My good friend Karin Tabke wrote a blog last week asking the question, “How hard do you work?” and pontificating on the 10,000 hour rule: that to be truly good at something, you need to put in at least 10,000 hours. I thought that sounded like an unusually long amount of time, until I figured out that there were 8,760 hours in a year. Suddenly, 10,000 hours didn’t seem very daunting at all.
Doctors go to school–not including residency–for eight years. Between classwork and studying, they probably put in 60-70 hour weeks for at least nine months of the year. That’s over 20,000 hours just to graduate–and most of us probably prefer a doctor with a few years experience.
Musicians–the top guns, the ones who play at Carnegie Hall–practice many hours every day, often from when they are young children. I played piano for eight years, and I was technically proficient–but I didn’t love it so much that I was willing to put in more than the minimum required 30 minutes a day. (I can play piano, I’ve said, but I can’t make music.) A girl two years younger than me practiced three hours every day. Was it any surprise that she was better? Yes, she had natural talent. But without practice, that natural talent would have gone nowhere. Just for the years she was a minor–before going to college–she practiced more than 10,000 hours.
Athletes train year-round, practice hours every day in and out of season, is it any wonder the basketball player who spends his free time shooting hoops and conditioning is the one getting the scholarship?
Then why is it that every writer on the planet hears, “I could write a book if I had the time.” Or, “I’ll write a book when I retire.” Or, “It must be easy to churn out [fill-in-the-blank] books–they’re so formulaic.” (Romance writers get this all the time, but I know many mystery writers who hear the same thing. After all, aren’t all mysteries the same? Murder, investigation, solution. Duh, anyone can do it, right?)
No one goes up to a doctor and says, “When I retire, I’m going to be a heart surgeon.” Or, “If I had the free time, I’d go to medical school.”
Everyone has a story to tell. Everyone thinks they’re the best person to tell it. How many hours have they put in to read, learn the craft, write, edit, delete, and write some more? I grow frustrated at times by some writers who finish a book and are then stunned and defeated by rejection. Many times these writers blame the system (New York wouldn’t know a good book if they wrote it themselves.) Or agents (they don’t want to work, they want the easy money.) Or the reading public (they just want to read trashy books.) Far too often, these writers become discouraged and spend more time lamenting the system or learning only about the business of published, rather than learning the craft: how to be a great storyteller.
One of the best things that Romance Writers of America does that few other writers organizations do (largely because most aren’t fully open to unpublished writers) is teach want-to-be authors that they need to practice, write, re-write, write some more, and repeat as necessary. That most authors do not sell their first manuscript, or even their second. Or third. Yes, some do–many do not. An article I read when I first joined RWA in 2003, the year before I sold, said that among published authors in RWA, it took on average FIVE MANUSCRIPTS before a sale and FIVE YEARS, SIX MONTHS of writing before making the first sale.
Storytelling is hard work that takes thousands of hours of practice (and this doesn’t include the thousands of hours of reading) but it doesn’t get easier.
A doctor or a lawyer or an engineer may become more confident in their abilities as they gain experience, but I’d venture that open heart surgery is never easy, no matter how many times you’ve done it. Books are the same way. It doesn’t get easier. Authors may gain confidence, or may see problems in their stories earlier simply because they have more experience, but writing is never easy. In fact, as we’ve discussed here recently, it gets harder. My books are tighter and cleaner when I turn them in–meaning, the technical part of the writing is easier for me after 14 books–but the storytelling is harder now than when I started.
But even so, I love it. With all the warts and heartache and long hours and the fact that I’m still learning and have much, much more to learn about storytelling (like who knew I needed a theme? Thank you Alex and Stephen) . . . I wouldn’t want to do anything else. There is no end of the road, where you’ve learned everything you can. Basketball players, when they win, don’t stop practicing. Doctors, when they graduate, don’t stop reading medical journals. Writers, when they get published, don’t think they now know everything. (In fact, many of us are stunned when people come to us for advice because we’re really just winging it.)
