In the last few weeks I’ve noticed a disturbing new problem, a tremor in my right hand. Naturally I set about worrying immediately.
Those who’ve been following me for some time will know that health is rarely on my side. I’ve suffered from skin cancer (basal cell carcinoma), clinical depression, a spinal injury and of course HIV (with its related issues and side effects). But despite all that I’ve been determined to keep going – I don’t let anything get me down.
A few weeks ago, however, I noticed a tremor in my right hand (my writing hand). It’s small but it’s definitely there, and not present in my left hand. I had ignored it for a while, thinking that it was just temporary, but it hasn’t gone away.
My grandfather (on my father’s side) has, in the last decade or so, developed Parkinson’s Disease – so naturally once my brain made a possible link I started to panic. An infection, like HIV, that I can control with anti-retrovirals is one thing, but a degenerative disease? At my age?
I ended up speaking to my friend Phil – a neuroscience student. We went through the story and he’s done his best to reassure me that it’s unlikely to be Parkinson’s Disease at my age and given the lack of signs in other family members. This was a big weight off of my shoulders but it’ll just be filed at the back of my mind for later panicking.
So my attention must turn elsewhere if I’m to get to the bottom of my tremor. Is is a side-effect of any of my medications? Eviplera doesn’t have any link with tremors, but the valacyclovir that I take daily to prevent cold-sores has a very slight incidence of tremors. Which would I prefer though? A tremor or cold-sores? Pretty sure it’s a tremor.
If it’s not medication related could it be stress? Depression? Both of which I have copious first hand knowledge and regular experience of. Being a HIV activist can be quite a stressful and lonely path – charities and healthcare providers keep you at arms length, and we’re left trying to balance changing the systems and attitudes with being able to put a roof over our heads and pay to get to conferences and meetings. Who knows.
Ultimately I’m back at square one. I have a tremor in my right hand, it’s annoying and I have no idea what’s causing it. I’ve made an appointment to see my consultant in a couple of weeks – hopefully together we can shed some light on it.
Tom Hayes – (@UKPositiveLad on twitter)