Back in Control and Back in the Woodshop
Roger Evans has been a woodworker for 40 years, making detailed cabinets and custom furniture. “It’s my hobby and my passion. I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t do it anymore,” he says. Roger retired from a broadcasting career as a popular radio personality in the Huntington-Ashland area, and woodworking fills his days. That he can still pursue his hobby even though he has tremor-dominant Parkinson’s disease is remarkable.
Without the leading-edge treatment he’s had over the last two years, Roger’s tremors would prevent him from feeding himself, shaving or operating a remote control, much less a power tool. But if you meet him today, you would not even know he has a debilitating tremor disorder. Roger had deep brain stimulation (DBS) at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. This neurological surgical procedure implants tiny electrodes into the brain. The electrodes are connected by thin wires to a small battery-like device that is implanted in the chest wall. The electrodes deliver small electrical signals that calm the abnormal signals that cause the tremors.
Roger had DBS to control tremors on his right side. A year later, when his left side began to be affected by tremors, he had DBS to control that side. A single device in Roger’s chest controls both sides.
The first time his device was activated, Roger watched his right hand go from shaking to still. “It was immediate, and I was amazed,” he says. Both sides of his body are tremor-free now. “It’s not a cure - it’s just symptom control. But it has given me my life back. Before, I couldn’t take care of myself. I didn’t want to be a burden to my wife.”
Roger’s tremors began 15 years ago. They were slight and only in his right hand. He saw several neurologists over the next decade as the condition worsened. He tried medications, but they didn’t control his tremors. The cause went undiagnosed until he saw Dr. Agrawal, neurologist at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center two years ago. The Parkinson’s diagnosis hit him “like a kick in the head.”
“I felt like I’d just been handed a death sentence,” says Roger. “Dr. Agrawal and Dr. Rezai showed me that didn’t have to be the case. The care I had at Ohio State could not have been better, and there was hardly any recovery at all. I wouldn’t have any kind of life without deep brain stimulation.”
“I know my condition is progressive, so it will get worse. But Dr. Rezai is the top in his field and is doing great things. I’m hoping someday they will find a cure for Parkinson’s.”
Roger showed his gratitude to his care team at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center by getting busy in his woodworking shop. “The doctors and nurses all have cutting boards now,” he says. “It’s the least I could do to show my appreciation.”