Accepting Assistance with Essential Tremors

I have written before about my experiences with "Essential Tremors (ET)" since I was initially diagnosed several years ago, and since then I have realized that there will likely be a time that's more difficult for people who suffer from ET to accept: when we have admit that our lives have changed and we need a little help now and again. It's not easy for us, because we all want to be self-reliant and we don't want to be a burden to others, but more than that - I think there's a part of us deep down that doesn't want to face the truth that things are different now.

Around the time that I was diagnosed with ET, pouring something with either hand would set off my tremors in major fashion, and one night as I was having dinner with my spouse of nearly 40 years, I couldn't pour parmesan cheese from a plastic canister over spaghetti. I tried with my right hand but the tremors were too strong, then with my left hand and the tremors were just as bad. After switching hands a few times, I set the canister down on the table and stared at it while I contemplated how I was going to handle the situation. My spouse had been quietly watching this story as it unfolded, and after a few seconds she broke the silence and asked, "Would you like some help?" I didn't want to say, "Yes," but in my brief moment of vulnerability I felt forced to say it.

I have said before that there are three ways that people who suffer from ET can choose to respond to our disability: we can cry about it, we can scream about it, or we can laugh about it... and this was one of those times when I wanted to cry about it, because I hadn't needed someone to help me feed myself since I was an infant. I was frustrated and embarrassed, though I had no need to be. My spouse clearly didn't mind - she was glad to help, and that was a learning opportunity for me. I had to learn to accept that my life was different, that I would need assistance for little things from time to time, and my spouse was willing to help.

My life has been considerably better since my neurologist and I were able to sort out the medications that I need to keep my tremors in check, so I seldom need my spouse to step in and save me. But still, there's nothing wrong with saying, "I need help" now and again.

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