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Our Patients. Their Stories. Eric Hasse

Our Patients. Their Stories. Eric Hasse

Dartmouth-Hitchcock (D-H) patient, Eric Hasse, submitted the following story of his journey with young-onset Parkinson’s disease at the time when his digital artwork was featured at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC). Hasse is under the care of Stephen Lee, MD in the Department of Neurology at Dartmouth-Hitchcock.

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Parkinsonian

In March of 1994, at the age of 35, I noticed a tremor in my left thumb. It was the first sign of early onset Parkinson’s disease.

Ten years on, I had lost my ability to feed, bathe or dress myself and my hands shook so badly that I could no longer hold a book open to read. I was totally dependent on my wife, Jane, and figured that I was in the end stages of the disease.

Not so!

I first met Eric several years ago at his Hanover studio where I learned of his passion and creativity in digital art. Over the years, I have grown to appreciate how his art has flourished despite the effects of Parkinson’s disease. His tireless spirit in the face of a chronic illness inspires me to help every patient achieve their fullest potential.

Stephen Lee, MD, Neurologist

Through a series of personal contacts, Jane and my stepdaughter, Zephyr, managed to persuade me to consider deep brain stimulation neurosurgery (DBS) at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Massachusetts.  In February 2005, I had bilateral subthalamic electrodes placed in my brain attached to a pacemaker-like subdermal controller embedded in my chest.

In the recovery room post-op, my neurosurgeon, Craig Van Horne, MD, (who at the time was part of the medical staff at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center), turned the power on. As we had prearranged, we wanted to share the miracle of transformation with my anxious wife and stepdaughter who were patiently awaiting news of the outcome of the four-hour operation.

One minute, my familiar tremors wracked my body. The next, with the flip of a power switch – they were gone!  Utterly. Completely. Gone.

Tears of joy and gratitude filled the post op unit that day.

In the ensuing 11 years those tears have continued to flow.  In 2012, I transitioned my care to Dartmouth-Hitchcock under the compassionate and capable supervision of my neurologist, Stephen Lee, MD, seeking to optimize settings of my neurostimulator. Over the past six months, Dr. Lee has also injected Botox several times to keep my eyes open to continue to make my digital artwork. This art has been on display at DHMC four times since the spring of 2005 when my monumental “Body and Soul: Remembering Beauty in a Time of Disease” was first hung on loan in the lobby of D-H’s Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Lebanon, NH. I also hope to have some of my pieces as part of the permanent collection at D-H’s Jack Byrne Hospice and Palliative Care Center scheduled to open in the fall of 2017.

I continue to dedicate my artwork that is showcased at D-H to all the neurologists, neurosurgeons, physicians assistants, arts coordinators and nurses at D-H and St. Elizabeth’s, as well as friends and neighbors and patrons of the arts, who have shared and shaped my journey for the past 22 years.  Most of all, I dedicate my life and my art to my wife, Jane, who has dedicated her life to me. Namaste, Jane, for all that you are.