Diann Shaddox Foundation for Essential Tremor
Doris Aldrich Smith
Ten million people in the United States shake due to essential tremor. It is a syndrome with no cure yet. Medications and procedures can calm some tremors, but not all. Those of us with ET have to learn to live with it and find unique ways to deal with it.
My essential tremor reared its ugly head during my freshman year at college. No insecure, very shy, introverted girl wants to hear a voice behind her say, “Hey, girl, what’s wrong with you? Are you scared?” No, I wasn’t scared, just having a tremor beginning from an unknown source and terribly embarrassed.
As with most cases, my ET progressed. My head shivered back and forth as if I were constantly telling everyone, “No, no.” Nevertheless, I incorporated it into my life and prayed each day that IT wouldn’t be noticeable or IT would go away. I got married, had a daughter, taught school for twenty-seven years, and at the age of 48 retired early and enrolled in seminary. Not because I wanted to become a student again, but because God was calling me. After graduation I was ordained and pastored in six different churches in twenty-four years. Yes, I stood in front of classrooms and congregations to teach and preach. I explained ET, but didn’t dwell on it. Sixty years of tremors in my head and now it is starting in my hands. Many of you can relate to that.
One of my most embarrassing ET moments was at age 75 sitting next to my 104-year-old mother-in-law at her assisted living home. We were listening to an older man entertaining the small crowd with music. After a short time he told everyone to lift their hands and sway them side to side. My mother-in-law and I chose not to follow the instructions. He looked at me, saw my essential tremor head indicating no, no, and he stopped singing. He said, “No, we can’t do that! She says no.” I tried to hold my head steadier with little success. Several more times he stopped and pointed at me, so everyone turned to stare and see who was “disobeying.” Embarrassment and a little bit of anger. After the performance I did talk to him quietly. It may have embarrassed him, but I hoped he would not do that with anyone else in his audiences. Ten years ago I would have kept quiet and told myself to “suck it up, cupcake.” Not anymore.
Do you wonder why we don’t see many others with essential tremor in stores or on the sidewalk? Where are the other 9,999,999 of us? The best place to find others is in a support group.
After my second retirement, I began in earnest to write fiction books. I have two fictional series, several stand-alone books, devotionals and Bible studies, and one children’s picture book.
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