Saturday, March 19, 2011

CCSVI - Round Two: The Day Before the Procedure

The drive to Albany, where I had my second CCSVI treatment, is so much different than the drive to Brooklyn, where I had my first. This is true until you get about ten blocks from the Albany Medical Center, where the poor, inner-city section of Albany rivals any tough neighborhood in New York City.

But I can't say enough good things about Dr. Siskin, his practice, and the Albany Medical Center staff and facilities.

On Tuesday, March 15, 2011, Kim and I arrived early enough to check into the hotel, which is attached to the hospital, before driving the 15 minutes to Dr. Siskin's office. Anyone who is being treated by Dr. Siskin at the Albany Medical Center should strongly consider staying at the Hilton Garden Inn. It's just so convenient, and is a decent hotel at a reasonable price.

After checking in, we drove to suburban Latham, New York, to the Capital Region Health Park, where Dr. Siskin's office is located. Maine is a rural and somewhat backward state, so I'm easily impressed. I've never seen such a large and shiny Healthcare Mall before.

In the waiting room, we met a nice couple who had driven two days from North Bay, Ontario, for the wife’s CCSVI treatment. We shared their dismay about Canadians’ inability to obtain CCSVI treatment at home. I asked her if she had ever heard of CCSVI Alliance, and I don’t know who was more pleased, her or me, when she indicated that she loved the website and read it frequently, and I revealed that I volunteer for the organization.

But before we could chat very long, Dr. Siskin came out in the waiting room and introduced himself to us. He met with Kim and me in his office to discuss the upcoming procedure, and to give us his thoughts on CCSVI treatment in general. I enjoyed learning some of the details about how the catheter is threaded through the body, how the balloon is inflated, and how blood flow is assessed. As a chemical engineer, I dealt with flows of all sorts of materials through all types of piping and pumping systems. The analogy with blood flowing through veins is obvious. The meeting only ended because I ran out of questions, not because I was hurried out of the office, as is all too common in many such consultations.

As I've mentioned before, I find Dr. Siskin's approach to CCSVI treatment to be refreshing. He acknowledges that we still know very little about CCSVI and its relationship to MS, and we know very little about the expected benefits, or lack thereof, for any particular individual. But nevertheless, he sees enough evidence to oblige the MS community by performing these procedures for us.

Next, a technician performed an ultrasound of my head and neck veins, using the Zamboni protocol. I don't have the results yet, but will report them when I do. Dr. Siskin doesn't use this "before" ultrasound to guide his procedure the following day. He’s simply gathering baseline data for comparison at a later time, if necessary.

Once the ultrasound was completed at about four o'clock in the afternoon, Kim and I were free for the rest of the day. My only restriction was that I couldn’t eat or drink anything after 3 am, in preparation for my 11 am procedure on Wednesday.

On Tuesday night Kim and I ate at the sports bar inside the hotel, and retired at a reasonable hour. It's difficult to be sure, but by my closest approximation I may have managed two hours of fitful sleep. I’m a calm and cool person during daylight hours, but I sometimes transform into an irrational worrier when I can’t sleep. Daytime Mitch is ruled by reason, logic, and optimism. Insomnia Mitch is more like an adolescent girl overly concerned with pimples and what the mean girls might say to her tomorrow. I have no control over Insomnia Mitch.  Luckily he doesn’t show up every night, only on nights when sleep is particularly important. 

In my next post I'll describe our eventful day on Wednesday- treatment day.


  1. Hi Mitch, Anxiously waiting to hear from you on what happended on 16th. Have been checking your blog 5 times a day for an update. Hope, all went well and it was,Vik

  2. Thanks for sharing your experiences, Mitch. I look forward to hearing about the next step. I'm still not entirely convinced about CCSVI -- why does it seem to work so well in some patients, and does absolutely nothing for others? I don't want to undergo anything unless it will actually work! So, I wait and decline -- six of one, half-dozen of the other!

  3. Thanks for the post Mitch. We agree with the first commentator. Will wait for more, Best to you and Kim,

    Your Friends in Freeport

  4. You are teasing us! I am anxious to hear what he found. Hope you are working on finishing your story very soon. I'm rooting for you, as always.