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.
The CDC just announced that you don’t have to wear a mask. Of course, this is not all good news, as this makes it much harder to pull a stickup at your neighborhood Seven Eleven. It also means I’ll have to shave more often, fix my teeth and cut my nose hairs. Jeese, I dunno – I was starting to get used to all of the mask advantages. And I was kinda feeling like the Lone Ranger, too – you know, like being a legendary kind of guy. People were saying: Who was that masked man? as I disappeared into the sunset. Now I’m not afforded that respectability. Worse than that, people can see me crying when I lose playing ping pong. I really hate that, so please, CDC, at least let us rejoice about defeating Covid-19 by proclaiming a … masquerade party. I’ll wear my elegant black Hanes mask. Please, let me pretend to be Zorro for just a little longer. Lao Du
Editor: Although the CDC has changed its guidelines and no longer requires masks in any venues, Ping Pong Parkinson will follow the New York State directive, which still mandates wearing masks indoors.
I’ve got a frozen shoulder. Naturally, there are some wannabe doctors wandering through our ranks at the ping pong club, and advice is freely offered (if not well received). So, one guy in particular (not to be named – “this story is true but the names have been changed to protect the innocent”) comes over to me and says that I have to put ice on it in the form of a bag of frozen peas. That sounded totally ludicrous to me, because frozen broccoli should work, too, right? And I only buy frozen broccoli – you know, the Birds Eye broccoli florets. But this frozen vegetable expert, Pea Brain (this is not his real name, by the way), insisted on only ice peas. I kind of rebuffed him with this: Thanks for your help, but I don’t need any ice – my shoulder is already frozen!
The guy this pea-brained doofus was playing ping pong with, his equal as an unrestrained unqualified medical advisor (a boastful buffoon), asserted unflinchingly that I needed heat, not ice. I sent him packing with this: Thanks, but the cops are already after me, I don’t need any more heat! (Ed. total flapdoodle/screwy-hooey).
There’s a guy in the side room at the club who hogs the robot machine. This guy, Robot Man (Gort?), doesn’t play with hominids – he only plays against the robot. Day in, day out, always with the robot. So, I asked this guy, doesn’t it get boring only playing against a machine spitting balls at you the same way 30 to 50 times a minute? And ya know what he said? He said, Absolutely not! And I love her. Yes! He said her anthropomorphically. Apparently he thinks the robot machine is alive … and that he has a romantic relationship with it. Scary! It’s freaking me out.
When I went into that room to retrieve a ball that had accidentally gotten beyond the barrier curtains of my table the other day, he was in there, of course, and I overheard him talking out loud. He was talking to the machine, can you believe it! And what he said was stupefying. He said nice shot! Are you hearing this? He said nice shot to a ping pong robot after he missed a ball fired at his back hand. And then I heard him say too good (!) when another ball went flying past him on the forehand side. (Apparently the guy had the machine on the random mode.) Now, I didn’t stick around to see if he kissed or hugged the head of this ball-chucking contraption, but I wouldn’t put it passed this nut to do it.
Here’s the source of the difficulty, the crux of the matter: the Robot Man just won’t relinquish the use of the table. He monopolizes it. That’s a real problem for Ping Pong Parkinson, because our members enjoy using the robot as one of the rotating stations during the main ping pong segment of our sessions. If Gort is practicing his flick – or, possibly, making love to the apparatus – it’s impossible to get in there and practice. So, I have counseled our group to recite these secret words which should work to have him vacate the machine for a while: “Klaatu Barada Nikto,” (It’s robotspeak.) If that incantation doesn’t work, I’ve instructed our ‘Pongers’ to get a bat, a golf club or a sword or a nightstick, and go in there and threaten this guy to vamoose for a half hour. And I’ve also instructed the group to be sure not to tell Robot Man that I sent them in there with all those weapons, because … well, I can’t run that fast anymore. I mean that guy is spooky! And if he finds out that I was saying bad things about his girlfriend (that she don’t kiss too good) somethin’ awful might happen to me. Lao Du
I ran into an old volunteer from PPP who was visiting the club the other day. This little old lady from southern California was playing ping pong, and I noticed that she was hitting the ball flat – just blocking the ball back to her opponent. I had played with and instructed this woman some time ago, and was taken aback by the fact that she was not hitting the ball the way she’d been taught … by me. I was offended. I was indignant. But I wasn’t gobsmacked. (I don’t get gobsmacked that easily.) All that time I’d spent in trying to show this person how to hit the damn thing, and now she ends up like she’s been playing in a subterranean basement for a full pandemic year against her preschool grandchildren. Made me sick. But not gobsmacked.
