DBS Journal: Device Tuning #3

My third tuning session, back on February 11, hasn’t scored as high on the relief scale as the first two. I’m doing pretty good generally, but I’m struggling a bit more than usual.

First the good news: Most of the unwanted muscle movement on my right side is now gone. That means my right leg no longer rotates uncomfortably inward, and that results in less stress on the knee when lunging and squatting. The similar problem in my right shoulder has also been helped. The unwanted motion in my arm was causing tennis elbow, of all things, but it was responding to physical therapy.

On the down side, there are issues both visible and invisible. I think my gait is a little worse off, with my right leg dragging slightly — the way it did starting back in 2003. I aggravated an old forearm injury while shoveling wet snow on Wednesday, so the pain is discouraging.

But it’s the apathy that is hardest to deal with. To be fair, there are other factors that contribute to the blahs. I’ve been emotionally drained by my volunteer work at the kid’s school, and the weather has been erratic. The sudden onset of mud season always brings on melancholia.

But this is a little different. It feels more like the demotivation I had to overcome in 2004 and 2005. That episode resulted from being under-medicated, and was resolved by sheer force of will, and eventually more drugs, especially levodopa. And that is the drug that we have reduced by more than 70 percent since early December.

In addition, the stimulator adjustment on Feb. 11 also caused some changes that are really hard to describe. It’s probably best described as being rather spacey and unfocused. By itself, the change was not debilitating. But in combination with the medication changes, the result is a less than ideal state of mind.

Not everything is bad, of course. I’m excited by my progress on the photography front. I’m getting much better at getting sharp, properly exposed images indoors. I’ve learned more about the practical use of Photoshop than I have since I first learned the basics more than 10 years ago. I’m looking forward to getting outdoors with the camera as the weather turns warmer, and I’ll look forward to posting on Flickr. This was how I got past the last round of demotivation — by forcing myself to put one foot after the other, one day at a time.