I figured I probably wrote or studied craft about 10,000 hours from when I was ten until I was 34, when I sold my first book. Since I sold, I’ve put in over 14,000 hours writing and re-writing and studying and practicing and learning from people who know much more than I do.
Writing is hard work. It takes hours, thousands of hours, to go from crapola to something marginally publishable. And if you fail as a writer, you can always be a heart surgeon, right?
Writers, what are some of the odd or insulting comments you’ve gotten about your writing? Readers, what are some misconceptions about YOUR profession? What, if anything, are you willing to put in more than 10,000 hours to master?
What a terrific post, Allison!
I shall crib from this unmercifully (with appropriate credit, of course) when I’m next asked to do a writing group talk, because I think your analogy is absolutely spot on. I usually just say that persistence is everything, but this is a far more effective way of getting that message across. Thank you ;-]
Hmm, odd or insulting comments? I recall one lady who asked which university I attended to get my degree before embarking on a writing career, and was openly – and somewhat insultingly – astounded when I told her I barely started High School, never mind finished it… She then said that she’d gone into her local bookstore in Canada and asked if they had my books in stock, expressing her surprise when they did. "I didn’t buy one, of course," she added.
And there’s JT having horses named after her. I’m definitely doing something wrong ;-]
At least if we write a terrible book, nobody dies. 🙂
My favorite nasty comment over the last year was by a family member. She told me that my third novel is "a failure of creativity." Not that she’d, you know, *read* it or anything.
That’s a good one, Cornelia. Because we all know you’re just not that creative.
Funnily enough, one of my nastiest comments came from a reader who wrote to say that he liked my books but thought I was taking too long to write them, and asked how long it took me to write a book. When I responded that it took me about nine months, he wrote back, "Nine MONTHS? HAHAHAHA. Allison Brennan writes three books a year."
I was speechless. Wordless, anyway. I thought, "Well, at least ALLISON doesn’t hold that against me."
according to this survey by Jim Hines http://www.jimchines.com/2010/03/survey-results ) it took an average of 11.6 years for published authors to sell their first books.
To put it in perspective, it takes a doctor about 11 years of education (4 years college, 4 years medical schools, 3 years residency) to be qualified to practice primary care medicine.
So — yep, it takes longer to become a published author than to become a doctor.
I teach a course for doctors who want to become writers, and they’re very smart, very motivated people. It boggles their minds that writing a book — and selling it — isn’t something they can automatically achieve.
Zoe, I’m a college drop-out! And I don’t have any horses or other animals named after me, but my mom wants to name her next puppy Zoe–I’ll let you know when she gets one.:) . . . and take anything you need from my post–or Tess’s great info below.
Good point, Jude, that one reader accused me of wasting his time. Could be killing time–
Ha, Cornelia, it’s like the educated readers (you know, the ones who disdain Zoe and me because we ain’t got formal skoolin) who look down their nose at romance writers and declare loud enough for the entire store to hear, "I don’t read trash." I was signing with one romance author, far more brazen than me, who said, "Neither do I."
Are you making that up Alex? I have no life. You travel, teach, and probably have fun, too, that doesn’t involve high school sports or Operation SpongeBob.
Wow, Tess, great survey and comparison! I’m keeping that for future reference. I remember that blog about teaching doctors. I think educated and trained people may have a harder time in publishing–especially logical people–because so much about publishing has absolutely no basis in logic. :/
Great post, Allison. It takes strategic and constant work. Strategic, meaning goals for both word production and learning the craft. Constant, because you have to find a way to do something toward your goal every day. Even if you have a full time job, there’s something you can do.
Drive and patience. Force and impurturbability.
Wow, I cannot imagine the negative comments to authors being mentioned here. Why? Why would anyone say nasty things to anyone at any time? To feel superior? My mind just can’t fathom it.
