Friday, December 31, 2010

89: The Self-Empowered Woman: CCSVI

Dear Followers,As you may have noticed, I've only posted one blog in December. My explanation has nothing to do with research or inspiration (you should see the huge pile of "Blog subjects" waiting to be attacked!), but everything to do with our medically motivated trip to New York. The photo above is of Tony and me in Albany, and was taken the night before my CCSVI procedure.

CCSVI stands for Chronic Cerebro Spinal Venous Insufficiency, a term coined by Dr. Paolo Zamboni of Ferrara, Italy. When his wife developed MS, he explored the disease from a Vascular rather than Neurological perspective, and discovered that most people with MS have a congenital restriction of several major veins. This stenosis interferes with the venous blood flow, and that causes a back flow of iron molecules.

This angioplasty-like procedure is (finally) being performed in the U.S., and after spending 54 weeks in search of a skilled American doctor, Tony and I hit the jackpot. Our friend Bea Lewis introduced us to Dr. Gary Siskin, who has performed more of these procedures than any physician in North America.

We travelled to Albany with Ed Broderick, and learned that both Jugular veins and the Azygous were all compromised. Dr. Siskin and his staff completed the CCSVI procedure the next day, and two days later we flew back to Florida.

There are several CCSVI YouTube videos (see The Reformed MS Society) where patients have had dramatic improvements. In my case, I'm having small positive changes in my ability to move my right hand and left foot. And even though it's hard to explain, I just generally feel better and a bit stronger. In theory, if the veins remain open the improvements will continue.

Next week The Self-Empowered Woman blog will continue with more stories about amazing women, but for now here's hoping 2011 will be a fabulous year for all of us.

Looking forward to your comments...

Monday, December 6, 2010

88: The Self Empowered Woman: Angelina Jolie

Dear Followers:

This blog was started before the trip to Albany, but completed after the New Year. Apologies for the numerical mix up and the delay...
Even though she is always controversial, Angelina Jolie is the topic of today's blog because she will be starring in the film adaptation of Stacey Schiff's (Blog # 83) biography of Cleopatra.

Jolie is the daughter of the late actress Marcheline Bertrand and Jon Voight and her godparents are Jacqueline Bisset and Maximilian Schell. When Angelina Jolie was only a year old her parents separated (1. No Paternal Safety Net), and she remained estranged from her father for many years (14. Selective Disassociation). As a child, she lived in Palisades, New York with her mother and brother, and during this time (after regularly attending movies with her Mom), she decided that becoming an actress would be a good career choice (2. An Early Sense of Direction).

When she was eleven years old, the family moved back to Los Angeles and she enrolled at the Lee Strasberg Theater Institute, where she trained for two years. When Jolie was 14, she began modeling, and appeared in several music videos. She also quit her acting classes, dyed her hair purple, adopted a black wardrobe, and toyed with the idea of becoming funeral director.

Jolie attended Beverly Hills High School and Moreno High School, but felt “isolated” (5. Life Is Not A Popularity Contest), particularly because her mother didn’t have much money and her clothes were second-hand. The other kids teased her because of the way she looked, and the fact that she was extremely thin, wore glasses, as well as braces (6. Life Is Also Not A Beauty Contest).

By the age of 16, Jolie was living in a small apartment near her mother’s home and returned to her acting classes. Her brother was attending film school at USC, and she appeared in five of his student films before landing her first leading role in the independent film “Cyborg 2.” Jolie is famous for doing many of her own movie stunts, and has admitted that she is “fearless to a fault” (11. Risk Addiction).

During her first Hollywood movie (Hackers) in 1995 she met her first husband, Jonny Lee Miller, but their marriage was short lived. And the same was true for her marriage to Billy Bob Thornton (15. Forget About Prince Charming). For the past five years, she has lived with Brad Pitt (ergo Brangelina) who is the father of her three biological children: they also have three adopted children (16. Intensive Motherhood).

Here are a few things you may not know about Angelina Jolie:

  • She has thirteen tattoos
  • As part of her work for the United Nations , she has visited over 20 countries
  • She has received one Academy Award, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, and three Golden Globe Awards
  • She has donated millions of dollars for Afghan refugees, Haiti earthquake victims, relief organizations in Chad and Darfur, Global Action for Children, Doctors Without Borders and a wildlife sanctuary in Cambodia
  • Her children are being exposed to Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Buddhism so they can decide for themselves which religion they want to follow
  • Jolie has a private pilot license (with instrument rating) and owns a Cirrus SR 22 airplane
  • She has no agent and no publicist

Looking forward to your comments...