It is 3:30 a.m. and I am trying to type a column on the computer keyboard. This used to be an easy task for me. My fingers flew over the letters. Now, they fly like a wounded duck.

Regular readers of this column are asking, "Why aren't you using your new Dragon?" Believe me, I would much rather be talking into the microphone and having my words magically appear on the screen. However, as I said, it's 3:30 a.m. My husband is still asleep. I know that my voice would wake him. Plus, if I don't speak at a normal volume and speed, Dragon has a hard time deciphering my words.

Anyway - I thought that my tremors might be still asleep and that I might sneak a column past them at this hour of the day.

No such luck. I've already had two issues - I knocked out a whole paragraph and had to re-type it, and somehow the sleeve of my robe caught an icon and started a game of solitaire right in the middle of the column. Luckily, neither incident was completely discouraging, so I persist,

I wanted to let my readers know about the tremors so that you can understand more about the condition. After all, this column is about "Education and Family." Let's just say that I am going to educate you about Benign Essential Familiar Tremors.

At first, the doctors weren't sure what I had. They leaned towards Parkinson's, and that scared the beejeebers out of me. I did a lot of reading and knew that Parkinson's is incurable. But, after some time, many medical tests and investigations, and some "guessing" by neurologists, ENT specialists, and my primary care physician (whose father had Parkinson's), they determined that I suffer from BET.

Odd fact - these tremors are usually inherited. But, to my memory, no one else in my family ever had them. Of course, we never lived near my father's people, so I don't know about that side of the family.

Most common in older adults, BET is not a dangerous condition (therefore the 'benign' moniker). However, it can progress and severely impact a person's life.

In my case, I can tell you clearly how the tremors have impacted me. I can no longer carry liquids safely. Heck, I can't even carry a bowl of Cheerios safely. A few weeks ago, I decorated our kitchen in Cheerios.

Cutting and slicing onions or any other vegetable has become Jim's job. He enjoys cooking, so it's not a great hardship for him. On the other hand, I miss being able to do the prep work for homemade spaghetti sauce and other dishes.

I can no longer play a keyboard instrument. I can no longer sing well. I can no longer sit at the computer and play games without a lot of stress. There's nothing worse than losing a level in Candy Crush because you're not fast or accurate enough.

I must monitor my intake of caffeine, since it plays havoc with my body. No more Coca-Cola or Pepsi for me. And, my coffee must be the mild stuff that most people only drink before bed.

I do take medication to ease the shaking, but haven't yet progressed to the anti-seizure meds, sedatives, or tranquilizers that are probably in my future. The neurologist also said that Botox injections and surgery can help some people. Hopefully, I won't need those drastic treatments.

Now it is 4:30 a.m. Soon the birds will start singing, Fox News will play the National Anthem, our coffee machine will gurgle, and another day will begin. I am proud that I managed to write this column. Small victories.

If you would like to contact Dr. Smith, she can be reached at her e mail address: jsmith1313@cfl. rr.com