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Why I love Working for SAP

On Jan 31, 2019, I became the 120th patient at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Hospital (and ~3000th worldwide) to have a new treatment called MRI-guided Focused Ultrasound performed to address my worsening, medication-resistant Essential Tremor (ET).

This is a scalpel-free surgical procedure that Sunnybrook brain scientists pioneered in 2012.

The hope for anyone receiving this operation is that it will remove, or at least slow the progression of, the tremor for the side that is selected for treatment (right side, in my case).

That was my hope, too. And further down, I’ll explain how SAP plays into my wellness journey.

How it works…

MRI-guided Focused Ultrasound for the treatment of ET takes about 3 hrs and is performed while you lay in an MRI machine. In my case, the neurosurgeon created a 7mm lesion using 900 ultrasound beams all trained in one spot – the group of neurons in my brain that were emitting the errant signal that caused tremors on the right side of my body.

At 54 centigrade, the  misbehaving neurons were obliterated (little white spot in the image below), and surrounding healthy neurons took over instead.

A couple times during the pain-free procedure, the neurosurgeon came in and asked me to perform the same dexterity tests I performed pre-surgery to ensure they were zapping the right spot. Eventually, my hand moved through the tests without any shake whatsoever. AMAZING.

And now..

My right side is now free of tremor, and I’m now able to write again, put a key in a lock, eat soup in front of people and lots of other things I had incredible difficulty doing before! The image below was me trying both print and cursive writing within couple hours of the procedure. I had forgotten my handwriting style, but my hand hadn’t forgotten!

I am temporarily without hair, alternating between a cold head because the hats itch, and between itchiness because the crew cut appearance still shocks ME to see! And this experience has taught me how small minded I am!

LITERALLY my head is SMALL.

For a little while more I must deal with some common side effects when swelling in the brain presses on the balance/coordination area. Essentially, I have the opportunity to know how I look and sound if I were to drink too much.  The swelling causes the same effect as a few stiff drinks – except you are sober enough to be mortified by it 😉

On to why I love working at SAP..

My area of responsibility is kind of stressful, fast-paced, chaotic. Through it all I never got the sense that my recovery was less important than deadlines – and that really helped my recovery process. We have a huge release pending and the backlog to get through is daunting.Not once did I feel anything by encouragement, patience, and understanding – from my manager, my colleagues,  HR.

SAP made it clear my recovery was the highest priority, and I was left to decide how best to resume duties..

WEEK 1 after surgery, I was at home, and by the end of the week was really only able to offer drunken-sounded utterances to my colleagues via Skype (no video because I essentially changed species while the facial swelling ran its course).

WEEK 2, I relearned to type (right hand), walk without creating additional bruises, and carry things more than 10 feet without dropping them (sadly my iPhone screen didn’t survive this ordeal). By the end of the week, I was able to work at the office a bit between snowstorms, and wrote flowery hellos on my teammates’ white boards. In the past, my whiteboard creations looked more like raisins and squiggles so it was fun to do this.

WEEK 3 saw me fully back – both at work and at functioning levels. I type slower than before, but it’s coming back.Each day I get better at things that require balance, coordination, and motor skills (which includes saying the letter S, believe it or not!).

Through the whole process I kept hearing “take the time you need”, “whatever arrangement you need”, and “you’re recovering so fast” – encouragement to not feel any pressure.

Looking forward..

There is a chance that the surgery success may not last–it’s new, after all–and/or that some of the now minor side effects will be permanent. But the (current) quality of life boost was worth it. I was diagnosed in my 20s and have dealt with ET for a while now with no effective relief. I’d like a future 20-something who is just starting their career have more options than I did.

I also have the option to have the left side fixed as well. Jury is out on that one……

For now, though, I am just excited for the rest of the side effects to diminish.. and for my hair to grow back so folks will stop randomly petting my head like it brings them luck.

THANKS SAP – for being a solid supporter on my wellness journey!

18 Comments
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  • Why I love reading your post:

    1. It’s been a while since you’ve posted and now I know why.
    2. It shows your courage in battling this condition and by sharing your story publicly.
    3. I learned about ET and its treatment (glad for this knowledge sharing community).
    4. it reminds me the importance of taking care of ourselves, physically, emotionally, and mentally (and even spiritually)…and the important role our network has in supporting this goal.
    5. Because I love working at SAP too!

    Thank you Laura Nevin! Wishing you a speedy recovery and much happiness!

  • Hi Laura,

    it’s good to have your voice back in the SCN blog space!

    The report of your surgery and your recovery are nothing short of a miracle report.

    “Yeah, you know, I had brain surgery three weeks ago, that was performed with a sound scalpel while I was located in gigantic magnet – but I’m fine now…” That is just amazing and I’m happy for you to have found this treatment for a condition that must have plagued you terribly.

    The fact that SAP supports you in this is reconfirming my view of the company as an employee: it’s a really good employer.

    Much more important than that, however, is that you’re doing so well now.

     

    • Hi Lars. Thanks! Nice to hear from you. I’m due to post again shortly.. Nothing  nearly as off topic but likely as pithy. Hope all is well.

       

  • Thank you for sharing something so personal.

    As a non SAP employee I just want to add that I think you work for a good company and I’m happy to see you back bloggin.

    Great you doing well, keep on rockin!

  • Nice to meet you. I also suffer from ET, which is mild, but need to take b-blocker. I really want to resolve my problem. I will receive FUS treatment on June. I want to treat my hands bilaterally. Are you willing to receive FUS on opposite side? And the effect is 100%?

     

    Sincerely

     

     

     

     

    • HI Takuro, thank-you for your comment. The neurosurgeon who performed mine prefers to do one side at time, although he has done some cases bilaterally. Haven’t decided yet re other side. Effect was 100% effective for me; others have had different levels of success. Wishing you well for your results in June!

      Laura

      • Thank you very much for your reply. My occupation requires fine motor skills. I’m glad to know your are free from tremor and some people treated bilaterally. Great.

        If possible, could you please tell me about some cases treated bilaterally? You know, bilateral treatment is believed  to cause dysarthria.(Although it’s from data in 1960-1980, old, unsophisticated stereotactic operative method.) I really concerned about it.

        I believe you can sympathize my suffering of this condition. Tremor is really annoying.

        Anyway, Thanks again, and I hope my tremor go away completely, like you.

         

         

         

        • Hello, sorry I don’t know of actual bilateral  treatment cases. Perhaps ask the neurosurgeon who is doing your June procedure. Yes I do understand the struggle. Wishing you success!!

          • I appreciate for your kind reply.

            I’ll ask neurosurgeon who will treat me.

            Please let me know when you decide to take FUS for your non-dominant hand.

             

            Regards,

  • I am impressed … Sincere B.R.A.V.O. and happy to read that in some ways SAP allowed you to take the time to take care of you and recover. Of course, I wish you successful continuation!

    Sandra

  • Long time no see, Laura.

    Let me ask more questions.

    Was FUS more effective than med?

    Do you think you still need med for your treated hand?

    Still 100% effective?

    Regards