Monadnock Ledger-Transcript – Lively Growing old: Health helps thrust back illness


Michael Lindberg knew exactly what his diagnosis would be when he walked into a neurologist’s office at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon 18 months ago.

In fact, he had known for some time that the symptoms he had been dealing with would lead to a diagnosis of Parkinson’s. But like so many others, he didn’t want to admit it.

“Rejection is a wonderful thing for us to apply to many different circumstances,” said Lindberg, the former chief medical officer of Monadnock Community Hospital in Peterborough.

But there were obvious signs associated with the debilitating disease – physical slowing down, loss of smell, muscle spasms, tremors in the right hand, and discoordination in the left hand, “which are all precursors to Parkinson’s,” Lindberg said.

“At that point I told myself that there was no further denying you could do,” he said.

He first went to his family doctor at MCH and received a referral to Dartmouth.

“The doctor I saw knew immediately,” said Lindberg. An MRI in Concord confirmed the Parkinson’s diagnosis.

For a while, Lindberg kept his symptoms and suspicions to himself. He didn’t tell his retired family doctor wife, Nancy, but soon realized he needed her and his family’s support.

“You don’t do these things alone,” he said. “You like to think you can, but it doesn’t work that way.”

Nancy urged him to meet with his doctor.

“They agreed it was time for me to seek full medical help,” said Lindberg.

Once the diagnosis was confirmed, the longtime doctor allowed him to quickly switch to how best to address his illness. The decision on the best treatment method was made quickly.

In addition to two different drugs – Sinemet, which he takes several times a day that provides dopamine for cell transfer, and rasagiline, which helps transfer dopamine between cells – Lindberg regularly attacks his Parkinson’s disease.

“Vigorous exercise is one of the few things that can slow the progression of the disease,” said Lindberg.

He has a daily physical activity program that lasts at least an hour and a half in total and is usually much longer throughout the day. It includes a morning routine of doing various stretches and specific exercises for 20 to 25 minutes to build muscle strength around the key joints. He also uses free weights and when the weather is not so good outside he hits the treadmill for 30 to 60 minutes. If it’s a nice day, he hikes local trails and can be up to two hours on the way.

He also has voice exercises that he is working on, as one of the symptoms of Parkinson’s is the ability to speak loudly and clearly.

“It’s amazing how much my symptoms have subsided,” said Lindberg. “They got better, better far and wide.”

Lindberg has a team of rehab therapists at MCH, including physical, professional and linguistic. He is grateful that the services he needs are right in the future and wants others to be aware of the exceptional care he has received.

Since his diagnosis, Lindberg has “learned everything I could about Parkinson’s disease”, although his work in geriatrics gave him a solid foundation to fall back on.

He knows the movement disorder will result in severe disability and death, which “isn’t necessarily what you want to read over time,” said Lindberg.

“But you can get the disease under control,” he said. And one way to do this is by taking your medication and exercising.

“You are doing everything you can to reduce the risk, but life happens. You just can’t predict it, ”said Lindberg.

It was one of Lindberg’s mentors in the medical field who gave him some advice that went a long way.

“She reminded me that you have to take care of yourself,” he said. Which wasn’t the way he’d operated during his career; being a doctor meant taking care of others.

“I define myself as a doctor,” said Lindberg. “But you are beginning to understand that maybe I shouldn’t define myself that way. You think more about your family and the things you want to do. ”

His financial advisor told him to enjoy life while he could and reload the fun, Lindberg said. If COVID-19 restrictions allow, he and Nancy are planning a trip to Wales this fall, where they will hike Offa’s levee path from the south coast to the Irish Sea.

Lindberg said he would be lying if it wasn’t for the question of why me?

“I think we all play this game on our minds,” he said. “It’s not fair, but life is not fair. This is my diagnosis. “He has gone through all the typical phases of such a diagnosis and the point is to achieve this acceptance phase. “I like to think that I’m accepted.”

He feels lucky to have the support of his family and a good team of doctors and therapists around him.

Lindberg read one of Michael J. Fox’s books and there was a part that has become part of his daily life. Fox’s family would joke that he had a job: not to fall.

“Now my wife will remind me that I have a job,” said Lindberg.

Fortunately, he hasn’t had any problems with falls, but he knows things are going to get harder, including his communication skills.

Lindberg hopes progress will be made in the fight against Parkinson’s.

“I think we all hope that something will show up to stop or possibly even reverse progress,” said Lindberg. “It can’t benefit me, but it can benefit someone down the line.”

That’s why he’s taking part in a drug study with Dartmouth-Hitchcock that will run until the end of this summer. And for a long-time doctor, it’s fascinating to be on the other side. Because Lindberg knows that everything will play a role in finding a cure for the disease. In the meantime, his intention is to fight and do whatever it takes to live the fullest possible life.

“Having a positive attitude is a long way in my opinion,” said Lindberg.