On Feb. 3, 2020, before COVID-19 caused the shutdown of businesses and facilities around Salmon Arm, Maureen Kennah-Hafstein works out at Bulldogs Boxing with her Movers & Shakers group. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)

On Feb. 3, 2020, before COVID-19 caused the shutdown of businesses and facilities around Salmon Arm, Maureen Kennah-Hafstein works out at Bulldogs Boxing with her Movers & Shakers group. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)

Salmon Arm woman remains grateful for Parkinson’s surgery over a year later

Although the health ministry has reduced surgery wait times, another surgeon is needed

About 17 months after Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) for Parkinson’s disease, Salmon Arm’s Maureen Kennah-Hafstein remains grateful she was finally able to access the treatment.

Sleeping has been good and those unbearable, uncontrollable movements are immensely better, she said, adding that DBS has delivered 100 per cent what it promised.

Because DBS is available to those people with Parkinson’s whose symptoms can’t be adequately managed with medication, she thinks she would be bedridden without it.

“It’s buying me some time, some sense of normalcy. It’s not perfect, but it’s certainly a reprieve.”

Before the surgery she was taking 36 pills per day. Right after the operation, that number dropped to six. Now she takes 18.

She said her challenge is to balance the amount of medication with the stimulation from the two electrodes in her brain. She can increase and reduce that stimulation by pressing a button, much like adjusting the volume on a cellphone.

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

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

Kennah-Haftstein was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2007. Being bedridden is stage five of the disease, she said, and she estimates she’s at the beginning of stage four.

“The reality is, those symptoms are going to come back. The Parkinson’s train keeps rolling…”

She joined the wait list for surgery in July 2017 and underwent surgery more than two years later, on Sept. 17, 2019. In 2017 she began lobbying for ways to reduce the wait times for people who were forced to linger on the list, some for nearly two years. She continued to push for a second operating room in B.C. as well as a second neurosurgeon trained in the procedure.

The urgency for the surgery is tied to its window of effectiveness. As a person’s symptoms become more severe, the chance of restoring earlier capabilities becomes less.

Changes to the provincial wait list have been a partial success for Kennah-Hafstein.

An email to the Observer from the Ministry of Health on Feb. 1 stated that recruiting a neurosurgeon for the procedure is still ongoing.

However, new equipment added in June 2019 has allowed the current neurosurgeon to perform double the surgeries.

The ministry stated that in 2019/20 a total of 78 surgeries were completed, compared to 38 in 2016/17.

Average wait times in 2020/21 (as of Jan. 7, 2021) were more than halved: 17.9 weeks compared to 41.3 weeks for the same period in 2019/20.

Read more: Brain surgery for Salmon Arm woman with Parkinson’s on the way

Read more: ‘Miraculous’ is how Salmon Arm woman describes her treatment for Parkinson’s

Two unexpected results of DBS for Kennah-Hafstein have been apathy and depression.

“I thought I knew everything, but there’s always something to learn. Luckily, there is fabulous medication for depression. I’m on a very mild anti-depressant. I still feel the apathy isn’t gone and I’m not sure if it would ever go away.

“I get little bursts of enthusiasm,” she added.

Despite that, she still expresses gratitude, a viewpoint she’s maintained throughout her time with the disease.

She continues to box three times a week on Zoom with her Movers and Shakers group at Bulldogs Boxing.

She’s also been dedicated to educating others about the disease, still the teacher she is trained to be.

“I had that huge urge to tell people about it. That’s what I mean about using what comes your way.”

She emphasized she has nothing to complain about.

“I have a disease that’s going to progress, but that never stops me from trying to get what I can out of it. That’s who I am.

I get the best out of life I can.”

With a smile, Kennah-Hafstein repeats a phrase she often uses when speaking of her gratitude.

“It’s never so bad it couldn’t be worse.”


marthawickett@saobserver.net
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

#Salmon ArmDisease

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

 

Maureen Kennah-Hafstein from Salmon Arm, who underwent Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) surgery in September 2019 in Vancouver for Parkinson’s, focuses on her boxing skills at Bulldogs Boxing on Feb. 3, 2020 with her Movers & Shakers group, back before COVID-19 restricted in-person workouts. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)

Maureen Kennah-Hafstein from Salmon Arm, who underwent Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) surgery in September 2019 in Vancouver for Parkinson’s, focuses on her boxing skills at Bulldogs Boxing on Feb. 3, 2020 with her Movers & Shakers group, back before COVID-19 restricted in-person workouts. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)

