DBS for Parkinson’s (“It Ain’t Television…It’s Brain Surgery” by Ray Farkas)

DBS for Parkinson’s (“It Ain’t Television…It’s Brain Surgery” by Ray Farkas)


That’s fine.
I got a friend writing lyrics for a song called,
“Like I need a hole in the head.” And the first line is,
are you all listening? “You don’t need to shake
my hand, it shakes just fine on its own.” “You don’t need to shake
my hand, it shakes on its own just fine. You wake up one day and
you look in the mirror wondering how you spent
all that time.” This is the part I told
you we’re going to put those
little bars in your ears. You may feel a lot of
pressure there, but it’s only going to be temporary. OK?
I look in your eyes and I am filled with confidence. “I need this operation”
This will be on for the rest of the day, right? For the rest of the day,
That’s right. Try to be stylish about
it please. You go downhill and you
know, you’re thinking for the longest time that this
is the way it’s going to be, and it’s just going
to get worse, and you can’t do anything about it. You can’t make the tremors
stop. You know where you’re
headed. We all know academically
or intellectually where we’re headed, but we never
like to acknowledge, and in Parkinson’s you know
where you’re headed, and there’s nothing you can
do about it. And, its, it is feeling
of powerlessness. It’s hard to imagine who
you could live like this. That’s right. But a lot of people do.
Almost everybody knows somebody who has got
Parkinson’s. I was diagnosed in the
Spring of 2000, they don’t know what causes it or
how you cure it. But I read they’re working
on it with stem cells. (Music playing). This is my teenage son
Andrew taking a break from video games and this is
my trophy wife, Sharon. She’s a lot younger than
I am. What is it that you want
to do again? Do you want to play tennis
and what else? I want to be faster than
Andrew. Of course, I was Set
realistic goals! I’m ready to go. Walking my dog Lucky has
become really hard. I’m slow, I’m stiff, I’m
shaky. They begin the procedure
by making two holes in the skull each the size
of a nickel. They’ll guide the two probes
inside of my brain like I’ve got a great
neurologist, a great nurse and a great surgeon. (Singers singing).
Chris Kalhorn, that’s him, and check myself into
Georgetown University Hospital. (Music playing).
And no recreational drugs? OK. Nope, I missed all that. “gah,gah,gah,gah”
“gah,gah,gah,gah” Testing and more testing. I’m anxious to get on with
it. It’s really a quality of
life issue and as you know, it’s not going to cure
your Parkinson’s disease. I wish it, I wish it would. And, um, but what it will.
But it’s the next best thing. Well, it’s the next best
thing that we have really, yeah. It’s going to quiet
my symptoms. That’s the goal. Nobody knows how deep brain
stimulation works, but maybe it’ll work for me. So we can see right here,
these are the very tips of the electrodes in the
subthalamic nucleus and they’re entering through
two very small holes and easy for you to
say. What are you doing now
doctor? What I’m doing now Mr. Farkas, is I’m planning
out the four incisions that we’re going to be
making on, on your head, okay, and um, and then
we’re going to prepare, or clean your scalp very
thoroughly and then get going with the actual
operation. Four incisions for a
vasectomy, huh? That’s right! Is that we’re going?
I need this operation like I need a hole in my head. I’ll feel no pain when
they drill in my brain at least that’s what the
doctor said. This is Ray Farkas at Off
Center Productions. Please leave a message. Hey Ray, pick up the
phone. Pick up the phone. Now, Mr. Farkas
this is the part Ray where you’re going
to hear a lot of loud noise okay. It’s not going to hurt
you at all, but it’s going to make your teeth almost
chatter a little bit. It’s going to be very noise,
okay, but it’s not going to hurt a bit. This is as far under as
I am going to get. It sounds worse than it
is. This is as far under as
I’m going to get, right Dr. Kalhorn? I promise. Okay, good.
Yeah, I feel fine. I never felt a thing. Yeah.
I recommend this to everybody. Yep, yep.
Everybody ought to have two holes in their head. I remember when my father
had Parkinson’s, and he took the medication for
it because there was no surgery or any alternative
available then, and it wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t pretty.
Ah, he ah, started having hallucinations and he died
of the side effects, I don’t know if he died
particularly of Parkinson’s, but he died with Parkinson’s
and it was not a very pretty way to go. I’m lucky in so many ways.
I’m lucky in so many ways that my father wasn’t. I suppose I’m lucky in
