Tom King is a man who mentions hope quite frequently.
But the pastor of the Clearwater Cowboy Church isn’t talking about his faith when he mentions the word.
He is talking about what a “liberation treatment” has to offer those suffering from multiple sclerosis, a disease that King was diagnosed with 30 years ago when he was just 20.
With high hopes, King arranged through Surgical Tourism Canada to have the controversial procedure done in Bangalore, India.
He and his wife Deb left their home north of Sundre on May 19 and he underwent the operation that dilates blocked or narrow jugular veins, something that has been likened to angioplasty.
The procedure, which is in its infancy, is not currently offered in Canada as research into it is still being conducted.
Before he left, King said he was hopeful that the surgery would stop the progression of the disease that has left him suffering from debilitating headaches day in and night out for years as well as bound to a wheelchair since 2004.
And he hoped that another case with positive results may prompt Health Canada to approve the procedure so other Canadians can have the treatment in their homeland for a fraction of the price.
Family, friends and his congregation helped raise the $25,000 King needed to fund his trip.
“They say, ‘Well, you’ve got to wait and see the science,’ and blah, blah, blah,” King said before his departure, obviously upset the treatment isn’t yet offered in Canada.
“But guess what? I can’t wait. My disease is progressing at a rate now that, OK, if it takes five years, I could be totally incapacitated in five years. I’m not willing to wait.
“There has to be a pioneer for everything, right? And I know there have been other people that have gone before me, but if I see some significant benefit from this I’m going to make a lot of noise.”
King arrived back home July 11 and said travelling overseas to undergo the operation was worth it despite a few setbacks in India — he suffered a minor heart attack not related to his surgery and his wife needed to have gallbladder surgery .
“I feel a lot better than I have in a lot, a lot of years,” he said.
“I just feel there’s a hope that I might get better. That it could get better.”
King said the headaches were relieved the instant a stent was placed in a vein on the left side of his neck.
He has not had a headache since the operation and has also started to feel some sensation back in his hands, something he said he hasn’t felt in years.
“That kind of gives you a little bit of hope,” King said.
“Like, OK, maybe my hands are wakening up and the nerves are starting to get proper circulation and things are starting to work properly.”
He promises to keep his vow to make noise and has already made calls to request meetings to discuss his case with his MLA and MP.
King has also recorded his experiences in a blog, which can be viewed at http://ccc-msmeandindia.blogspot.com.