Now 82

I am now 82 years of age. The ET started gradually when I was about 50. I have a head wobble and shaking hands. Luckily the legs are fine at this stage. This is interesting because people observing an old lady with shakes, think that I need to be helped into a chair or across the road, but that is not what I want or need, which is a bit hard to explain. The other thing is that some people think that because I also have a voice tremor, I must be mentally deficient. A sense of humour is essential for such situations!

The first doctor I saw diagnosed the problem as Benign Familial Tremor. Because I could not nominate a member of my family that I knew of having suffered from tremor, he substituted Benign Essential Tremor, meaning thereby that it was essential (or unique) to me. He said he could prescribe propanalol for special occasions (like making a speech) but he refused to do so because he said it is a beta blocker and very bad for one. A subsequent doctor said the same. I have since heard of a friend who was given propanalol for some other complaint and ended up very ill in hospital from beta blocker side effects.

I am an artist by profession. I do illustrations and satirical drawings in the studio and also watercolour land/sea scapes done on location. I find that the latter are now virtually impossible because when members of the public stand around to watch, the shakes really set in. However, I can still work in the studio after imbibing some wine and turning on some music, so there is no stress and everything is conducive to a creative mode.

That is a strange thing about ET. I wake up every morning with the shakes, to the extent that I cannot write anything down, but after lunch with a couple of glasses of red wine, I am quite steady. There would be a temptation to have some alcohol for breakfast, but this I refuse to do in the interests of self-discipline. I do not crave alcohol at all, so am not addicted, but I just restrict myself to things in the morning that do not need a steady hand.

Using a computer is quite simple in the mornings, why I do not know. Once I get into a letter-writing mood, I am only thinking of what I am writing and I do not shake. Isn't that odd ? It may be that ones elbow is resting on the desk to type, whereas holding a paintbrush is different.

I am unaware of my head wobble most of the time. I find that my eyes focus quite happily and steadily on whatever I am doing, while the head waggles furiously. Can anyone explain that? Also, my head does not shake when I am looking in the mirror to comb my hair. (I gave up on lipstick when I turned 70, mainly because I don't think it looks any good on old skin...........but putting on makeup was never easy ) How come it is easy to comb the hair? There is a lot of psychology about ET and stress, but I doubt we will get advice about that as it is all so unpredictable.

One school of thought suggests that even if the tendency to have ET is hereditary, it comes out after long periods of severe stress. We would love to hear from anyone who will contact the Forum with the experience of ET resulting from prolonged stress. It is so helpful to share that sort of life experience with the rest of us.

Finally, there is one thing from which we can all take heart and which the rest of the world should know about us.................we do things BETTER under the influence of moderate alcohol, and that includes driving.