Half full and overflowing

I’ve been working on PD studies at UNLV with the Dr. Brach Poston (Kinesiology) and  Merrill Landers (Allied Health Sciences) for the last eight months or so. My job is Clinical Trial Recruiter - simply put, I try to find people with PD and the right specifications for the studies we do to take part. 

From the outside looking in, people might say “Why the heck would I ever be part of such a thing?” The stipends are low, the time you spend with us can be long and the results are…scientific; meaning they go slow. Finding statistical significance isn’t easy. The great bulk of research finds out what isn’t, so the next researcher might have a better chance of finding something that is. All in all, that’s very good as it lends to credibility - meaning the studies actually do what they say they’re going to do and can, potentially have positive effect in repeated environments for similarly affected people. 

But it’s also frustrating because we’re humans. We want answers. We want cures. And we want them now. 

I’ve been conscious about Parkinson’s since 2001, when my dad was diagnosed. Up until that point, it was background noise and sympathy for Muhammad Ali and Michael J. Fox. Again, I’m human. None of us really focus on something that scares us or has more than three syllables until we are forced to take ownership. 

In 2004, when Dad and I hit the road for the first Boys of Summer, I learned a lot. We met doctors, people with Parkinson’s (PWP) and their families all over the country. The buzz was strong that there would be a cure within 10 years - and we left that chapter feeling great. 

But unfortunately that chapter was written by an unreliable narrator. The cure has not arrived. Fortunately for me, my dad keeps plugging along - difficult as the changes are and adaptations he’s had to make. He has participated in some studies, but he often gets fatigued by the effort and discouraged by the lack of results. 

I get it. And I do my best to tell him to keep fighting. Something better is coming. 

I’m an optimist by nature - and some would say, to a fault. I don’t know if it’s learned or inherent, but I know at this point in my life, I make the daily effort to choose to look at  life as a glass half full. That allows me to keep pushing for me, my dad and all those affected by PD to keep going. 

I hope you’ll do the same and come get involved in our studies at UNLV. Feel free to contact me if you would like more information about our latest studies.

written by Robert Cochrane

You can contact Robert Cochrane at parkinsonsplacelv@gmail.com 

Parkinson's Place