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Essential Tremor March 19, 2017

daily report picMarch is, as I’m sure you have absolutely no idea, Essential Tremor Awareness Month.

Every disease seems to have some kind of celebration these days, some whole months, some weeks, and some days.  Thursday, for example, is, I think, “Infected Hangnail Day” and you should wear something of an angry red color to show solidarity.

Essential Tremor warrants a whole month, I guess, probably just because the International Essential Tremor Foundation says so*.  But here’s why I care:

My name is Lori Duff, and I have Essential Tremor.  Essential Tremor is a fairly common, mostly harmless neurological condition that no one has heard of, and most people never bother getting diagnosed with.   I call it the shakeys.  My Dad has it, too.  He never bothered naming it or getting diagnosed with it, and I was almost 40 before I stumbled on a magazine ad (in a March issue, of course) which made me say, loudly and out loud, “That’s It!” in the waiting room of a doctor’s office, the only place I ever read magazines.

The condition is more annoying that it is debilitating.  Only the most greatly affected have trouble keeping food on a fork or spoon or lose fine motor control to such a degree that they can’t tie their own shoes.  I can sit still and do most anything, even if it does take me a few tries.  But whenever I engage the muscles in my hands, there is shaking.  I’ve lost the ability to thread a needle or work a small clasp on a necklace.  The older I get the worse it gets.  It isn’t a lack of control or nervousness, which is what it looks like.  It’s more like the electrical signal from my brain that tells my fingers to clench, stutters. Clench-unclench-clench-unclench-clench-unclench in a rapid cycling of several times per second.

Lately, it has spread to my head, and I’ve been accused of shaking my head “no” at people before I’ve heard what they’ve had to say.  (Mostly, it is my husband who accuses me of this, and maybe I am subconsciously shaking my head “no” at him before I’ve heard what he’s had to say because my brain is just trying to cut to the chase.)  It’s actually kind of fun at work when someone accuses me of this, because then I can cut them down with a, “I’ll thank you not to make fun of my movement disorder.  I’m very sensitive about it.”  I’m not, but it humbles people who say rude things.

Interestingly enough, the only ‘medicine’ that makes it better is alcohol.  After a few tequila shots, I am steady as a rock.  There is serious research going on about how to take the chemical properties in alcohol that help and turn them into medicine that will work but not get you drunk.

But, I can’t (or won’t) do tequila shots when I’m working or driving or doing anything that requires me to do anything more complicated than belt out embarrassing karaoke, so I take Primidone.  Primidone works a little bit, but I still can’t read a piece of paper that I am holding in my hand because it shakes faster than my eyes can track.

Most of the toes of most of my dress shoes have coffee stains on them where I have shaken a little bit out of my cup.  I spill a lot.  I drop things a lot.  I’m naturally clumsy, and this just makes things worse.

I’m told by my neurologist that, based on the rate of worsening of my conditions, at some point in my life I am probably going to have to have electrodes put into my brain to shock it into submission.  I do think it is theoretically cool to have a bionic brain, especially with controls on the outside.  However, the thought of someone drilling into my skull while I am conscious (this kind of brain surgery is done while you are awake so that you can ‘test’ the equipment before they plug the whole back up) makes me want to just hold a flag as a prop and pretend like I’m waving it all the time in a patriotic gesture instead of shaking.  I can’t imagine the sound the skull saw would make without wanting to hide in terror.

So for now, I’ll just sit here quietly shaking, and typing everything because I am past the point where I can read my own handwriting.

For more information about Essential Tremor, visit the International Essential Tremor Foundation at http://www.essentialtremor.org/

  • After I published this article, the IETF contacted me and corrected my guess about the origin of March being Essential Tremor Awareness Month: “In 2010 Cathy Rice, the previous executive director of the IETF, worked with our local Congressman Dennis Moore to pass a HB resolution #1254 designating March as National ET Awareness Month. ”  So there.  It’s an act of Congress, which means, I think, that we should all take off work.

