Dancing in the Rain: Lessons Learned on my Personal Journey with PD (more at www.PDPlan4Life.com) Copyright 2013-20 Sheryl Jedlinski
My biggest fear about having total knee replacements is that the anesthesia and non-Parkinson’s medicines I have to take may exacerbate my PD symptoms, which currently are well-controlled. Already the poster child for anxiety, I do not need one more thing to worry about, especially not if that one more thing is hallucinations. The last thing I want is to see Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit singing to me:
“One pill makes you larger
And one pill makes you small
And the ones that mother gives you
Don’t do anything at all.”
Controlling post-operative pain without aggravating PD symptoms is a challenging balancing act. Pain medications, even when used appropriately, can result in hallucinations or confusion (as in, where am I?), even in patients who have not experienced this before. Antipsychotic medication may help until pain medications can be reduced or stopped, but if your doctor doesn’t choose the right one, the end result may be worse. Adding another medicine to the mix often is just a trade-off of one side effect for another. Other medications, especially those used for anxiety and confusion as well as nausea, also interfere with PD meds.
Having researched drugs to avoid if you have PD, I know just enough to throw myself into panic mode. I brought this list to share with my surgeon, and asked to confirm that none are meds he normally prescribes to patients with PD. I asked whether there was room for discussion. “We can discuss it for as long as you’d like…” he answered, allowing his sentence to trail off into a heavy silence. The unsaid was loud and clear. He was not about to change his proven protocol based on my request; end of any productive discussion.
I waited until I was alone with the nurse, and broached the topic with her. I showed her the list of medications to be avoided by people with Parkinson’s, and she crossed off two of 10 medicines I’d be getting. I felt better knowing that at least someone heard and listened to me.