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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

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

Liam’s Lowdown: Revelstoke’s ‘trashy’ future

The CSRD peg the cost of the new composting facility at roughly $500,000

Adapting to love along the Columbia River

One man starts a GoFundme to help his partner with health costs caused on the trip where they met

Fiery collision involving truck closes Highway 1 at Three Valley Gap

Drivers should expect major delays and congestion; estimated time of re-opening is 2 p.m.

Snow to continue in Revelstoke

Up to 15 cm expected

Kootenay-Columbia MP urges end to ‘illegal roadblocks’ in solidarity with pipeline dispute

Rob Morrison says protestors across Canada need to remove roadblocks on roads, rail lines

HIGHLIGHTS: Day one and two at the 2020 BC Winter Games

Athletes had sunny – but cold – weather to work with in Fort St. John

Dale family was prominent in Summerland’s past

Ruth Dale taught for many years

Tyler Toffoli scores twice, Canucks crush Bruins 9-3

Stecher, Miller each add three points for Vancouver

Zamboni driver, 42, earns NHL win over Maple Leafs

Emergency goalie called into action for Carolina Hurricanes

Governor general says multiple solutions needed for ‘complicated’ overdose issue

Julie Payette met at a fire hall with firefighters and police officers as well as politicians and health experts

Landlord ordered to pay $11K after harassing B.C. mom to move days after giving birth

Germaine Valdez was pressured to move just a few days after giving birth by C-section to her child

Heart attacks strike B.C. husband and wife just over one year apart

Courtenay couple share personal stories to bring awareness to heart month

‘Nothing surprises us anymore:’ U.S. border officials find brain in package

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents found the brain packed in a glass mason jar in a Canada Post shipment

Prolific offenders from Alberta lead RCMP on chase from Kelowna to Abbotsford

Men first reported in Chilliwack ending with allegedly stolen vehicle in an Abbotsford pond

Most Read