Actor Alan Alda, who is best known for playing the wisecracking yet beloved surgeon, Hawkeye Pierce. On the hit television series M*A*S*H announced back in 2018 that he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease just a few years ago. In a revealing interview that he gave to CBS This Morning, Alda candidly opened up about his diagnosis.
His thumb had been twitching in TV interviews that he took part in around that time and he figured that people might be curious about what was going on with him health wise.
But before he was given his official diagnosis, a much stranger symptom initially roused his suspicions that something was wrong. Keep watching to find out what that was. Join Facts Verse to learn more about how Alan Alda Received a Troubling Diagnosis about Parkinson’s Disease.
Alda Was Doing Something Unusual While He Asleep
Out of the blue, Alan started having these extremely vivid dreams. In one dream, in particular, someone was attacking him and he defended himself by throwing a sack of potatoes at his assailant. But in reality, all that he was actually doing was throwing his pillow at his poor sleeping wife.
Alda noted that he didn’t have any additional symptoms at the time. It wasn’t until weeks later that he noticed his thumb was involuntarily twitching.
After bringing that worrisome symptom up with his doctor, Alda requested a brain scan. Eventually, he was diagnosed with the degenerative neurological disease.
Even though there isn’t yet a specific test that can be done to conclusively diagnose Parkinson’s. Doctors often rely upon a combination of brain scans, blood tests, and other methods to rule out other possibilities.
Parkinson’s disease is a disorder that progressively affects the nervous system and in time begins to impede a sufferer’s motor functions. Although symptoms of the disease typically come on slowly and mildly, they can become rather severe and debilitating in time. A patient will inevitably experience symptoms like tremors, muscle stiffness, slowed movement, impaired and changes in speech and writing.
Unfortunately, we have yet to determine the exact cause of the disorder but doctors are fairly confident that age, genetics, and environmental factors likely play a major role in its development. Join Facts Verse to learn more about how Alan Alda Received a Troubling Diagnosis about Parkinson’s Disease.
Parkinson’s Can Cause Severe Sleep Disturbances
Everyone’s sleep habits change pretty drastically throughout their lifetimes – especially later on in life. But people afflicted with Parkinson’s tend to have disproportionately more sleep problems than healthy people of the same age. These sleep disturbances can include insomnia, sleep apnea, and abnormally vivid dreams.
But if somebody is literally acting out their dreams through their movements and vocalization while they sleep, that’s typically a sign of an underlying REM behavior disorder. These kinds of sleep disorders occur during the dreamy REM cycle of sleep.
Such movements might include kicking, arm flailing, or punching as if you’re defending yourself from some kind of aggressor – just like Alda described. These episodes may also be accompanied by laughing, talking, or shouting. Over time, these troubling incidents might gradually get more intense.
When people are in the REM stage of sleep, they rarely ever move thanks to a nifty little nervous system process that induces paralysis while we’re dreaming. Our bodies do this so that we aren’t all constantly thrashing about every time we catch some Z’s. So if you or someone you love is moving during that stage of sleep. It may suggest that there is some kind of issue affecting that process. In Alda’s case, that issue ended up being the neurological disorder, Parkinson’s.
So yeah, if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it just might be a good idea to talk it over with your doctor. It could very easily be something more benign. But it’s always best to err on the side of caution and get a professional opinion.
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And don’t run off so soon. Stick around to find out which childhood experiences prepared Alda for the struggles that he would experience decades later. Join Facts Verse to learn more about how Alan Alda Received a Troubling Diagnosis about Parkinson’s Disease.
Alan Alda Is A Survivor
At 85, Alan Alda is a survivor. He lives with his wife, Arlene, in his home in Long Island, New York. The couple has happily married for 64 years now and apparently that late-night pillow-throwing incident hasn’t put a damper on their relationship.
Last year, right around this time, Alda did an interview with AARP Magazine in which he told the outlet that he was doing just fine considering the circumstances. He spoke heavily about how and his wife were occupying their time and tending to their mental health while riding out the storm of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He shared that he and Alrene were very happy about some of the changes that they had to go through. His wife was occupying her time looking for new opportunities to be creative by getting into things painting, drawing, cooking, and playing the piano. Alan even humorously mentioned that he never ate so well in his entire life.
But this most recent pandemic wasn’t the first rough patch that the former M*A*S*H star has gone through. When he was 7, he diagnosed with polio. He had to undergo six months of treatments that involved scalding hot blankets wrapped around his limbs every hour.
