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Deep brain stimulation helps local woman with multiple sclerosis




























HEALING
Lisa Gillan
Julie Sauve shows off the staples she received after undergoing deep brain stimulation surgery for her multiple sclerosis.

A Baysville woman with multiple sclerosis has been given a new lease on life thanks to a major surgical operation.

“Well, initially I got (MS) because I got meningitis when I was 30. And I was able to work, everything was good for quite a few years and then things started to go downhill,” said Julie Sauve, who is now 43. “I started to shake greatly, and that’s why my neurologist sent me to Toronto Western for the implant, which, even though it’s not turned on, I’ve pretty much stopped shaking.”

The surgery, called deep brain stimulation, involved implanting a battery in her left chest, which is connected to a wire that now runs up the back of Sauve’s neck, to an electrode that goes into her brain via a hole surgeons drilled in her skull.

She was under an anesthetic when the battery was put in her chest, but remained conscious during the operation on her brain.

“They froze the front of my head and drilled the hole. You can’t feel anything when they go in the brain. There are no receptors in the brain that feel pain,” she said.

In June, Sauve’s battery will be turned on, and she will be given a remote to be able to control when it is active.

She and partner Bob Austin are already impressed with the results.

“Just putting an electrode in that particular spot helps her, so far,” Austin said, adding that she does still have shakes from time to time.

Sauve was referred to Toronto Western for the operation by Huntsville neurologist Dr. Blaine Foell, whom she has been seeing on and off for the last 10 years or so. In the past she has received subcutaneous injections and an intramuscular needle to try to control her symptoms.

“I unfortunately have very bad reactions to subcutaneous injections. I get welts the size of small plates,” she said. And the intramuscular needles were stopped when she moved to Ottawa for a few years, as doctors there tried other therapies including a type of chemotherapy.

She returned to this area about three years ago.

In the past, Sauve had worked as a golf club manager, bartender, server and office clerk, before having to retire due to the progression of her MS.

While Austin said Sauve’s walking is still greatly impaired, Sauve said she does hope that one day she can return to work.

“That would be great,” she said.

The couple are currently living in their garage, as the house they had shared burned down a few years ago, and despite having had insurance, they haven’t been able to afford to rebuild. Austin has been working, but is having a difficult time getting enough money together for rebuilding. They have been trying to raise funds to help with these costs since 2014.

“By the time I pay all the bills, to make money to build that house along with it is not easy,” he said.

The couple said it would be really great if Sauve could receive stem cell therapy similar to Gordie Howe, who has shown improvements using that treatment following a stroke he suffered in October 2014. But stem cell therapy is still only in trial stages in Canada, and the couple can’t afford to go outside of the country for Sauve to receive treatments.

“That may take 10 years, by the time they get through the government and everything else,” Austin said. “Actually she needs it now before she progresses and gets any worse. ‘Cause 10 years from now the stem cells might not be able to help her.”

According to EndMS.ca, a website run in partnership with the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, Canadians are at a greater risk of developing the disease than people living anywhere else in the world.

Sauve and Austin said they want to get the word out to others that the deep brain stimulation surgery Sauve went through is available, and has helped.

“…If it’s available, people should be using it. That’s the way that we feel about it.” Austin said.

Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by MUSKOKAREGION
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length

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