so many ways, that a lot of other people aren’t. “I could wile away
the hours, consultin’ with the flowers, conferrin’
with the rain.” In my head, I’d be
scratching while my thoughts were busy hatchin’ if I
only had a brain. Ray Bolger sang that in
the “Wizard of Oz” to Judy Garland. I’d unravel any riddle,
for any individ’le in trouble or in pain. With the thoughts you’d
be thinkin’ you could be another Lincoln if you
only had a brain. This is me with pills before
the operation. Do the other hand. It takes half my energy
just trying to relax, and the other half trying to
hide my shakes. Walking, walking, it’s
just crazy. You can’t walk without,
without thinking about, about putting one leg in
front of the other. You don’t need to shake
my hand, it shakes just fine. And this is the new me
after the operation, you don’t need to shake my
hand, it shakes on its own just fine. But, no more, look at that.
Steady as a rock and the other one too. When you tremble, you’re
embarrassed. You go out with people
and you try to hide your arm, hide your leg. You don’t know what to
do. You don’t know what to
do. And you’re just totally
self conscious at all times. I think you know if people
don’t say anything to you. You know that maybe you’re
covering it up well enough, or maybe they’re just being
kind to you. They don’t say anything
to you, but you’re so aware of it, it just alters your
life completely. I can everything that I
couldn’t do that I had stopped being able to do. I can take a shower, I
can take a walk. I can move, I don’t fall
over when I try to tie my shoes. You, think, these things
sound simple, but they’re not so simple for a person
when he has Parkinson’s, but they’re simple again. My ex-wife told me on the
phone that she always thought I needed brain
surgery. You have a brain? You know, one of the things
I’m looking forward to now, is not running races
with, but playing with my grandchildren. I didn’t have any hope
for that before. Or my son. That’s worth the whole
price of admission right there. I should be worried about
two holes being punched in my head. I should be worried about
brain surgery. And once in awhile, as
we get closer to it, and I think about it, I guess
I’m maybe a little bit concerned, just a little
bit concerned. What were you concerned
about Ray? It ah, it was like a walk
in the park. There was no problem at
all. Ah, a couple bumps on my
head, that’s all. Ah, and a life of freedom
from tremors. What more could a person
ask for? Whew! He had brain surgery.
How would you like to film your father’s brain surgery? I said picture this, you
got a drill going into his head, you see some
smoke coming out and there’s dad, if I only had a brain. Everybody, together!
Can we get some harmony going? My older sons Mark, an
executive producer for C-SPAN and Danny, a
professional cameraman, taped the operation. Surgery like this, it’s
unlike a lot of other operations that we typically
would do. First of all, the patient
is awake which is unlike most of the operations
that we do. And, second of all, we
need to be able to see Mr. Farkas and examine him
during the course of the operation to test the effect
of the stimulator. Ouch. While daughter Julie hangs
out in the waiting room with Sharon. Amazing.
The brain feels no pain. Amazing. Amazing concept.
It’s easier on me than it is on them. When I call Mom I started
crying and I can’t get any words out. She’s like, oh my God,
is he dead? And I said, no he’s doing
great. He’s not shaking anymore. Manjit.
Where are you Manjit? I’m here. Someone else you need to
meet. Manjit Sanghera, that’s
Dr. Sanghera to you, Manjit to me. I saw Manjit in Dallas
and she told me about the operation. He’s definitely in his
element, he actually looks like he’s enjoying himself. You know that’s what I
thought too when I walked in there and I saw him
and he’s talking to everybody and giving
basically a running commentary. He did look as though he
was enjoying it. He’s in his element. You know.
She even came up to DC for my surgery. I tell you, this has all
come about because of you. This group of nerve cells
is hyperactive. It’s firing too much and
we think this is what gives rise to the abnormal
movements, the tremor and so forth, which occurs
in Parkinson’s disease. Are you putting the
electrode in there Dr. Kalhorn? That’s right.
It’s already in. Oh. We’re going to be testing
it here in just a minute. When are you going to turn
me on? Oh, Mark. My left foot seems to have
stopped vibrating. Yep, I agree. My right it’s still.
Now the stimulator is disconnected now, and if
you look his tremor is now back on the left-hand
