Saturday, July 19, 2008

Letter: Ricky Arsenault updates supporters on surgery (July 17, 2008)

Letter: Ricky Arsenault updates supporters on surgery (July 17, 2008)


It has been an amazing journey since I announced that I was planning on having needed surgery on my birthmark. And the journey has just begun! On behalf of the Arsenault family, I would like to express my profound gratitude to the many individuals and organizations throughout our community that have rallied around us as we strive to prepare for my pending surgery. The compassion and service rendered to us in our time of need has truly been overwhelming! Not only have the fundraising efforts exceeded our estimated out-of-pocket expenses of $20,000 to 30,000, but the support from friends and strangers has been awe-inspiring. The fund that was started at TD Banknorth has received large monetary donations, but even more impressive to me has been the opportunity to be a witness of giving in the similitude of the “widow’s mite” as recorded in the New Testament. It is truly a very humbling experience to be the recipient of so much selfless giving of not only money, but of an often more precious commodity; time. As the process moves forward this summer, the adequacy of these funds will be determined as we are able to find out what will not be covered by our insurance. Nevertheless, I have been assured that the Lord would provide in His own way. I have seen, and felt, the hand of my Lord working through many Christ-like individuals.
I have stated that one of the greatest blessings that have flowed unto me throughout this past year has been the surfacing of past friends and the transformation of strangers into friends. When the first article hit the papers, my phone starting ringing with offers of support and help from many. The first call came from a woman that I had not previously known. She jumped into action and rallied others to help in my cause. The next call came from one of my old (not that we’re old by any means) high school classmates and football team members. To my recollection, his message went something like this: …don’t worry about the cost…whether its $20,000 or $30,000…it’ll be covered…I’ve been talking to…go ahead and schedule your surgery…we love you. Not exactly the kind of message one would expect from someone from the old football squad. But a portion of the Spirit of Christ dwelleth in his heart and in the hearts of many that I have had the pleasure of interacting with recently! If I were able to make just one request of all of you reading this, it would be this: Please don’t sink back into the woodwork! One of the ironies of life that I have come to loath is this scenario: Meeting an old friend or acquaintance and having a 20 to 30 second conversation. Either they or I say something like: “Hey how ya doin’… What’s new?” The other says “Not much, how about you?” “Na, same old thing.” We haven’t seen each other in years and nothing’s new? We speak for a few seconds and part ways, perhaps I with their phone number or them with mine with the real intent to get together someday, but no follow-up is made. I probably wouldn’t loath this situation so much if I were not just as guilty as most of you reading this are. In the past, I’ve even gone so far as to look at their phone number and have said to myself: “Self, I’d love to get together with ______ , but I’m too busy, maybe later. Unfortunately, later usually never comes. Next thing I know, another several years passes by before I talk with them for another 20 seconds or so, or even worse, the Lord calls them home and they pass away and I find myself attending their funeral (or worse yet, I’m even too busy to attend). My point in this particular paragraph is to illustrate one of the greatest blessings that the Lord has bestowed unto my soul. Friends are a very precious commodity. Don’t take them lightly! I hope to be able to strive with all my heart to treasure more fully than ever before the friendships that I have acquired here upon this earth and I have set a personal goal to nurture them with much greater care than I have in the past! So, my request is this: Please call me so we can get together and find out what’s new. I’ve heard a wise man state: “Everyone has a story.” I’d really like to hear yours!
Now after that commercial, I’ll get back to my upcoming surgery. After approximately a year of research, the two surgical groups that have surfaced which have the greatest potential of success in the realm of arterial venous malformations (AVMs) are right in our own backyard. My family has recently met again with Dr. John B. Mulliken of the Vascular Anomalies Program in Boston and Dr. Milton Waner of the Vascular and Birthmark Institute of New York. A year of research, pondering, and prayer to determine which of these extremely competent surgical groups would best serve my particular needs have finally come to a close. The exact procedures and inherent philosophies of the two groups differed somewhat, therefore I diligently sought the guidance of my Lord to have the wisdom to choose His will. I believe that He has plainly manifested to me that I should have the needed procedures performed by Dr. Waner’s group in New York.
The initial procedure will be done on Aug. 28 by Dr. Alex Berenstein. He is a pioneer in the field of Interventional Neuroradiology. His procedure will involve insertion of a catheter into my femoral artery and running it up into my facial network of jumbled arteries and veins. An arteriogram will be done to produce a map-work of my AVM. He will then perform a selective embolization procedure that shall restrict the blood flow into my AVM in an effort to devascularize the AVM. The goal is to cause a reduction in the swelling and decrease the amount of blood flow into my AVM. After a gestation period of several weeks, another embolization procedure shall be performed followed by the removal of the “nidus” (center of AVM) the following day. Additional procedures shall be performed as necessary to achieve stabilization and improve my quality of life. According to the experts, there is no “cure” for AVMs…only control. When asked how long everything would take, Dr. Waner estimated that we are looking at two to two-and-a-half years of multiple procedures and surgeries; however Dr. Berenstein stated that each AVM is very unique and he would not place any time frames on what needs to be done.
Your prayers are very much appreciated in this time of need to invoke the powers of heaven as my family undergoes this journey. I am being realistic; I’m expecting a miracle! I will do my best to update our Web site from time to time as this process unfolds. For those that have an interest, it is:
again for all of you that have reached out to my family and who continue to bless the lives of those in our community and around the world with your Christ-like service. I pray that our Lord Jesus Christ will pour upon each of you His choicest blessings as we prepare for His triumphant return to rule and reign here upon the earth.
Ricky D. Arsenault

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