While Alda admitted that his experience was really hard on him at the time. He acknowledged that it was probably much harder on his parents who couldn’t afford a nurse and had to perform the torturous procedures themselves. Join Facts Verse to learn more about how Alan Alda Received a Troubling Diagnosis about Parkinson’s Disease.
Decades Later Alda Diagnosed With Parkinson’s
When Alda diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2015, the first thing that he did start exercising as frequently as he could.
The actor told People magazine that when most patients find out that they have Parkinson’s they get depressed, panicky, and generally speaking don’t do anything to try and combat it. They just sit around, cross their fingers, and hope that it just goes away – even though it never will. But even so, it is possible to hold off some of the worst symptoms.
Movement helps keep the disease progressing slowly. By engaging in activities like walking, biking, and utilizing equipment like cycling machines and treadmills. You can actually hold on to a great deal of your independence for quite some time. The diagnosis doesn’t necessarily have to mean the end of the world. Join Facts Verse to learn more about how Alan Alda Received a Troubling Diagnosis about Parkinson’s Disease.
Alda Revealed His Secret To Staying Positive
With all of the craziness of this rapidly changing world. Alda seems to think that there is little point in being optimistic or pessimistic about anything. In his words, ‘you’ve just got to surf uncertainty because it’s all we get’.
Alda has always been a lover of the sciences. In 2009, he founded the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University in Long Island. He loves to teach himself about the mysteries of the world and actively encourages others to be more curious as well. From his perspective, embracing science and sharing information outside of your inner circle can be life-changing for all of us.
One of the most basic things that he tries to do is to instill in people a broader understanding of how science works. He loves to show the uninitiated the value of evidence-based approaches to seeking knowledge, the importance of trials and studies, and the sentiment that we learn only a little bit at a time. After all, no one study is ever going to offer us the end-all answer to everything.
Like we already mentioned, one of Alda’s favorite healthy ways to combat his Parkinson’s symptoms is by exercising. Some of his favorite physical actives include boxing, juggling, tennis, swimming, marching, and cycling. But perhaps one of the most unique activities that he does regularly is marching to John Philip Sousa’s music. Join Facts Verse to learn more about how Alan Alda Received a Troubling Diagnosis.
Alda Learned A Lot From His Youth
As a child, Alda’s life was all about the theater. His dad, Robert Alda, was also an actor who worked in vaudeville and burlesque.
Many of his childhood memories of life backstage are vibrantly colorful, One of his earliest memories was standing in the wings of the theater watching as his father sang and danced with the half-nude chorus girls. After each performance, the chorus girls would take young Alan up to their dressing rooms where they turned him into some kind of mascot. Every now and then they would even let him stay in the room as they changed out of their costumes. What a lucky kid!
While Alda freely admits that a dancing girls’ dressing room probably wasn’t the most appropriate place for a young boy, he came from a time where things were quite different than they are today.
But not everything in Alda’s childhood was so blissful. When he was 7 he was diagnosed with polio and the treatments – as we already discussed – were quite brutal.
Fortunately Alda, unlike so many others at the time, survived Polio without any lasting effects, but there was another disease that left him with an indelible impression on his life. Alda’s mother was a paranoid schizophrenic.
She always thought that people were lurking in the shadows trying to kill her. She even thought that little Alan was trying to kill her sometimes.
For the longest time, he resented her for not being able to be the motherly figure that he desired. In fact, it went beyond just resentment. He downright hated her.
Later on in life after he had acquired a bit of wisdom, Alda realized the value of admitting these feelings no matter how ugly they might seem. He discovered that you can hate the one you love sometimes.
Despite the grief and trauma that his mother’s ailment caused, her condition was something that his family never discussed. Back in those days, mental illness was extremely stigmatized.
But as painful as it was, witnessing his mother’s episodes and being forced to figure out whether she was describing a genuine event that was taking place or just a psychotic fantasy made him a keen observer. He became hyper-aware of what was going on around him and eventually once he started acting and writing this skill became especially useful, because when he is on the set or stage or set he’s always focused on the other performer.
Well, that’s about all the time we’ve got for this video, but hopefully, you’ve enjoyed going on this little journey through Alan Alda’s past and present with us. It’s our sincerest hope that he can continue to fend off the ill effects of his condition through the means that he swears by. The world isn’t quite ready to lose yet another incredibly gifted actor.
Anyway, do you have any first-hand experience dealing with a loved one who is suffering from Parkinson’s disease? Or perhaps you are personally coping with that diagnosis. Either way, share with us any insights you might have on that disease in the comments section below.
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