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Hiccups Cured After Seven Months

Posted - Jun. 30, 2004 at 1:20 p.m.



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NEW ORLEANS, Jun 30, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- A surgical implant used to treat seizures has been used for the first time to cure a Texas man of a life-threatening, seven-month bout of hiccups.

Shafer's problems started in 2002, when he suffered three strokes. His doctor successfully treated such after-effects as high blood pressure, dizzy spells and Shafer's inability to raise his left arm. But nerve damage had been done.

"We thought this was smooth sailing," Shafer's wife Lori told the New Orleans Times-Picayune. "Then the hiccups started, and this was just a nightmare."

From November until two weeks ago, Shafer hiccuped every minute or so, putting a strain on his heart, making everyday activities such as eating and sleeping nearly impossible, and stripping 30 pounds from his 5-foot-6 frame.

Then Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center neurosurgeon Bryan Payne agreed to try an experiment using an implanted device that stops tremors associated with Parkinson's disease.

Once turned on, it worked instantly, and Shafer's wife says the couple's bed is no longer like the bouncing one in the movie, "The Exorcist."

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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