By Heather Killen
Yvonne Andersen was the picture of health when she wasn't sleeping 16 hours a day and tripping over her own feet.
The former Annapolis Valley woman now lives in Truro and is being hailed as the province's pioneer. She is among the first Multiple Sclerosis patients in Canada to travel to a private clinic in New York and undergo Liberation treatment. This new procedure is a modified type of angioplasty that opens blocked blood vessels and restores blood flow.
Since her treatment in July, her energy levels are improving and so is a growing list of 24 various symptoms including restored balance, improved vision, and fewer muscle spasms. These days she's rallying to ensure the treatment is made available here at home.
“From what I've noticed about one-third of the patients have had excellent results with the procedure, one-third have had good results,” she said. “And about one-third have had little or no change. But even if the change is not huge, if it slows the progression it's worth something.”
For many, Anderson has become the first stop on the road to Liberation. While she tells people to do their own research and decide for themselves, she offers them a really good idea what to expect from the treatment and how to go about getting it.
She even offers a list of places to stay and how to pay for the trip. All in all, she has about 1,500 friends on Facebook and many of them are the faces of Liberation. She chopped her wood in the fall, shopped for six hours a day in the blistering heat of the summer, and walks her dogs whenever she feels like it.
It may sound like a lot to keep up with, but these days she`s happy to have the energy. Her symptoms began with a sudden vertigo attack in 2000. Even when it finally passed, she wasn`t the same. She was tired all the time, sleeping 16 hours a day.
Soon she was tripping over her own feet and felt like she was moving through mud. Her mind started to wander and her face went numb. She would choke on water and sometimes she had the shakes. But the worst thing was the MS hug, a tightness that crept across her torso. Things were going from bad to worse and she was worried about what would happen next.
By 2010, she was on five different types of pain medication in addition to drugs to manage the MS. These days she gets by on Tylenol and much less medication than she had been taking. Andersen says the cost of the treatment may be pricey, but given the cost of drugs to manage MS through the provincial health care system, we can`t afford not to consider the option.
She thinks the government should look at the findings and not just wait for science to make the case.
“The amount I spent on drugs for the first half of the year would probably pay for the procedure,” she said. “Ì have a life again,”