Last week, community member Shelly Beeching received a new wheelchair partly funded by Alberta Aids to Daily Living, with additional funds from the Lakeland MS Society.
“In this (wheelchair), I can stretch out my legs and recline. The old one was about three miles long so we had to take very wide corners and kept bumping into the walls,” said Beeching with a smile. She explained that the new wheelchair also has the proper bars to secure the seat belts so that she can use the Action Bus to go out.
Hannan Lambert, occupational therapist at St. Paul Extendicare, initiated the project, completing all necessary paperwork and arranging for the funding from the two organizations, explained Laverdure-Sych.
The 45-year-old Beeching has also been accepted to go for the Chronic Cerebral Spinal Venous Insufficiency (CCSVI) treatment, also called the liberation treatment, in Tychy, Poland on Dec. 6. Because her MS is in an advanced stage, she has very limited movement, so she will have to be accompanied by her parents on the trip. The family said that any donations to help with expenses will be very appreciated as the estimated cost for the treatment and travel is in excess of $15,000. The much heralded treatment for MS, which involves angioplasty to open up veins in the neck and spine, is currently viewed as an unproven science in Canada and is not funded by public health care.
Beeching, along with her husband and three children, has lived in the St. Paul area for 12 years. She worked as a pharmacist in Saddle Lake until July of 2000 when she had to resign because of her illness. She currently lives in St. Paul’s Extendicare facility.
Beeching became very interested in the liberation treatment last year after watching a program on television about it. She heard about a man who had the disease for 19 years and was in a wheelchair. After the operation, he was able to walk again. She too has had the disease for 20 years, after being diagnosed in 1991.
Although there are no guarantees with the procedure, with some people experiencing complications or even a worsening in their condition following the treatment, Beeching is hoping that it may help give her core strength, to help her sit up. She said it would also be nice to be able to write again and sign her name. Even reading has become challenging because of problems with her left eye. When watching TV, by the time she can focus on the first few words of the caption, the caption is gone.
“It’s like having a hole in my vision,” she explained.
Suzie Walchuk is a St. Paul resident who recently returned from having a similar procedure done in Mexico. Although she is in the early stages of recovery, she indicated she is pleased with the initial results.
“There was an immediate improvement in circulation,” said Walchuk. “My leg was swollen like a stove pipe and now it’s back to normal. I came home with two new pairs of shoes.”
For Beeching, the ultimate goal would be to walk again, but she knows that even if the operation is successful, it will be a long road back. She is scheduled to get physiotherapy at the Glenrose Hospital in Edmonton upon her return.
Donations for Beeching can be made at any Scotia Bank branch and may be made payable to: ITF Shelly Beeching – account number 103480094188. Given that there is no Scotia Bank in the St. Paul area, donations to a fund, called Hope for Shelly, can also be dropped at Extendicare.