I am Reducing my Predicted Life Expectancy from 91 to 81

My brain is malfunctioning. I inherited essential tremor disorder from my mom. A child of a parent with essential tremor disorder has a 50% chance of developing the disorder during their lifetime. I am 59 years old, and I think my mom was the exact same age when it developed in her, and the disorder is manifesting in the same way–my head involuntarily shakes. The disorder is a result of a mutation in a gene that causes changes in the way the cerebellum communicates with the rest of the brain, but scientists don’t yet understand the mechanism behind the miscommunication. I first noticed a feeling that my head wanted to shake a few months ago. Then, it did start to shake, but I didn’t pay attention to it until a few weeks ago when I went to the gym. They have narrow mirrors in the locker room that make me look muscular, and I like to look at myself with my shirt off. But on this occasion, I looked at my face and realized I look old…and my head was shaking. The sudden epiphany reminded me of an old episode of the tv series, Dark Shadows, when a jilted lover/doctor deliberately screwed up a cure for Barnabas’s vampirism, and he suddenly aged to 100 years old. I can’t believe how old I look. I am not upset about this development, just surprised. This is the first time anything has ever gone wrong with my body. My wife is not impressed–she has been disabled and wheelchair bound for 26 years–but I am amazed. I am human after all.

I looked in the mirror at the gym the other day and suddenly realized I look old, and my head was involuntarily shaking. I inherited essential tremor disorder from my mom.
My cerebellum is malfunctioning.

Essential tremor disorder is not a fatal condition, but there is no cure for it, though the symptoms can be treated. I reject most treatment options. Beta blockers cause light-headedness. I have to take care of a disabled person 24 hours a day, and I can’t risk being dizzy when I help transfer her into and out of her wheelchair. Anti-seizure medications and tranquilizers cause drowsiness. I might as well save a trip to the drug store and drink alcohol which I am used to. For me it takes at least 2 glasses of wine, but alcohol does stop my head from shaking. Botox injections are another treatment option, but they cause muscle weakness. Brain surgery is yet another option. Surgeons can implant a probe that interrupts signals between the cerebellum and the rest of the brain. I’d rather endure head shaking than risk expensive and hazardous brain surgery, even if it is considered a minor procedure.

The biggest concern for me is the elevated risk of developing dementia. At least 13 studies have determined essential tremor disorder is associated with a higher risk of developing dementia. My mom lived with this condition for 18 years before she did develop Alzheimer’s disease. The last 2 years of her life were simply a rapid decline into ever worsening dementia until she passed away. One study found that 25% of people with essential tremor disorder develop dementia compared to 9% of people without the disorder. I could only find 1 contradictory ongoing study. Doctors are studying people in an Arizona nursing home. Most of the dementia patients in this study never had essential tremor disorder. However, this study seems to be an outlier.

I formerly estimated that I would live to be 91 years old based on the ages of my parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. I had great-grandparents who lived to be 98 and 92. My grandparents lived to be 90, 89, 85, and 82. My parents lived to be 84 and 79. My condition resembles my mom’s who lived to be 79, but I am physically more robust and exercise more. I think I’ll outlast her by a couple of years, unless I die of a stroke, jogging in the Georgia summertime heat on my hangover day. I am ok with dying 10 years earlier than I predicted. I wasn’t looking forward to being an octogenarian anyway. I don’t want to be a shriveled up old man who probably can’t get an erection. I don’t see the point of living if I can’t get a boner. After I die, I want to be buried in a cheap pine coffin, so paleontologists and archaeologists can dig up my bones hundreds or thousands of years from now.

References:

Janicki, S; S. Cosentae, and F. Lewis

“The Cognitive Side of Essential Tremors: What are the Therapeutic Implications?”

Ther. Adv. Dev. Disord. 6 (6) 2013

Mehto, S.

“Assessing the Relationship Between ET and Dementia”

IFFT Funded Research

Thawani, S. ; N. Shupt, and E. Louis

“Essential Tremor is Associated with Dementia”

Neurologia 73 (8) 2005

One Response to “I am Reducing my Predicted Life Expectancy from 91 to 81”

  1. Beck andd Bulow Says:

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