After my husband’s diagnosis with Parkinson’s, we knew we would cope with whatever hand we were dealt. Sure it seems easier for me to say that since I’m not the one dealing with the symptoms but anyone who has dealt with the chronic illness of a loved one knows it’s a family affair – cue Sly & the Family Stone.
Still, we wondered what we would do when his disease progressed to the point where the medication wasn’t helping as much and the side affects were nearly as annoying as the symptoms. The answer from his neurologist: surgery.
The surgical procedure is called deep brain stimulation (DBS for short). The short definition is this is like a pacemaker for the brain. Once the procedure is complete, the goal is to use electrical impulses to help control the symptoms so the medication can be decreased, in turn also decreasing the side affects of the medication.
If you’re squeamish you may want to skip the rest of this blog post.
The way his surgeon works, this surgery is done in three parts. Part one consists of implanting four screws in the head. These screws are for a frame that will guide the surgeon in part two. Part one can be skipped but the alternative is to be bolted to the operating table for part two (a six hour surgery). Now we can say with certainty my husband has a few lose screws.
Part two for us is tomorrow. It is a fairly long procedure where they insert two probes in the brain. These will be attached to a battery pack implanted in his chest (that’s part three and will be done next week).
Once everything is in place and there is sufficient time for any swelling to go down, his neurologist will start playing with the current and medications, slowly increasing the voltage and decreasing the medication until the optimum combination has been hit.
There you have it in a nutshell. All prayers for a good outcome would be greatly appreciated. We are both very optimistic. Not a single person who has had this surgery has ever regretted it. That gives us a great deal of hope.