Meet Paul Flick. He is 58 years old. Originally from New Jersey, he now resides in Florida with his wife after moving a mere 23 times. He received his BS in Information Systems from Drexel and is employed as a Systems Analyst. His travels and interactions with people from many cultures have made him understand that what he does every day is “resolve problems for people.”
When Paul was younger, he used to visit his grandmother. While he noticed her hand tremors, he chalked it up to her elderly age. Then, in his late 30’s, they began holding out their hands to compare whose tremor was worse that day.
Over the last 4 years, Paul’s hand tremor continued to get worse and his first concern was – do I have Parkinson’s disease? He set up an appointment with a neurologist, and after testing the diagnosis was essential tremor. Medication was prescribed, first one then another and then another. Even with the medication, he continued to shake.
“I would be walking with my wife and holding her hand. I love to do that. Then she would point out that both of our hands were shaking. I would hold tighter, and then our hands would shake even more.”
At work, Paul was keenly aware of his hand tremor. He needed to use two hands to align the tiny screwdriver into the ridge of a screw when switching out a hard drive. Sometimes his shaking would result in a double-click instead of a single when working with the laptop mouse of the computer. If there was stress, and there always is stress at work, the tremor was exacerbated. Paul hid it, afraid of the possible consequences if he couldn’t perform his job.
Paul has a very close relationship with his wife’s family, and his mother-in-law began researching treatments for tremor. One day she showed him an advertisement for a radiation treatment for essential tremor. Paul began researching and came across another ad for a treatment option that uses sound waves called Neuravive. Not only did it not use radiation, the results could be immediate.
He continued his research – it is what he does to understand everything about a subject. Paul’s research led him to a Neuravive treatment center. After a CT scan, they informed him that he was suitable for treatment. Unfortunately, however, treatment would require a costly out-of-pocket payment which Paul was not prepared to make.
Paul was not discouraged and continued his research – now focusing on other Neuravive treatment centers and neurosurgeons performing the treatment across the country. He had a great experience at UPenn, where he chose to have the focused ultrasound treatment. The support and patient advocacy efforts of the UPenn team and additional patient advocacy team, were instrumental in working with his health insurance provider to obtain coverage for the treatment.
Paul flew to UPenn twice, first for an initial assessment by Dr. Baltuch, the treating neurosurgeon, and then for the treatment. When Paul talks about the treatment day, he recalls the noise of the MRI, the feeling of heat on his scalp, a transient sense of motion sickness and the final application of sound energy. He remembers Dr. Baltuch saying that they had found the spot, and in 20 seconds the treatment would be done. Paul said to himself – 20 seconds – I can do anything for 20 seconds. Yes, it was painful, but it was only 20 seconds.
His message to anyone who is thinking about getting the focused ultrasound treatment – “I would definitely do it again.” After a short recovery, he went home with a steady hand and a minor side effect, tingling on his tongue, which has been gradually disappearing over the last several weeks.
Paul says that essential tremor impacts every essential task in a person’s day. He retells stories of eating Chinese food and having the rice jump off his fork. He retells the personal frustration and embarrassment of sloshing a glass of water all over himself at the burger place he and his wife frequent.
After the focused ultrasound treatment, he just stared at his hand in amazement. Dr. Baltuch grabbed his own phone and called Paul’s wife so that Paul could share the experience with her. She thinks the outcome is remarkable.
“I still find myself staring at my hand to make sure it is still not shaking. Many people came together to make this happen for me. I am very thankful to them all.”
Today, Paul and his wife can take a walk and hold hands, no shaking.
If you are interested in learning more, you can speak with an educator at 1-800-775 5073
*This patient testimonial may not be representative of all patient outcomes.