My Journey with Essential Tremor: From Coping to Living

For my entire life, I’ve lived with a condition called Essential Tremor, a movement disorder that caused my hands to shake. As a child, I had terrible penmanship that never improved. My teachers all thought that I just couldn’t write well. Little did they know that I had a condition that prevented me from writing fluidly. Even though I was a good athlete as a kid, I was nicknamed “Shaker” by my teammates. I learned to live with my tremor, and never really thought too much of it until I was in my early fifties. The condition got worse as I got older, and soon impacted every facet of my daily life.

As an adult, I was a real estate agent. One day, I was showing a property to a doctor, and he noticed my shaking hands. He turned to me and said, “I see you have essential tremor.” At the time, I had no idea what it was. I went home and immediately started researching the condition; I finally knew what was causing my hands to shake! I continued to live with my condition for years after I figured out what I had. My tremor was always on mind, and I was aware of it during every little task I tried to accomplish. When I went out to eat, I would sit facing the wall so no one would see me struggle to raise my food to my mouth. I never ordered soup at a restaurant – it was just too much of a mess. At home, I ate soup out of a mug because it was easier to control my hands.

style="float:left; padding-right:20px"I also have chronic red eyes, which means I must put eye drops in every morning. You can only imagine how difficult this is, and I found myself going through a bottle of Visine every week!

I continued to handle my condition and waited for a treatment option that suited me. I knew deep brain stimulation was an option, but it wasn’t the right procedure for me, especially since I’m prone to infection. After doing some research, I eventually came across the Neuravive treatment, which is a non-invasive procedure based on MR-guided focused ultrasound technology.  In June 2017, I was treated at the University of Virginia Medical Center (UVA) by Dr. Jeffrey Elias.

After the procedure, I felt like all the bad things that had caused my hand to shake were turned off and removed from my brain. That night, I went home in awe of my new steady hand and decided to reflect on what both of my hands mean to me. The procedure was on my dominant (right) hand, making it much stronger and steadier. But, my left hand also helps me get things done.  I look forward to the day when I might be able to have the Neurvavive treatment on my left hand.

Months after my procedure, I’m able to eat soup and have even dabbled in using chopsticks again (I learned how to use them in my youth, but lost the skill due to my tremor). I’m able to put in my eye drops in the morning, and (to my surprise) the bottle of Visine lasts much, much longer now.

At the age of 71, I feel more independent than I’ve felt in years, and am grateful to Dr. Elias and the team at UVA for helping me regain control of my right hand. The Neuravive treatment is truly remarkable.

Disclaimer: This testimonial may not be representative of all patient outcomes.