After a long wait and a lot of lobbying, Salmon Arm’s Maureen Kennah-Hafstein will receive her Deep Brain Surgery for Parkinson’s disease on Sept. 17 in Vancouver. (Martha Wickett/Salmon Arm Observer)

Brain surgery for Shuswap woman with Parkinson’s on the way

After more than two years on the waitlist, resident is joyous about upcoming operation

The day Maureen Kennah-Hafstein has long been waiting for is suddenly approaching at the speed of light.

On Sept. 17, the Salmon Arm woman plans to be in Vancouver undergoing Deep Brain Stimulation, an operation that has had life-altering effects on people with Parkinson’s disease for whom medication no longer works.

It all began 13 years ago when, at age 49, Kennah-Hafstein was in her prime as a chemistry and math teacher at Eagle River Secondary in Sicamous. Diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2007, she began taking medication to manage the symptoms almost immediately.

“Within the first two years it became clear that I was not getting good response from the medications.”

It was in 2011 that her neurologist suggested she consider Deep Brain Stimulation surgery (DBS). Eager to find alternatives to brain surgery, Kennah-Hafstein began researching.

One remedy she tried, switching from pharmaceuticals to a natural substance, she calls both her “best and worst experience” of taking control of her own health.

“At its best, I literally felt 100 per cent normal most of the day. ”

That success lasted about three years before the symptoms slowly started becoming unmanageable. Having to take increasingly big doses, she would have to go off the substance at night so she could sleep. That created unbearable daily withdrawal symptoms.

Read more: Salmon Arm woman fights for a life-changing surgery

Read more: Silent auction to raise funds for crucial surgery

The worst, she says, are the side effects from the drugs. The disease creates lack of movement, muscles of stone. So the drugs produce movement, but often relentlessly.

After three years the symptoms became so unbearable that Kennah-Hapstein had no alternative but to pursue DBS.

In July 2017 she was officially put on the wait list. She also received a short letter from Dr. Christopher Honey, the only neurosurgeon in B.C. who does the life-changing surgery. He called the wait list “unacceptably long” and asked his patients to lobby their MLAs to help convince the Health Minister to provide funding for a second neurosurgeon.

If a person with Parkinson’s has to wait too long for surgery, their condition can deteriorate to a point where the surgery is no longer effective.

“After much suffering and some very scary times for me, my family and friends, two years and two months after officially getting my name on the wait list, my surgery date is Sept. 17, 2019,” Kennah-Hapstein says happily.

Given all the lobbying she has done, she is equally pleased the province has committed to hire a second neurosurgeon.

Read more: Promised Parkinson’s surgery sparks hope for Salmon Arm woman

Read more: Shuswap woman with Parkinson’s receives long-awaited date for surgery

An unexpected bonus after being given a surgery date in July has been her renewed zeal for life, “nothing short of a miracle,” she says.

As the date for her brain surgery draws near, Kennah-Hapstein doesn’t feel afraid.

“I feel confident about the outcome and count the days until then. In the meantime I continue to appreciate my much improved levels of energy, enthusiasm and joy each day.”


@SalmonArm
marthawickett@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

After years of living with the debilitating symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, Salmon Arm’s Maureen Kennah-Hafstein is very close to her surgery date of Sept. 17 in Vancouver when she will undergo Deep Brain Surgery, or DBS, which can be life-altering. (Martha Wickett/Salmon Arm Observer)

Just Posted

Okanagan Water Board opens floodgates with call for grant applications

Water Conservation and Quality Improvement program open from Armstrong to Osoyoos

Boil water notice issued for west side area of Okanagan Lake

The notice impacts Westshore Estates water system users

New juicery set to grow in Kelowna

Local Pressery will launch Dec. 22

West Kelowna’s budget includes adding eight-new positions next year

If approved, the city will have added approximately 28 new employees in the past two years

Defining the difference: Supportive housing and emergency shelters in Kelowna

The Journey Home Strategy calls for both types of housing to help people experiencing homelessness

VIDEO: Octopus, bald eagle battle after bird ‘bites off more than it can chew’ in B.C. waters

B.C. crew films fight between the two feisty animals in Quatsino off north Vancouver Island

Raptors fans show Kawhi the love in his return to Toronto

Leonard receives championship ring, leads new club to win

Process to identify those killed in Gabriola plane crash could take days

Canadian flight museum suggests Alex Bahlsen of Mill Bay died in Tuesday’s crash

Vandalism closes public washrooms in Penticton’s Okanagan Lake Park indefinitely

A post by the city’s Facebook said the damage is ‘quite extensive’

RCMP uncover meth in arrest of Sicamous woman linked to alleged pellet gun shooting

Police say methamphetamine and other drugs found in car driven by suspect

Disturbing find: Shuswap family seeking Christmas tree locates several animal carcasses

Black bear, a coyote and five deer found dumped in gravel pit west of Salmon Arm

Pawsative Pups: Help your dog love their crate

Lisa Davies is a new columnist for Black Press who writes about dog training

Spark Joy: The art of giving and receiving

Barb and Wendy at Simply Spark Joy help you to create a clutter free home on the Black Press Media

Coldstream surf shop welcomes winter with paddle

Winter Chill event Saturday, Dec. 21, on Kal Lake is ‘food’-raiser for food bank

Most Read