I’ve had Parkinson’s since February 1998, when the first bit of tremor showed up in the very tip of my right middle finger. Barely a flutter, but odd nonetheless. Within three months, my entire right arm was affected. A correct diagnosis did not come through until December 2001, after additional symptoms began to turn up.
Medication helps, but it’s been a long process. It’s never done, because the condition continues to advance. The side effects range from the inconvenient — such as the dyskinesia in my right leg that I cannot predict but renders driving nearly impossible — to the catastrophic — such as the near-total loss of high-level cognitive function that led to a wipeout of my career early retirement from the work I loved in Deceber 2003.
Meds aren’t working as well as they used to. Levodopa, the so-called gold standard of treatment for PD, has steadily grown less effective, and is effective for ever-shortening lengths of time. To compensate means either raising the dosage (and increasing the dyskinesia) or getting really obsessive about diet and the timing of meals. However, that approach risks weight loss, and I don’t have much room for error at this point, with a BMI of 21.9 (toward the low end of the normal range) and body-fat ratio of about 7 percent.
So I’m rolling the dice on the operation. The dividend from all the hard work will maximize the potential for a successful outcome, and it will help to minimize the fallout from a negative outcome. The research showing the advantages to DBS is solid. Minimizing dyskinesia will pay off in the gym. I’ve done the homework, I’m aware of the risks. I’m ready.