Help me take a break from shaking
August 9, 2016 3:31 PM   Subscribe

Do you have experience with essential tremor? Do you have any tips or tricks for making it better temporarily?

I have a non-disabling case of ET that was diagnosed years ago. It mostly affects my hands, doesn't stop me from doing anything (besides taking decent photos), and I don't take medication for it. I'm contemplating getting a tattoo on my arm and am curious if there are any good ways to reduce tremor temporarily so I can hold more still. I have one on my torso which was no problem but the artist said doing an arm while I was shaking that much could be an issue.

The only temporary fix I know of is booze, which is obviously a no-no in that situation. When I was diagnosed the neurologist only mentioned propranolol, but decided it was a bad idea since it lowers blood pressure (mine is already low end of normal).
posted by noxperpetua to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
The only temporary fix I know of is booze, which is obviously a no-no in that situation.

Well, it's not advised but you certainly would not be the first person to get a tattoo drunk. Along those lines, have you experimented to see if pot helps? It does for Parkinsons.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:36 PM on August 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


I just stared at my hand for a long time. Not even booze stops my tremor. Can you tape your arm down? Or specifically your hand? Mine is mostly my hands, too.
posted by Ruki at 3:44 PM on August 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


My mother has this. Pressing her thumb and middle finger together firmly can stop her tremor, and holding a heavy object in her hand and letting her arm hang down stops it, too.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 3:49 PM on August 9, 2016


Could you talk to your doctor about a one time use of a benzo? If alcohol works, I'm guessing a benzo like ativan might too. (It's also mentioned as a second line treatment in the wiki article.) You could just explain about the issue with wanting to get a tattoo and needing your hand not to move when you're doing it. Of course, IANAD/IANYD/YMMV.
posted by litera scripta manet at 3:59 PM on August 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


I also was wondering about something like Ativan.

Did you specifically discuss this and show the artist the extent of the tremor? Depending on where this is on your arm, the artist may be able to work with you in terms of holding you down or going slowly. Tattoo artists do tattoo people who are shaking all the time - it's not preferred but muscle twitches and shaking can happen due to stress or nerves or pain. So like I said, see specifically related to placement and size if they can just go slow. They can always do sessions too.

I think the major think with alcohol depending on how much you need is bleeding. Consent is definitely an issue but if your artist knows you and you're not blasted then I don't think that's as much of an issue as the bleeding could be. Again, maybe ask your artist and doctor as it depends on the size. Bleeding can make it difficult to see clearly to tattoo and isn't great but also everyone bleeds a bit differently naturally.

(For example, my skin tends to redden quickly and leak a lot of fluid. I also had an artist who had to hold my foot down because it just wanted to twitch a lot due to pain.)
posted by Crystalinne at 4:19 PM on August 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


Propranolol controls my best friend's ET.
Yes booze was her previous solution, but when she couldn't hold a glass anymore (kidding, kind of) she got an Rx.
Ask your doctor.
posted by littlewater at 4:35 PM on August 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


The article you linked to indicates that meat makes it worse. Have you tried going vegetarian and seeing if that helps any?
posted by Michele in California at 4:37 PM on August 9, 2016


Seconding Propranolol. A friend of ours recently started taking it for hypertension, and it lessened his tremor a lot, even at a low dose.
posted by wryly at 4:48 PM on August 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


I've had essential tremor since my early 20s, mostly just in my right hand...my drawing hand :( I've learned to live with it, but, man, sometimes...

My doc recently tried propanolol on me, too, and my system did not like it at all. I became very agitated and edgy. I made it about three days before I simply had to bail on it.

Honestly, I've found a little weed helps quite a bit, eapecially edibles.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:21 PM on August 9, 2016


cutting back on caffeine in the 72 hours before?
you COULD get a tattoo while drunk but like
that's amateur hour/you will bleed more
posted by listen, lady at 6:49 PM on August 9, 2016


If booze works for you, I don't see a problem. IMHO, the main problem with being tattooed while drunk is choosing an inappropriate image while your esthetic judgement is impaired. If you choose your image while sober, why is it a no-no to be drunk when the image is executed?
posted by Bruce H. at 9:14 PM on August 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


Because alcohol reduces clotting and can make you bleed a lot more than you normally would.
posted by SakuraK at 10:36 PM on August 9, 2016


If it were me, I'd just take the one time lowest possible dose of propranolol and hydrate the heck out of myself, eat some big salty meals that day, and be careful when I'm getting up from lying down or sitting (make sure if I started to feel at all lightheaded I could sit back down). Obviously getting a ride to and from the parlor goes without saying as well.

A trial run of this before the actual tattoo is scheduled would help to determine if it's a viable option.

IANYD. But I am a person who has blood pressures on the low end of normal (i.e. 100-110 systolic) who has taken propranolol without a problem for a piano recital in the past.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 8:14 PM on August 10, 2016


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