Oh goodness, misconceptions in unemployment insurance. I get this one all the time: "I’ve paid into this for years and this is all I get?" First, what a person receives in their initial state claim is not based on years of work, it is the wages earned in the past eighteen months (the first four of the previous five quarters of that time period). Second, EMPLOYERS are charged for one’s unemployment insurance – an employee does not and has not contributed. However, when the claimant is drawing from the federal programs, we are all paying for their unemployment insurance in taxes. Some people haven’t worked since 2007 (state money on average typically lasts about six months and then they go on to federal programs); that’s a lot of taxes.
Hey Allison, I love the theme of the posts this week. I read Karin’s article too, and it really resonated with me. I have been writing for years, but never considered myself a writer, but now that I am focusing on it, I try to learn as much as I can. I am willing to put in the time needed to perfect my talent, if you will. When I was in the military, you gotta put those hours in, no question about it. At this juncture, I spend a lot of time reading and learning than I do writing, but I write a little bit, even if it is just to jot down ideas, every day. I loved Alex’s post yesterday too. I felt like I was in school. Loved the info.
Peace and love,
Oh, a new word! "imperturbability" — I had to look that one up. See, writers are learning something new every day! I’m calm, cool and collected. Truly, I am.
PK, I could write an entire blog–a week of blogs–on some of the comments writers get. If I called on my published romance writer friends, I could go on for a month. I have a friend of mine who’s written over 50 Harlequin romances. She makes a nice living at it. Someone told her, "Anyone can do that." (Hmm–if anyone can do it, everyone WOULD be doing it, right????)
Don’t let the horses fool you – I am constantly assailed with insults. Like the guy last night who laughed at me when I said I was a full-time writer – he thought I was lying. How could a "wumman" be a full time writer? Or the constant "I could do that if I just had some time," or you musn’t be very good if you’re only in paperback, or why would you write about crime – no one is interested in that. You should write historical fiction, or children’s literature.
You know that dismissive attitude is simply pure, unadulterated jealousy. Writing is a gift. I can’t sing, or draw, or do math, but many people can, and I admire them for it. I wish some of the folks who want to write could understand the huge amounts of work that goes into it. Allison, this post is brilliant. I’ll be passing it along…
Allison, just wanted to chime back in and say I’ve been thinking about your post all morning. You said so much important stuff here, and so well (as you always do.) Thank you!
Very insightful post. Its funny that as I’ve gone through this writing journey, I’ve learned so much about what I didn’t even know I needed to learn. And the amount of time that I’ve put in already is mind boggling to my husband but not to me. Everytime I have a slap the forehead revelation, I realize how much more I need to learn. One of the reasons I stop by Murderati, WriterUnboxed and Murder She Writes is because the lessons on these sites are fantastic and relevant and have given me more than one slap the forehead revelation.
People sometimes have no concept that what they’re saving is rude or insulting. Sometimes they do. Even though I’m still not published, my blog from Iraq has garnered a lot of interesting comments. I went through the roof about two weeks ago when another author dared to call me (and everyone else who disagreed with her) dishonorable because I wasn’t fighting for women to serve in the combat arms on the PBS POV Regarding War blog. It was beyond rude but I had to deliberately ignore the rest of the comments b/c I was so upset by it.
If nothing else, I’m learning how to deal with the crazies so that hopefully, when I publish, I’ll be a little more prepared.
JT, I can’t sing or draw either! And don’t get me started about paperbacks . . . .
Thank you Cornelia! I guess I was on a rant last night . . .
Hi Jessica!!!! How are you?? You’re stateside now, right? Crazies are . . . out there. In every profession, not just the military or writing. Cops, firemen, doctors, lawyers, politicians–they all have crazies out there attacking them. Honest disagreements are fine. Attacks aren’t. Sorry you took the brunt of one.
Allison, your post soothes me this morning. It makes me feel that what I’m doing has purpose, despite the fact that the time I invest in writing, reading and learning more and more and more about the craft takes time away from the pursuit of sometimes more financially rewarding activities.
