If you listen to right-wing talk radio, then the whole Rush Limbaugh/Parkinson's thing is old news. But if you've somehow missed the buzz, here's the skinny:
walking bag of crap pill popper Radio "personality" Rush Limbaugh has essentially called Michael J. Fox a fake. The Parkinson's Disease shaking? A rouse. A ploy. A big act to sucker you into voting for stem-cell research. Thank God (a white, fiscally conservative God who's tough on immigration, that is) that Rush is there to expose the lie.
Yesterday, Limbaugh apologized for his comments, namely, these:
"He's moving all around and shaking, and it's purely an act. ... This is really shameless of Michael J. Fox. Either he didn't take his medication or he's acting."
Um, no, says a charming Kathleen Crist, director of Social Services at the Houston Area Parkinson Society. Crist was initially reticent when asked to comment on Limbaugh. (One assumes she was actually more concerned with helping people with Parkinson's.) But she did, however, speak to the whole faking thing:
"Clearly if Rush Limbaugh knew anything about Parkinson's, he wouldn't have made the comments that he made," she says. "He said Michael J. Fox was off his meds. The thing with people with Parkinson's is that once they've been on certain meds for a long period of time, such as someone like Michael J. Fox, the side effect of the meds is the dyskinesia." (Dyskinesia is the shaking, twitching and other noticeable side effects associated with Parkinson's.)
So MJ wasn't off his meds, he was actually on them?
"Right," she says. "When people in Michael J. Fox's position go off their meds, they're pretty immobile. So they have to choose: either they can't move or function, or they take these medications in order to function, and deal with the dyskinesia." Crist says that it's not uncommon for Parkinson's patients to flirt with the idea of decreasing or killing their meds, for fear that their twitching will draw attention. But people who make that move can sometimes find that they have no movement. "People actually freeze," she says. "They're unable to move at all, most cases, they choose immobility."
Limbaugh, a former out-of-work baseball announcer who's made a career of calling out people who actually, you know, do productive things in life (such as Donovan McNabb), has already received all publicity that he could dream of with this latest tirade. But Crist sees the potential for education.
"There's a good opportunity here to say 'No, let us explain what Parkinson's is, and what people who have it go through, and let us show you that this is not just a disease of tremor, that there's a lot more to it," she says.
Fair enough, but doesn't she have anything to say about Limbaugh?
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"Well, after these comments, there are some people who will now think 'Oh, well, people look like this because they're trying to manipulate the public,'" she says. "But for the most part, I think it made Rush look like what he really is."
Which is someone who's just grouchy because he's probably off his meds. Disagree? Feel free to leave a comment.