side. You see the difference? Wow, what a difference.
Boy, I’ll tell ya. More alternating current. You know, it took probably
about an hour, an hour and fifteen minutes and
they finally got to the right spot and you could
see that the shaking in that side of his body had
stopped. So the probe went into
the right side of the brain, and then the shaking in
the left side stopped in both the hand and his feet. The stimulator will be
completely implanted, but it still will be off. We’ll turn this on, you
know, in about a week. Later, they implant a couple
of batteries in my chest. I’m glad I’m not awake
for this one. On the tips of these wires
are four small platinum contact points that we’re
actually stimulating with. The pulses to the electrodes
seem to override the bad signals. That’s as technical as
I’m going to get. I guess there are some
people who are averse to going through a surgery
simply because it is surgery. No, that’s right, that’s
right and you know, it’s not for everyone. And, people have to
understand what the goals of the therapy are which
are mainly to improve your quality of life. We know, unfortunately,
it won’t cure the Parkinson’s disease. But it really can help
improve the quality of life in the patients who
have the surgery done. And I would do these
operations all the day long. As you did yesterday.
Everyday. That’s just how much I
like doing it. And the reason is just
because I’ve seen how much it can really help people
like him. Okay. All right, I’ll check on
you later. Okay. I’ll be here for a little
while. Okay, good. I’m looking for some
breakfast. Enjoy your breakfast. I’m looking for some
breakfast doctor. Get me some food. We’re going to get you
a big juicy omelet or something. Thank you.
All right, Ray, I’m glad you did so well. Thanks so much.
Okay. Wonderful. This is the programmer
that we’re going to be using to turn the
stimulators on. I’m waiting for the major
dramatic moment but little by little will be fine,
too. You know, nobody promised
me this operation would take care of everything,
I still have balance problems. But the big ones; the
slowness, the stiffness, and the shakes are pretty
much gone. Thank God. And Manjit.
And Chris Kalhorn. I’ve got my life back. Whew.
About five o’clock I said hey, what’s up doc. I’m no longer a surgery
virgin. And not to be sappy, but
I am so happy. I wish I could marry my
surgeon. Cause they poked and they
probed and they pushed and they pinched every
inch of my old sorry carcass and they sent me home mate,
and I’m feeling just great, like a state of art is
Ray Farkas. Hey Ray, turn on your
battery and pick up the phone. I was at Dad’s office when
the musicians were playing the song. The doctors actually, two
of the doctors and the nurse were there in their
coats with their name tags on it. And I was just calling
home to say I’ll be home 10 o’clock or something. Sydney said, what are you
doing? I said, we were making.. Grandpa has somebody who
has written a funny song about his brain surgery. Sydney said, brain surgery
is not funny daddy. I said, well here’s why
I think this could be funny. You know, it’s, I think
Grandpa wants to make it humorous for people to
let them know that it’s okay to have things like
this done. To make light of it. To make people feel better.
That’s it’s not so bad. And she said, but it’s
brain surgery daddy. It’s not funny. And so I couldn’t really
explain to her. But when I walked into
his office and see the doctors sitting down there
and you hear the head surgeon singing this song
that dad’s friends concocted, gotta drill
a hole in his head. Then you understand how
it could be funny. I can’t sing of what the
future might bring. I don’t believe in destiny. But right now I feel a
little bit more like the guy I used to be. I need this operation.
These are my kids, and my grandchildren. We’ll have each other to
play around with for awhile. I feel no pain when they
drill in my brain, at least that’s what the doctor
said. Life’s too nice not to
roll the dice and my tires still got some tread. So to take my best shot
at the time I got, I gotta get a hole in my head.

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2 thoughts on “DBS for Parkinson’s (“It Ain’t Television…It’s Brain Surgery” by Ray Farkas)”

  • Yes, rest in peace Ray. You helped so many people who were and are very very nervous about having this surgery that really helps PD sufferers. One thing that changed in the years after Ray's surgery is that you no longer have to be awake for the entire procedure. They just wake you for a few minutes after placing the electrodes to get you to do the PD tests.

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