Written September 24, 2023, At Kansas City, Missouri.

For those “tuning in” for the first-time, links to my previous posts that recap what brought me to this point are set forth below in a postscript.

It has been over 2 months since my last update, and nearly 4 months since my DBS surgery. The short answer to the question that has been privately asked of me many times is that I am well. Actually, I am better than well.

In my July update I reported: “…I was already experiencing a major improvement of my tremors, post-surgery and post brain bleed (without controller activation). The doctor posited that a “honeymoon period” of post-surgical tremor reduction is common. It is a temporary result of the minimal ablation to the thalamus that results from the insertion of the non-activated electrical stimulator in the brain. However, those benefits would have usually disappeared by now.

She further theorized that the additional impact of the brain bleed in the thalamus had extended and enhanced this effect, much as ablation through Focused Ultrasound might. She believes that the significant tremor reduction I am experiencing is still temporary.”

4 months later and the “temporary” tremor reduction persists. Moreover, the slight numbness in my tongue and occasional stumbling over the pronunciation of certain words has almost disappeared. I have returned to my former activities and exercise routine, including travel to Colorado with hiking at altitude (10,000+ feet), enjoying amazing sunrises, an early snowfall, and the joys of a pint in celebration of Oktoberfest. PROST!


Earlier this week I had a follow-up appointment with my neurosurgeon, Dr. Chang. I drew an Archimedes spiral, two straight lines and gave a sample of my handwriting. This was compared with similar efforts at my first meeting with her in late December of 2022 where I was asked to trace within pre-printed spirals and straight lines. A writing sample at that time was out of the question. Here are the contrasting “before and after” efforts of December 2022 and earlier this week:

December 21, 2022. 5 months before surgery.
September 20, 2023. Nearly 4 months after surgery.

A good friend and retired medical doctor once told me that one should hope never to be an “interesting case” to a physician. I became an “interesting case” when I developed a brain bleed nearly a week after the first surgery. That rare complication typically occurs at or immediately after the surgery. In Dr. Chang’s considerable experience, it had never occurred days after surgery. “Interesting”.

The “honeymoon effect” of tremor reduction typically lasts a few days, rarely as long as a month, never four months. “Also Interesting”.

The quality of my tremor reduction is consistent with the level of tremor control experienced by patients whose DBS controller has been activated. Dr. Chang candidly admits that at this point there would be little further to gain in activating my device. “VERY Interesting”.

I think that I would have still preferred being an “ordinary” patient.

Will this unanticipated benefit last? It could end next month, next year, or never. If it does end then I will return to activate the DBS controller. Dr. Chang and I are scheduled to meet again next May to review my progress. Only time will tell.

The “Next Thing”:

On October 22nd Christine and I depart by plane for Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We will board the 900 passenger Viking Star for an 18-day cruise through the Panama Canal.

Viking Sky, from the Viking website.

The itinerary includes ports-of-call in Cozumel, Columbia, Costa Rica, Cabo San Lucas, Los Angeles, and of course Panama. As in travels past, I hope to post pictures and a near daily narrative, so stay tuned!

From the Viking website.
Peace Everyone. Pete

PS. I did not come to the decision to undergo DBS surgery easily. I announced it to my wife in an open letter published as I was hiking in Spain last year. Here is a link to that letter:

“The Decision”

I wrote in greater detail the specifics about the DBS surgical procedure. Here is a link to that post:

“My DBS Surgery”

The day before my scheduled surgery I wrote a post that was both a conclusion to our travels in England and my pre-surgery update. Little did I know how prophetic the title to that piece was to be:

“Shake, Rattle, and Roll (the dice) Surgery”

My second surgery occurred on June 16th, but on June 7th I suffered a brain bleed with symptoms that mimicked a stroke.

My DBS Surgery, A Stroke of Bad Luck.”

July 17th was my appointment to activate the controller that had been implanted in my chest on June 16th. Although the activated controller promised excellent tremor control it was decided to leave the unit turned off for a later date.

“My DBS Surgery, Dark Cloud or Silver Lining?”



34 thoughts on “A DBS Surgery Update and Our “Next Thing”.

  1. HIP HIP HOORAY!! I have not reached out to you … but instead, held my breath looking for posts from either you or your bride! Oh Happy Day – when I read your post moments ago!! Sitting here wishing I had an inspiration from Pauline .. but all I can do is wipe happy tears from my cheeks! Long my your honeymoon effect last! Hearts, hugs and joy!

  2. Pete,
    We are so glad to get this update. It so glad for your continued improvements. We have thought about and prayed for you over the months and will continue to do so. We will also look forward to following whatever posts and pictures you include on your cruise. Hugs to Christine as well.
    Julie and Dom

  3. Don’t know if it’s too early for a bad Dad joke: “I think it was all in your head.” Congratulations on your incredible recovery Pete. There are more adventures to be had!!

  4. Good news all around. Thanks for the update and the graphics. Even the photo of the ship is useful for us since we probably recall that you are returning on the same day and same ship that we are leaving on when it steams into L.A. I doubt that we will see each other that day since you will probably be shooting off to the airport before we get near the ship.

  5. Wow!!! This is great and encouraging and “interesting” news! You are all around exceptional and making medical history! So glad that you are able to take trips and flights and cruises! Looking forward to reading “more of your story” as you and Christine’s travel adventures continue!

      • Maxine Harrison says:

        Petey, so glad you are doing so well. Chip toois an Interesting case. Only 10 documented cases written that compare to his form of cancer. Even Cleveland Clinic could not sgree on whether it was a new or recurrent case. We opted for recurrent, as the radiation damage would be so much less. So far so good, but colostomy is still possibly on the horizon, but as I said, everything is working normally so we are blessed, as are you. We send our love to you both!

  6. nancy wallingford says:

    Pete, so good to hear that your health is returning to its full glory!! And, that you are resuming your life of discovery and travel. Give Christine my best. Nancy Wallingford

  7. So great to hear your updates. You and Christine are on our hearts. So excited to hear progress and to hear your onto new adventures!

  8. Hi Pete, It was great to see your positive update on your health and going to continue your travels. If you have time to get together before your next adventure let Steve and I know. It would be great to see you.

  9. Oh Pete! Thank You for sharing your story! I have learned so much that I wouldn’t ordinarily have experienced. You are both tenacious and courageous! John and I sailed the Panama Canal with Holland America! I loved it ( as I do most of our cruises ). Though, the Panama was my way of traveling in my beloved Dad’s footsteps! He passed thru some 20+ times as a Merchant mariner during WW2! I certainly inherited his love for being on the water! Best wishes always to you and Christine 😘

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