Sunday March 18th 2018

‘It’s like someone turned on a light switch,’ MS patient says

John McLaughlin may not be a new man, but he certainly feels like one.

The Fredericton resident recently returned home from the Rhode Island Vascular Institute where he underwent what is commonly referred to as the “liberation treatment” for multiple sclerosis.

McLaughlin, a former provincial fire marshal, said the difference has been remarkable.

“I notice things that I wasn’t accustomed to,” McLaughlin said in an interview. “My eyesight is crisper. I feel less pain in my legs. I realize that it’s not like being hit by lightning, but I am just amazed at the clarity.”

McLaughlin, who suffers from Chronic Cerebral-Spinal Venous Insufficiency, or CCSVI, was the recipient of angioplasty and stent treatments which restore blood flow in the neck and chest veins of multiple sclerosis patients.

While the procedure is controversial and isn’t supported by the public health-care system in Canada, as many as 1,300 Canadians have travelled out of the country to undergo treatment.

Prior to making the journey, McLaughlin, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2005, said small tasks were big ones.

“I had a lot of pain, extreme fatigue. I had problems finding my words and I always prided myself in being able to communicate. I was losing that.”

McLaughlin said his brain fog seems to be lifting and his word-search ability is back to normal.

“I feel the procedure is working, I really do.”

McLaughlin said he decided about a year ago to have the procedure done but, at that time, it looked like he would have to travel to Bulgaria.

That represented a costly investment, but then news broke that the procedure was also available in Rhode Island.

McLaughlin said he investigated, submitted his name to the clinic and three weeks ago received a call advising him an opening was available.

“I am not out of the woods yet, but I feel different; I really do feel different,” he said.

McLaughlin said he’s not convinced the procedure is a cure, but he does feel it will make a difference in the quality of his life.

“This is not a placebo effect. I have a pair of eyeglasses that I used last week to read my computer, and (now) I put the glasses on and I cannot see the computer. It’s like someone turned on a light switch.”

His wife, Karen McLaughlin, said she has seen a gradual improvement in her husband but is remaining guarded.

“He is generally feeling a bit more energized,” she said. “He is feeling better and his speech is clearer.”

McLaughlin said he can’t understand why the province hasn’t adopted the treatment.

Health Minister Madeleine Dube has said the provincial government will fulfil its commitment to provide the service here.

She said she’ll have details when her budget is presented in the legislature.

McLaughlin said he’s even more amazed that the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada hasn’t embraced the idea.

“There hasn’t been a major development in the treatment of MS in 40 years,” McLaughlin said. “The MS society, whose mission statement is to find a cure, is sitting on the fence on this. It just baffles me that they’re not moving quicker.”

In the meantime, McLaughlin said he has been asked to be the media person for a cross-country education, advocacy and fundraising trip called New Hope for MS. The tour will be officially kicked off at the New Brunswick legislature May 5.

“I have to weigh that. I realize that I am just on the start of this (recovery). The doctors are very guarded. It’s a new procedure. They told me that thy have done over 200 patients so far and that most of them have shown marked improvement in mobility, brain fog, eye sight, circulation – all the pain related with MS subsides.”

McLaughlin said he wouldn’t be where he is today if not for a fundraiser that raised the more than $10,000 needed for him to travel to the U.S. for the procedure.

He said his wife has been “just amazing.”

“She organized all our friends and we got Rick Hutchins to organize it and they made a fundraiser. I literally came back from my procedure not owing a penny. It’s just amazing the friends and the support I have.”

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One Comment for “‘It’s like someone turned on a light switch,’ MS patient says”

  • karen says:

    This is absolutely amazing and beautiful to read. I’m disgusted as you are on How the MS Society and our Canadian Health Care are so “lazy ” about getting this system in place and in order here where the MS diagnosis is found more often.

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