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Laurie Trlak

Progress, I hope

August 6, 2009 at 10:50 AM

Well, the Topamax has helped somewhat. My neurologist ended up doubling the dosage, and it did reduce the tremor considerably, although it didn't eliminate it. This week I began Botox injections. The doctor inserted electrodes into muscles in my right forearm in order to determine which ones were "misfiring" while I was bowing upbow -- and yes, it meant bringing my violin to my doctor's office, which was a bit odd, and playing while I was there! She was able to isolate the muscles, and she gave me four injections into four muscles which she determined were the ones causing the worst tremor, the one in my wrist, which caused my bow to skip horribly. She said it would take about a week for the Botox to take full effect, but it's working already if my last two practice sessions are any indication. My only concern is that my worst fear, that my fingers might be paralyzed, could be a reality; as of this afternoon, I cannot lift my middle finger (so I guess it's not the finger that's paralyzed, but the muscle that makes it possible for me to lift it independently from the others, which is the point). I can bend it, but not lift it. All snickers aside (and I know what you're thinking) that may not be a problem while playing. I'll see, as I am about to go to my lesson. But it's a little worrisome. In any case, I hope it makes playing easier. So far my practice sessions have gone much better, although typing has been harder!, But then, moving my fingers on a keyboard is different from moving them on a fingerboard, especially since I don't use my right hand on a fingerboard!

Anyway, as I work on Campagnoli's Divertimento I, and on Veracini's Sonata in G Minor, I am finding that I have better control over the bow for the first time in a very long time. I hope it continues. 

From Catie Rinderknecht
Posted on August 6, 2009 at 10:08 PM

If I may ask, what is the source of your tremors, if known?   

From Elinor Estepa
Posted on August 6, 2009 at 10:32 PM

What an inspiration you are, so the others who's been open enough to reveal what they all struggling for.

You are a power boost to those of us who are just whinning and complainig about nothing.(me, esp...)

Best of Luck to you. Hope the botox works well with all the tremors, as you've said, your playing and bowing sound better already.

Thank you for sharing this journey you have with MS. What a Bravery!

Keep your head up always!

From Tom Holzman
Posted on August 7, 2009 at 6:51 PM

Keep up the good fight!  Your story should inspire all of us.  My mother, an excellent pianist, suffered from MS, and it gradually took away her ability to use her right hand, so she was limited to left hand repertoire.  It was very sad.  She tried lots of different things (including anabolic steroids, which helped for a while until she began to have liver side effects).

From Vartkes Ehramdjian
Posted on August 8, 2009 at 1:35 AM

I too have similar problems.
I would like to know if we have already talked about it.

am sorry but I do not remember

I can help you if you are interested to know more about yours and my situation.

Thank GOD i am back after my last year's episode I am back playing Paganini and Wieniawsky again.

I would like to talk to you about TOPAMAX.

if you want you can write to me at

if the boss does not mind of course. I like to help, but not to mingle into somone's affairs.

God bless you



From Deborah McCann
Posted on August 8, 2009 at 3:14 AM

Hang in there,  You are not alone.  I have MD and have been told it is physically impossible that I play, but I still do and make a living at it.  For me, there is no medicine.  I work to get other muscles to compensate and have to play daily.  I also surround myself with supportive doctors and will not go to a nay sayer.  When I do finally get to where I can not play anymore, I will be happy for all the extra days I have had and what I have been able to pass on to the next generation.


From Drew Lecher
Posted on August 8, 2009 at 3:25 AM

 Keep fighting Laurie. You are amazing in so many ways. God bless you and all. Drew

From Leigh Latchum
Posted on August 8, 2009 at 3:27 AM

Dear Laurie,

    I'm shaking my head in disbelief and wondering if this is a current blog.  But, yes, I checked the date and saw where you just entered in as Aug. 6, 2009.  This is a topic dear to my heart.  Everything you have described sounds like my bow arm, but I have been diagnosed with Benign Essential Tremors.  We have been playing with the meds for a year now and I've found a good combination for me....Topomax (25 mg)at night and Primidone(50) during the day.  I've tried others, but this gives the best results for me.  Have you tried combining.  Also---please forgive me, as I am certain you have thoroughly researched your health issue, but have you been to a chiropractor?  It has helped me.  My bow arm was kicking; my spicatto was out of control and it was impossible to present a slow exchange of the bow at the frog....all slow songs were out of the I have regained at least 97% control.  But again, we are talking about an inherited DNA disorder.  Is MS similar?  I'm so sorry, and I'd like to help if i can.

From Laurie Trlak
Posted on August 8, 2009 at 12:05 PM

Thanks to all who responded.

Leigh, MS is a disease of the central nervous system. I have no idea if it is related to what is happening to you; you might want to discuss that with your doctor. He or she would be the one best able to tell you. I hope not - I wouldn't wish this on anyone. On the other hand, as neurological disorders go, there are much worse ones out there, so MS isn't as bad as it gets!

Deborah, thanks so much for your encouraging words. Your courage and determination are truly inspiring. Like you, I want to continue to make music as long as I can, until I just can't anymore, regardless of what anyone says.

Vartkes, yes we have talked before. I'm glad to hear from you! I was wondering how you were!

To Esperanza and everyone else who commented, thanks. I'm really not  brave or amazing. I just love the violin, and I don't want to give it up. I'm not a great virtuoso or anything like that. I just love the art of the instrument, and I don't want to give it up! Lord willing, as long as I draw breath I will play.

Thanks everybody.

From Mendy Smith
Posted on August 11, 2009 at 6:17 AM


You are an inspiration to us all and remind us to put the Diva behind us and reconnect with why we play.  I hope that you find a way to enable yourself to express what you love dearly for years to come with minimal/normal frustrations.


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