I have vitreous floaters – an age-related thing that permits me to see bugs, one-eyed monsters and balls zipping (flashing) around in my vision. These are not hallucinations – it’s all real – although when people see me swatting invisible bees and flies and, yes, ping pong balls, they might think I was an off the rocker Dr. Strangelove slapping myself. (But I can assure you, my precious bodily fluids are pure). It’s another handicap I don’t need, because now I have to hit the regular ping pong ball, and then take a swipe at a ‘virtual’ ball that only I can see to get it outta the way, while my lucky opponent only has to hit one sphere at a time. That’s not fair; I should get two points every time I score a regular point. (Ah, forget it – these pampered millennials I play with will never go for it.)
They say that “improving your lifestyle” can mitigate the problem of floaters. To me, that means winning more often at ping pong. But how can I win when all these things are flying around in front of me? I’m greeted with fantastical goblins on a daily basis. It’s worse than a Disney ghoulish cartoon meant to scare little kiddies.
I got another problem – yeah, another one! I fall asleep all the time. I’m reading the newspaper, sitting in front of the TV or the computer, and before I know what’s happening, I doze off. Worse than that, and I’m almost ashamed to say this, but yesterday, mid afternoon, I fell asleep on the can! Now that’s a fine how-do-ya-do! So far, thank goodness, I haven’t fallen asleep while playing some of my table tennis adversaries at the club. If the fatigue doesn’t get to me, the absolute boredom does and, honestly, these days I have difficulty keeping my eyes open. But I’m not one to insult anyone (my mommy told me to be nice), so I drink a coke to remain conscious when I lose to these guys. (Well, how can I win when grotesque, evil eyes are flying circles around me.)
So, what would you do if you were seeing things that aren’t there? Would you go see an ophthalmologist or a shrink? I chose the former, of course, because I didn’t want to chance being hospitalized against my will. The eye doctor gave me a prescription for some glasses, and then when I returned for my second copay, he asked me if the witches and supernatural creatures were still there. I told him the truth, confident that he wouldn’t blab to a psychiatrist anything incriminating because of doctor-patient confidentiality. I told him that things were much clearer than before, thank you for the glasses – that I could now make out the horns on the unicorns and see the brooms the witches were flying. Lao Du
Editor: The phenomenon of fatigue is often overlooked in Parkinson’s Disease. It’s not a subject often discussed the same way as the main motor symptoms (tremor, slowness, stiffness) of the disease, but it’s commonly encountered and there are some reports (The American Parkinson Association) that chronicle 1/3 of PwP considering it as their major number one problem.
Clinical depression, common in PD, can cause fatigue, but one can suffer fatigue and lack of energy without being depressed. Medications can also cause tiredness. As a result of lacking energy and loss of motivation to “do things,” a pernicious social withdrawal can result, spiraling down to a level of dangerous disengagement from family, friends and exercise. For this complaint of chronic fatigue, see your physician… and don’t give Lao Du any mercy points.