“I was avoiding more and more social situations because of my condition.”
Approximately six years ago, Pat started noticing tremors getting worse in her right hand. She didn’t think it was noticeable and kept it a secret from most people that she knew. But she began having difficulty grooming – doing her hair and putting on makeup. She also had trouble cooking and was no longer going out with friends in groups. “I was avoiding more and more social situations,” Pat explains.
About three years ago, Pat mentioned how the tremors were affecting her life to her family doctor. He started her on some medications. After trying a few different medications without much success, her doctor suggested that she should see a neurologist. “I remember they asked me to sign a form in the hospital and I really didn’t recognize my own writing it was so bad,” Pat relates. “So when I saw my family doctor the next time I said, ‘I guess it’s time to see a neurologist.’”
“I really feel very fortunate and blessed.”
“I really feel very fortunate and blessed that I found Dr. Rezai at exactly the right time … right when I needed him,” Pat says. Dr. Rezai explained in detail about how they would perform the surgery, how long she would be in hospital and what improvements she would likely see after surgery.
She was asleep for part of the surgery, but awake when they needed her to answer questions and perform certain tasks as they tested the device. “It was pretty awesome to be able to be able to write my name, hold a glass, touch my nose and all of these different things right there on the operating room table,” Pat explains. “In fact, I went to wipe away a tear when I wrote my name. And someone said ‘Why is she crying?’” Shannon, the certified nurse practitioner, said, ‘Haven’t you ever heard of tears of joy?’”
“I consider deep brain surgery like a miracle”
After Pat’s surgery, Pat recalls that her friends wanted to do bring meals over and she told them she really didn’t need help because of the tremendous improvements from her surgery. “I was able to eat soup and do everything with my right hand that I haven’t for a long time,” Pat relates. While she has her deep brain stimulation device on all day, she turns it off at night. “First thing when I wake up I turn it on and life is good again,” she says. “Many times I think it’s good that I do turn the device off because it gives me a reality check of what life would be like if I didn’t have the surgery.” Pat adds, “I’d do it again in a heartbeat. It has made such a difference. I just really feeI that I have my life back.” Sometimes when she’s eating a bowl of soup or carrying her coffee cup to the kitchen table, Pat remembers that she couldn’t do these things a year ago. “My friends will tell me it’s either magic or a miracle. And Pat concludes, “To anyone who is thinking of deep brain stimulation, I really consider it like a miracle.”
“It really makes me realize how fortunate I am that I have had the surgery.”
When Pat met recently with her neurologist, Punit Agrawal, DO, she told him,“I am doing great. It has been able six months since my last appointment and it has made such a difference in my life. Everything I go to do I just do naturally now.”
She demonstrated to Dr. Agrawal the amazing difference that DBS has made in her abilities. With the DBS turned off, her tremors are very evident. She can’t touch her nose without great effort and her writing is hardly legible. When the device is turned on, she can easily repeat the same tasks illustrating the effectiveness of DBS. “It makes me realize how fortunate I am that I made the decision to have the surgery.
“I feel as though I have my life back again.”
In retrospect, Pat acknowledges that she was more depressed than she realized because there were so many things she couldn’t do. “Initially, I didn’t think my condition was severe enough to warrant surgery,” she explains. Pat, who is a retired RN, was apprehensive initially about having brain surgery. “What really made all the difference in the world was my trust and confidence in my doctors.”
“Since the surgery, I feel as though I have my life back again,” Pat shares. “It’s probably one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. I’ve had excellent results. In my estimation, my tremor has improved about 100 percent.”