Okay, to begin with, there is really nothing funny about having essential Tremors. I have cried so many tears and hurt so many times, I can’t even count. When I look back over the years and how many episodes I experienced with shaking hands and an overall feeling of unsteadiness, I wonder if it had been ET all along.
Nearly thirty years ago, my daughter and I ventured out for a day at our local flea market. The parking around the fairgrounds where it is held every weekend is very sparse and a busy road separates much of the parking from the market area. As I began across the street, I had a sensation of “going down.” Next thing I knew, I was on my knees surrounded by spectators with no interest in helping me out of the road as cars approached.
This wasn’t the first time I had this experience. One evening, again with my daughter, we took in a movie. After howling at “Tootsie,” we were on our way to our car and I simply walked right off the curb. I just went down. My daughter looked over expecting to see me and I was on the concrete. She got me up and we had a little laugh. We both just assumed I had not noticed the curb drop. But we had been to this theater on several occasions. Why had I not noticed the curb before. I had never walked off a curb without noticing it.
Those incidents were decades ago. Now I wonder if those were part of essential tremors. I have fallen in the past couple of years. Once outside putting away a carpet cleaner in the outdoor shed. I stepped back off the step and hit the ground. My head struck the step but I was not injured. I cried and yelled for my daughter to come and help. She picked me up, worried that I needed to seek emergency help, but I was fine other than being scared and bruised.
Just this past winter, I fell again. I was putting out some recycling and just went down again. I have no understanding of what happened. I didn’t black out. I didn’t step wrong. I just was on the pavement of the porch with a bloodied elbow. My daughter came to help me up and get me cleaned up. When I put weight down on my right leg, I thought I was seeing stars! I had strained my groin and my daughter spent the next week bringing me a bed pan so I could pee! It hurt too much to get to the bathroom. I kept ice packs on my groin, (not the best place for them), and popped ibuprofen and Tylenol for pain. It took weeks, but I was finally able to walk without pain again. That is, unless you count my arthritis.
I haven’t heard of people falling who have ET. Maybe it is a separate issue. But doctors and neurologists have ruled out Parkinson’s and my strength has been good. I worry one day I will hurt myself badly. I have shaken as I tried to prepare meals. I have not burned myself yet, but I worry I will. Tub baths are no longer an option. I have a bathtub seat I use each time I am in the shower. Small things like opening cans and holding cups of tea are a challenge to say the least. Sometimes my food never makes it to my mouth as my hand trembles and I cry from not being able to just taste my food. I make apologies for my shaky hands as nurses try to draw blood or take my blood pressure. They say it’s okay, but I know it isn’t. Walking is difficult on many days. I have to use a cane and hold on to my daughter’s arm. I make a few stumbles and pray no one around me thinks I am a staggering drunk. I try to laugh. My daughter laughs. It is better than tears no matter how much it hurts.
I remember one evening years ago when I poured myself a cup of milk before bed and “went down,” as I wandered to the couch. I hit the floor but I was able to keep myself steady enough to set the cup on the floor beside me. It was then that our Cocker Spaniel, Goldie, came over and without a care, began supping up the milk out of the cup. I laughed heartily over that one.
Those times, I find it easy to laugh at the shakes, the stumbles, the uneasiness. I have cried too many tears, and I will cry many more. I just try to keep the memories of laughs so the tears are easier to bear.