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Beth Wock says she has talked to about 30 people who have received the controversial Liberation Treatment.
And everyone she has spoken to who has undergone the procedure has noticed improvements, she said.
“The changes that we’ve experienced are the things other people can’t see,” said Wock.
The Estevan resident had the procedure in Mexico in July in an effort to combat multiple sclerosis (MS), and a condition known as chronic cerebro-spinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI), which often accompanies MS. Since then, Wock has witnessed changes in her life, while becoming a champion for the Liberation Treatment.
Wock said she has had to learn how to walk again. Physiotherapy twice each week has helped. She has walked a distance equivalent to a block by herself, and her ultimate goal is to go for a walk around her block.
Tolerance to heat has also improved, she said. Fatigue used to set in quickly on a hot day.
“I went with my husband for a ride on a motorcycle,” said Wock. “We went about 400 kilometres. It was about 90 degrees outside. I got off the motorcycle and went in the house. He said that for us, that’s just amazing.”
Wock has always retained a driver’s license since she was diagnosed with MS, but she wouldn’t drive on days when she was feeling weak. The Liberation Treatment has improved her driving abilities, she said.
She has also enjoyed support from her family, friends, her church, which is St. Peter’s Lutheran in Estevan, and the community as a whole.
Wock said she was pleased when Premier Brad Wall announced in late July that he would be open to testing for the treatment in Saskatchewan.
“That he’s taking it serious is a big, big plus,” said Wock. “Some of the provinces are starting to follow, which is good. However, I know it’s going to be a while before it gets here. I didn’t have time to wait for it to get here.”
Wock has spoken to people across North America who are proof of the success of the Liberation Treatment, she said. She pointed out that there will be a seminar in Biggar on September 12 that will discuss CCSVI. MS patients who have had to travel to other countries for testing and treatment will be in attendance.
Estevan’s Becky Kelly can also vouch for the Liberation Treatment’s impact. Kelly was at a clinic in Merida, Mexico – located west of Cancun – from August 3 to 8. Her procedure occurred on August 5, and within two days, she could notice the difference, she said. And improvements have continued since she returned to Estevan.
Kelly also said that many people wouldn’t notice the differences, but she can identify them.
“The best is yet to come,” she said.
Prior to the Liberation Treatment, Kelly had trembles that affected her ability to eat and perform other tasks. She is still “shaky,” she said, but the trembles have been reduced.
Her knees, legs, ankles and feet used to be swollen. Most of the swelling is now gone. In addition to the swelling, her feet were red and ice cold. Now her feet are warm, she said.
Kelly is able to walk around the house with only assistance from a cane, and she finds that she has more energy.
“My head feels so clear now,” said Kelly. “With my voice, people talk to me on the phone, and they say ‘You sound so good.’”
Physiotherapy sessions take place twice a week, and she swims with her daughter two times a week. Swimming was something that she couldn’t do before the Liberation Treatment.
“I’m not swimming laps in the pool, but I’m exercising and moving legs,” said Kelly.
This is not the first treatment that Kelly has sought for MS. Kelly and her husband, Patrick, travelled to China in late 2007 and early 2008 so that she could receive umbilical stem cell injections.
The stem cell treatments made a difference, she said, but the impact of the Liberation Treatment has been greater.
“My veins are open now,” said Kelly. “The blood is moving through my body like it should.”
Clinic proximity and timelines are also better, she said. Mexico is obviously a lot closer than China. And she was in Mexico for five days, instead of in China for five weeks.
Kelly said she would recommend the Liberation Treatment for other people with MS. And the staff assigned to her, including a neurologist and two neurosurgeons, were terrific, she said."
Becca Morgan has no regrets about flying thousands of kilometres for a surgery some consider controversial.
Morgan, a 27-year-old living in Cumberland who has multiple sclerosis (MS), flew to Costa Rica with her mother and her aunt in early August to undergo Liberation Treatment, a new procedure associated with chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI), and she has already seen some improvements.
CCSVI suggests that veins draining blood from the brain to the heart are narrowed or blocked, causing blood to flow back upward and leading to an accumulation of iron in the brain, rather than the conventional thinking that MS is an autoimmune condition.
Liberation Treatment is not available in Canada, and many MS patients are travelling overseas for the procedure, which is similar to an angioplasty, as doctors thread wires through the veins and insert a balloon then inflate it to open up the vein if they find a blockage.
Morgan, who was diagnosed with MS nine years ago, can no longer tolerate the side effects of prescribed drugs, had the treatment Aug. 7, and she noticed a difference right away.
"I woke up, and I immediately had relief from the numbness in my right leg, and all the numbness in my back was gone," said Morgan, who's back home.
During the Liberation Treatment, doctors found both Morgan's jugular veins and one of the main veins draining veins to her heart were blocked.
She says she felt a little bit of pain on the right side of her chest when she first woke up, but it went away.
After leaving the hospital, Morgan spent 10 days receiving physiotherapy and recuperating at the hotel, where she also had to start taking blood thinners.
"In the beginning, at times, I didn't really feel anything strengthwise," she said. "I had a bit of a meltdown and asked my mom if she noticed an improvement, and she noticed a difference. I still needed her help to walk from the hotel to the gym, but before I was weighing more on her, and she noticed I was more centred. I walked through the gardens for an hour, and I wouldn't have been able to do that before — and that's after an hour of working out."
There is a risk that a person's veins can close again after Liberation Treatment, noted Morgan, who wants to return to Costa Rica and see her surgeon again for a followup to ensure her veins remain open.
Morgan can't think of a moment in Costa Rica where she thought, "I shouldn't do this."
"I don't regret any part of it, and I can't suggest enough for people to take advantage if they can," she said. "It's definitely worth the effort to take advantage of it if you can. From everybody that I saw down there that even had small results, at least it was a result."
After her experience, Morgan is even more hopeful that the Liberation Treatment will become available in Canada.
"When I was down there, I was talking to the surgeons, and they were asking why we're not doing it here, and I couldn't give them a complete answer," she said. "It's something as minor as angioplasty; it's a little ridiculous why it's not being done. Yes, there are risks, but there are risks in everything. It's frustrating because I'm sure there are thousands of people who can't afford this."
Morgan wants to go back to Costa Rica after this year of school.
"It was definitely culture shock in some ways but nice to see something different," she said. "It was definitely an eye-opening experience but definitely one I would die to relive. It was so unforgettable. I fell in love with the people."
When Morgan returned from Costa Rica, she took part in her brother's wedding, and she has been very active.
She recently went on a four-hour bike ride with her husband, Jef.
"I wouldn't have been able to do that before," she said. "I was bagged after the ride, but I could still function. I'm hoping I feel better. Everyone else sees things in me, which is kind of nice because you kind of wonder are you just making this up. When I got home, Jef was just so excited. The bike ride was a little long, but seeing me still functioning after that, it gives everyone more hope that things can get better. I've got a long haul; they say depending on the person, it takes three months to a year to see improvements."
Morgan has always loved working out, and she's planning to take Jef to the gym with her. She also wants to ease her way back into biking.
"I'm hoping I will continue to improve," she said. "I don't think it can stop if you continue to push yourself.""
NEWS ~ NDP: CONSERVATIVES MUST NOT UNDERMINE THE FIGHT AGAINST MS / NPD : LES CONSERVATEURS NE DOIVENT PAS NUIRE À LA LUTTE CONTRE LA SCLÉROSE EN PLAQUES
Canadian Society for Vascular Surgery 32nd Annual Meeting
September 24-25 2010 - Fairmont Waterfront Hotel, Vancouver BC
Vancouver BC Preliminary Program / CCSVI Info: