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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Just a Few Thoughts Midweek

X Class Solar Flare Sends ‘Shockwaves’ on The ...X Class Solar Flare Sends ‘Shockwaves’ on The Sun [hd video] (Photo credit: NASA Goddard Photo and Video)March is a very long month in the classroom. It sits between February vacation and April vacation, and is the only month without a day off for a holiday. But often, we would have a snow day that relieved the heavy calendar. I was known in our school as the one who loved snow, loved cold weather, and loved surprise holidays. Most in the middle of winter yearned for warmer weather, sunny days, and heat. I hid from the heat, from the bright sunlight, and particularly from the humidity that accompanied those days. To each his own.

Since my retirement last June, I have not felt the need for an unexpected day off provided by Mother Nature. This winter has been very odd ... it is sixty-six degrees today, and I hear the sun is in a very active phase, with sunspots releasing  particles that travel millions of miles per hour.

Boston's Museum of ScienceBoston's Museum of Science
I remember a school field trip to the Boston Museum of Science, during which we were treated to a video of sunspots and flares. I was struck with the similarity of sun flares and multiple sclerosis brain flares. We were told that the sun flares interrupted our satellites' transmissions, and could impact wireless communication systems here on earth. I knew that flares, or inflammations, in my brain could interrupt nerve messages, and could impact any part of my body's functioning, sending confused messages from brain to muscles.

Still resisting the diagnosis of MS but doing my best to participate in fund raising for research, I am signed on for two MS walks this spring, one at the end of March, and one early in May.

But between those walks, I will spend a week in Bethesda Maryland at the National Institute of Health, participating in a seven year study of people with a family history of Parkinson's Disease.  Doctors conducting this study will monitor my blood, heart rate, brain activity, and reflex time. The visits to NIH happen once every eighteen months over the course of the study. I am, in that sense, a willing lab rat for their measurements and studies. The doctors are looking for early biomarkers that will help diagnoses of Parkinson's Disease to happen earlier in the progression of that disease. I still believe the symptoms I exhibit today are more like the early signs of  PD than the relapsing/remitting symptoms of MS. If I am right, I am in the right place to benefit from their study, and to help them to complete their study, and benefit future generations' diagnosis and earlier treatment of PD. And I can feel good about being a part of that.

That's where my thoughts have roamed today. More reading and reviewing ahead!

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  1. Any desire/ability to meet up for a dinner during your stint in Bethesda? There are some very good restaurants in Bethesda. Down town is a bit of a hike from NIH if walking, but very doable by car. Then the only issue is parking. If you are free on the Monday or Friday (maybe tues but have to check with kids' schedules), let me know and I will find a way to send you more private contact info. Of course, I understand if you prefer not to meet people from msg boards. That can be odd.

    1. Hi! I'll be in from a Friday to a Friday, then heading for home. Friday afternoon might be possible if I'm checked out in the morning or early afternoon. You can email me at, and then I can send you the dates.

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