Deep Brain Stimulation Patient Testimonials

“My story, to me, is incredible. I feel like I have conquered everything.”

Marlene Armstrong 200Marlene Armstrong, a 62-year old Tacoma resident, didn’t believe it when she first was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2003. Her main complaint was back and hip pain and rigidity.

Last year, Marlene underwent a new test: DaTscan™, the first FDA-approved diagnostic imaging agent to evaluate neurodegenerative movement disorders, including Parkinson’s.

“The test was positive,” she says, “and then I finally knew for sure. “

Help, at last

Marlene’s doctor asked if she knew about Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS), a surgical procedure to treat neurological symptoms. She was interested.

By this time, driving, brushing her teeth, cooking and other activities were difficult. An avid gym-goer, Marlene worked out despite the pain, but she was frustrated. “I did have tremors,” she says. “But the worst part was that my back would hurt. It would actually seize up. It was holding me back.”

Marlene’s DBS procedures were scheduled. “…it was surprisingly stress-free,” Marlene says. After two planned procedures, her neurologist turned on and programmed the implanted device in the office. Learn more about Deep Brain Stimulation.

Life without pain

Two weeks after DBS Marlene was back at the gym. She’s even adding step and Zumba classes to her usual repertoire of yoga, spin and Pilates. “I couldn’t do those before,” she says. “My back and hips were too sore, too stiff.”

She says she wants to share her experience with everyone. “My story, to me, is incredible. I have no pain in my back, and I feel like I have conquered everything.”

“I believe this is an absolute miracle.”

Marie Justice 200Marie Justice, a 67-year-old Sumner resident, hates to sit still. “I’m a workaholic,” she says. “I like to be productive, doing things.”

In 2012, after truck driving for 22 years, Marie admitted to herself something was wrong. “My arm would shake. It became difficult for me to operate my truck’s trailer lift lever.”

Marie was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. The DOT wouldn’t allow Marie to keep her license, so she retired. “That was a tough time for me,” Marie says. “I felt useless and depressed. I didn’t want to live, as a matter of fact.”

A glimmer of hope

Marie’s neurologist, Lissa Brod, MD, talked about Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS), a surgical procedure to treat the debilitating symptoms of Parkinson’s - especially tremors.

“I was nervous,” she says. “But Dr. Brod explained every last detail. I went in with a good attitude.”

Over three weeks, Marie underwent two surgeries to implant the device, with a subsequent office visit to have it activated and programmed. Learn more about Deep Brain Stimulation.

Miraculous results

“I knew, the moment Dr. Brod turned it on, everything had changed,” Marie says. “I stopped shaking immediately.”

Marie says she can now get her fork to her mouth; before, eating had become difficult. She creates elaborate paper sculptures—something she could never do before DBS — and more confidently cares for her 87-year-old mother. “I can’t say it enough—I believe this is an absolute miracle.”