Fighting Parkinson’s, Adrenaline and Dopamine

I am learning about adrenaline and dopamine and the emotions that cause their release…and their non-release. The most difficult lesson I have learned is that I am an inadvertent participant in the emotional part of my Parkinson’s disease.

Adrenaline — you are walking through the jungle and a lion jumps out and starts chasing you. When your survival mode adrenaline kicks in and you start running, other things are required of your body. Your stomach gets the message from the brain that says, “eating is of minor importance right now so do not send me hunger pangs.” The bladder and the large intestine get the message from the brain that says, “no time to evacuate, so I need you to shut down temporarily.” The body gets the message from the brain that says, “you are being pushed to your physical limits, but I do not want to hear about your pain — shut it off.” The heart gets the message from the brain that says, “no time for joyful emotions, so do not release dopamine, just store it for later.”

What I have had to come to terms with over these last couple of weeks is that I ran from the lion for ten consecutive years and he only stopped chasing me on a rare occasion or two for very brief moments. Shortly after the lion stopped chasing me, my tremors began and my Parkinson’s symptoms became apparent and debilitating. My home life, Sally and the children, was, and is, loving and supportive. However, external factors resulted in ten years of stress filled with fear, anger, frustration and resentment. (If you read my March 26, 2010 blog entry, you will see that these are the emotions that Traditional Chinese Medicine associates with Parkinson’s).

Although the stress and those emotions have been put to the side, my subconscious brain still has me functioning in adrenaline mode. After ten years of functioning in this emotional survival mode, my physical body and organs have forgotten how to be normal. I need to get out of adrenaline mode and re-train my organs and body. I have been hesitant to write about this because, from a conventional mind-set, this theory is “out there” and there may be some who read this blog and feel I have lost my mind. To them, all I can say is what Socrates told a young Dan in Dan Millman’s book Way of the Peaceful Warrior, “Sometimes you have to lose your mind before you come to your senses.”

The experts say the cause of Parkinson’s is unknown. I am willing to reject their opinion and continue to go down this unchartered path, and I have a lot of hard work ahead of me. There are many meditations and chants and prayers ahead on this path, and none of us know for certain what is at the end of the path. For now, I am going to stay focused on the journey.

All my best,

Howard

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