Human Guinee Pig for Parkinson’s Research

1 Mar

                       Gary at the Butterfly Conservatory at Key West, FL

I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease at age 48 in 2004.  In February 2010 I received Deep Brain Stimulation surgery:  http://www.webmd.com/parkinsons-disease/deep-brain-stimulation  I was approved for the surgery because my symptoms had grown more and more difficult, at times leaving me practically paralyzed or with way too much movement because of the level of medicine.

Fast forward to March 7, 2012.  With periodic reprogramming the surgery has been a huge success!  I still at times struggle with slurred or indistinct speech, some balance problems, slow movement, etc.  Much better than before DBS surgery, though.

I have been asked to participate in a Parkinson’s research project comparing balance with and without Deep Brain Stimulation on March 7.  I will go to the testing UN-medicated.  Fortunately my daughter, Cheryl, will be able to take me to the University of Cincinnati since she has appointments there.  Fortunately, my wife doesn’t have to take ANOTHER day off.  They will do balance tests for 2 hours, the they will turn my DBS off and do the same balance tests.  This will be the first time my DBS has been off for this long while also off my PD medicine!  I turned it off one time for 30 minutes about 6 months ago and turned it right back on because of the symptoms.  This will be about 2 hours!

I am a bit apprehensive about the process of being off my DBS and medicine for two hours but I’m willing to go through this for the furthering of research.  I am also curious to meet the REAL me – the me without medicine and DBS!  If you know me, the  me you see is not the true me.  I’m the person you see who is able to function because of medicine but mostly because of a medical device.  It will be interesting (and frightening) to meet myself on Wednesday!  Ironic, isn’t it!

God has provided for my daily functioning with medicine and the DBS.   I am eternally grateful to have the life I have!  He knew me before I was even born, “…All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”  (Psalm 139:15-16)  Nothing is a surprise for Him.  He will be with me through this research project as He always is.  I’ll report after next Wednesday how it all went.

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