Parkinson's hidden symptoms

In the new NBC sitcom "The Michael J. Fox Show," Fox, who has Parkinson's disease, plays a news anchor with the disease who returns to work.

On Thursday, the Michael J. Fox Show debuted on NBC. The story of a news anchor with Parkinson's Disease, the show relies a lot on physical comedy based on Michael Fox's struggles with Parkinson's. Whether the show will address Parkinson's unseen symptoms remains to be seen.

On Tuesday, I wrote a story about people coping on the job with the physical aspects of Parkinson's, a neurological disease that attacks dopamine in the brain. Physical symptoms include tremor, an odd gait, small handwriting, small steps and some balance issues. 

After my story, I received an email from someone I had covered decades ago. I'm going to quote from it, because I learned something about the hidden symptoms of Parkinson's.

"I'm writing because I was diagnosed with PD in 2000.  I had many symptoms but hadn't put it all together.  I had to go on long-term disability, leaving in 2003 because the symptoms made it impossible for me to continue working.

"My point is that PD has many non-motor symptoms.  In my case, the non-motor were more disabling than the motor.  (The motor symptoms have since "caught up.")  I'm on a personal campaign to raise the consciousness level about the non-motor symptoms. 

"Dopamine has a role in mood, cognition, sleep, and behavior," he wrote.  "Parkinson's symptoms can include depression, anxiety, sleep problems, vivid dreams, impulse control disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and, in later stages, Parkinson's dementia.  Some of these are aggravated by drugs prescribed to treat motor symptoms.  The non-motor symptoms can precede the manifestation of motor symptoms and go undiagnosed.  Even after the manifestation of motor symptoms and the diagnosis of Parkinson's Disease, these non-motor symptoms can be more disabling than motor symptoms.  Because they are not "visible," the general public does not fully appreciate what a person with PD is experiencing."

Click here to read Inquirer television critic David Hiltbrand's take on the Fox show.

Click here to learn about an Oct. 12 walk locally to raise money and awareness.