Medication was not the answer
"It got to the point where I had to do something."
From the beginning, Don's neurologist recommended he consult with The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center about their successful deep brain stimulation (DBS) therapy. DBS is an advanced procedure that involves surgically implanting a battery-operated device, similar to a pacemaker, into the body to deliver electrical stimulation to the brain.
Although it sounded impressive, Don was apprehensive and scared of the idea of someone operating on his brain. Instead, the couple decided to keep trying medication to treat Don's tremor. But after a few years of taking different combinations of more than 30 medications with no relief in sight, Don realized no pill was going to alleviate his tremor.
DBS Surgery provided the solution
"I was a little apprehensive about the surgery."
Don's essential tremor continued to interfere with his quality of life, and it was becoming clear medication wasn't the answer. So the couple followed Don's neurologist's recommendation and went to talk to Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center. As soon as they walked into the office, they felt completely at ease with neurologist Dr. Punit Agrawal and neurosurgeon Dr. Ali Rezai, who told the couple they thought Don was the perfect candidate for DBS.
They began testing soon after to make sure of Don's eligibility. DBS requires two surgeries. The first places electrodes into the brain, and the second implants the programmer into the chest. After a few days of assessment, Don was cleared for surgery.
Don's first surgery lasted less than six hours and was completely pain-free. It required Don to stay awake so they could assess the control of his hand throughout the procedure. Sandy was amazed when someone came out of the operating room halfway through to show off a perfectly sketched drawing Don had made.
He's back in control
"If I knew then what I know now, I would have done it right away and not put it off."
Now, Don can control his essential tremor with the click of a button. To stop the shaking, he simply holds the antenna near his chest to turn the programmer on. He returns to Ohio State every six months to see his nurse, Shannon, who helps him adjust the programmer's settings. Don's life is back in control. He's back to painting and is looking forward to going to Florida again. What's first on the agenda? Going to his favorite restaurant, getting a table right out in the open and eating without feeling embarrassed.