Hope is Hard to Kill

The patient hoped there was something in her a neurosurgeon could fix, to alleviate the tremor of her left hand. Unfortunately, she lived with several poorly aligned vertebrae in the cervical area and the doctor could see no reason on the MRI for a tremor. He wasn’t the first physician to tell her this. Two neurosurgeons and a neurologist confided they saw no cause for tremor on the images of her brain and upper spinal column. Still hope is hard to kill. Clinically, the tremor she endured would be classified as mild, yet because it was her arm and hand, she conceived the movement as pronounced and problematic.
An older woman- she thought herself so, her birthday three years before the physician behind the desk, she suspected her tremor might be part of aging. The doctor assured her she was not old, and tremor is not a natural consequence of increasing age. He pointed with both hands to his head of dark hair shot through liberally with graying streaks, encouraging her to change her thinking on that matter.
With a Latin surname, a Florida speech pattern and the pale eyes and skin, I assumed she was a descendant of an original Florida family, but I was wrong. She still used the name of her former husband. Her manner so mild, I feared she would cry, outnumbered in the examination room by the clinical coordinator, the physician and myself.
The specialist recommended amantadine for the tremor, two pills a day- one at breakfast another at dinner or before bed. The drug has other properties as well as reducing tremor; it is anti- viral, so patients experience less flu and colds while taking it. While Azilect might stabilize symptoms, it is also an MAO inhibitor and possibly problematic, as one must avoid certain foods- aged meats, cheeses, and certain other drugs. He also strongly advised an antidepressant to lighten the cloud she carries over her head.
The MRI mages produced an unusual finding, a calcified meningioma: a very slow- growing tumor of tissue involving the tissue of the meninges. The doctor fished into the large envelope searching for a report to see what the radiologist concluded, and confirmed his own diagnosis. Women apparently have a greater quantity of such tumors.
Small, round, light splotches speckled the brain on the MRI. The doctor gave this a medical term, “leukoareosis”. Apparently, leaky blood vessels in the brain show up on MRIs due to their excess fluid, a natural consequence of high blood pressure. They also, cannot be blamed for instigating the tremor of the left hand.


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