Thursday, January 20, 2011

New Beginnings

Dr. Salvatore Sclafani
A new year naturally brings new beginnings but January, 2011 was the most exciting January in my personal recollection.  What has me so excited is the time I spent this week at the 23rd Annual ISET in Miami Beach.  The International Symposium On Endovascular Therapy meets each year to share advances in ET, watch actual procedures, listen to expert presentations on technique and findings, network, and see the many vendor booths showing the latest tools for their profession. 
 This year I was very fortunate that all these things converged:
a) the ISET was being held  at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach, less than an hour away; 
b) the organizers chose to showcase a number of presentations on CCSVI, inviting the leading doctors in the field to participate;  
c) the organizers graciously donated space for an information booth to the CCSVI Alliance; 
d) the Alliance asked me if I could help cover their information booth at the event!

Since ISET is not open to the public I would never have been able to have this experience without the Alliance and I am forever grateful to Sharon Richardson, President for inviting me.  It was great meeting Sharon and I immediately could see that the Alliance has the right woman for this daunting job.

Me and Dr. Dake - CCSVI Pioneer
Monday:  Woke up at 5am.  Left home at 6, got a bit lost driving to Miami Beach (only I could get confused on this straightforward trip), still arrived in time to meet Sharon and chat and the presentation began at 8am.  
Dr. Zamboni, Dr. Sclafani, Dr. Dake, Dr. Haskal, 
Dr. Machan, Dr. Benenati, Dr. Katzen and Sharon (!) were all on the podium and each made their presentations.  Over 700 people filled the room and some even sat on the floor in the back to hear about CCSVI.  It was amazing.  The presentations lasted through the morning at then broke for lunch.  I tried to take some photos but they didn't come out too well - although I did get to meet Dr. Dake when he stopped by our table later in day.

Sharon Richardson & Dr. Arslan
Sharon went off to do some video interviews with Dr. Zamboni and Dr. Haskal and I went to cover the Alliance information table.  Sharon's friend Nancy also came along to help.  We had a good number of people stop at the table to ask questions, get literature and to tell us how much they enjoyed Sharon's talk.  We had some lunch, went back to the table and then my doctor, Dr. Arslan stopped by to say hi and give me a big hug! 
By 3:30 it was quiet so I made my way home.  (Well actually since it was Monday I went to my choral rehearsal and didn't get home until 11 pm.  A very long day but amazingly I had ENERGY!  Thank you Dr. Zamboni and Dr. Arslan.)

Wednesday Sharon called to say things were quiet and she and Nancy could handle the table so I had the day off.  But Thursday, the final conference day, there was a technical panel on CCSVI and I was welcome to come.  I wasn't going to pass that up so I arrived (didn't get lost!) at 8:30 for the 9:00 session. 
Same doctors on the panel (minus Dr. Dake who had to leave early) and this time I had a great seat closer to the podium.  The mood after all the presentations was one of hope and forward movement - and new beginnings. I took photos and learned a lot;  loved Dr. Haskal's ideas and Dr. Zamboni was excellent.  

So, they're all leaving the stage and there I was!  First I got to speak with Dr. Katzen who told me to email him about my follow up Doppler!  Here - in Miami!  Then I got to talk to Sal Sclafani who was just the warmest, nicest guy ever.  Dr. Arslan came over and together we approached Dr. Zamboni and the group that was around him.  He noticed me and came over to my scooter!
  I was able to say, "Thank you for changing my life and the lives of so many of us with MS."  He held my hand and smiled that amazing smile and said "I hope you keep getting better."  Oh wow.  I moved on, as there were many waiting to talk to him.  Dr. Arslan stayed and on my way out I found myself next to Ziv Haskal.  I said to him, "I enjoyed your talk and agreed with everything you said, especially about ... " well, no need to recreate the conversation.  We spoke for about 10 minutes!   

Sharon left to catch her plane and I went down to the lobby preparing to leave when I realized I'd left my notes in the salon.  I went back to get them and on my way out (for the second time) there they all were!  Standing around, informally chatting, and I decided I had to get a better photo of Dr. Zamboni.  I took out my camera.  Dr. Arslan saw me and said, why don't you get in the photo and I'll take the picture.  I think Dr. Zamboni heard him because he motioned me over!  OMG!  I was a nervous wreck and you can see it in the photo.  I didn't get close to him and my expression was awe and shock!  Thank you Dr. Arslan!  That photo would not have happened without you.

What a wonderful way to begin the new year.  Renewed energy, CCSVI gaining more acceptance every day, doctors agreeing to collaborate and develop protocols so research can have standardized procedures, and a once in a lifetime experience for me.
My personal 'new beginnings' include exercise classes, an art class, and I'll be editing and publishing a book.  I learned a lot in 2010, and 2011 brings more to learn, more to share, and more hope for everyone.  I wish you all wonderful new beginnings.

Addendum:  After I posted this I got an email from The New World Symphony here in Miami.  (If you're not familiar with NWS, they are America's orchestral academy, founded and conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT).  After fellowships at NWS, these musicians go on to play in the best orchestras in the world.)  I won two tickets to the January 30th performance at their new concert hall designed by Frank Gehry!   A new beginning for them and a great end to an amazing January for me! 

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