My World of Parkinsonian Delights

You Die WITH, not OF Parkinson’s Disease!

Let’s get one thing clear.  Parkinson’s disease is not a fatal illness.  You die WITH, not OF Parkinson’s disease.  It’s one of my pet peeves, newspaper or other media stories that say someone “died of Parkinson’s disease.”  It spreads a false believe that this is a fatal condition.

Fact of the matter is, more people with Parkinson’s die of cardiovascular disease than any other single cause.

People who die from COMPLICATIONS of Parkinson’s disease are folks who fall and break a hip and develop pneumonia and die.  Or folks whose swallowing difficulties cause them to inhale a turkey leg and they get pneumonia and die.

But the cause of death is something ELSE!  Parkinson’s didn’t kill the guy.  Falling, breaking his hip, becoming bedbound and getting pneumonia did the trick.

Let’s look at how several different news organizations wrote about the same death of the same guy — Jim Bohlen, one of the founders of Greenpeace.

The Province, a Canadian publication leads with:
Greenpeace Founder Jim Bohlen died from Parkinson’s disease last Monday. He was 84.

Well, actually, no he didn’t.  Seven paragraphs into the story:

He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease four years ago, his wife Marie said.

Five weeks ago, he had fallen off a chair while exercising and broken a hip.

“He just went downhill from there,” Marie said. He died Monday at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Comox.

That’ll happen!  And my first question is, what in the bloody hell is a 84 year old with PD doing exercising ON A CHAIR???  My neurologist is CONSTANTLY telling me to avoid things that could even POSSIBLY lead to a hip-breaking fall.  EXERCISING ON A CHAIR?

This guy didn’t die of Parkinson’s.  He died of complications of a broken hip, caused by a fall that was caused by PD.

The Vancouver Sun does a better job of it.

Jim Bohlen died Monday at the age of 84 after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.

Absolutely true… but still leaves the impression that it was the PD that killed him.

The Old Grey Lady, the New York Times, is more accurate.

The cause was complications of Parkinson’s disease, his daughter, Margot Bradley, said.

But the story says nothing about the fall, the broken hip and the pneumonia that killed him.

If a man walking down Park Avenue is killed by a falling piano that fell because the rope hauling it up to an open window 10 stories up was cut by a shard of metal caused by an exploding transformer that blew up when a bus hit the telephone pole, you don’t say the man was killed by a bus!  The bus set off the chain of reactions that led to the man’s death.  The man would not have been crushed by the piano without the bus accident, but it wasn’t the bus that killed him.

Same thing with Parkinson’s.  If you can keep living without falling (from a chair while exercising) and breaking your hip and getting pneumonia or choking to death on a piece of stew meat because your dysphagia made it go down the wrong hole, or your dementia caused you to forget it’s not a good idea to stick a fork into a plugged in toaster, then you will live a long, parky life.

Parkinson’s is a life sentence, not a death sentence.

Just don’t put yourself into situations that could lead to your hurting yourself… like I did… yesterday… because I’m a moron.

(Friggin’ thing STILL hurts…)


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