The Little Yellow Pill

It was neurologist number 2, who validated the news

that my life, from that day forward, was about to change


When he offered to write a scrip for some pills, I said “I’m not that ill“

So when he said “I’ll see you, when you’re ready”, I thought that kinda strange


I guess he knew his stuff, cuz in 5 months, I’d had enough

so I took a freed-up appointment and got in the queue.

My symptoms had since progressed and my head was getting messed

I needed something, some sound advice, a pill or two…


Pills, I’ve never been a big fan of pills, taking pills for every ailment or condition I’d come across… mind you, with all my joint surgeries,  I’ve definitely dabbled in ‘pharmaceuticals’, usually not finishing the ‘scrip’’ for painkillers. I found that the pills masked the healing and recovery stage after surgery and  I’d get a false sense of being ok and do more damage.

This reluctance to take pills for anything other than pain relief, took a 180-degree change in direction when the disease I had been diagnosed with, 8 months earlier, Parkinson’s (PD), became a more notable nuisance and a concern by me in my day-to-day living.

I was told and also researched that I shouldn’t wait too long before introducing prescribed medication to treat my Parkinson’s. There was no guarantee, either,  that the medication would work and suppress my emerging symptoms.

Now before I get too sidetracked, I need to explain why the fuss about taking PD meds and what was the benefit of doing so, remembering that, ”I’ve never been a big fan of pills”.

 It all came down to my knowledge of what the intention of PD was and that I’d be living with this progressively degenerative neurological disease for the rest of my life – I was 55 then. 

I learned that Parkinson’s kills off the brain cells capable of producing dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter chemical, responsible for movement and non-movement functions in our bodies. This reduction of dopamine in the brain leads to the possibility of a number of symptoms of varying intensities being present – they will increase over time. Left untreated, Parkinson’s has the potential to increase its’ degeneration of neurotransmitters at an alarming rate.

Treating PD involves sleeping well, eating well, daily exercise, being socially connected, and staying on your prescribed medication routine.

I had most of my bases covered when it came to treating my PD. After 8 months I knew that I had no choice but to start taking meds as my symptoms became more of a nuisance. 

Through my employer, I was paying into a very versatile medical coverage plan, so the initial PD med I was prescribed, levodopa /carbidopa ( the main medication that People with Parkinson’s – PwP take – ‘little yellow pill’), was fully covered, including dispensary fee.

I was started on 1/2 a pill, 3 times a day – reading my journal that I kept back then, I saw the dramatic change in my mood /writing dialogue and movement – due to the impact those little 1/2 pills were making, in the early treatment of my earliest noted symptoms… it was remarkable.


Back then, when I would sleep through the night, I’d set my alarm for 5:30 am, take my 1/2 pill of levo/carb, and back to sleep for maybe another hour (golden rule for taking dopamine-based PD meds – take them 1/2 hour before meals containing proteins or digestive system will flush out PD meds and digest proteins). I’d wake, ready to take on the world…fatigue (no sensation of its presence ) balance issues, slowness and rigidity, head fog (all feeling non-existent)….I’d feel like my old self !!

I know I said this earlier but it’s such a remarkable feeling and experience…my description won’t do it justice…

This little pill, or its derivative, 1/2 pill, was a real game changer in a number of ways…. it restored my confidence that I could, on most occasions, physically do what I couldn’t do a short time earlier. It gave me a feeling of hope that I had some control over my movement functions. Once I had taken my PD meds, I felt that I could keep up with my social circle, whether it be in conversation or engaged in activities… 

Ok now, I’ll spare you reading through my account of my ‘Pills to Parkinson’s’ ratios for the next 9 years. I just wanted to paint a picture of how my PD meds were introduced into my life and how they became intertwined in my day-to-day living, once I learned the result of my diagnosis. More so, this is about how much I depended on those little yellow pills that were never in short supply for me and what they enabled me to do.

Parkinson’s took pleasure in having the upper hand, as it unleashed its symptoms on me, yet I felt that I had the last say on my abilities due to the results I received when my meds were working and I was ‘on’.


Well now, that’s a lot about ‘me and I’ that you’ve been reading about so far….so, what about the ‘others’, the people with Parkinson’s (PwP), that are not as fortunate as I am, to have a new day dose of PD meds awaiting them when their feet touch the floor after a long night. For an instant, they’re in the same boat as I am, starting their day off with Parkinson’s…

Let me take a step back first … before I and a lot of people like myself, get out of bed, we may be taking our first dose of PD medication, the fuel that assists us, replacing our shortfall in brain-produced dopamine…It’s an all-so-convenient task that enables us to live reasonably well with PD.


Meanwhile, around the world, there are so many people living with Parkinson’s and have been for years, unable to access or afford levodopa/carbidopa, this amazing ‘wonder drug’ that has been on the market since the early 1960s. These folks, the less fortunate, may be lying in their bed, trying to be positive about the day ahead, yet realistically just trying to get out of bed, wondering what the day ahead living with Parkinson’s will offer…hopefully not a new symptom or a sensation that their PD has progressed. 

I can only imagine how others, who are not fortunate to have on hand, the medication I have, to live their day with PD cutting them down, as they attempt to dress themselves, feed themselves, walk, unscrew a lid from a jar, etc…

When I think back 9 years ago, how taking a 1/2 pill could change my day, change me…my body was calm, my body and mind were back to being the ‘me’ I’d known for years.

Of course, a lot has transpired in the last 9 years, as I’ve attempted to live well with my PD. Yes, if you’re wondering, my Parkinson’s is still here…It’s a lifer. It’s been progressing, finding opportunities to inch further…. It seems to love my bouts of inactivity ( cuz high-intensity exercise appears to slow its’ progression ), for example, knee and hip replacements and of course the restrictions that accompany living during a pandemic like COVID-19.

And oh yes, I’m still taking that little yellow pill, cuz it still helps me contribute and live well (sort of), only it means now I’ve had to take more…and they don’t seem to last as long now…when actually it’s a sign of my PD progressing. 

I’m now taking 13.5 of the levodopa /carbidopa per day…(plus some other supporting meds to maximize my ‘yellow pills’.) Sometimes they work very well, other times they miss their mark and I have to wait until my 3-hour gap between doses is up, before I can take any more.

I’m still in awe at what my PD meds can do and know I’m so fortunate to include them as part of my daily routine.

That little yellow pill

… has been my salvation…

…has and is, helping so many like me…

…has, as of the last 7 years, found its way into helping the lives of ‘the others’ I referred to, thanks to the charitable organization, World Parkinson’s Program (WPP). This Canadian-based charity provides free dopamine-based medication for those in need yet are unable to afford or access them, in many countries around the world.

I’m now coming to a ‘fork in the road’ where I’m investigating alternative options to address treating my symptoms. 

After 9 years, my oral intake of levodopa /carbidopa is reaching its max threshold…

The ‘Fork in the Road’… coming soon. 


Used by permission of the author.

Shane McPhee

Diagnosed with Parkinson’s (PD) in October 2011, Shane, since then,  has found a growing interest in writing stories or poems ...more