At 64 years of age, three heart operations and numerous stents and angioplasties, I retired in September of 2005. Little did I know, I was retiring straight into Parkinson’s disease. It had to be one of the worst months of my life. I had taken a shower on the 15th of September and as I was drying off, my head filled with a buzzing sound and the left side of my body started shaking. I didn’t say anything to anybody at the time, but inside I knew something was wrong.
Every time I would start driving or get anxious about anything, the left side of my body would shake and feel numb. My wife then noticed my personality had changed and my body was shaking. She and I didn’t understand what was going on, so we made an appointment to see a neurologist in Canton. He ran some tests, and when we returned for results he diagnosed me with restless leg syndrome and prescribed some pills to manage my symptoms advising everything would clear up within 90 days. Instead of clearing up, my symptoms worsened.
We decided to make an appointment with a new neurologist in Medina. This doctor prescribed a few different pills and requested a follow-up visit in three months. After 45 days, my arms and legs started shaking and my face started to show signs of unpleasant expressions that I could not control. People began staring when I went out to eat or went shopping. I felt scared and upset by their attentions.
My body was growing terribly weak, my balance was off causing falls and my speech began to slur. Between the stress and the symptoms, I was not sleeping at all. I felt terrible inside and I couldn’t understand what was going on. I was taking thirty-six pills a day but still my symptoms were getting worse.
One night, around 7pm, my daughter came to my house and said, “We’re going to the emergency room at University Hospital in Cleveland.” The hospital admitted me for about two weeks and advised me to see a movement disorder neurologist. They suggested a specialist who came to my room to see me. He said he could fix my condition, if I qualified. Candidates undergo careful observation and a series of tests to determine if they are likely to respond to Deep Brain Stimulation Surgery (DBS). My movement disorder specialist took me off of the 36 pills a day, stating many of them were unnecessary.
After six months of testing, I had my deep brain stimulation surgery. Today, about one year after surgery, I don’t shake. My speech is okay. My balance is good and I control the faces I make. I know that DBS isn’t a cure, but it has allowed me to enjoy my family, my grandchildren and my friends. I have decided to live one day at a time, as I tell my friends, God always wants to help you – he sure has helped me!
I would like to thank my wife, Edie as well as Rusty Phipps, Jr, a close family friend. I am also grateful to the staff at Mercy Medical. Thank you for all you did for me, especially Chris. my physical therapist; Debbie, my speech therapist; and “the other Debbie,” my occupational therapist.