CORNER BROOK -
Last fall, Italian researcher Dr. Paolo Zamboni made headlines worldwide with his theory Multiple Sclerosis may be caused by constricted veins in the neck, chest and spine.
According to the physician, the debilitating symptoms of MS could be relieved by opening up these narrowed passages to enhance blood flow through them.
Several people who had the procedure done reported quick recovery from their mobility, balance and other problems associated with MS.
While some believe he may be on to a long-awaited cure, Zamboni's critics still have many questions related to the connection between the MS and Zamboni's theory and the potential complications associated with the procedure he has proposed.
Stephanie Boland of Benoit's Cove is cautiously optimistic. She was diagnosed with relapsing remitting MS, which is characterized by unpredictable yet clearly defined episodes, in 2008.
The 35-year-old social worker is just emerging from a debilitating flare-up. Earlier this year, she had to stop working and was practically bedridden for about two months until the symptoms began to subside.
Still, that unpleasant experience was not enough to convince her Zamboni has the answer.
"If people said they were going to do a fundraiser for me and send me to get it done, I'd say 'no, I'm not doing that,'" she said. "My situation is not bad enough for me to consider something like that. The way I look at it is, if that (recent flare-up) is as bad as it gets, then I can handle it."
Some people with MS have a progressive form of the disease. Their symptoms grow steadily worse with little or no relapse from their disability.
"I can see some people with progressive MS looking at it as a last resort because they are scared and desperate for a cure, but I personally think there needs to be a lot more testing and research done yet," said Boland.
For the time being, Boland is more concerned about how she and her family will make the best of the reality of living with MS.
Her biggest foe right now is fatigue. Taking a shower in the morning is enough to wear her out, let alone trying to do all the other things a mother and wife wants to do in the run of a day.
Although she continues to improve from her recent episode, Boland still finds herself taking out her wheelchair in the evening hours in order to conserve what energy she has left.
She hopes to be able to store away the chair for a long time in about a month or so.
Boland, her husband Kevin, eight-year-old daughter Olivia and 14-year-old stepson Patrick will be living out of their new camper at Pine Ridge Cabins and Campgrounds in Pasadena this summer. Kevin has built a ramp and a deck off the trailer for his wife so she can get about more easily and Boland herself likes the fact she doesn't have a whole house to maintain for the next little while.
"This is the area I have to keep up and that's it," she said while enjoying a cup of coffee in her camper. "Things have been a lot better since we came out here."
Support comes from beyond the family circle. On Sunday, the MS Society is holding its annual MS Walk to raise money to help find a cure and provide services to people living with MS. There are actually two groups of family, friends and co-workers - Steps for Stephanie and the O'Connell Buddies - who have been busy raising funds on Boland's behalf for this year's walk.
"Before, no one really saw what was happening with me," Boland said. "You couldn't see the fatigue I was feeling or that the left side of my head is numb. I guess now that I've been off work, people have seen what's been going on and have been collecting on my behalf because they know I can't go out and do it myself."
Sunday's walk starts at the Pepsi Studio at 2 p.m.