Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

SOMETHING OLD, SOMETHING NEW SHE CELEBRATES 35 YEARS OF MARRIAGE AND BEING 'REBORN' AFTER RISKY PROCEDURE TO TREAT PARKINSON'S [Corrected 02/23/16]

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

SOMETHING OLD, SOMETHING NEW SHE CELEBRATES 35 YEARS OF MARRIAGE AND BEING 'REBORN' AFTER RISKY PROCEDURE TO TREAT PARKINSON'S [Corrected 02/23/16]

Article excerpt

Rena and Larry Koteski picked the weekend before Valentine's Day to commemorate their long marriage by renewing their vows.

But the Plum couple's 35 years of matrimony were just part of their celebration. They were also celebrating Rena Koteski's return to a full life, one in which she can drive again and dress herself and walk with the brisk stride of a person on a mission.

They were celebrating the success of a risky procedure Rena Koteski , 61, believed was her only alternative when faced with a life that had become so limited from her Parkinson's Disease, she felt she wasn't living at all.

"I've been reborn," she said.

And she wants to get the word out.

This past fall, she underwent subthalamic nucleus deep brain stimulation at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital. The procedure, done only about a dozen times in Pittsburgh, involves implanting electrodes in the brain. They are stimulated by pacemakers that are placed under the collarbone of the patient.

She still has the bright red scars just below her neck where the two pacemakers were placed. Her hair has started to grow back where it was shaved when the stints were inserted.

No one knows why it works, just that it does, she said.

In the three and a half months since the operation, Koteski has almost completely stopped having involuntary tremors, cut back by about a third on the number of pills she must take and found she can walk and dress herself like the independent woman she prides herself on being.

Her whole family discussed the operation, which carries risks of stroke or even death, before she decided to have it done. Ultimately, though, it was her decision, Larry Koteski said.

"My whole life was not what I wanted it to be," Rena Koteski said.

In an April 2002 entry in her journal, she called her disease "this monster." She wrote that it was "degrading" to have her husband cover her in bed at night because her tremors made it impossible for her to do it.

In another, later entry, she describes her pain and how difficult it was to move her legs. "My body hurts. Sometimes the neuropathy in my left foot is unbearable," she wrote. …

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