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Lori B. Duff is the author of the Amazon ‘Hot New Release’ Mismatched Shoes and Upside Down Pizza, a collection of autobiographical humor essays. The hard copy of the book can be found on Amazon & BarnesandNoble.com and select local retailers. The e-book can be found here. You can follow her on Twitter at @LoriBDuff and on Facebook. For more blogs written by Lori, click here. For more information about Lori in general, click here. If you want Lori to do your writing for you, click here.

Essential Tremor

13 Comments

  1. Kate

    I have Essential Tremor, too! I’d love to share this on my own blog, Lori, if you agree . . . and if i can figure out how to do it! For me, it’s been my hands for several years. Now I occasionally have trembling around my mouth and chin. It looks and feels like I’m fighting tears, which is weird when I am otherwise feeling perfectly happy. Look forward to nodding at you at EBWW!

    Reply

    • Lori Duff

      I’d be happy to have you share it — if you can’t figure out how, send me an email at lori@loriduffwrites.com and we’ll figure it out. I’m looking forward to shaking hands with you at EBWW — HA HA HA HA HA HA HA.

      Reply

  2. Linda Schaub

    Wow! That was very interesting Lori. At first I thought it was going to be a funny piece, then realized it was serious, and obviously nothing to joke about. Thank you for sharing this with us.

    Reply

    • Lori Duff

      It is something to joke about. Everything is something to joke about, at least to me. :-). It’s laugh or cry — those are the options. Glad you liked it!

      Reply

  3. Suzen

    So sorry to hear this. If it makes you feel any better it doesn’t come across on Skype. Maybe you should spend more time there?? It’s not related to Parkinsons is it?

    Reply

    • Lori Duff

      No, it’s not related to Parkinson’s. It’s mostly my hands, which you don’t see on Skype, and it is most obvious when I am manipulating paper, which I also don’t do on Skype. It’s more annoying than harmful.

      Reply

  4. Mary Conway

    Love your style, Lori. I believe beta blockers are used for essential tremor … Might be worth a try.

    Reply

  5. Teri Foltz

    I love the way you find humor in everything, Lori! Great piece.

    Reply

  6. Marian

    My dad had ET, as well as one of my ministers, my best friend’s sister and, of course, Katharine Hepburn. I’ve been wondering over the past few weeks if I’ve dodged that bullet at 55! Only time will tell but if my time comes you better believe I’d rather laugh than cry over it.

    Thanks for your honesty.

    Reply

    • Lori Duff

      Thanks! I think if you’ve made it to 55 you’re probably safe. It’s mostly harmless, mainly annoying, and the source of many jokes. Laugh about everything, I say. Thanks for checking in!

      Reply

  7. Sally

    Hi Lorie! I just found out of you through The Bloggess. I think you are absolutely hilarious and a great writer. Anywhoooo, I just wanted to say thanks for writing about Essential Tremors. I honestly have never heard anyone ever talk about it. Besides the doctor who nonchalantly told me I had it. He said it was genetic and not a big deal. Well it’s kind of a big deal to me every time one of my patients ask me if I’m SUPER nervous to be talking to them. I’m a psychologist and building trust is HUGE and the last thing you want is for your patients to think you’re terrified to talk to them. I take propranolol, which helps a bit but when stress hits, so does the shakies (as I like to call them). I hope that I don’t have to have my head cracked open and continuously electrocuted when I’m older.

    Reply

    • Lori Duff

      Thanks! I’m glad you found me! I know exactly what you mean — I’m a lawyer, and when I’m on trial, handling papers that are shaking, it’s a problem. I’ve heard people talk about how nervous I look. i’m not nervous! I just shake!! And yeah, stress is an ENORMOUS trigger. It isn’t a big deal in that it won’t kill you, but there are millions of ways that it affects your daily life. Buffet lines are a disaster. I was almost 40 before I even heard of it. I just called it “the shakes,” something my father and I share.

