A lifetime of tremors cured by pioneering treatment at Queen's Hospital
PUBLISHED: 11:23 24 January 2012 | UPDATED: 15:07 24 January 2012
A former engineer who has suffered debilitating hand tremors for most of his life has had his shakes dramatically treated by pioneering surgery at Queen's Hospital.
Cyril Gleeson, 86, was awake when surgeons burrowed deep into his brain to stop the violent shake in his right hand – an affliction he has lived with and which has got steadily worse since his schooldays.
Surgeons thought it too dangerous to work on his left.
The widower has now been able to return to his beloved pastime of painting, for the first time in years, donating his first piece to the Romford neurological unit which helped him.
He returned this week to thank doctors.
Cyril, from Bishop’s Stortford, Essex, said: “My tremors had got so bad in recent years that I was finding it difficult to feed myself because I couldn’t get my hand to my mouth.
“There are 1001 little inconveniences, like pressing the numbers into the [cash card] keypad at the supermarkets - I would double punch and end up locking my pin.”
His condition had also affected his job, which involved building and maintaining electron microscopes.
“By the end I wasn’t unable to handle the fine mechanisms and I had to get my steady-handed brain surgeon friend to help with the final fiddly bits,” Cyril explained.
He added: “It’s been getting worse and worse. It was embarrassing and it was inhibiting my social life.”
But then last year, Cyril was approached to undergo trials for a new treatment, known as deep brain stimulation, by consultant neurosurgeon Mr Ian Low.
Cyril researched the operation for three months before agreeing, hoping the results will help his four children who have all inherited the condition, known as essential tremor.
“There are some risks, like stroke, brain haemorrhage, or my speech could have been affected, but I thought this could be chance to really improve my life and help my children in the future,” he said.
Amazingly, Cyril was home the day after surgery, which he underwent under local anesthetic in July, and was up and about in just three days. .
“I went out to get the paper,” said Cyril, “I would have been out earlier but my daughter put the clampers on me - she said she didn’t want me pushing my luck!”