The comments that are most derisive are the ones that put a financial price tag on my writing, comparing it to a "real and stable profession." I have friends who are business men who have no understanding of the intense passion that drives the desire to write, and yet they easily degrade my pursuit of the career because it is financially unstable. And then, in moments of creative perception, they might quote Shakespeare and talk about how magnificent his work is. I told a friend once, "What a shame it would have been if Shakespeare had given up writing to go to business school."
I’m not published, but I still occasionally get the "you should do more… you should produce faster…" type of comments every now and then, and the "that could have been you if you’d only done more with it". Of course, sometimes it’s my own Vicious Mind chanting that particular litany to myself. I guess it goes back to if you hear something often enough, you begin to believe it yourself. I don’t know. I do know that I’ve put more into writing this new year than I had the last five years, and I can see a huge difference in my style, my product, my word count. Your post just reiterates what I’ve always heard: The more you do it, the better you’ll be. Awesome post!
Great post, Allison. I’m constantly amazed at how much I’ve learned over the last year since I started writing seriously and joined RWA. I’m sure I’ll never feel like I’ve "mastered" it, but I’m working hard to get those 10,000 hours under my belt.
Allison – loved the post! I will admit when I sat down and wrote my first MS, I did expect everyone to be impressed as never before. Because hey, I had never written a book before. (I’m really not narcissistic, I was just really, really excited about writing this book.) But when it was all said and done, I queried it out and actually got some requests and THEN much later some gentle rejections. However, I had continued to write while I was waiting for all of those responses and when they arrived, I thought OMG, I going to have to change my name before I submit again! You are so right about practicing, my current MS is sooooo much better than my first. Why? Because I have been doing it longer. I’ve listened to successful writers such as yourself and the other wonderful authors here on murderati and through RWA. My daytime career was in the legal field and I often heard, Why are you ONLY the paralegal. Ack, if they only knew what being ONLY the paralegal meant. In most of the firms I worked in over my 20 years, I was more intimately involved with the cases than the attorneys. I moved them along on a day to day basis and helped them grow, only to send them off to trial or settlement with the attorney with all my love and care. People really need to not disparage what they don’t know and respect others for giving of themselves to any craft, but especially one that involves creativity and opens oneself up to such judgment. So thanks for the reminder that we get out of our craft what we put in AND that it takes ALOT of practice to be good and ALOT more to be great. 🙂
I recentlyfinishedmy first novel. This is after about 20 failed starts. In my revisiing process, I have already added and cut about 10,000 words. It sure is a hoot.
These come from readers of Betsy Lerner’s blog, mostly from supposed friends and family members of writers:
That’s cool, but it’s not REALLY a book at all, is it?
Everyone thinks they can write.
Well, it’s not something I’d seek out in a bookstore.
Wouldn’t you do better working retail or at a factory?
You would never would have been published if you weren’t half Mexican. (Or half white.)
You’re in your 40s. If you were going to write a book you would have done it by now.
All the real writers live in New York City.
Oh, just a children’s book.
You should find better things to do with your time.
I didn’t finish it because I don’t like reading that kind of garbage.
Me, I’m smart enough not to tell my family members I have a book coming out. In the South (and elsewhere, apparently) accomplishments must be denigrated lest the person start thinking too highly of themselves.
Terrific post, Allison. Whenever someone discovers I’m a writer and suggests they ‘could write a book if they had the time’—or one of the other cliched responses—I always mention I wrote most of my first novel while working 60 hours a week and taking classes, and they should give it a try. I rarely hear back.
Two birds, one stone.
Brilliant post, Allison.
Let’s see… I’ve gotten these in the past (and my responses are in italics):
"You have children, right? Why didn’t you write children’s books?"
"Because my womb never learned how to spell."
"Are you sure you wrote those action set pieces? Really? But you’re a woman. C’mon, tell the truth. How did you really write them."
