I’ve Been Diagnosed with Essential Tremor (ET) | Couple's Net | Chandrama Anderson | Almanac Online |

Local Blogs

Couple's Net

By Chandrama Anderson

E-mail Chandrama Anderson

About this blog: About this blog: I am a LMFT specializing in couples counseling and grief and have lived in Silicon Valley since 1969. I'm the president of Connect2 Marriage Counseling. I worked in high-tech at Apple, Stanford University, and in ...  (More)

View all posts from Chandrama Anderson

I’ve Been Diagnosed with Essential Tremor (ET)

Uploaded: Aug 14, 2020
According to the Mayo Clinic: “Essential tremor is a nervous system (neurological) disorder that causes involuntary and rhythmic shaking. It can affect almost any part of your body, but the trembling occurs most often in your hands - especially when you do simple tasks, such as drinking from a glass or tying shoelaces.

Essential tremor is usually not a dangerous condition, but it typically worsens over time and can be severe in some people. Other conditions don't cause essential tremor, although essential tremor is sometimes confused with Parkinson's disease.

Essential tremor can occur at any age but is most common in people age 40 and older.

Essential tremor signs and symptoms:
• Begin gradually, usually more prominently on one side of the body
• Worsen with movement
• Usually occur in the hands first, affecting one hand or both hands
• Can include a "yes-yes" or "no-no" motion of the head
• May be aggravated by emotional stress, fatigue, caffeine or temperature extremes

About half of essential tremor cases appear to result from a genetic mutation. This form is referred to as familial tremor. It isn't clear what causes essential tremor in people without a known genetic mutation.

Essential tremor isn't life-threatening, but symptoms often worsen over time. If the tremors become severe, you might find it difficult to:
• Hold a cup or glass without spilling
• Eat normally
• Put on makeup or shave
• Talk, if your voice box or tongue is affected
• Write legibly”

According to an & treatment article on the National Institute of Health, the age- and gender-adjusted prevalence of ET is estimated to be 3 to 4 per 1000, with an annual incidence of 23.7 per 100,000.

What does this mean for me and for us as a couple? I apparently have a mild case (at this point). When I had a video appointment with my doctor it was as if I’d gone to the mechanic - the tremors weren’t that bad, and it was early in the morning (it seems to be worse as the day progresses). My son noticed it for the first time yesterday when we had lunch together and he commented on it.

I’ve had it for a while; it is getting more intense. I notice things like this:
- My writing is getting harder to read (I bought super-fine tip pens a few years ago hoping it would help me read my own notes!).
- My hands shake so badly it’s nearly impossible to cut my nails.
- Pouring soap from a large container into a small one is now mostly my husband’s job because I spill so much due to the shaking.
- My food falls off my fork everyday (to a lesser or greater degree) due to shaking hands. I had to use my Miso soup spoon to eat my sushi recently because I couldn’t use chopsticks for the first time. I was sad about that, especially in public.
- I almost always use two hands to hold my glass when I drink now.
- I often have to hold my phone with two hands to type properly.

If you see people dropping food at an outdoor restaurant, please don’t think they are rude or uncouth, they might have a disability. Maybe they have essential tremor.

My neurologist said that while there are medications for it, there are side effects to those medications and that specifically for me, the side effects would be worse than how I experience essential tremor.

According to Wikipedia, "Actress Katharine Hepburn (1907–2003) had an essential tremor, which she inherited from her grandfather, that caused her head—and sometimes her hands—to shake. The tremor was noticeable by the time of her performance in the 1979 film The Corn is Green, when critics mentioned the palsy that kept her head trembling."

I remind myself to be grateful for all the positive and wonderful things in my life - shaky though it is now - and am slowing down to make allowances for Essential Tremor.
Do you have ET? How do you cope?
Local Journalism.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Sherry Listgarten, a resident of Greenmeadow,
on Aug 14, 2020 at 10:39 pm

Sherry Listgarten is a registered user.

