'Miracle' brain surgery helps woman control her tremors

Before deep brain stimulation surgery, Joyce Mathews of Hutchinson had a tough time doing things like putting on a necklace or combing her hair. But now she feels like everyone else thanks to what she calls a medical miracle.

"I'm so grateful I had this surgery," said Mathews. "I wish I would have done it a long time ago. For so many years, I've dealt with my hands being shaky and I saw with my own eyes the immediate calmness I had."

Mathews has suffered from a disorder called Essential Tremor since her late teens, meaning her hands and head used to tremble uncontrollably.

Medication helped for a while, but she resisted having surgery to put a device in her brain to control her tremors until she saw our story about Dennis Russell, a Maplewood Man with same condition about a year ago.

"When I saw Dennis on TV, I looked at everything he was having a problem with and that was exactly what was happening to me," Matthews said.

Not only did she have the same surgery at Abbott Northwestern, where she had to stay awake during the procedure, so doctors could adjust the voltage until the tremors were gone, she had the same surgeon as Russell as well.

"Now I can go out and be like everyone else. Where you can drink out of a cup with ease instead of using both hands and my head shaking. I don't spill on myself and I can use a fork so that's awesome," Mathews said.

Just being able to write her name or draw a spiral on a piece of paper brings a smile to her face.

She encourages anyone else with the same disorder to seek the same remedy.

"It's amazing. It's a miracle. Having this surgery turned my life around," Mathews said.

Mathews also says her disorder prevented her from holding a full-time job, but now she will be able to that as well.