Medcheck: Overcoming essential tremors
Essential tremors can prevent people from doing everyday tasks.
That was the case for one Arkansas man, who says he resorted to drinking to calm his hands enough to write his monthly bills.
But surgery changed his life.
"I was having a terrible time living and I just knew I had to do something or I had to leave here," said James Kimbrough.
James Kimbrough lived for years with a severe tremor... that robbed him of the ability to do basic tasks.
"Get the key in the keyhole, drinking a cup of coffee without spilling it all over me, pouring a cup of coffee without spilling it, putting toothpaste on the toothbrush. Buttons on your shirts. I had gotten to the point where I was drinking three burbon and cokes every night so I could write well enough for somebody to read it and understand it. " said Kimbrough.
He said he couldn't even sign his name.
He was diagnosed with essential tremor, and after meeting with Dr. Rohit Dhall, a neurologist at University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), decided to undergo a surgery called deep brain stimulation.
"My surgeon Dr. Peterson would put wires in the brain, they'd stimulate the region that propogates the tremor in the brain. And by stimulating that area we're able to shut out the propogation of the tremor," said Dr. Dhall.
The surgery required Mr. Kimbrough to be awake.
"It's the only way we can reliably test that we've hit the right target," said Dr. Dhall.
Despite his fears, the surgery went smoothly.
"When we got back to recovery I had them get me a cup of coffee and it was the first cup of coffee I could drink without spilling it in maybe 2 or 3 years 24," said James Kimbrough.
He calls it a miracle.
"I want to live out my life like I'm living and I can now, so that's a true blessing from God," said Kimbrough.
Dr. Dhall said the condition is sometimes confused with Parkinson's, but unlike Parkinson's there are not other issues with stiffness or balance. He also says essential tremors can sometimes be controlled with medication or lifestyle changes, but for Mr. Kimbrough, ultimately the suregry was life changing.