I have heard from several of you concerning the posts I did on the deep brain stimulation procedure I had done to address a benign essential tremor. A lot of you passed this link on to friends or family who have a tremor disorder and I have heard from several who actually have tremors. So, I think an update is in order.
First and most importantly, my hair is growing back at an astounding rate. This leaves some of my friends perturbed. They rejoiced in my hairless state (you know who you are) and are miffed it didn’t last longer. I am inviting you to rejoice with those who rejoice.
Second, my neurologist, who is great, is still in the process of setting my batteries. We started out at 2 volts and 1.8 volts, but I had side effects; notably muscle twitches in my right leg and a resulting walk that would have made Monty Python’s “ministry of silly walks.” So, we took both sides down to 1 volt and have been working our way back up.
I’m currently at 1.8 volts on both batteries. At this level, my tremors are greatly reduced, but not totally gone. I have a persistent, tremor in my left hand, about the level of tremor I would say I had about 10 years ago. Some days my right hand has no noticeable tremor, though some days I can see a slight tremor. What is gone is the overall feeling of shakiness that seemed to run through me.
So, that’s pretty good, but I expect some diminishing results because that happened the last time my battery levels were raised. I have also noticed some slight side effects, some that have been with me since the surgery and some that are new since the last adjustment. My sense of smell and taste has been different, typically more acute, since the surgery. Bad smells seem stronger. And coffee tastes stronger. That kind of thing. And I’ve had balance issues. Not bad and I haven’t fallen or anything, but definitely different. I hope and expect these things to change and get better. They already have some.
I’ve had some minor, but persistent side effects since my batteries were boosted to 1.8. Most days my speech is slightly effected. I can feel a tiny pull on the left corner of my mouth and have even felt my lips numb or tingly a few times. And my left leg doesn’t work the same when I walk. It’s not perceptible to anyone but me and I couldn’t tell you exactly how my gait is different, but it feels different.
Besides my hands, the places where I am most likely to feel the current is in my mouth and legs. So, this isn’t that surprising and the neurologist says that adjusting to the voltage increase is like any any medication increase. My body will learn to tolerate it.
But I also have just a weird feeling throughout my body. I swear that I can feel the current run through the wires that run along my skull and I have this kind of weird feeling in my torso, which is hard to explain. But I just don’t feel normal most days. This is new since the current went up. Yesterday, I felt completely normal and my hands were very solid. I want more days like that. Today, the weird sensation is back, but not as strong. So, again, I anticipate that my body is getting used to the change.
My life is improved in a hundred little ways. I can take notes, sign my name, hold a cup of coffee without splashing it on me (though I still can’t eat salsa without getting it on my shirt, but I don’t think that has anything to do with the tremor), pull down a computer menu, hit the right letter when I’m texting, drink water while I’m lecturing, get the key in the lock easier, sign a credit card receipt and leave a tip on it that is readable, keep things on my fork, take communion, etc. I hide my hands less and am more at ease in social settings, knowing that I can handle things that I used to worry about. At this point, even with the slight tremor and slight side effects, the procedure is definitely worth it. I’ll update this in a few months and tell you if its worth it then.