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Essential Tremor

Last week I received a diagnosis of essential tremor. In the past right before I retired in 2013, I noticed occasional head jerks. I thought that was stress due to our stressful environment. When I retired, that went away. However, during the summer of 2019, I had some trauma. I tore one of my hamstrings. I’m am sure that I have never felt such pain. I was pretty much immobile for three months and still healing for another three months. About a month or so after tearing my hamstring, I had trouble breathing. Once at ER, they diagnosed an atrial flutter. About a month after that diagnosis, in September 2019, I had a heart ablation surgery to correct the flutter. At about this time, I felt like my head and upper torso was shaking internally. It was not visible, but I could feel it. I asked my cardiologist if the medicine he had me on could cause this. He did not think so but changed my medication. Sometime over the holidays, I noticed that my handwriting Christmas cards was messy most of the time. The handwriting and hand shaking when trying to hold certain things continued after the holidays. I asked my primary in early 2020 for a referral to a neurologist. Then…..

CoVid hit and non-essential medical appointments were curtailed. Sigh.

The shaking continued but it was at random times and not always occurring. This month, I finally saw a neurologist. After putting me through a typical neurological exam, he gave me the diagnosis of essential tremor. He said that as it gets worse, medication might help, but might also interfere with my heart medicine. He said that ultrasound treatment has shown promising results. I decided to do a six-month follow-up and at that time, will decide further about various treatment options.

My chief concern, of course, is my painting ability. Right now, my symptoms are considered mild. I sometimes have to support my arm when painting details, but it isn’t bothering me too much when I’m painting loosely or with a palette knife.

I’ve also been reading up on ET (essential tremor, not the movie). It seems that it never goes away and gets worse. There is no known “cure” at this time. It is a hereditary gene. Some get it; some do not. (My dad’s hands shook; my sister’s head shakes.)

If anyone out there knows more about this, I’d love to hear about what you know or might have personally experienced. And for those who know me personally, they know I will be strong through this and fight a good battle. <3

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