I had Tourette's. And I kind of feel like it's just increased version of Tourette's.
So back at the age of five, we went to my primary care doctor and noticed I was just doing a little head nod. We didn't know at the time that that would be Tourette's.
When I graduated college in 2008, I said to my parents that I didn't want to have the Tourette's anymore. And I thought, you know, I could get treated for that with medicine. After four years, in 2012, I started again anxiety, panic attacks.
So I got prescribed some anti-psychotics, which didn't much work well for me. When I took that, that would lead to the jerking of the neck, and then the head rubbing, uncontrollable arm spasms. Those are the three major symptoms, which we noticed in like, 2012 and '13.
As the symptoms developed, they were trying to treat the Tourette's as well as the anxiety issue. It was about 11 medications over a six-year span, trying to treat what the doctors, at first and for a long period of time, thought was just worse Tourette's as I got older.
My movements have spread to my whole body. I just woke up. Can't do anything.
ANTHONY RUSSO: There were good days, and there were bad days. It'd be like, OK. He wouldn't have any movement at all. And it'd great. And then the next day, his twitches were so bad that he'd be throwing up.
BRIAN SMUDA: I just showered, threw up four times. These are the involuntary movements I have going right now.
I went to a local hospital in Boston. And they said, for the first time ever, Tardive Dyskinesia, when they pinpointed, this was caused the medicine. From there, we were able to focus on getting steps done to counteract what was going on.
ANTHONY RUSSO: He'd hit a wall. And that'd be it. Or there's going to be a light at the end of the tunnel. With the surgery, that was the light at the end of the tunnel.
BRIAN SMUDA: Just five days left until surgery. I have a lot of hope that it works.
So there are other options for the-- treating the TD-- medicines or movement therapy and stuff like that. Mine was the deep brain stimulation.
Getting into the DBS program, I was referred by my psychiatrist. And from June 26th to August 2nd, that's all the time it took for me to go through all the exams to see if you would be a candidate for that procedure. Post-procedure and getting the right settings for me have definitely improved the movements.
ANTHONY RUSSO: Yeah. He still does have body tics. And he's still moving. But the progress that's been made, it's just fascinating.
BRIAN SMUDA: Brain operation for me was a huge stepping stone. It allowed me to get back into living again. I was able to ski 86 days after the initial brain surgery, which was opening day of my favorite mound in Vermont. When I go skiing, it totally lets me escape my of Tardive Dyskinesia.
ANTHONY RUSSO: When we're on the slopes, when he's going down the mountain, there's no tics or anything like that. Since post-surgery, quality of life is improved. As long as that keeps up, and I mean, I think that he's going to be successful.
BRIAN SMUDA: What I could recommend to people that either are not yet diagnosed, or currently diagnosed newly, or it's 10 years on, and they haven't seen any improvement, follow what your movement disorder specialist say and just keep on pushing on. Hope for tomorrow.
After the deep brain stimulation-- and there's days where I wake up; I feel around like, 80% better. And there's days where you feel depressed, in a funk. When I feel in a funk, I still have the hope that my day gets better.
If I go out and do something joyful, I can ultimately step that up a little bit, and, you know, sit there and just be nice, prompt, and relaxed. If you're hopeful enough, and you go out and go for a hike; you go for a bike ride; you do something that brings you joy; you can appreciate the highs of life that you can get from simple joys.