‘Dramatic Turn’ After Parkinson Diagnosis, DBS

Ken Glowienke’s deep brain stimulation surgery is featured in the documentary 10 Mountains 10 Years, which will be screened on March 19 at the Arcada Theater in St. Charles, Illinois. Tickets can be purchased at www.focusonacure.org or at the door for $20.

By Ken Glowienke

In June 2003 I began a journey, which for many would negatively impact the rest their lives. Between June 2003 and October 2004, I was unaware of what was causing this shiver-type movement. I was constantly being asked if I was cold, and I had no explanation for what was happening. After more than a year of neurology visits and a host of different medications, none had any positive results.

Finally at the end of October 2004, my general neurologist referred me to a friend that she trained under during her residency, Dr. Kathleen Shannon and the Movement Disorders Clinic at Rush University Medical Center. Since I was diagnosed with young onset Parkinson’s disease, my life has taken a dramatic positive turn and I have accomplished things I never thought possible. With the encouragement of my wife Ann Marie, we cofounded the Focus on a Cure Foundation for Parkinson’s, and with the support of the “Focus” family, we were fortunate to make a $50,000 donation to the Rush Movement Disorders Clinic in 2009.

In September of 2008, I underwent deep brain stimulation surgery to help control my severe left-sided tremors. While researching the procedure, I purchased a book on the development of neurologic stimulation. Rush neurosurgeon Roy Bakay, MD, was mentioned several times as a pioneer in this field. I felt at ease as he was my surgeon.

Leo Verhagen, MD, is a Rush neurologist recognized as one of nation’s leading authorities on neuro-stimulation. Now I was certain Rush was the place for my surgical care, as Dr. Verhagen was the other half of the team leading my care both during as well as post-operative care.

The unique circumstance is that my experience, including the surgery, was documented on film. I and the Rush team are one of the featured stories in the documentary 10 Mountains 10 Years, released in 2010. The film follows a team of climbers raising awareness for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, with my story alongside their efforts.

Finally, on Oct. 28, 2008, after allowing the leads placed in my brain to begin the healing process, the stimulation device was activated and calibrated. This was the final step in the DBS process. After five years, my tremor was controlled, and this was one of most exhilarating experiences in my life.

I left the office in the most peaceful, stress-free mood I can ever experience. I have the doctors and staff at Rush to thank for that.

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