Asked four times, after I assured the man that yes, I had written them. My final answer was… "Okay, fine. Fine. I’ll tell you the truth. Whenever I got to the part where the men had to do something action-y, I just called my husband into the room, grabbed his penis and channeled."
(Yes. I did say it. To an executive at Warner Brothers. Who, after he got over the shock, then decided he wanted to hire me for a project he had under development.)
"You write that romance crap? I don’t read porn."
"Bless your heart, it shows."
Might be interesting to teach that method in a writing class, Toni. "Class, this is my husband. Now, what I want you to do when you get to an action scene…"
My older sister (who is very supportive of my writing efforts and hardly lets a week go by without
pestering mesaying encouraging things to me) was feeling impatient with my lack of "progress" a while back and said,
"Your problem is you’re too picky. It doesn’t have to be perfect. I mean it’s not like you’re writing The Great American Novel. It’s just a paperback, right?"
Ouch. Then again, maybe she’s right.
I’ve wanted to "be a writer" since I was 11. I had quite a shock when I found out that being a writer doesn’t mean just sitting down and writing and everyone is going to want to read your books. Ehhh (C’mon, don’t laugh. I was innocent.)
I’ve wanted to be a lot of things, but, mainly, I don’t want to put work into it. Like, I’d love to be a psychiatrist, but all these years in med school?? Naaah.
I still want to be a writer. I think. I can’t really imagine myself doing anything else. (So, basically, I’m screwed),.
I’m ALL for you writing a blong about weird stuff you hear from the crazies, Allison. Like, ALL FOR IT.
And LMAO at Toni 🙂
Cornelia, I hope your response to that family member was the same as Madeleine’s to her family member in the last graff of A FIELD OF DARKNESS.
Toni, Allison, ROFLMAO. Stephen, looks to me as if you’re on course.
There are just so many people in this world who can’t resist spreading the pain around . . . and we’re related to them, just to make it more fun.
This calls for a double-sized slice of Scalzi’s Schadenfreud Pie.
Great post, Allison. It’s all about the repetition.
My dad once told me that all I had to do to make it was to get published and then get on Imus. There are authors on Imus all the time. That was five years ago. Still not published. Still not on Imus.
Maybe it’s not quite that easy. But this post makes me feel good. I’ve put the time in. I’ve got the talent. And when I get done collecting rejection letters, it’ll all be good and worth it.
I wish I could post this as the intro to my website! Or better yet, as a form response to every writer who emails asking if I know of any agents/editors who would like to hear their idea for a novel.
Great post, and so, so true!!
Boy, did I ever need this post.
Thanks you, Allison.
I let my brother read some of my writing once and he wanted to know what television show I saw it on. He could not wrap his head around the idea that the whole story had been in my head. Then I wrote it down. LOLOL
Stephen, the Shakespeare comment is key. We can fill in any major creative talent and wonder what would have happened if they did something different. Or Henry Ford. Or the Wright Brothers. Yes, we’d still have cars and airplanes today, but how long would we have delayed? How different would they be? They had a vision, like any creative artist, and the passion to see it through even with rejection and great personal and financial cost. Writing is a passion, as well it should be considering how many hours the average writer puts in before they’re published.
Hey Brenda!!! SOO glad you stopped by today 🙂 Write on!
Oh, Donna, I could have written this five years ago! When I finished my first book, I thought THAT was the hard part–finishing. Certainly I could easily get an agent and get published, right? In fact, I started writing my second book, confident that I’d get a contract and they’d want another book right away. Well, I didn’t sell that first book (one agent, who requested the full, called in SUPERFICIAL.) And I didn’t sell the second. And so on and so on . . . but every book I didn’t sell helped me learn so I could write a book that DID sell.
