I have a familial tremor. I also have manic depression that has not responded to treatment for over 25 years. As a result of that I am facing a dilemma with respect to treatment.
What is a familial tremor?
While I have linked you to the basic definition, I can tell you that living with it is terrible. I can barely hold a cup of coffee because my hands shake so badly and I cannot walk a straight line when asked to put one foot in front of the other.
This all started as a minor tremor when I was about 20. My father had it but he did not live long enough for us to see the full effects.
The treatment for a severe familial tremor is a deep brain implant. This would consist of neurologists planting a device in my brain. It would be run by a battery that would be put in my chest. The implant would stop unwanted brain triggers to my body.
What is manic depression also called bipolar disorder?
Manic depression is a mental disorder that causes mood swings. One day I can be happy and excited and the next day I can be depressed and homebound.
I was first diagnosed with this in 1985 and began and maintained counseling as well as heavy medications. Despite this effort I have failed to succeed in controlling the illness.
While years ago electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) was considered a dangerous act, today it is a safe and effective therapy.
When receiving electroconvulsive therapy, an electric current will be passed through my brain causing a minor seizure. In a way it is a “slap in the face” to bring a patient “around.”
I have been approved for electroconvulsive therapy. However I have a problem.
With respect to my manic depression I am mostly depressed. I used to have a “purer” form of the illness meaning that I went back and forth between happy and sad. However now I tend to be mostly depressed.
As it turns out a deep brain implant is not recommended for people with depression because it carries as a side effect the strong possibility of making them more depressed.
So, what are my options? I can take a chance and have the deep brain implant. I can have the electroconvulsive therapy. It alone is scary since I must have three “shocks” per week for four weeks.
Basically what the physicians are telling me is the two treatments are mutually exclusive.
Should I attack the manic depression and be a more “stable” person or should I go after my shakiness hoping to go back to work as a senior in an economy that surely is going to be financially challenging?
I am going to Indiana University Hospital on September 4 to examine the deep brain options first.
If you are suffering from either condition stay tuned and I will continue to report on what I find out and decide to do.
As things stand now if I had to make a decision today, I would go for the ECT