Five years after Deep Brain Stimulation Surgery for Parkinson’s

13 Mar

Gary with his halo on before DBS Surgery 2010

This is a picture of me with my halo screwed to my head just before DBS surgery.  They use the halo in surgery to place the wires accurately where they need to go (which is a good thing!).

It has been 5 years since I had Deep Brain Stimulation Surgery ((DBS) – what a miracle of science.  Place two little wires implanted in my brain, add some electricity, and wham – I get my life back – or most of it.

Let me expand on that a little – current symptoms:  I can’t speak very well, my voice is indistinct and speech garbled much of the time.  My wife, Carol, is so patient with me, asking over and over to repeat!  I learned how to write in elementary school, but have lost the ability to physically write much more than my first name.  Fortunately I can type, so I carry a tablet most of the time to take notes in – thank You Lord for the modern digital era!!  I also get easily fatigued, so I have to watch my energy level.  But I drive, dress, feed myself, etc. all of which would have been difficult or impossible without DBS.

How do I know that?  I have accidentally let the battery go dead twice – I charge it once per week for about 2 hours – and found out very quickly that without DBS and WITH medicine, I am very impaired.  My right arm is nearly paralyzed, my face drawn into a frightful mask, and the act of moving is like walking or moving through mud.  WITHOUT DBS and WITHOUT medicine, movement is nearly impossible.  Getting dressed – forget it!  Drive – You wouldn’t want to see that scene – scary.  Massive pileup.  Eating – very sketchy if nearly impossible.  The meds only last an hour or two, then I would not be able to move, stuck in cement, for another two hours when my next dose would be due.   To a lessor degree that was my life before the DBS operation.  The “On/off” was a killer.

You can see why I am thankful to the Lord for DBS!  That includes my photography career/hobby on steroids (as Carol; my wife calls it).  Thankfully I have early onset Parkinson’s which was diagnosed when I was 48 years old. I have now been under the Parkinson’s spell for 11 years!  Many people who have early onset don’t have quivering hands.  Mine are steady as a rock!  Makes for much sharper photos when the camera isn’t gyrating !!

My 27 year career in sales was very satisfying, mostly enjoyable and somewhat successful.  The last 5 years, however was somewhat of a challenge.  What do salespeople do – talk and talk and talk…  As I lost my ability to speak clearly I’m sure many of my customers were saying (to themselves), “What did he just tell me?”.  In 2009 I left the material handling industry (not by choice), was unemployed for a few months and was hired as an Industrial Telemarketer.  You heard right – telemarketing for a guy who couldn’t speak.  To be clear, I could get by in the mornings when I could speak better, so I worked in the mornings until 2 years later even morning speech wasn’t working and I was forced to quit, trusting God to supply our needs!  One week later I received Social Security Disability (after only one application, most of the time it takes many multiple applications!)  That was a direct supply of our needs by our Heavenly Father, who worked it out to get my application through the red tape at just the right time.

So, you might ask what am I doing today?  I am involved with The Fine Art Center at Cross Pointe, a coop art gallery in Centerville, OH.  I display my photos there and I’m the Webmaster and Facebooker.  I am an also an event photographer for churches and non-profit organizations.  And I’m a landscape photographer.  My photo website is:

I can drive.  I can move, somewhat.  I can feed and dress myself.  I am so thankful to the Lord for the things I can do!!  Nothing like losing some capabilities to make you appreciate what you have left.  I am eternally grateful for my loving family who are patient with me and Jesus who died in my place on the cross! As is famously quoted from 9-11, “Lets roll”.





2 Responses to “Five years after Deep Brain Stimulation Surgery for Parkinson’s”

  1. Brad Kunze March 13, 2015 at 10:20 pm #

    Thanks for sharing this. Love you!



  2. Beth Herring March 13, 2015 at 11:17 pm #


    I loved reading your article. It seems to me that you have hit the nail on the head for me….don’t mourn what Don could do that he can’t do anymore, but concentrate on what he still CAN do. Thanks for the reminder.

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