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Healthy Living


Lesley Carlberg used to look forward to taking her dog Holly for a long walk through her Clarkson neighbourhood. But, diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) 15 years ago, the chipper, upbeat mother of three began to notice last spring she could hardly make it around the block. MS was taking its toll on her physical abilities and she wondered if it would just worsen as the years wore on. To avoid that outcome, and an unknown future, Carlberg, with her husband’s research and encouragement, made the decision to undergo MS “liberation” treatment last fall in California. She says it worked and she notices a big difference in her physical abilities. This winter for the first time in many years, Carlberg went cross-country skiing. And now, she can walk Holly as far as the big dog feels like walking. The tightness in her chest that she’d been feeling for years, but had difficulty describing to doctors, went away. The only MS symptom that hasn’t changed much is the tingling in her hands.”But that’s minor,” laughed the stand-up comic. “I can’t complain about my MS. I have such minor problems compared to others.”
The still-experimental treatment involves inserting a balloon into the patient’s five major veins including the chest and neck that connect the heart and brain and expand them, effectively stretching the vein and allowing blood to flow more freely. The treatment is still unrecognized in Canada, which means patients must travel elsewhere and pay for it themselves. It cost Carlberg $13,000, a portion of which she can get back through tax write-offs.
Doctors who worked on the first procedures had found a reduction of blood flow from the brain to the heart due to the narrowing of veins. It is believed that that condition is what causes build-ups of iron to form in the brain. Eventually, these would then cause the development of lesions and MS symptoms. When doctors first started performing the treatment there was mixed opinion about its success.
Although Carlberg didn’t read much about the procedure before heading to the Dr. David Hubbard Clinic, she certainly wasn’t afraid. She felt like this was the right thing to do. “I preferred not to know too much about the controversies,” she said. “I’m glad I didn’t read a lot. I left the worrying to my husband who did all the research. If he wasn’t worried. Then I wasn’t worried. Sometimes it’s better to be in the dark.”
Walking out of the clinic hours later, Carlberg knew right away that she felt different.
Now, several months later, her quality of life is better and she recommends the treatment to other MS sufferers.