Broken

The color black often reflects an Essential Tremor moment. It doesn’t define me!

Before Essential Tremors (ET), I had a beautiful black coffee cup, my favorite to fill with hot coffee when I shared and served up a cup with friends. It was glossy black with a light purple shine, like a rich chess piece.

One week after I was diagnosed with Essential Tremors (ET), I welcomed several bible study group women over for a weekly group bible study and prayer meeting. I had not yet begun telling anyone, other than my mate and family, what I was dealing with in ET. After we settled in and the bible was gently laid between all of us, the cup slipped from my hands spilling hot coffee over the bible and on to the table, chipping my cup. Now, it’s defective just like I am.

ET doesn’t care what my favorite thing is when it strikes. Often, I don’t know anything has slipped away until I hear it drop.

Shaking hands tops the ET characteristics lists. I’ve dropped many things since ET came to live with me. Dishes. My Phone. Books. Coffee, water, milk… anything liquid in a glass, bowl or cup. Food. Shampoo. Make up (a big problem with red lipstick) … it’s an endless list.

ET is like a thief, taking one special thing at a time. I really miss my coffee cup. It was a gift from a friend who thought the black matched my dramatic personality. I agreed and received the gift with love.

When I first began to discern ET symptoms for myself, I realized how fortunate I was:  My hand shaking is moderate, even though very visible and disruptive to me. My hand tremors are increasing and creating more difficulty in most everyday tasks. Other ET’ers tell me this is natural. It doesn’t feel natural.

I am an avid book reader and I prop my book up with my knees to read or it will shiver and tremble like a cold wind has come over me. The words run together and the sentences become blurred. I have had my eyes checked, my glass prescription is current so the only difference is the essence of the tremors.

Early on, I experienced being thrown from my bike because of my shaking hands. One particular “perfect day for a ride,” I had been keeping a steady pace, keeping my eyes on the road for the most part. But, when I stopped at a street sign, my right hand pulled the bike handle to my left, turning the tire toward me. I lost my balance and was tossed onto the side of the street. It took two hard falls and a near concussion to remind me that I need to get physically stronger to stop the falls before the ground comes up to grasp me!

A few tips for your bicycle riding….

I turned to exercise to strengthen my grip, my wrists, arms, and shoulders. I am intentional and follow my physical activity routine to make sure ET knows I am not an easy target. On this blog, you can often catch a post with exercises and fun moves to inspire your body and mind. Having a positive attitude is half the battle!

You can’t have ET and easily get your feelings hurt. Several friends have acknowledged they don’t think I act or look like I have ET. I dress in my workout outfits or casual pants, skirts, or dresses. I put on my make up every day. I do all I can to look vibrant and highly functional, even though many times I don’t pull it off. I assure them I am not an imposter.

Credible research indicates that exercise can help lessen the impact of ET. I participate in several group exercise class weekly to strengthen my body, help with my balance, and provide a socially encouraging environment. Consider group exercise for your own ET challenges by researching what is available in your area. Your local YMCA is a great resource in many communities.

Yes, you can see the ET moving through me when I work out. Weight bars can throw me off guard so I use hand weights. ET is visible in my everyday walking gait. ET offers challenges when I drink or eat. ET is always with me.

I recently read that ET won’t kill you, but it has the power to significantly alter physical lifestyle. It’s a bit like a sucker punch, but I will count my everyday blessings and do all I can to offset the disabilities.

ET is not like a best friend, but rather like a mean girl in school.

In my next Blog post, I will talk about how healthy eating helps me. I will also discuss medication – what is right for me and for you, with the help of a doctor. We are not all alike, even though ET shadows us with its shifty characteristics.

It’s just a question of learning to slow down, take a deep breath and meet the moment.
— Graham Nash

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