Essential Tremor and me

Have you ever held your breath when you try to put a key in a lock, when you put pen to paper because you can’t keep your hand still? Have you ever wished bar staff wouldn’t fill your glass to the top because it will end up on the floor or needed a friend to cut up your food when out for a meal? These are just some of the ways Essential Tremor has impacted me. 

After having a hand tremor for what felt like a lifetime my head started to join the party. This freaked me out! Not because I was worried about my health but because I was worried about how I looked and what people would think of me.

So, feeling a little awkward and embarrassed, I went to my GP to explain what was happening. To my surprise, after a brief examination, she explained that she would like to refer me to a neurologist and did some blood tests. Which proved I am ‘normal’. 

I went to see the neurologist who carried out some tests getting me to do various movements and tested my reflexes. I explained what was happening. Then he said… “you have a Benign Essential Tremor”. 

My immediate thought was ‘ok, wtf is that?’ He explained that it was to do with my brain and can affect hands, arms, head, tongue, neck, legs and feet. 

Brain doctor has confirmed I have a brain…..get in! 

He prescribed me beta-blockers (Propranolol) which help. He explained that it’s a life long condition which will get worse as I get older.  

He also said something I wasn’t expecting… If you don’t have your medication with you and feel you need your tremor to reduce alcohol will help, wine or spirits are best!

Did I just hear that right!?! A doctor just gave me advice to drink alcohol. Result! What a great excuse though ‘medicinal purposes’. 

My first prescription for Propranolol was 5mg as and when I needed it. I now take 80mg once a day every day. Unfortunately that now needs to be reviewed because my tremor is getting worse again. 

Rather than let this stop me doing things I try to find a way to adapt. I carry one drink at a time, I use a trackball mouse when on my PC, I use two hands when I need to for any tasks where normally it might be one. If I am having a particularly bad day I am lucky enough to have friends and family who understand and help me by taking my drink to the table or cutting my food up for me. Thankfully the latter has only happen once in public. 

When I eat out I make a point not to have soup or anything equally as awkward where I could cause a mess. I always go to my food rather than bring my food to my mouth. 

If people don’t like seeing that then that’s their problem not mine. 

But I am lucky, although my tremor is getting worse it is no where near as bad as the tremor that Roger Warburton has. I can only hope mine doesn’t get to that stage.

The tremor is part of me. I have chosen to embrace and adapt to it rather than hide away. I still play golf and have tees which are easier to balance the ball on.

Adapting to changes in our bodies is something most of us do or will need to do in the future. Don’t let ill health hold you back!

Oh and by the way – if you challenge me to a game of this the answer will be a resounding yes! Right after I have had a glass of wine!

Watch Chris Warburton’s footage of his dad, Roger receiving an implant to help his tremor click here.

If you would like more information on Essential Tremor or other types of tremor visit The National Tremor Foundation.