I have been a member of IETF for many years. I was diagnosed with early onset essential tremor that began when I was 16 years old. Of course back then my doctors would just say, “We don’t know why people shake” or “You are just a nervous Nellie.”
As an adult, I finally was properly diagnosed and received a lot of great information from the International Essential Tremor Foundation (IETF) which has really helped me. In my professional life as a school counselor, IETF gave me ideas on what to say when kids asked, “Why do you shake all the time?” or when adults would pull me aside as an intervention to ask what kind of crisis I was experiencing.
Thank you, IETF.
I am now retired but am focusing on writing instrumental piano music. I find that I have to modify how I play as things progress but it has been very therapeutic for me. I wanted to share an instrumental song I wrote that is about going through life with a great attitude and confidence even though I have essential tremor. It is called, “Shaking My Way Through.” I hope it brings you joy.
The location was the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Second Class Petty Officer Peder Nelson had just finished his shift as a block guard at the detention facility. It was his first 90 days on the island and there was a “no alcohol consumption” policy in place for everyone working there. As he filled out a log sheet, a senior officer was watching, and approached Peder. Then the inquiry began.
“When was your last drink?” he asked.
Taken aback, Peder realized the officer had noticed his
shaky hands. It was an educational moment for the officer as Peder explained
that his shaky hands were not related to alcohol withdrawal, but rather a
condition called essential tremor (ET).
This type of assumption is all too common for people with
ET. Alcoholism, drug abuse and nervousness top the list of assumptions people
make when they see someone’s shaky hands, head or limbs – all symptoms of ET.
Because of this, people afflicted often try to hide it. They feel
self-conscious, sometimes embarrassed, and often they let it inhibit them.
Peder has felt all of these emotions and more.
But this fall, the 39-year-old Navy veteran from
Sellersburg, IN will push past his ET, while raising awareness to the public.
Peder will compete in the 6th annual Cloudsplitter 100 set for October 12-13.
Cloudsplitter is a 100-mile ultramarathon taking place in the heart of Central
Appalachia in the Cumberland Mountains of Virginia.
Throughout his training and his running, he will be raising
money for the International Essential Tremor Foundation (IETF). Peder has set
up a FundRazr site where people can make pledges to sponsor him. So far, he has
raised about $2,000.
Peder has dealt with ET most of his life, but was formally diagnosed at age 20. He saw his diagnosis as a weakness and decided to get in shape. So he began running. What many don’t realize is that exercise actually make tremors temporarily worsen, but for Peder it’s worth it.
“Exercise is a really good way to feel confident about
something and to feel competent about something,” Peder said.
Cloudsplitter participants are allowed 40 hours to complete
the 100-mile race course. The record holder for the course did it in 22 hours.
Peder expects to finish somewhere between 22 and 40 hours.
Added to the 100-mile challenge, the course will include
elevation changes totaling 52,000 feet, along with rugged terrain, which
includes crossing water in some areas. He will have help toward the end of the
race. Many family members and friends have volunteered to “pace” him. This
means they will run alongside him and cheer him on and provide that mental
support needed to keep going as he gets closer to the end. He expects to be
running on adrenaline that last part of the race, once the physical exhaustion
sets in and lack of sleep takes its toll.
These thoughts might hinder someone else, but Peder is up to
the challenge. It will be his time to shine a light on essential tremor.
Visit Peder’s FundRazr page online to learn more or to pledge your support. Or donate through through the IETF website.