Maureen Kennah-Hafstein enjoys her back garden as much as possible as she awaits the deep brain stimulation she is scheduled to receive in September to treat Parkinson’s disease. (Martha Wickett/Salmon Arm Observer)

Maureen Kennah-Hafstein enjoys her back garden as much as possible as she awaits the deep brain stimulation she is scheduled to receive in September to treat Parkinson’s disease. (Martha Wickett/Salmon Arm Observer)

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

Fear arises as to whether September surgery will beat her deteriorating condition

After 12 years of living with Parkinson’s disease and more than two years of waiting for a life-altering procedure called Deep Brain Stimulation, Maureen Kennah-Hafstein has finally received the word she has been awaiting for so long.

She now has a scheduled date for the surgery. Sept. 17.

While this news is most welcome, the worry now is – will it be soon enough?

To capture the optimal benefit from the surgery, she can’t wait too long. The best outcome she can expect from the surgery will only be as good as her best “on” time with medication.

“With the medication quickly failing to help me, I worry every day that I will lose the last bit of normalcy that I still manage to get. DBS cannot come soon enough. I could lose this critical window of opportunity any day,” she says.

The waitlist in B.C. was two to five years. As a patient of neurosurgeon Dr. Christopher Honey, she received a letter asking patients to lobby their MLAs to pressure the province to hire a second neurosurgeon and increase operating room time.

She did just that, putting in a lot of time and energy.

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

Read more: Mayo Clinic provides treatment option for Shuswap woman with Parkinson’s

Read more: Shuswap resident forced to try U.S. for Parkinson’s remedy

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

In February of this year, the Ministry of Health issued a news release stating: “Beginning April 1, 2019, people with Parkinson’s disease whose symptoms can no longer be controlled with medication will have improved access to deep brain stimulation (DBS).”

The health ministry release stated a provincial program was being established at UBC hospital that will maintain a centralized waitlist. It also promised increased operating room time, as well as the recruitment of an additional neurosurgeon.

In an email response to the Observer’s questions about the promised improvements, a ministry spokesperson wrote on June 21: “We are actively recruiting a second surgeon as part of the five point plan outlined in the media release below.”

That media release, dated Feb. 5, was the same one the Observer sent to the ministry with the request for information.

“The bottom line for me is that every day counts,” writes Kennah-Hafstein in an email to the Observer. “I am in the advanced stages of this cruel, progressive, degenerative disease and I am scared. I have made a conscious decision to distract myself by working to the point of exhaustion every day in my beautiful yard and house. With the help of my incredible family and friends I am able to get out to do some errands as long as my symptoms aren’t too severe. I feel my world shrinking daily however!”

Kennah-Hafstein says she appreciates the hiring process takes time, and that everyone involved understands the urgency.

However, she points out that in February, Health Minister Adrian Dix “made a pretty big promise to eliminate the present waitlist by April 2020 and I intend to hold him responsible for that.”

Although Kennah-Hafstein remains optimistic and expresses gratitude for her life, friends and family, she does speak of her fears. Her swallowing has been noticeably deficient in the past couple of weeks, she says. The times where her body is not undergoing uncontrollable movements are few and far between.

“But my biggest worry is cognitive decline.”

She has had very few lapses, and feels that so far she’s doing well.

“I’ve kept myself pretty busy with reading. If I can still write a letter, I think I’m doing pretty good.”

Nonetheless, September seems like a long way off.


@SalmonArm
marthawickett@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

A concept rendering of the proposed seven-unit, two-storey development at 1129 Riverside Ave. in Sicamous. (District of Sicamous graphic)
Proposed luxury development in Sicamous sparks parking concerns

Seven-unit commercial-residential building planned for Riverside Avenue

The Shaw Centre and the SASCU Recreation Centre are the two largest producers of greenhouse gas emissions on City of Salmon Arm properties. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)
City of Salmon staff surprised COVID not cause of drop in greenhouse gas emissions

2020 sees emissions on city-owned properties decrease well below 2019 totals

Shuswap Litas and Son of Stomp head out from uptown Askew’s parking lot on Thursday, June 10, some with teddy bears and stuffies, to ride to Pierre’s Point by Adams Lake community hall to show their support for band members in the wake of the confirmation of 215 children buried at the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)
Shuswap bike clubs ride to support Indigenous communities

Motorcyclists go to Pierre’s Point in solidarity with bands in wake of residential school findings

Interior Health is offering mobile vaccination clinics for the first dose only of COVID-19 vaccine in the Shuswap from June 15 to June 19h. (Interior Health image)
First-dose vaccinations for COVID-19 offered via mobile clinics in Shuswap

Clinic in Salmon Arm scheduled for June 15, other clinics in Sorrento, Malakwa, Chase

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

18-year-old skier Logan Leach follows his guide, Julien Petit, down an alpine track. The Lumby athlete who is visually impaired has been named to Alpine Canada’s Ski Team ahead of the 2022 Paralympic Games in Beijing. (Contributed)
North Okanagan teen named to national Para-Alpine ski team

18-year-old Logan Leach officially joins Canada’s Para-Alpine roster ahead of Beijing 2022

Carina Stokes, bar manager at Enderby’s Small Axe Bistro, was recognized as one of four exceptional B.C. restaurant workers by the British Columbia Restaurant and Foodservices Association Tuesday, June 8, 2021. (Contributed)
Okanagan bar manager recognized as ‘stand-up’ B.C. restaurant worker

Small Axe Roadhouse’s Carina Stokes one of four to receive special recognition from the BCRFA

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Police cars are seen parked outside Vancouver Police Department headquarters on Saturday, January 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver police officer charged with assault during an arrest in 2019

The service has released no other details about the allegations

Denmark’s Christian Eriksen receives medical attention after collapsing during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group B match between Denmark and Finland at Parken stadium in Copenhagen, Saturday, June 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool)
Christian Eriksen in stable condition, Euro 2020 match resumes

Eriksen was given chest compressions after collapsing on the field during a European Championship

Most Read