Christopher Alkenbrack is an impressive person and he took part in a controversial treatment, CCSVI. Christopher sees people with MS as an adaptable group. This has been one of his life-long lessons, always modifying the environment to fit his physical limitations.
I’m grateful he is willing to share his story.
“On May 18, 2010 I can say that I set my disease clock back in time by 5-7 years.
Out of physical necessity, I resigned in 2009 from my volunteer position as Chapter Chair for a local MS group.
Christopher’s story was covered by the news! You can watch it here.
It was only a few months later that I heard of a new hypothesis on the possible origins of MS – CCSVI, or Chronic Cerebrospinal Venous Insufficiency. I spoke to my family doctor, and was referred to a private clinic for testing of the jugular veins. I tested positive for blood-flow problems, and sought treatment overseas where I travelled with my wife and a friend from Montreal who also has MS.
After the CCSVI treatment, I no longer suffered from the fatigue that ruled my life, from major visual disturbances that affected my ability to drive, from bladder dysfunction, and I regained some strength in weakened limbs. I now walk with one cane, and have since May 2010. Hard work, eating well, physiotherapy and positive attitude goes a long way in healing.
I was born and raised in rural Ontario, Canada. When I was 20 I moved to Montréal, Québec where I completed my studies in French. I was in college working on my Master’s in French Linguistics where I met the woman of my dreams. We went to the same church, but had never really had the chance to “meet”. I attended a concert where Claire sang, it was love at first ‘sound’ upon hearing that lovely mezzo-soprano voice!
In April of 1992 at the age of 24, after 4 months of dating, I suddenly developed strange sensations on my right side. Over the course of a couple of weeks I lost use of my right foot, hand, had difficulty walking coupled with double vision. Days later at the Montreal Neurological Institute I was seen by the director of the MS Clinic. After undergoing a lumbar puncture and an MRI, I was told that I had MS.
Devastated by this news, I informed Claire, and told her she was “free to leave”, as I could not expect her to stay around with a sick guy. She laughed, and said, “You’re not getting away that easily”. We’ll celebrate 19 years of marriage this fall. We have two teen children, Nick 16 and Leah 14. My biggest fear was that of losing Claire because of my diagnosis.
I finished my education the following year and became a teacher. After a few years of teaching I became Vice Principal, and then Principal, first in High School, then in Primary School. I had some problems with my MS over the years, but I kept it to myself until November of 2001 when I started a series of attacks that landed me in and out of the hospital for the next 2 years. I finally had to leave the job that I loved in 2003 when my Relapsing Remitting MS had moved into the Secondary Progressive stage.
I used 2 of the 4 immunomodulatory drugs for a number of years. By 2003 I walked exclusively with a pair of fore-arm crutches, and by 2009 was using a wheelchair for energy management. I tried mitoxantrone treatment (chemotherapy), but after a single dose my cardiac function had slightly decreased. At this stage my neurologist informed me that there were no more treatment options for my form of MS.
When I think of my life before CCSVI treatment and now, I like to summarize my improvements in the words of my 14 year-old daughter. One day just before the school year started we were talking over a cup of hot cocoa, she said, “Dad, do you remember when I was in Kindergarten and you were sick and in the hospital all of the time? Mom used to let me take half days off school, and I would stay at the hospital and be your ‘little nurse’. Now that you’ve had treatment for CCSVI and are doing better, I don’t have to be your little nurse as much anymore.”
Though the treatment doesn’t work the same for everyone, it has already allowed me to gain back 10 months of better quality of life that MS stole from me. With my dedicated wife and my beautiful children, I celebrate my new-found life every day. Unfortunately I still live with the constant awareness that MS has its hold on me!”
I thank Christopher for being willing to share his story. Here is one example of the CCSVI treatment that has honestly helped.
I know there are many out there who don’t agree with this treatment, it truly has the MS community in an uproar. What do you think after reading Christopher’s story? Tell me in the comments below.