posted on Nov, 22 2009 @ 07:18 PM
I have never been positively impacted by a medical breakthrough - until now.
I have scoffed at walks, marathons and fundraisers in support of medical research. I've viewed it as more hype than help. I have always thought that
real progress and real relief comes from a deep desire, an intimate knowledge or a desperate need for change.
Elena Ravalli was a seemingly healthy 37-year-old when she began to experience strange attacks of vertigo, numbness, temporary vision loss and
crushing fatigue. They were classic signs of multiple sclerosis, a potentially debilitating neurological disease.
It was 1995 and her husband, Paolo Zamboni, a professor of medicine at the University of Ferrara in Italy, set out to help. He was determined to solve
the mystery of MS – an illness that strikes people in the prime of their lives but whose causes are unknown and whose effective treatments are few.
What he learned in his medical detective work, scouring dusty old books and using ultra-modern imaging techniques, could well turn what we know about
MS on its head: Dr. Zamboni's research suggests that MS is not, as widely believed, an autoimmune condition, but a vascular disease…
...Using ultrasound to examine the vessels leading in and out of the brain, Dr. Zamboni made a startling find: In more than 90 per cent of people with
multiple sclerosis, including his spouse, the veins draining blood from the brain were malformed or blocked. In people without MS, they were not.
He hypothesized that iron was damaging the blood vessels and allowing the heavy metal, along with other unwelcome cells, to cross the crucial
brain-blood barrier. (The barrier keeps blood and cerebrospinal fluid separate. In MS, immune cells cross the blood-brain barrier, where they destroy
myelin, a crucial sheathing on nerves.
More striking still was that, when Dr. Zamboni performed a simple operation to unclog veins and get blood flowing normally again, many of the symptoms
of MS disappeared. The procedure is similar to angioplasty, in which a catheter is threaded into the groin and up into the arteries, where a balloon
is inflated to clear the blockages. His wife, who had the surgery three years ago, has not had an attack since.
The researcher's theory is simple: that the underlying cause of MS is a condition he has dubbed “chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency.” If
you tackle CCSVI by repairing the drainage problems from the brain, you can successfully treat, or better still prevent, the disease.
“If this is proven correct, it will be a very, very big discovery because we'll completely change the way we think about MS, and how we'll treat
it,” said Bianca Weinstock-Guttman, an associate professor of neurology at the State University of New York at Buffalo.
I remember the first episode I ever experienced. I was so scared. Many doctor's and many dollars later, I had few answers. MS is most often diagnosed
by default, by ruling out other conditions.
Sadly, many MS sufferers are made to feel like it's all in their head. Doctor's prescribe useless or needless regimes and loved ones sometimes
The way I have dealt with it was through one part denial and two parts control. I thought that if I pretended that it wasn't a problem, it would go
away. I thought that if I strictly regulated the chemical load on my body and adopted a mostly holistic lifestyle, it would go away. I was only about
75% right. The rest of the time I was faking it for my loved ones. It was always there.
I pray this is real. I hope the answer is this easy. I'm so thankful that there are people like Dr. Zamboni who think outside the box and who possess
the compassion and commitment to see it through.