Meet Caregiver, Cathy Ley

In light of National Caregivers Month, this month’s blog features caregiver, Cathy Ley.


Cathy Ley’s Story:

My husband and I have been married for 33 years. The past year has been one of the best. That’s because he was in a clinical trial at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle one year ago. This trial was a treatment for his Essential Tremor using focused ultrasound and it was a complete success!

About 20 years ago, Gregg was diagnosed with Essential Tremor, and while in the beginning it was just a slight tremor, we didn’t realize how much our lives would change over the next several years. The symptoms of Essential Tremor are slow to progress and they get worse over time. I didn’t realize as much as Gregg did, what exactly was happening to him. The part that was the worst to me was the fact that he was embarrassed about something that he couldn’t help – the shaking in his hand.

At first, his writing was just a little hard to read, but by 2015, he couldn’t write anything that you could read. I have birthday and anniversary cards that he has written to me every year, but in 2015, I didn’t receive one.

When we went out to dinner, I would choose a table that was as far away from people as I could. Going to a church supper together or out to dinner with friends wasn’t an option anymore. Because of the tremor in his hand, his food wouldn’t stay on his fork, and when he wanted something to drink it might spill out of the glass.  It was affecting our everyday life.

Gradually, Gregg didn’t want to try to do some of the things that needed doing around the house. He felt frustrated, and the more frustrated he got, the worse the tremors were, so he stopped trying. He wouldn’t say that he couldn’t do something; he just didn’t do it. Looking back on it, I realize now that he couldn’t and that makes me sad.

On September 2, 2016, our lives changed thanks to INSIGHTEC’s Neuravive focused ultrasound treatment and Dr. Gwinn’s team at Swedish Medical Center. While Gregg was in the MRI bed having the treatment, I wondered how he was. I knew that God hadn’t led us that far for him not to be okay and for the treatment not to work. But I didn’t know if he was in pain or scared. I truly thought there would be side effects from the treatment, so it was a welcome relief when I saw him after the procedure and saw that he was fine. When it was over, I felt overwhelming relief that he was okay, without any side effects. I don’t think either of us had doubts, but I had NO idea that it would work as well as it did. His hand was perfectly still.

One year later, the tremors are still gone in his right hand. For the first time in years, I got a card from Gregg on my birthday that I didn’t have to struggle to read! But the best present of all, was to have my husband’s tremor gone and seeing him enjoy his life again, doing all the things he loves to do.

The advice I have for anyone who loves someone with Essential Tremor is to be patient and know that there is help. This procedure works.

Click here to watch a video Cathy Ley’s story.

Testimonial may not be representative of all treatment outcomes. For additional information about Focused Ultrasound for essential tremor, including safety information click here.