Diann Shaddox Foundation for Essential Tremor
The Things of Life
Familial or Essential Tremors: You Are Not Alone
by Nancy Carol Brown Hardin
I don't dare carry a cup of coffee from the kitchen to my computer desk. It's impossible for me to take photographs with any kind of camera. Turning the pages of a book is difficult and sometimes I turn two or three. When I eat, it's almost like playing a game of "catch the fork," or the other fun game of "How much of this food can I wear?" I'm no longer able to hand write anything, and barely able to sign "Love, Mom" or "Love, Granny" to birthday and Christmas cards. I use a label program on my computer for addressing envelopes. As for other relatives or friends, they get cards from me only online.
I'm Sure You're Wondering....
If you're wondering "What on earth is this woman talking about?" here's the answer. I have a condition that is known as Familial Tremors orEssential Tremors. My family knows this, but few of my online writing colleagues do, so this may be a revelation to some.
I've Lived With This For Years
That's right, it's nothing new for me. I've had this condtion for several years, but it's worsened as I've aged. Oddly enough, it seems to affect my right hand more than my left, and since I'm right handed that's not a good thing. In my young years, I was able to partially control it or mask it, but now that's no longer possible. The simple task of bringing a cup of coffee with me to my office is a cautious task at best, and a total mess at worst. Some days I can manage to actually have coffee in my cup when I get to my desk. HA! But the solution of course, is to use acovered carafe, or a thermal cup with a no leak top. I prefer the cup, because the coffee stays hot longer.
There Are Medications For Tremor
A few years back my doctor put me on a medication originally designed to help with convulsions, but which is also used to aid the lessening of tremors. After about a year, the strength of the dosage was increased. This medication is only taken at night when I'm going to bed, because it does tend to put me to sleep. It has an accumulative effect, providing better results over a regular period of taking the drug. However, there are those who prefer not to take a medication for the problem.
Other Diseases and Conditions That Mimic
If I miss my meds for any reason, and I do my best not to, my entire body shakes as though I have what the old folks in my childhood home called "St. Vitus Dance," which is actually Sydenham's Chorea, another movement disorder. As far as I know, there has never been a connection between the two. Parkinson's Disease, is another ailment that causes uncontrollable movement, caused by a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system. Again, there has never been a connection between Parkinson's and Familial or Essential Tremors.
Why Is This Called "Familial" or Essential Tremors?
These tremors are often referred to as Familial or Essential Tremors because they usually run in families. It's thought to be a genetic mutation and is dominant, meaning if only one of the parents has it, the children are more likely to have it. I can remember my mother as she aged, and I watched her hands shaking. I didn't realize it wasn't due to her age, but to this disorder. Now I see the signs of tremor in two of my children, a son and a daughter. They didn't show the symptoms when they were little, but developed them in their young adult years, just as I have. I'm sure as they grow older, they will have the same problems I do. There are young children who have Essential Tremor, and you can find more about it at the links I've provided below.