Parkinson's disease

Elisabet - Interview 08

Female
Age at interview: 67
Age at diagnosis: 50

Brief outline: Elisabet was diagnosed in 1990. In 2006, she had deep brain stimulation which was successful and has improved her symptoms considerably.

Background: Married, 2 children, still working as a nutrionist.

Audio & video

For many years Elisabet had unexplained pains on one leg and her legs were different temperatures, one warm and one cold. Then she noticed while sitting on a beach one day that one leg was shaking. Over the years, the tremor spread slowly to her right arm and then to the left side. She had frequent bouts of depression which were only relieved by increasing doses of levodopa.

 

Elisabet was put on a waiting list for an operation called deep brain stimulation in a hospital nearby her in Norway and to her surprise was offered a chance to have the operation very rapidly. She was glad she did not have long to think about what it involved. Although she had to be awake throughout the day long operation so that the surgeons could check that they were in the right spot, she was kept comfortable and was not anxious. Electrodes were inserted into her brain. The battery is expected to last for 5-6 years after which it will have to be replaced. She is always aware of the battery which is situated in her chest and is afraid of dislodging it. She has to mention it in airports as they could be damaged by the screening process.

 

She was concerned that the operation would affect her intellect, but apart from a problem occasionally finding appropriate words she doesn’t feel it has. She sleeps well for the first time in her life. The tremor is barely a problem now and easily controlled with small amounts of medication.

 

Elisabet had been having a slight problem driving a manual car before the operation and lost her driving license after an incident but was allowed to have it back so long as she reapplies every two years. Since the operation she no longer needs to drive an automatic car.

 

She finds it frustrating that the neurologist, the physiotherapist and the neuropsychiatrist are interested in different aspects of her situation and she feels that none of them are seeing the whole picture.

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