Explorations in narrative medicine: spontaneous tremors

An attempt to describe in some detail and with attention to the unfolding of the affliction over time, what I characterized very briefly in a report on a night five days back on intense ulcer pain (but without bleeding) followed by — today’s focus — body-wracking chills (which I now believe to be an auto-immune condition without a standard name). Which kept me up most of last night, until I fell asleep in exhaustion. Now I’m trying to work at speed here, to crank out this account before the chills / shakes / rigors / tremors fell me again.

The events are sudden-onset spontaneous (not triggered by movements) wide-swinging strokes of the hands and  shaking of the legs, not at all painful but not even slightly controllable, in bursts from one or two up to a dozen or so repetitions.

During the events, I don’t feel feverish or hot or sweaty, but instead deeply, deeply cold. Not the external cold of cold air, but a cold that can’t be allayed by any amount of coverings or warming devices — a cold that comes from the inside.

As premonition, I felt this kind of cold in advance of the actual shaking, and had put on a thick velour bathrobe, with a warming spread draped over that.

As it happens, my condo’s heating is electric coils in the flooring, so that the floor actually feels warm. A cluster of these coils lies right at the foot of the chair I sleep in when times are rough; my bare feet then are made toasty warm (from the outside). But this helps the cold of the tremors not one bit. They feel cold from the inside.

Some comparisons. The tremors are not like Parkinson’s tremors at all. Not in their details, nor are they associated with any cognitive deficits.

They’re also different what what are known in the literature as essential tremors, which are triggered by attempts to use the hands.

Other shaking is associated with cold exposure. Still more with fevers. Neither is relevant for my tremors.

The experience of my tremors in process is very much like alcoholic shakes, or more generally, shaking as a withdrawal symptom from addictive substances. But my tremors appear as bounded events that occur with no visible triggers (though they might be facilitated by predisposing factors like exhaustion), but instead happen the way attacks of relapsing – remitting multiple sclerosis do.

So they look to me like an auto-immune affliction; I have a large collection of these, and seem to be picking up new ones every so often.

There seems to be no established name for them; I suggest spontaneous tremors. Maybe spontaneous cold tremors, to get the feelings of internal cold into the name.

One Response to “Explorations in narrative medicine: spontaneous tremors”

  1. Bill Stewart Says:

    Not an expert at all, but I wonder if the tremors are coming from the cerebellum… ???

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