30 Days of Parkinson’s: Deciding to Go Forward with DBS

30 Days of Parkinson’s: Deciding to Go Forward with DBS
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Photo courtesy of Anthony Salas

Day 29 of 30

This is Anthony Salas’ story:

On Monday, June 22, 2015, I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. It was definitely a shock, although I should have suspected it, given my loss of smell and taste, the shuffling when I walked, the shaking in my right hand, and other symptoms.

Once I came to grips with it, I started searching for information. I was particularly interested in finding a good support group. I eventually found a group that was meeting in Pasadena, California, and decided I’d attend and see if it might help. As it turned out, this was a wonderful group. Not only was it small and intimate, but it was led by a nurse who arranged for great speakers and was herself very knowledgeable.

In fact, this nurse changed my life. At the time of my diagnosis, at age 55, I was still working and hoping to work another 10–15 years. But at the rate my Parkinson’s was progressing, I knew I’d have to go on disability within a few years. I needed something to help me keep working and that’s where nurse Jen came in. She introduced me to DBS, or deep brain stimulation.

My first reaction to DBS was “No way! I’m not going to put wires into my brain!” But the more I learned, the more it seemed like a viable option. I did a lot of research, but it wasn’t until I spoke to a man named Mark — who had the surgery and said it changed his life in a very positive way — that I decided to give it a try.

So in August 2018, I made the decision to go forward with DBS surgery. They put two units into my chest, each one wired into my brain, in two different surgeries, one on Nov. 1, 2018, and the second on Dec. 6, 2018.

Was it hard and painful? Yes. Was it worth it? Absolutely. It has not been a perfect solution. All of the symptoms are still present, but to a much lesser degree. However, five years following my initial diagnosis, I’m still working and feeling good. I couldn’t ask for anything more in my life.

Parkinson’s News Today’s 30 Days of Parkinson’s campaign will publish one story per day for Parkinson’s Awareness Month in April. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more stories like this, using the hashtag #30DaysofPAR, or go here to see the full series. 

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