Hi Chandrama. I am so sorry to hear about this, and appreciate your raising awareness of this frustrating condition with your thoughtful post. In case it is helpful, I remember reading about tableware for people suffering from Parkinson's tremors, for example Liftware (liftware.com). A spoon that reduces the effect of the tremors might help alleviate some meal-time frustration. I hope others have suggestions as well...

Posted by Ronster, a resident of Greenmeadow,
on Aug 15, 2020 at 2:43 pm

Ronster is a registered user.

Sorry to hear, we all have something. I suspect an effective treatment/cure for this could/will be done by electrical stimulation of the nerves. I don't know why this isn't advancing further since all the tech is in place.

Whatever he may be, Elon Musk seems to just press ahead for example on his neuralink brain computer interface. I suspect this will be more useful for treatment of other 'feedback' diseases from essential tremor to tinnitus to phantom limb, chronic pain and depression.

In any case, there is much research on essential tremor treated by nerve stimulation: Web Link

But there are now wrist mounted devices that pulse externally. I don't have this problem (I have tinnitus ... but I sort of got over it even though it didn't get over me) but brain stimulation has also been effectively tried there.

Posted by Anneke, a resident of Professorville,
on Aug 17, 2020 at 11:05 am

Anneke is a registered user.

Dear Chandrama,

I am so sorry to hear about your ET condition, and I hope you can find some good treatment to lower the symptoms. I did some research on what can help, and allow me to list the following:

1. Reduce/avoid caffeinated drinks (coffee, tea, sodas, chocolate,) and switch to decaffeinated. When I drink caffeinated coffee I am aware of increased difficulty to put on my make-up, so I switched to decaf and it helped significantly.
2. Reduce/avoid drinking, as alcohol acts as a nervous depressant. I like the Mediterranean diet better!
3. Reduce/avoid sugar
4. Follow the Mediterranean diet (olive oil, organic veggies and fruits, fish, AND a glass of wine!)There is a God.
5. Yoga (but talk to your doctor first.)
6. Muscle strengthening. Physical therapy.
7. Gabapentin, which is easily tolerated (it is a prescription.)
8. Follow an appropriate sleep and relaxation schedule.

There are many more ideas published on line, and they may all help a little.

I wish you well. You are a lovely lady!

Posted by Chandrama Anderson, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Aug 18, 2020 at 10:10 am

Chandrama Anderson is a registered user.

Thank you all for the great ideas and support. There are more than 10 million Americans with Essential Tremors and many millions around the world.

Posted by Cynthia DeLand, a resident of Birdland,
on Aug 19, 2020 at 3:54 pm

Cynthia DeLand is a registered user.

There is an excellent local support group for ET, East Bay ET. Before the shutdown, they met monthly. Every meeting had an hour devoted to a special speaker, and an hour devoted to group discussion. The speakers are almost always leading experts in a variety of areas, both medical and device technology. Liftware, mentioned in one of the comments above, was initially presented to the East Bay ET group by its original designer, and they put it through the paces. People in the support group bring a wide range of experiences to the table, and they are very eager to try new wearable technology being developed. It's exciting to see what designers are coming up with and really interesting to hear why thy are passionate about helping those with ET. Please contact the leader of that group, Sharon, at eastbayet@comcast.net for more information. She will be very glad to talk with you.

Follow this blogger.
Sign up to be notified of new posts by this blogger.



Post a comment

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Stay informed.

Get the day's top headlines from Almanac Online sent to your inbox in the Express newsletter.

My Holiday Wish List for Menlo Park
By Dana Hendrickson | 1 comment | 3,016 views

Burning just one "old style" light bulb can cost $150 or more per year
By Sherry Listgarten | 12 comments | 2,966 views

Banning the public from PA City Hall
By Diana Diamond | 26 comments | 2,118 views

Pacifica’s first brewery closes its doors
By The Peninsula Foodist | 0 comments | 1,820 views

Premiere! “I Do I Don’t: How to build a better marriage” – Here, a page/weekday
By Chandrama Anderson | 2 comments | 1,386 views


Support local families in need

Your contribution to the Holiday Fund will go directly to nonprofits supporting local families and children in need. Last year, Almanac readers and foundations contributed over $300,000.