Pre and Post Angioplasty

This is the letter I sent to Mark Lane for presentation to the Health Ministers at the upcoming meetings in Newfoundland and Labrador on 13 September 2010:

My name is Jeanine Baker and I'm 53 years old, living in Orillia, Ontario. I was diagnosed with MS in 1994, but like most of us, I am now aware that I'd been displaying symptoms for many years before this.

Pre angioplasty: my physical life was in a downward spiral. I was relying on my walker even for getting around my house. Just sorting through the recycling and getting it to the street was a harrowing physical task. I could no longer climb stairs without having to pull myself up the railing with my arms. Once at the top, I had to rest and regroup before doing anything else. Grocery shopping required the use of a motorized scooter. Bathing was becoming increasingly difficult, and having a shower was out of the question. I could not run 'odd job' errands in my car that required getting in and out of the car a few times in an hour or so, because I did not have the stamina or energy to do so. It's my belief that, given the history of my disease and its progression, I would have required the use of a wheelchair in my home and on outings before or by the end of 2010. I was wondering when I'd have to enter an assisted living facility, and had investigated the option of travelling to Sweden for assisted suicide (euthanasia) as the disease progressed.

Angioplasty: 2 June 2010 Wow! As soon as I was allowed to get up off of the recovery table 3 hours after the procedure, I easily walked to the washroom without aid. I stood up from the toilet without using grab bars, and was amazed when I looked down at my feet and realized what I'd done. My son said it was like night and day from a few short hours before. I could walk forwards and backwards. I could squat and stand, and with my left (most affected by) MS hand, I squeezed the nurse's hand to the point of pain. We spent a night in the city where I was treated, and after a five hour trip home, I was able to easily walk up my mother's driveway and up two sets of stairs into her living room.

Post angioplasty: 13 - 26 June, 2010, I travelled to Halifax NS to visit my son, and was able to do site seeing. I had not had a trip out of Ontario in over 10 years. Walking was easy, but I did use my walker for longer walking trips, and I was staying up until 11 or 12 at night. My bedtimes had been 7 or 8 pm prior to the procedure. On 29 June, my 89 year old mother had a stroke and I spent 2 weeks by her side in the hospital, making sure the overworked nursing staff at our local hospital was able to do its 'normal' nursing duties where Mom was concerned, instead of 'babysitting' her. I could not have done this prior to my angioplasty. Upon her release from hospital, my mother returned to her home and I have moved in with her, now being able to climb her stairs. The first few weeks were extraordinarily taxing, because my mother also had an infection of which no one was aware, and it was making her very sick. I endured sleep deprivation, and as a result, my left foot drop returned as did the fatigue. But this was 'normal' fatigue - not fatigue produced by my body. As of the first week of September, three months following my angioplasty, I am now getting back into physiotherapy, and my left leg is regaining strength. I can still do the coordination tests with ease. I also no longer mix up my right and my left, being able to give directions much more easily now.

I have been weaning myself off of antidepressants, because my depression (present since long before being diagnosed with MS) has disappeared. I have been told by several people that I'm now 'glowing' and seem to be much more positive.

There are not enough words to praise what the angioplasty of my left jugular vein has done for me and for my family. A simple, easy, painless 40 minute procedure has totally changed and improved my life. In fact, I have a life again.

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