Who has a brain procedure and then asks her girlfriend who accompanied her, “What do you want to do now?” Karen Dopher. Just two months ago, she underwent Neuravive focused ultrasound to treat her essential tremor. That very same day, she went on a 2-mile hike and went out to dinner. Here she is at the beach the very next day.
Her life has not been without challenges and she has lots of things around her house with the word BREATHE on them, to remind her to, well, breathe.
All during the MRI scans and planning, Karen was fine. During the set up for the procedure and the initial part of the focused ultrasound treatment, all went fine. But then she got anxious, couldn’t stop shaking and started hyper-ventilating. “I said out loud to the treatment team. Breathe. 12345. Breathe.” The neurosurgeon placed his hand on her leg and told Karen, “you are going to breathe with me. 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5.” This helped her relax and she was able to continue the treatment.
While Karen had done the research and knew that there could be numbness or gait problems following the treatment, she experienced no side effects. She noted that the “only thing that hurt were the numbing shots and one of the pins for the halo to keep my head from moving.”
Karen has been a caregiver most of her life. She took care of her husband, Bob, during his battle with cancer and years later, when he passed from Pulmonary Fibrosis. Three times her son with Cystic Fibrosis has needed her and she was there. First, when he had a double lung transplant and she moved to be there for him. Next, when she flew him to be close to her after his motorcycle accident. Today, she is getting ready to be his end of life caregiver.
During all of this, her essential tremor was getting worse. “It is not a good day to draw,” she would have to tell her then 3-year old granddaughter, who is now nine. Karen remained fiercely independent, learning to do everything with her left hand. Cooking continued to be a problem and she couldn’t hold a knife with her shaking hand. She found ways to compensate like using two spatulas and two hands to flip pancakes.
Now her right hand is rock steady. After the treatment, she posted on Facebook that she was able to flip a pancake with one hand.
“I was at the Y the other day. This woman came up to me and asked me if I had shaved my head and I quickly explained that I had essential tremor and just had focused ultrasound treatment.” This woman – who also struggles with essential tremor – asked if they could talk, and so Karen invited the woman over to her house. Karen believes that each person’s story can help another. Over the years, Karen has made lasting friendships with people from all over the US through her involvement in support groups for both patients and caregivers.
As a final note, Karen adds, “I wish focused ultrasound had been here for my father. He was an OBGYN and had to quit because of his shaking.”
Disclaimer: This testimonial may not be representative of all patient outcomes.
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