Post written by Dr. Bradley Hiner
From left, Drs. Hiner, Hung, Kopell, Chris Sheridan, Vicki Conte and Sherrell Bertoni.
It was a “stimulating” and “stimulated” group gathered together on Saturday, July 10, at the Falk Park Pavilion on the edge of Oak Creek, Wisc. The deep brain stimulation
(DBS) team from Froedtert & The Medical College of Wisconsin was on hand to cook up burgers, brats and hot dogs for a very special group of people. Among the crowd of 50 were 18 people who have had deep brain stimulation implant surgery, and they were surrounded by their spouses, siblings, children, grandchildren and friends for a pot luck picnic.
This pleasant picnic outing, supported by Medtronic and their representative Cathy Dorangrichia, was designed as an opportunity to share a bite to eat with special friends. It quickly turned into a special day of gratitude, caring and sharing. The DBS team was represented by Dr. Brian Kopell, implanting neurosurgeon; Dr. Serena Hung, movement disorders specialist; DBS nurse programmer Sherrell Bertoni; Chris Sheridan, DBS program manager; and Vicki Conte, Parkinson’s Program coordinator. Oh, and me. I have been assisting in DBS surgery for five years here at Froedtert & The Medical College for seven years before that at the Marshfield Clinic. We introduced ourselves and then asked each of the picnickers to do the same and to say a few words. Here are some of the quotes:“I felt like I had my husband back after his DBS surgery.”
“Having DBS surgery got my tremor under control and that gave me the confidence and self-worth to leave a verbally abusive marriage. I knew I could continue to work and support myself and finally felt I deserved respect.”
“We love to travel and to dance. DBS allowed us to stay out on the dance floor. Now we have plans to travel to India and South America for six weeks this fall, and then we’re off to Lima, Peru, this winter to teach English.”
“I am 47 years old and have had Essential Tremor for 40 years. DBS has eliminated the tremor in my right hand. I feel like a new man. I can’t wait to schedule surgery for my other hand.”
“I know DBS can’t cure my Parkinson’s but it has pushed back the clock on my symptoms. I am still raising children, and I want to be as active during these years as possible.”
The room was full of smiles and a few tears of joy, including one gentleman who had DBS surgery earlier this year as treatment for his Parkinson’s disease. He was bouncing his 6-month-old granddaughter on his knee, moving with ease to play with her, pick up her rattle, smile and engage her. His son and daughter-in-law clearly had no reservations about his taking charge of little Lily. This is a scene that would not have been possible before his DBS surgery.
“Thank you,” “thank you,” “thank you,” “thank you” was the universal mantra. The expressions of gratitude were greatly appreciated by the DBS team, but each of us on the team knows that the true heroes are the people with Parkinson’s disease and their families and caregivers, who continue to take the fight to PD every day. Thank YOU!