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This is the life story of Dorothy (Dotty) Grimler Eger. Dotty was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease (PD) at age 39 and survived with the disease for 37 years. As the disease reached its inevitable intrusion on her health, she was deemed a candidate for the highly touted “deep brain electrode stimulation” surgery. The surgery was carried out at the prestigious Pennsylvania Hospital, the teaching hospital for the University of Pennsylvania, by a neurosurgeon who had performed over 300 of the operations. Following the surgery, the stimulators were turned on and over the next four weeks she experienced periods of sleep and being awake, with the awake periods being irrational. Finally, after her last of several hospital admissions, while she was semi-comatose, the head of the university of Pennsylvania Neurology Department, announced that for some reason unrelated to the surgery, her PD conditions had progressed to the last stage and that they could do nothing further for her. She was being discharged, in other words, sent home to die.

On leaving the hospital her husband and son, over the strenuous objection of her neurosurgeon, insisted that the stimulators be switched off. After arriving home, over the next few days it was almost like someone had thrown a switch, which in fact they had. She immediately began to recover and eventually reached pre-surgery conditions and survived for over another year before the disease finally caused her death.

I am the author of her story and also her husband. I am writing this book as a tribute to a beautiful, vibrant, courageous lady who endured 37 years of the disease, raised seven children during this time, was active in school and church affairs, and was able to experience foreign travel to all parts of the globe over this time, and in the end suffered indescribable mental and physical suffering as a result of the deep brain surgery.

It is also my hope that while every PD patient will suffer different conditions and longevity, Dotty’s survival for 37 years will provide hope and encouragement for newly diagnosed PD patients and their caregivers.

Dotty ultimately experienced almost all of the multiple physical and mental disabilities the disease can deliver. I have tried in this book to describe the onset of these conditions, how they manifested themselves, and how we eventually coped with them, which should be helpful to other PD patients and their caregivers as they experience similar conditions.

Lastly, while the surgery failed Dotty, it has obviously provided a reversal of the disease for many patients. Pennsylvania Hospital claims her experience is unique, as does the Medtronic Corporation, the developer of the procedure, who I contacted about its failure in Dotty’s case.

Dorothy As a Teenager