Maureen Kennah-Hafstein, who underwent Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) surgery in September 2019 for Parkinson’s, has a laugh with her Movers & Shakers group at Bulldog Boxing on Feb. 3, 2020, just before pandemic restrictions came in. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)

Maureen Kennah-Hafstein, who underwent Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) surgery in September 2019 for Parkinson’s, has a laugh with her Movers & Shakers group at Bulldog Boxing on Feb. 3, 2020, just before pandemic restrictions came in. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)

Salmon Arm’s Maureen Kennah-Hafstein, who underwent Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) surgery in September 2020 in Vancouver for Parkinson’s, holds her relatively new friend, Jellybean, on Dec. 31, 2020. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)

Salmon Arm’s Maureen Kennah-Hafstein, who underwent Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) surgery in September 2020 in Vancouver for Parkinson’s, holds her relatively new friend, Jellybean, on Dec. 31, 2020. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)

Just Posted

In this photo taken in 2014, a Fisheries officer displays a chinook salmon that has been snagged - an illegal method of catching fish that involves hooking them, often in the belly or tail or fins. They often get away but the injuries can lead to death or the inability of a female fish to spawn. (DFO photo)
Shuswap man gets more penalties after breaking fishing prohibition

Ashton Creek man gets second prohibition after catching chinook illegally in Shuswap River in 2014

Amanda Eastwood, Community Connections Coordinator with Shuswap Immigrant Services Society, said the society has received reports of racist comments and actions in Salmon Arm and is working on education, other ways to combat the issue. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)
Working to counter racism in Salmon Arm, Shuswap

Shuswap Immigration Services Society gathers reports on racism in community, looks at remedies

A man wearing a mask against coronavirus walks past an NHS advertisement about COVID-19 in London, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
92 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths: Interior Health

The region is reporting 92 cases after the weekend

Shuswap Youth Launch Team members Claire Waite, Abbigail Paetsch, Mikayla Wilkinson, Brynn Gowen and Caillie Hay-Vicars pause for a picture on the day of the Shuswap Youth Launch interactive event, Thursday, Feb. 25. (Contributed)
Shuswap Youth Launch team over the moon with success of interactive event

Salmon Arm youth team invited to apply for $100,000 grant

Langley resident Carrie MacKay shared a video showing how stairs are a challenge after spending weeks in hospital battling COVID-19 (Special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Stairs a challenge for B.C. woman who chronicled COVID-19 battle

‘I can now walk for six (to) 10 minutes a day’

A 48-year-old Vernon man was killed in a vehicle accident on Corkcrew Road in Spallumcheen Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021, police have confirmed. (Google Maps)
Vernon man dies in crash on Spallumcheen road

The 48-year-old man’s vehicle went off-road on Corksrew Road Saturday night

Pathways Addictions Centre is in jeopardy of closing after Interior Health has pulled all its funding and will be taking over addiction services ‘in house’ as up May 31. (Facebook)
Future of South Okanagan community’s addictions centre in jeopardy after Interior Health pulls funding

Pathways has been in Penticton for over 20 years and has 10 staff, serving around 1,000 people

B.C.’s court of appeal in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Kootenay man appeals 7-year conviction for New Year’s Eve kidnapping, beating

Brandon Coons, 27, was convicted on five charges, including assault with a weapon

An investigation is underway after two VPD officers were recorded posing for pictures near a dead body at Third Beach on Feb. 24. (Screen grab/Zachary Ratcliff)
Vancouver officers placed on desk duty after filmed posing next to dead body

Pair put in ‘non-deployable, admin positions’ as the investigation into their conduct continues

Susan Kootnekoff is the founder of Inspire Law, an Okanagan based-law practice, and provides Kelowna Capital News with weekly stories from the world of local, national and international law. (Contributed)
Kootnekoff: Landmark Human Rights Decision: Francis v. BC Ministry of Justice

Susan Kootnekoff is the founder of Inspire Law, her diverse legal career spans over 20 years

(Black Press file photo)
Homicide team to look into death of 11-year-old Agassiz boy

Agassiz RCMP were called out Friday to assist with a child in medical distress

A publicly accessible defibrillator as well as naloxone and first aid kits are included in a stand that has been installed at Crescent Beach. It is one of two planned for the South Surrey neighbourhood as St. John Ambulance works to install 1,000 of the life-saving devices around the province. (Contributed photo)
St. John Ambulance aims to install 1,000 publicly accessible AEDs across B.C.

Sponsors sought for stands that cost about $8,000 to equip and install

Most Read