Okay, so then maybe I put my nose into where it wasn’t welcome – I gotta big mouth, what can I tell ya. So, while she was playing, I told her she couldn’t control the ball the way she was hitting it, unless she was playing with some newbie pushover, like maybe one of her grandkids. Was just presenting the facts. (Just the facts, ma’am, just the facts – Sargent Friday, Dragnet). But then all of a sudden, I get hit with a savage tirade. I should leave her alone, she says, because she’s only playing for fun and I (me) could never latch on to that concept! Can you believe the ingratitude and the extraordinary brazenness flowing outta this granny? Ah, well. Listen I was only trying to help.
With my Pfizer vaccinations secured a few months back, I felt reassured that I could finally venture out and do some shopping for Ping Pong Parkinson. The Chief (Nenad Bach) had given me an assignment to buy some weights because research strongly suggests that weight training is an important method for targeting the motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
Okay, so I went into Walmart’s looking for free weights. The greeting guy near the front door pointed to where his co-workers were standing and said you’ll find the dumbbells there. On hearing this, I was offended, and told him it wasn’t nice to say bad things about other people, just because they were stupid. I went over to where those dumbbells were anyway, and asked the one who looked the least dense where I could find the free weights. He looked at me quizzically, and told me straight out that they didn’t have any free weights, that you had to pay for them. That’s what the dumbbell told me, can you believe it? I then took a chance and asked another guy standing next to the first dumbbell guy another challenging question: Could he please tell me where I could find a medicine ball? He told me that as far as he knew, that they had no formal dances at that particular Walmart location.
I was aghast! Look, I know NASA has been looking for intelligent life in our galaxy, but don’t you think it would be prudent if they started their search at a neighborhood Walmart first? I mean, c’mon! Well, anyway, completely disenchanted, I’m headed over to Target to see if they have any resistance bands. I hope they don’t steer me over to their music department. Lao Du
I had just beaten a ping pong player who accused me of cheating 10 times in one game. I told him that these malicious allegations were ridiculous – that I usually only cheat half as many times as he was charging. And what he was saying was even more absurd, I told him, because the truth is I only cheat when I’m losing.
If you really wanna know, I used to have more success cheating when I played tennis. On a tennis court, the opponent is light years away from you and the net will protect you when you call his ball out when it lands on the line. (If the guy is a big bruiser, you’ll have a few seconds head start to run away.) In ping pong, on the other hand, when the ball hits the table you have to be a very nervy liar to call the shot “out”. I mean I’ve done it (less than 5 times in a game, mind you), but it really has to be a low skimming shot to get away with that. (And don’t say the ball was only an inch out. With conviction, say it missed by a mile.)
This question came up on a recent Webinar conducted by Nenad and PPP: Is small handwriting a way of diagnosing Parkinson’s Disease? Well, it was an interesting observation made by Mr. Cohen, a handwriting expert, because micrographia (small or minute handwriting) is a very common sign in PD. According to Parkinson’s News Today, over 65% of patients diagnosed with the disease exhibit this condition. However, it must be said, that having this one sign does not constitute sufficient grounds for making the diagnosis. In medical parlance, micro writing is not pathognomonic for PD. (An example of a pathognomonic disease is measles. If you have Koplik spots – little white spots on the insides of your cheeks – than you have measles. There is no equivalent sign in PD.)
The cardinal signs for Parkinson’s include tremor, bradykinesia, stiffness and postural instability. Not everyone with PD has all of these and, of course, the severity of each can vary tremendously from patient to patient. Additionally, there are a host of other non-movement signs and symptoms which can manifest, making each patient almost unique in his/her presentation. Just as there are “Eight million stories in the Naked City,” everyone with Parkinson’s is different.
Unfortunately, there is no one particular laboratory test for Parkinson’s Disease. A neurological exam and a thorough review of each person’s history must be conducted by a physician in order to come up with a reliable and accurate diagnosis. A.D.