Today I start on a new path; or maybe a new branch of the path that I was already on. Today is the first of 2 days of evaluation and testing designed to determine my eligibility for Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) surgery. I have come to the point where I feel that this is the best alternative available. It's not a cure, but I know a lot of Parkinson's patients who feel that it has transformed their lives. In fact, one of the people in my support group is doing so well after the surgery that he takes no medication at all!
How does a person get to the point that they feel that having holes drilled in their head and wires run into their brain to deliver small electrical shocks is a good idea? Here's what happens:
They notice a series of odd symptoms which eventually lead to a diagnosis of Parkinson's Disease. The diagnosis is confirmed by a trial of dopaminergic medication. The positive response to the medication means that Parkinson's is most likely the culprit. The person becomes a patient. The good news is that the medication is effective and the disease is controlled for several years.
Gradually, the disease progresses. The patient goes to the neurologist for new or increasing symptoms. Medications are added, dosages are adjusted, frequency of doses are increased. Side effects become more and more difficult to balance with medication effectiveness. The patient starts to experience "off" times, where the medicine seems to stop working, and sometimes when the medications are working, the patient finds that their body is moving on its own, like a marionette being jerked around by invisible strings. This dyskinesia is preferable to the Parkinson's symptoms, but can still be distressing nonetheless.
The patient knows that things are not going to get any better. So, when an opportunity is presented for a procedure which will allow a near to normal life with less medication, drilling a couple of holes and running some wires doesn't seem like such a big deal.
This is where I am now, which is why I'm really looking forward to having the surgery done. First, I have to get through these evaluation tests. I sure hope I get an "A"