Yeah Ed! First book under the belt, that is a huge achievement. Most people who say they’re going to write a book never actually finish one. And . . . I’ve added and cut far more than 10,000 words in every book I’ve written. Far, far, far more . . . for example, the first draft of CARNAL SIN (which had a beginning and ending) was 85,000 words. The final version is 110,000 words.
Fortunately Sara, I have had very supportive family. I’m grateful for that.
Toni, I love southerns. Bless your heart sweetens a multitude of insults . . . .
Barbie, if you see yourself as a writer, you’re a writer. Just write. More. 🙂
Oh, Viva–that "if I only had the time"–no one says that to me anymore. I wrote five books while raising four kids (#5 came after I sold) and worked full-time. I gave up television and most of my already limited social life. I wrote every night from 9-12 when the kids were asleep. If you work full-time and/or have a family–or both–you have to make sacrifices. Hell, you have to make sacrifices even if you don’t have many commitments! Most people don’t get that. I love your response 🙂
Hey I’m a convenience store clerk and people either think we know where everything in town is from the best place to eat and how to get to the next place they are headed. Or they are condescending expecting us to know what they want carry every brand of every thing and havve lots of stuff "in the back". But I’ve been doing this since 1991 and almost 15 years in this store so I think I know what i"m doing honest. Now writing i"m taking every class I can swing and reading all I can. I want to know all I can to improve my writing. I don’t want to settle for self publishing or a vanity publisher. I want one that will be recognized by RWA and worth the trouble of practice makes perfect-sort of, they say.
I won’t repeat what Donna, Stephen, Toni Lee, Sara or everyone else said though I agree totally. I recently decided to get yet another part time job to keep from going to work full time because nothing makes me happier than writing. Okay, so I’ll be poorer than I used to be. I no longer expect to be published with this novel or the next but continue to work on my process and enjoy the journey. Even though I had natural talent as a singer and performer and was told by many that I should try to make it big, I NEVER loved it like I love writing.
The hardest thing for me, especially with this attitude, is when my husband says, "if you add up all the hours you spend writing, you’re probably going in the hole. Hmm, what about the thousands of hours he spent fishing or hunting with no prospect whatsoever of a possible payday. Or, "how many books have you written now?" I just lie.
When I learn something new, create a cool scene, or have another aha moment it all seems worth it. Thanks as always for the reminder and the great post. I’ll have to blog AGAIN about Murderati. You guys do so much for the writing community.
Great post, Allison. I’ve received lots of insulting comments from friends/family/strangers, but the most ridiculous and annoying (because I couldn’t fight back) was a US Immigration and Customs officer. I told her I was entering the US to go to a writers conference and she scoffed and asked what in the world that could be. I tried to explain there were workshops to learn more about writing etc. and she said basically that was dumb. Anyone can write. I did argue back that there was more to it than people thought, and she answered back that’s what editors are for. If you have talent, you write, and then your editor fixes it.
I just held my jaw tight. I did want to enter the US that day, and preferably without a strip search first.
I love this post. The 10,000 hour rule terrifies me to the point of paralysis – I’m a lawyer, in practice, got a technical degree a few years ago, and have professional publications – WHERE are those 10,000 hours for creativity going to come from? AAAAGHHHH! And I’m doing the work stuff to attempt to hang on to my earnings in a rough economy and region – NOT because I love it all the time!
Also, some of you may be familiar with "the lawyer disease" which is the perfectionism and terror of failure drummed in through practice. Oh, I can do a lousy job – but someone will go to jail, or an innocent party will have to pay out $700,000 that they don’t have, and I’ll be grieved and sued for professional misconduct, and worst of all the client may not pay the full bill ….that kind of background makes writing crappy first drafts and loosening up to practice in the 10,000 hours very, very hard.
That said, I’m trying to force myself to loosen up and write and revise with less judgment. But boy, you think I could have figured some of this stuff out earlier in life…oh well.
Prices will fall in line, we’ll all be SSD’ing within 24 months! HDD’s will go the way of Atari!
