Oct 25, 2005

Chapter 30

Body Snatching for Dummies

“On a quiet fall evening in the small, peaceful town of Mill Valley, Dr. Miles Bennell discovered an insidious, horrifying plot. Silently, subtly, almost imperceptibly, alien life-forms were taking over the bodies and minds of his neighbors, his friends, his family, -- the world as he knew it.”

Tell the king; the fair wrought house has fallen.
No shelter has Apollo, nor sacred laurel leaves;
The fountains are now silent; the voice is stilled.
It is finished.
The film's portrait of human beings gradually assimilated by an alien invasion of emotionless duplicates creates a profoundly disturbing sense of paranoia. As the invaders increase in number they become more open and Bennell, who has by now witnessed an attempted "replacement" realises that he and his friends must escape or suffer the same fate. But who can he trust to help him and who has already been snatched?

“I heard as it were, the noise of thunder, and one of the four Beasts, saying, “Come and see.”

And I went, and behold, I saw a white horse…”
The Beast watches and observes, looking for weaknesses, deciding when and where to attack; changing its strategy and tactics as it learns. It has explored our bodies and our minds; it has great power and we are very weak.

And after some time, it figured out the simplest thing: human beings get tired. We have to sleep. The Beast never sleeps. The Beast never rests.

All it has to do to win is wear us down.

And that is easy to do.

Sleep deprivation. The Beast came at me three months ago with a new tactic, a new symptom (that is, new to me. I found other Parkies on the internet who had been attacked in the same way, one of them at the exact same time as me). The new tactic is a game called “No position is tolerable”. It is very simple. Every position of my body is uncomfortable. And not like an uncomfortable sofa; more like being on a planet with crushing gravity. All positions are intolerable; sometimes after a few seconds, sometimes after a few minutes; not more than ten minutes at best. Cannot stay lying on my back; roll to the side and my hip bone feels like it is on hard cement with a very heavy weight on top - it feels likes my hip bone will snap, so I stand up but my upper body fills with cement and is too heavy for my lower body and so I start swaying out of balance in the middle, and then sit down on a chair but that is worse - just look at how your body has to contort itself to sit on a chair - or a toilet, or a car seat. Cannot tolerate it. So sit on the floor - no good - lie on stomach - that’s worse.

I am flopping around from position to position but there is no place in this world where I can rest for 10 minutes. And so, what could be more obvious: I cannot sleep.

The Beast started this new game and just has to sit and watch me get exhausted. That is all it has to do to conquer me, to destroy me. Just keep me awake, by making every position of my body impossible for me to endure. Such a simple plan - brilliant, really.

After three days and nights, hallucinations start. After 5 days, you are crazy, and it gets written down on your chart as “episodes of psychosis” or some such thing. Actually you are perfectly normal, ANYONE, a totally healthy person, not taking drugs, will start to hallucinate. That’s why sleep deprivation is used as torture. You would tell them anything just to be allowed to sleep.

How many Parkies have been given anti-psychotic drugs or institutionalized simply because they need to sleep but are judged to be insane?

“… testing lab rats with continuous sleep deprivation for about two weeks or more inevitably caused death of all the rats in experiments conducted in Allan Rechtschaffen’s sleep laboratory at the University of Chicago. The cause of death was not proven but was associated with whole body hypermetabolism.”...

…The brain's ability to problem solve is greatly impaired. Decision-making abilities are compromised, and the brain falls into rigid thought patterns that make it difficult to generate new problem-solving ideas. Insufficient rest can also cause people to have hallucinations, depression, slow reaction times, panic attacks, hypertension, slurred speech….

John Schlapobersky was tortured by the apartheid regime in South Africa in the 1960s.

Here's what he said about sleep deprivation:
"Making a program in which people are deprived of sleep is like treating them with medication that will make them psychotic. I was kept without sleep for a week. I can remember the details of the experience, although it took place 35 years ago. After two nights without sleep, the hallucinations start, and after three nights, people are having dreams while fairly awake, which is a form of psychosis.”
"By the week's end, people lose their orientation in place and time - the people you're speaking to become people from your past; a window might become a view of the sea seen in your younger days. To deprive someone of sleep is to tamper with their equilibrium and their sanity."

