WATCH ABOVE: Reporter Randene Neill followed a BC woman through her amazing surgery for MS.
VANCOUVER – Brenda Bennett was diagnosed with progressive multiple sclerosis five years ago at age 41.
“I had a balance issue,” she says.
Five years later and for the busy mom of two teenage boys, even standing up can be dangerous. Bennett falls down every couple of weeks, with the latest incident resulting in a bloody and bruised forehead. More than anything, she wants to stop the tremors that make her head and hand shake non-stop.
She wants to be able to hold a cup of coffee and eat by herself. “It kind of sucks right now,” she says.
On Tuesday, after a year on the wait list, Bennett underwent deep brain stimulation surgery. It has been performed for years by only one neurosurgeon in B.C.
“An electrode is implanted in the brain, connected to a pacemaker in the chest and the stimulation can block abnormal brain activity,” says Dr. Chris Honey. “So if there’s a part of the brain causing a tremor, we can block the tremor.”
Bennett was awake the entire time, but after a few hours of the surgery, Honey saw signs of success.
“I’m hoping we’ll be able to improve her quality of life,” he says. “We’ll be able to allow her to feed herself better.”
Less than 24 hours after surgery, Bennett says she feels great. Her head no longer shakes and she can drink coffee.
Honey says there were no complications but more work still needs to be done. Bennett will have to learn to use her hands again, now that the tremors are gone.
– With files from Randene Neill.