A shaky existence

In my experience people always have a thing. Some kind of health related issue that may or may not be immediately obvious. For some people it is allergies – intolerance to lactose and dairy being very ubiquitous these days. Many people have things like asthma which they manage on a day to day basis. Others have more serious health problems – some that they have dealt with and moved on from, and others that they are still dealing with today. But generally everyone has something, and I am no exception to the rule.

When I was about 12, which, if I lived in the Marvel universe, would be a good age to develop some superpowers, I discovered what my thing was. And unfortunately it wasn’t a superpower. I was giving a speech to my class at school. Not a major, I thought. I had given speeches before and actually enjoyed it. Liked being the centre of attention and informing my classmates about important topics like…the Commonwealth Games or how to become a radio DJ. But on this particular occasion I got the shakes. And not just a little – majorly. One of my classmates later described it as like ‘watching someone have a mini earthquake’. And my parents and I soon realised that this wasn’t an isolated incident, I was shaking all the time.

It wasn’t super serious, but it was enough to make us want to find out what was causing it and whether it was going to get worse. After a few visits to various doctors and neurologists (who confirmed that I did, despite aspersions cast by my siblings, have a brain) it was diagnosed that I had something called a hereditary non-essential tremor. No kidding, I thought, it isn’t essential to me at all that I have this thing! But, have it I did. Apparently I had one of my parents to blame – probably my Dad whose grandfather had displayed similar symptoms. And there was nothing really to be done about it – I could take medication to reduce the severity of the shaking but, barring laser surgery on my brain, which I really wasn’t keen on – now that I knew I had a brain I wasn’t keen on putting it at risk – I just had to live with it.

And live with it I have. I recently had cause to see a different neurologist, just to check in on whether there have been any advances regarding treatment and to get his opinion on the whole thing. Apart from being mildly mis-diagnosed – I have a thing called dystonic tremor rather than non-essential, which means my shakes are more jerky and sporadic than consistent – he was pretty relaxed about the whole thing. ‘Look’, he said, ‘if you wanted to be a bomb disposal expert or a heart surgeon then yes, this would be a disability. But you seem to be coping pretty well as it is’. Which is true.

Sure, it’s annoying sometimes. It is easier to drink out of a bottle or straw where I can, people often think I am cold or nervous when I am neither, and sometimes you get some funny looks when people notice. But, if that’s the worst I have had to suffer through so far – which it pretty much is – then I am a lucky girl. People who know me say they forget all about it now – and it is only once in a while that they will notice. People who don’t know me will either notice and not say anything, notice and ask someone else what it is, or be uber blunt and just ask me. I really don’t mind what route people take to be honest – though questions like ‘are you having some kind of severe reaction to detoxing from Class A narcotics’ should probably be avoided 😉

So yeah, that is my thing. Why am I blogging about it, you ask? Well, two reasons really. One – as it occurred to me the other day that everyone has something, and you don’t have to dig too far to find it. As it turns out, mine is quite an obvious thing. I think once you realise that everyone has something – it makes you are far less likely to wallow in a ‘why is this happening to me?’ puddle for too long. And secondly, I realised that probably not that many of the people who know me – beyond my close friends and family  – actually know what the reason for my shaking is. They just know that I do it and accept it as part of my ‘Jessness’. But, now you know the real reason. So no, drinking coffee or eating soup probably won’t be in my future, but I am pretty sure I can live with that 😉

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