      Reply

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Essential Tremor

13 Comments

  1. Kate

    I have Essential Tremor, too! I’d love to share this on my own blog, Lori, if you agree . . . and if i can figure out how to do it! For me, it’s been my hands for several years. Now I occasionally have trembling around my mouth and chin. It looks and feels like I’m fighting tears, which is weird when I am otherwise feeling perfectly happy. Look forward to nodding at you at EBWW!

    Reply

    • Lori Duff

      I’d be happy to have you share it — if you can’t figure out how, send me an email at lori@loriduffwrites.com and we’ll figure it out. I’m looking forward to shaking hands with you at EBWW — HA HA HA HA HA HA HA.

      Reply

  2. Linda Schaub

    Wow! That was very interesting Lori. At first I thought it was going to be a funny piece, then realized it was serious, and obviously nothing to joke about. Thank you for sharing this with us.

    Reply

    • Lori Duff

      It is something to joke about. Everything is something to joke about, at least to me. :-). It’s laugh or cry — those are the options. Glad you liked it!

      Reply

  3. Suzen

    So sorry to hear this. If it makes you feel any better it doesn’t come across on Skype. Maybe you should spend more time there?? It’s not related to Parkinsons is it?

    Reply

    • Lori Duff

      No, it’s not related to Parkinson’s. It’s mostly my hands, which you don’t see on Skype, and it is most obvious when I am manipulating paper, which I also don’t do on Skype. It’s more annoying than harmful.

      Reply

  4. Mary Conway

    Love your style, Lori. I believe beta blockers are used for essential tremor … Might be worth a try.

    Reply

  5. Teri Foltz

    I love the way you find humor in everything, Lori! Great piece.

    Reply

  6. Marian

    My dad had ET, as well as one of my ministers, my best friend’s sister and, of course, Katharine Hepburn. I’ve been wondering over the past few weeks if I’ve dodged that bullet at 55! Only time will tell but if my time comes you better believe I’d rather laugh than cry over it.

    Thanks for your honesty.

    Reply

    • Lori Duff

      Thanks! I think if you’ve made it to 55 you’re probably safe. It’s mostly harmless, mainly annoying, and the source of many jokes. Laugh about everything, I say. Thanks for checking in!

      Reply

  7. Sally

    Hi Lorie! I just found out of you through The Bloggess. I think you are absolutely hilarious and a great writer. Anywhoooo, I just wanted to say thanks for writing about Essential Tremors. I honestly have never heard anyone ever talk about it. Besides the doctor who nonchalantly told me I had it. He said it was genetic and not a big deal. Well it’s kind of a big deal to me every time one of my patients ask me if I’m SUPER nervous to be talking to them. I’m a psychologist and building trust is HUGE and the last thing you want is for your patients to think you’re terrified to talk to them. I take propranolol, which helps a bit but when stress hits, so does the shakies (as I like to call them). I hope that I don’t have to have my head cracked open and continuously electrocuted when I’m older.

    Reply

    • Lori Duff

      Thanks! I’m glad you found me! I know exactly what you mean — I’m a lawyer, and when I’m on trial, handling papers that are shaking, it’s a problem. I’ve heard people talk about how nervous I look. i’m not nervous! I just shake!! And yeah, stress is an ENORMOUS trigger. It isn’t a big deal in that it won’t kill you, but there are millions of ways that it affects your daily life. Buffet lines are a disaster. I was almost 40 before I even heard of it. I just called it “the shakes,” something my father and I share.

      Reply

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Lori Duff

Lori B. Duff is the author of the Amazon ‘Hot New Release’ Mismatched Shoes and Upside Down Pizza, a collection of autobiographical humor essays. The hard copy of the book can be found on Amazon & BarnesandNoble.com and select local retailers. The e-book can be found here. You can follow her on Twitter at @LoriBDuff and on Facebook. For more blogs written by Lori, click here. For more information about Lori in general, click here. If you want Lori to do your writing for you, click here.

Essential Tremor March 19, 2017

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