me, but she stood firm with the idea that if I wanted that adorable rodent, I would have to work extra hard and save my allowance. My mom was trying to show me how hard it is to get money and save it. Standing at 4 feet and 11 inches she was a ball of energy and her cheerfulness was infectious. She was patient with me when I came to her with absurd ideas.
Thinking of the weeks it would take to save my allowance, I knew that my guinea pig would be gone. I was not going to wait! I was the kind of girl who wanted everything yesterday and just felt I had to come up with the right plan to make it happen. The moment we got home, I jumped out of the car and ran to the kitchen. My mom said, “What are you doing?” As I dug through our cabinets I said, “I am going to have a lemonade stand to raise the money for my guinea pig.” My mom responded, “Alright, maybe you would like some help out to the corner.” I grabbed a piece of paper and wrote in big letters, “Lemonade .25” with a large smiley face.
For the next couple of hours, I stood on the corner and screamed my lungs out. Car after car pulled over and handed me dollar bills until I ran out of lemonade. I came home and bounced into the kitchen. “Mom, I think I have enough,” grinning as I dumped all the change and bills that I had collected. We carefully counted my profits and then with a wink, my Mom said “I think you have enough, let’s go get your pig.” I was proud of that moment. I had wanted something and I made it happen. That day I got “Sugar”, my guinea pig and even had enough money to buy her first bag of food.
When I was 10 years old, I had no idea that I would become a guinea pig myself. As my Parkinson’s progresses I have come to the realization that in order to find the perfect combination of medication some guinea pigging should be expected. There are many new treatment options that have recently become available and I am ready to give them all a whirl. This pill parade is driven by the hope of finding the perfect cocktail. All the Parkies that have met, there is not one who didn’t want to find the best medication for their condition. But before you go diving into your Neurologist’s sample cart, a few things to keep in mind…
-Always keep your Doctor’s in the loop with any medication changes or new symptoms. It’s important that they have all the information to formulate the best plan of action to slow the progression of your Parkinson’s. This includes small tweaks of your Sinemet or supplements that you might have ordered on QVC at 2am when you couldn’t sleep.
-Remember that what works for me, might not work for you. Just because I had bad luck with Rytary, doesn’t mean that you will have the same results. We are all individual and unique snowflakes, not two are alike. This also translates that no two Parkies will have the same pill regimen or respond in the same manner.
-Guinea pigs are adorable, so don’t be afraid to become one. It’s not uncommon to have a cocktail of drugs that you take on a daily basis. Just like guinea pigs need a variety of foods, such as apples, pellets, hay, lettuce or carrots to be their healthiest… You might need a combination of medications to be your best.
-One of the fascinating and frustrating things about Parkinson’s, is that as your disease progresses, your symptoms will change. So the cocktail that you have found works best for you, will change over time.
Just remember, that if you want something bad enough, just like I wanted that guinea pig… you make it happen. Be your own advocate. Educate yourself on the medication that you currently take and those that are available to you. Make educated, well-thought-out decisions about your health and don’t be afraid of trying out medications that could possibly make your life easier. Oh and just from personal experience, guinea pigs aren’t meant to walk on a leash… what did I know, I was young.