Will the new remote control work on the TV?

Twelve years ago my sister Corinne [Harland] developed NeuroSarcoidosis which is an autoimmune system dysfunction that causes the atrification of the lymph nodes in the body. In Corinne’s situation it was the lymph nodes in & around the brain stem & her spinal / nerve system. As a result she is now legally blind [unable to drive] has difficulty walking, has to deal with a major loss of memory, & has suffered the usual complications of being on massive steroids for an extended period of time; she is a drug induced diabetic, has had liver & kidney problems and lives with the sever chronic pain of diabetic neuropathy {pain in the extremities, feet & ankles}, the steroids [Pregnazone at as high as 100mg/day – 12x max recommended dose] have caused her bones to become brittle and for her to gain massive amounts of weight.

Despite all of the above she has continued to live a full life with her husband [Richard] and kids Laura & Charles.

Her positive attitude and the firm belief that she can beat his disease, has been astounding to see. My little sister has always been someone who exudes love, creativity , compassion and support to all who have the privilege to know her. It has been this strength that has made her a survivor.

Dr Ivar Mendez, who has been in the news a lot lately for his ground breaking work in Neurosurgery, [developed here in Halifax] is going to implant a computer in Corinne’s back that will interrupt the message of pain as it is sent to my brain, he will then give her a remote control and Corinne will be able to use it to send a different message to her brain. Apparently Corinne will feel a buzz that she can increase or decrease to mask the message of pain. The white noise will drown out the pain.

Sounds amazing doesn’t it ?

Her surgery will be divided into 2 parts:

The first will last a minimum of 2 ½ -3 ½ hours. For this part Corinne will be AWAKE (!) this is when they will be mapping out which nerves are controlling which part of her feet, so Corinne will need to be able to concentrate and tell them.

For the second part, Corinne’ll be asleep, that is when they run very fine wires up her nerve core of both legs and put the computer control inside her. It will be placed into the side of her abdomen. Corinne will then go to recovery and later to the the Neurosurgery unit.

  • The next day Corinne will be taught how to use a remote control that will control the base computer. When she has extreme pain Corinne will increase the impulse that is sent by the computer. This message is sent 900 times faster than the pain message, therefore it is supposed to interrupt the pain and send a buzzing sensation instead.
  • If all goes well Corinne will leave the hospital on ½ of the morphine and other pain medications that she is currently on and will have a plan for tapering down and hopefully completely off about 5 medication that Corinne has been taking .
  • Corinne will likely be discharged the second or third day and will soon be able to resume going to CURVES and even into the pool at the rehab for my Physiotherapy.

Sounds exciting doesn’t it ?

The biggest worry that the medical team has is the risk of infection. Because Corinne has been on steroids for over 11 years and is now diabetic it takes her longer to heal so Corinne will start on IV high dose antibiotics as soon as she arrives in the hospital and can expect to continue on a low dose for at least a month after.

So that‘s the scoop for now. Her surgery is scheduled for 7:30 am so I should know by 1.00 – 2.00 pm how things went & will pass on the news as soon as possible once I’ve heard.

Monday will be a long & stress filled day but there are no options & the success with this new procedure has been remarkable so I’ll be crossing my fingers for the next 24 – 48 hours.

For more info on the amazing research being done in Halifax click on …..


As a clinician, Dr. Ivar Mendez is pioneering the use of robotics in neurosurgery. As a researcher, Dr. Mendez is breaking new ground in the field of neurotransplantation. At Canada’s only Cell Restoration Laboratory, Dr. Mendez is working to answer questions posed by neural transplantation teams around the world – where to transplant the cells, how to improve their survival, how to transplant the cells without damaging the brain and, most recently, which other types and sources of cells may offer even greater possibilities for neural transplantation and with fewer disadvantages.

As one of the founders of the Brain Repair Center, Dr. Mendez has developed a world-class collaboration of researchers and physicians all working towards treatments and innovative solutions to diseases and injuries of the brain and spinal cord.

At the Brain Repair Center (BRC), researchers from a wide variety of disciplines work together to develop new treatments to overcome the debilitating effects of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, and Parkinson’s disease, ALS, stroke and spinal cord injury. BRC researchers have access to state-of-the-art facilities, including a 4 Tesla research MRI with the capacity to image patients, and basic science laboratories dedicated to the development of therapies for neurological diseases.


  • Dr. Mendez is Chairman of the Brain Repair Center and is a Professor in the Department of Surgery (Neurosurgery), and Professor in the Department of Anatomy & Neurobiology at Dalhousie University. He is Director of Research with the Department of Surgery, and Director of Canada’s only Cell Restoration Laboratory.
  • As a clinician/scientist, Dr. Mendez’ research focus is in functional neurosurgery, neural transplantation, stem cells and robotic neurosurgery.
  • Dr. Mendez and his team performed the first remote robotic tele-mentoring neurosurgery in the world between Halifax, Nova Scotia and Saint John, New Brunswick – 400 km away.
  • Dr. Mendez has invented a system for transplanting healthy cells into the brain. The system consists of a specialized piece of equipment called a transplantation cannula and micro-injector device. The Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Center has patented this device for transplanting new cells into the brain as a restorative therapy.
  • Dr. Mendez has been recognized by his peers nationally and internationally. He has won a lengthy list of awards including:
    • the Murray L. Barr Junior Scientist Award,
    • the Young Neurosurgeon Award,
    • the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada Medal Award in Surgery,
    • the William P. Van Wagenen Fellowship of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons
    • and the Discovery Centre’s Award for Science and Technology (Professional of Distinction).

The things in my life that I look forward to every day: Far tooo much coffee! Friends & laughter. Relaxing over a good meal & a beer. A decent conversation about important issues; personal & business, community, national or global ... all issues are welcome.

Posted in Author Les Muise, Medical News, Personal Issues

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February 2008
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