After 6 months of offering stem cell therapy in combination with the venous angioplasty liberation procedure, patients of CCSVI Clinic have reported excellent health outcomes. Ms. Kasma Gianopoulos of Athens Greece, who was diagnosed with the Relapsing/Remitting form of MS in 1997 called the combination of treatments a “cure”. “I feel I am completely cured” says Ms. Gianopoulos, “my symptoms have disappeared and I have a recovery of many functions, notably my balance and my muscle strength is all coming (back). Even after six months, I feel like there are good changes happening almost every day. Before, my biggest fear was that the changes wouldn’t (hold). I don’t even worry about having a relapse anymore. I’m looking forward to a normal life with my family. I think I would call that a miracle.”
Other recent MS patients who have had Autologous Stem Cell Transplantation (ASCT), or stem cell therapy have posted videos and comments on YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jFQr2eqm3Cg.
Dr. Avneesh Gupte, the Neurosurgeon at Noble Hospital performing the procedure has been encouraged by results in Cerebral Palsy patients as well. “We are fortunate to be able to offer the treatment because not every hospital is able to perform these types of transplants. You must have the specialized medical equipment and specially trained doctors and nurses”. With regard to MS patients, “We are cautious, but nevertheless excited by what patients are telling us. Suffice to say that the few patients who have had the therapy through us are noticing recovery of neuro deficits beyond what the venous angioplasty only should account for”.
Dr. Unmesh of Noble continues: “These are early days and certainly all evidence that the combination of liberation and stem cell therapies working together at this point is anecdotal. However I am not aware of other medical facilities in the world that offer the synthesis of both to MS patients on an approved basis and it is indeed a rare opportunity for MS patients to take advantage of a treatment that is quite possibly unique in the world”.
Autologous stem cell transplantation is a procedure by which blood-forming stem cells are removed, and later injected back into the patient. All stem cells are taken from the patient themselves and cultured for later injection. In the case of a bone marrow transplant, the HSC are typically removed from the Pelvis through a large needle that can reach into the bone. The technique is referred to as a bone marrow harvest and is performed under a general anesthesia. The incidence of patients experiencing rejection is rare due to the donor and recipient being the same individual.This remains the only approved method of the SCT therapy. For more information visit http://ccsviclinic.ca/?p=838
“Unnecessary risks are being taken by patients seeking the liberation treatment.” says Dr. Avneesh Gupte of the CCSVI Clinic. “It has been our contention since we started doing minimally invasive venous angioplasties nearly 6 years ago that discharging patients who have had neck vein surgery on an outpatient basis is contra-indicated. We have been keeping patients hospitalized for a week to 10 days as a matter of safety and monitoring them for symptoms. Nobody who has the liberation therapy gets discharged earlier than that. During that time we do daily Doppler Ultrasounds, blood work and blood pressure monitoring among other testing. This has been the safe practice standard that we have adopted and this post-procedure monitoring over 10 days is the subject of our recent study as it relates to CCSVI for MS patients.”
Although the venous angioplasty therapy on neck veins has been done for MS patients at CCSVI Clinic only for the last 18 months it has been performed on narrow or occluded neck veins for other reasons for many years. “Where we encounter blocked neck veins resulting in a reflux of blood to the brain, we treat it as a disease,” says Gupte. “It’s not normal pathology and we have seen improved health outcomes for patients where we have relieved the condition with minimal occurrences of re-stenosis long-term. We believe that our record of safety and success is due to our post-procedure protocol because we have had to take patients back to the OR to re-treat them in that 10-day period. Otherwise some people could have run into trouble, no question.”
Calgary MS patient Maralyn Clarke died recently after being treated for CCSVI at Synergy Health Concepts of Newport Beach, California on an outpatient basis. Synergy Health Concepts discharges patients as a rule without in-clinic provisions for follow up and aftercare. Post-procedure, Mrs. Clarke was discharged, checked into a hotel, and suffered a massive bleed in the brain only hours after the procedure. Dr. Joseph Hewett of Synergy Health recently made a cross-Canada tour promoting his clinic for safe, effective treatment of CCSVI for MS patients at public forums in major Canadian cities including Calgary.