In Chapter 17, we printed up cards, the size of business cards, for Parkies to hand out depending on the circumstances. For example:

I have Parkinson’s.
WTF is your excuse?

I have difficulty undressing myself.
Want to be a good citizen?

And now we need a new card to hand out:

I am not psycho.I just need to have a nap.

I decided at that point to go and have a word with the Beast. To go to the centre of the disease and insult it. It has all the power, but I was fed up.

Really fed up, ready to rumble, you know, it's like there's some punks on the street intimidating the old, the young and the weak, and after the tenth time you just start steaming, you go charging out there, breathing deeply, you feel the strength and determination in your chest, and you hiss at them, and you pay close attention to the situation, to their moves, and to your instincts, and when you go up and confront the punk leader and the others back away, it's almost like it happens in slow motion.
Slept well that night. Ain't nobody gonna throw me against the wall no more.
It's my body and I pay the rent and these body snatchers need a good swift kick.


Next day:
They went for a walk as it was getting dark.

She sang:

Don’t be fooled into thinking that the Finishing End is at hand. No one can beat you, no one can defeat you, except the thoughts of yourself feeling bad.

He sang:

Your cracked country lips
I still want to kiss
As to be by the strength of your skin.
Your magnetic movements
Still capture the moment I’m in

(Side effect of listening to music all day everyday; results in speaking in lyrics. Helps restore faith; keeps coyotes howling. It's a lot easier to take than just sitting around waiting to die.)

In the middle of the night: Hey Parkinson's, you cowardly disease. You give disease a bad name. At the bottom of the barrel, there is scum, and underneath the scum, there is Parkinson's Disease. With your sneak attacks, never coming out to fight like polio and smallpox did. Of course, they were living species of germs and viruses and bacteria and they behaved like living things and we eradicated them, we wiped them out; doctors actually hunted down smallpox to one last small village; we blew that creature away. But Parkinson's? It throws a rock, breaks a window, takes away what we most treasure, and then sneaks off, hiding and getting ready to use our own resources to hit us again. Other diseases would be ashamed of themselves, but you, Parkinson's, you think you are so damn clever, but your day will come. If not today, then tomorrow, or in 30 years, or in 300 years; the day will come when Parkinson's will be a strange footnote in the history of the human race. We don't put up with scumbags who attack our lives for no reason other than sport. Being eaten by a wolf makes sense - a wolf has got to eat. Being invaded by a pointless, useless "condition" is bleak because there is no benefit to anything or anyone.

But Parkinson's is not all that clever. ALL positions are uncomfortable?

There's a little crack in your perfect plan, Mr. Parkinson's the Evil.

Where's the science? ALL positions? We tried about 10 positions. There must be a hundred million. If I move my finger, it's a new position. If I move my eyebrows, it's a different position. If I give you the middle finger, it's my position about you.

So, Mr. Parkinson's, lower than low, Evil Disease, you are going to have to wait around for my clinical trial. Going to test ALL positions. Could take a very long time. There may be hundreds of good positions for me; don't know until I try.

And you know, when I am in movement, it is not a position at all. How about that?


She left a note on my desk, quoting words of the Prophet, long written down:

"I am now able to sleep twenty hours a day.
The remaining four are spent telephoning a list of important people to say goodnight."

Have you been listening to the prophets? They listened to you.
What happened next:
I did not get to sleep 20 hours and a lot of “Good-nights” ended up on voice mail.

Marty called late at night when I needed sleep, to complain about this chapter that complains about needing sleep, thereby interrupting my sleep.

Marty, the only reason I tolerate your presence in my life is that I am endlessly fascinated by your other-worldly ability to be 100% wrong, 100% of the time.

It’s called research, Marty. I have been doing my own PD testing for years, my own Parkinson’s experiments. I know nothing about science. But I know what some things feel like. I don’t have to shut up just because I don’t know what I am talking about. Me talking is my job; you standing around looking stunned is your job.


In public, you don’t notice us because we are on. We tend to hide away when we are off. And all the work, all the action, is planned for on. Because off we are in bad shape. A class, a job, an appointment with the neuro – we put on our best face, take some drugs, and show up pretending we are Normals.

