Christmas is going to be different this year for Tim Donovan.
This year's holiday season will be different for Tim Donovan. It's going to be the first Christmas since the Fredericton Junction councillor underwent a new treatment for multiple sclerosis at a private clinic in the United States. Donovan said the liberation treatment, which isn't available in Canada, has helped improve his mobility and energy level.
It will be the first holiday season the longtime Fredericton Junction councillor has enjoyed since family, friends and neighbours raised more than $10,000 to help him pay for the liberation treatment - a new procedure for multiple sclerosis patients that has yet to be approved by Health Canada.
Researchers across the globe are conducting trials to determine whether this procedure is an effective way to treat MS.
A growing number of Canadian MS patients have enjoyed varying degrees of success after undergoing the liberation treatment outside of the country, except for one Ontario man who died after having the procedure done in Costa Rica.
Donovan and thousands of other Canadians with MS have been travelling to clinics in places such as the United States, Bulgaria and Mexico to have the treatment, which involves improving the flow of blood through a patient's veins.
Donovan, who was diagnosed with MS more than 23 years ago, said the changes in his life have been remarkable since having the procedure in August.
He said his mobility and balance have greatly improved, he has more feeling in his extremities and his energy level has jumped.
He's looking forward to spending quality time with his grandchildren over the holidays.
"They have their grandfather back. They used to go to the hospital every year to visit me and wonder if I was going to die," he said.
The past few Christmas holidays have been difficult for Donovan, who often missed most of these special moments due to a severely depleted energy level.
But he's expecting Christmas morning to be different this year.
"We always go to my daughter's home and we spend Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with the kids. Last year, I'd get up with them, watch them open their gifts and then I'd go back to bed. This year, I can stay up. That's a big deal to me," he said, a broad smile spreading across his face.
"The kids aren't saying, 'Where's Grampy?' "
And thanks to more energy and better co-ordination, he's already received a special holiday gift.
"Last year, the doctor told me he didn't think I'd walk again and he took my driver's licence away. Last month, I got it back," he said.
"So that's my early Christmas present - I got my driver's licence back."
Donovan said he knew he was feeling stronger, but he wasn't certain what the driver examiner would think about his improved abilities.
"I told the driver examiner that I have MS and, 'The doctors think I might need a (left-foot accelerator pedal) and I want you to take me out and if I'm not safe, I don't want my licence,' " he said.
"He took me out for 45 minutes - on highways, (curved) streets and, at one point, a child even ran out in front of me and I just stopped like anybody would. He said, 'There's nothing wrong with your driving.'
"He gave me my licence. I remember when I first got my licence at 16. It was terrific. It felt just like that."
He said he's thankful that his community helped him pay for the costly treatment and he believes it's promising that the new Progressive Conservative government has already committed money to exploring this emerging treatment option.
Donovan said the growing optimism he discovers while talking to New Brunswickers about his experience will keep his spirits high.
"I like to make the joke that I'm not a soap dispenser - I'm a hope dispenser," he said.
"I talk to people every day about what's happened to me. I'm not saying I'm a doctor or that I know everything about it, but I can speak about what's happened to me.
"I hear their stories and it makes me want to keep fighting (until this procedure is available in Canada)."堤姆說：『我聽了很多其他病友做過靜脈擴張手術的故事，而就是這些故事讓我想要繼續和多發性硬化症奮戰下去』