NOT READY TO THROW IN THE TOWEL · Parkinson's Resource Organization




Boston Scientific, Advancing Science for Life

            Suzanne Friedman, a 54-year-old Florida native, has run a marathon, traveled around the world, and raised two children with her husband of 25 years, Steve. “We're a very, very active family. We just came back from Colorado, where we were hiking and white water rafting.”

            About seven years ago, something started to change for Suzanne. The very first symptom she noticed was when she was walking on the beach in flip-flops. Her shoe kept slipping off, and she didn't understand why. Soon after, she began to notice her left leg shivering a bit while working at her computer in the morning. Eventually, Steve started to notice that she was dragging her feet and encouraged her to see her doctor, but Suzanne was resistant—whatever it was, she didn't want to know.

            At her next annual exam with her primary care doctor, she mentioned it, and her doctor told her it was probably a pinched nerve. She went to a neurologist for further evaluation, and it was then that she was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease—a diagnosis that was soon after confirmed by another specialist.

            When it got to the point where she almost couldn't walk, she decided that she had to find out if there was anything else at all that she could do. Suzanne started doing research online, and when she came across information about deep brain stimulation (DBS), she became hopeful.

            I've been waiting for seven years for a medicine to make me feel better, and every time they come out, I have other side effects. I'm tired of waiting. I'm watching the years go by; I need to do something now.

            “I came to terms with the fact that if I wanted to get better, the only way it was going to happen for me was through Deep Brain Stimulation.” Her brother is a doctor and helped her research the best place in the area to get it done, as well as which DBS system would be right for her. After her extensive research, there were three reasons Suzanne ultimately chose a Boston Scientific DBS system.

            First was the size. “I felt very comfortable that it was a very small size and it wouldn't show. I had seen people that had other devices that stuck out of their chest, and mine, I felt I could wear a bathing suit with it, and nobody would notice.” The second reason was technology. “Even though it's new to the United States, I found that it had been out in Europe for many years. For me it had the most up-to-date technology, and I thought to myself, ‘Why wouldn't you want the latest?” And last, there's the battery. “I don't want to go through another surgery until I have to. I know some other devices say they might last five years, but I would rather have a device that lasts at least 15.”

            For Suzanne, one of the greatest gifts DBS has given her is consistency. “Life before DBS was a struggle. I was suffering every day. Now, my experience has been that I don't have to worry about whether my medicine works, whether it's not going to work, when I have to eat or when the next medicine's due. I'm sleeping better, not napping every day, being able to stay up late. Everybody keeps telling me that I seem happy and that they see me smiling more. DBS has brought my personality back.”

            Boston Scientific representatives will speak at PRO support group meetings starting September.

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Updated: August 16, 2017