But me, being an idiot, and inexperienced in this kind of life and death struggle, decided to take Linda’s methods straight into the middle of a wave of sickness, with no extra drugs, no music, no other weapons and hallucinating from lack of sleep, and challenge the disease to a fight. Curse the disease and taunt it. Hey, am I a cool dude or what?




I have grown weary of the funeral
Of things that do not die.

I am not running for election. I am not asking for your vote. I am tired of the questions. Parkinson’s is the most mis-diagnosed disease. There are PWP who have been taken in ambulance to emergency wards, apparently totally crazy, like the Hordes that sacked Rome, but they were actually just in need of a snooze. All I can tell you is what I saw. Parkinson’s is not an easy-going place if you have an over-active imagination. A lot of the value of the drugs is to knock us out. But how many ways are your symptoms the same as Parkinson’s? Let me count the ways.

Mr. and Ms. Normal, do you ever experience any or all of the following:

Stiff or painful joints
Difficulty sleeping
Hands feel cold, shake
Losing balance and falling down or catch yourself just before you fall
Night vision becomes less clear
Desire to get the hell away from here and do something wild
Increasing difficulty doing your job
Loss of appetite or binge eating
Loss of sexual ability, or making up for lost time
Feeling apathetic
Getting stressed out
Raging nightmares
Sudden flashes of amazingly clear thought
A desire to move your body to the beat of the drums
Loss of income
Can’t remember where you parked the car
Losing faith in your old clichés and replacing them with new clichés
Strange gurgling in the abdomen; cramps
The neighbour’s dog looks at you with great suspicion



And at different levels of ferocity
And in different combinations and frequencies.
Altho maybe u don’’t have creatures sliding into yr brain
but hey that’s for us professionals

Check your prescription from the clinic. Does it include breathing, sleeping, and eating? Those are not bad habits of weaklings. You really do need them. So when I tell you what really works for me includes breathing, sleeping and eating; you know, for staying alive and all that, don’t dismiss me with a wave of your hand. Sleeping, for example, is not just an addiction. Breathing is not a frill. Making sounds back to the universe is important too, unless you think it is a waste of time for coyotes to howl at the full moon rising.

Parkinson’s. More primitive than you want to know. MRI scans are cool, but finding a way to sleep for 30 minutes is where you will place your bets once you have taken Parkinson’s for a test drive. Give me trembling hands, but give me rest.

Hey, baby!
Wanna be my placebo effect?

I am NOT saying to stop taking the pills. I eat them like candy. I AM saying that when your chest moves up and down, it is because you are exchanging air with the rest of the planet. It is important. One of those things that you really should do, to avoid being dead in a couple of minutes, and it is also important to learn to do it well. D’uh.

Not convinced? Try this simple experiment:
(1) Do not sleep for 5 days – you will go crazy
(2) Do not breathe for 5 days. You will be dead real quick. Report to FDA about off-label uses. Are you still going to maintain that good breathing and good sleeping and some other basic stuff has nothing at all to do with the fact that your life fell apart?


At this point, someone always says, “There must have been other factors involved.” (placebo effect, Mirapex mind-dreams, stress, drug reactions, morale) Well d’uh.

“Unidimensional Man” the slander from Marcuse. Herbie, if people were unidimensional, they would not be able to read your book.

Science wants to test one item at a time, but we are bundles, mixtures constantly in change; the whole person is always involved, and inside each there are kaleidoscopes focused on other kaleidoscopes. So I cannot say that I was 2% happier and 4.6% less crazy; compared to improved gait coming in at 3% when mainlining the Blues; whereas Sinemet CR is cost efficient and gives an extra hour “on” as supposedly demonstrated on a group of Parkies no one can locate. Ten years of research, a few billion bucks, massive clinical trials, millions in advertising, and we get an extra hour on. Well whoopdi-dooo as Anuket says.

I can get two hours more “on” in ways that are a lot more fun than that. I can get whole days and nights on. Or not. As Darcey says, sometimes you get the bear; sometimes the bear gets you.

I have been conducting experiments on myself since about 6 or 7 years; all I can tell you is what I saw.
I think, therefore I am. Or at least I think I am.
Who let in the cat/
Damn I lost my shoes again/

I will show you fear
In a handful of dust

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