I got pulled over on Friday morning. I haven't been pulled over in a damn decade at this point -- no tickets, no warnings -- and I was completely caught off-guard by the sight of flashing lights in my rearview mirror. Whaaaaat.
I hadn't been speeding, I'd used my turn signal for a lane change, didn't run a red light, so I was pretty baffled as I pulled over and watched the cop car come to a stop behind me. Maybe a brake light was out? Eh? Whatever it was, it was most likely something in the realm of "slight pain in the ass" as opposed to BITCH U GOIN TO JAIL NOW.
And while my brain remained mostly calm and logical, the rest of my neurological system decided to freak the absolute fuck out. My Essential Tremor turned up to 11, and I began involuntarily shaking like a leaf from head to toe.
By the time the officer approached the window I could barely get my license out of my wallet or roll down the window. My head was bobbing, my legs were bouncing, I was a damn mess.
He looked concerned. The very first question he asked was whether I was okay.
My voice cracked and trembled as I attempted to explain that yeah, yeah, I'm fine, I have this tremor thing and it can get really bad when I'm anxious.
"Anxious? Because of me?" he actually sounded a little hurt.
I stared at his absolutely non-imaginary authority figure badge and admitted that yes, a little bit, or at least the situation.
(Plus I was now going to be LATE for an APPOINTMENT and I've seriously had enough of that lately and I'd been all set to arrive a few minutes early and now ALL WAS LOST.*)
*Okay fine it was just a waxing appointment. But it's super-inconsiderate to be late! And now I was late!
I'd been pulled over because we were overdue for the minivan's vehicle emissions inspection and my tags had been suspended. Whoops. I had no clue about either issue and promised to take care of it ASAP. He was super nice about it, and let me off with a warning. Very cool, thanks.
He then asked repeatedly if I was okay to drive, then checked the back of the car to make sure I wasn't transporting any kids. I repeatedly assured him that I just needed to take a few deep breaths and be on my way and it would stop on its own, especially since being all embarrassed and self-conscious about it is another super-awesome trigger. Gross motor/executive function isn't severely impacted, and I could safely operate the vehicle. Just probably couldn't tune the radio dial or reapply my lipstick on the first try.
I drove off and made it to my appointment and back just fine, although the tremor remained at a pretty intrusive level for several hours afterwards. I tried to write about it but even just reliving that moment when my entire body turned against me so spectacularly made it worse; I returned to a half-finished AlphaMom column and still couldn't make it through a sentence without my fingers typing a messsss ofg tyupos.
So...my mom was diagnosed with Parkinson's a few months ago. I'd always assumed her hand tremors and mine were related, so it was a hard diagnosis to hear, obviously. She has good days and bad days, and it's tough to see all the small take-for-granted movements and activities that are now a constant challenge. She's still trying to find the right balance of medications and therapy, though, so I'm hopeful she'll see marked improvement soon.
I've been repeatedly assured by both doctors and Google that no, I have ET and it's different, and in no way raises my odds of developing a more serious neurological disorder. And yet when I have an episode like Friday, ET alone can still feel pretty damn serious. Like an out-of-the-blue, full-body panic attack that has ZERO correlation to the level of panic or stress going on in my head. I can't control it, I can barely explain it. It's embarrassing as fuck and I hate it.
I've been reluctant to go the medication route (since results aren't guaranteed but side effects are, and all the "natural" non-regulated herbal stuff sounds a bit snake-oily), but I don't know. It's probably going to have to happen eventually. I see improvement when I am super careful about caffeine, getting enough sleep and vitamins and keeping general stress levels low, but that's not always doable. Random shit wakes you up at night, you spend a couple sleepless hours thinking about every tiny thing currently stressing you out, you cave to an extra cup of coffee to get you through the next morning...and then a cop pulls you over and your whole body goes batshit haywire on you. Hello, normal things that happen in life! Thanks for suddenly taking away my ability to hold a pen.
Okay, so this one devolved more into cranky frustration than the usual breathtaking dumbness/I fail at life retellings. Guess I'm still a little shook up (RIMSHOT GEDDIT) from the experience.
Maybe joining them on the slip-n-slide would help? Or at least result in a non-ET-related injury of some kind.