“That just couldn’t happen here, but the sooner we develop written standards and best practices for the liberation procedure and observe them in practice, the safer the MS community will be”, says Dr. Gupte. “The way it is now is just madness. Everyone seems to be taking shortcuts. We know that it is expensive to keep patients in a clinical setting over a single night much less 10 days, but it’s quite absurd to release them the same day they have the procedure. We have always believed it to be unsafe and now it has proven to be unsafe. The thing is, are Synergy Health Concepts and other clinics doing the Liberation Treatment going to be changing their aftercare methods even though they know it is unsafe to release a patient on the same day? The answer is no, even after Mrs. Clarke’s unfortunate and unnecessary death. Therefore, they are not focused on patient safety…it’s become about money only and lives are being put at risk as a result.”
Joanne Warkentin of Morden Manitoba, an MS patient who recently had both the liberation therapy and stem cell therapy at CCSVI Clinic agrees with Dr. Gupte. “Discharging patients on the same day as the procedure is ridiculous. I was in the hospital being monitored for 12 days before we flew back. People looking for a place to have the therapy must do their homework to find better options. We found CCSVI Clinic and there’s no place on earth that’s better to go for Liberation Therapy at the moment. I have given my complete medical file from CCSVI Clinic over to my Canadian physician for review.” For more information Log on to http://ccsviclinic.ca/?p=866 OR Call on toll free: 888-419-6855.
David Summers, a 37 year old MS patient from Murfreesboro, Tennessee was a score of 8.0 on the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) when he had the Combination Liberation Therapy and Stem Cell Transplantation at CCSVI Clinic in March of 2012. Having been diagnosed in 1996 he had been in a wheelchair for the past decade without any sensation below the waist or use of his legs.
“It was late 2011 and I didn’t have much future to look forward to” says David. “My MS was getting more progressive and ravaging my body. I was diagnosed as an 8.0 on the EDSS scale; 1 being mild symptoms, 10 being death. There were many new lesions on my optic nerves, in my brain and on my spinal cord. My neurologist just told me: ‘be prepared to deteriorate’. I knew that he was telling me I didn’t have much time left, or at least not much with any quality.” David had previously sought out the liberation therapy in 2010 and had it done in a clinic in Duluth Georgia. “The Interventional Radiologist who did it told me that 50% of all MS patients who have the jugular vein-clearing therapy eventually restenose. I didn’t believe that would happen to me if I could get it done. But I have had MS for 16 years and apparently my veins were pretty twisted up”. Within 90 days, David’s veins had narrowed again, and worse, they were now blocked in even more places than before his procedure.
“I was so happy after my original procedure in 2010. I immediately lost all of the typical symptoms of MS. The cog fog disappeared, my speech came back, the vision in my right eye improved, I was able to regulate my body temperature again, and some of the sensation in my hands came back. But as much as I wanted to believe I felt something, there was nothing below the waist. I kind of knew that I wouldn’t get anything back in my legs. There was just way too much nerve damage now”. But any improvements felt by David lasted for just a few months.
After his relapse, David and his family were frustrated but undaunted. They had seen what opening the jugular veins could do to improve him. Because the veins had closed so quickly after his liberation procedure, they considered another clinic that advocated stent implants to keep the veins open, but upon doing their due diligence, they decided it was just too risky. They kept on searching the many CCSVI information sites that were cropping up on the Internet for something that offered more hope. Finding a suitable treatment, especially where there was no known cure for the disease was also a race against time. David was still suffering new attacks and was definitely deteriorating. Then David’s mother Janice began reading some patient blogs about a Clinic that was offering both the liberation therapy and adult autologous stem cell injections in a series of procedures during a hospital stay. “These patients were reporting a ‘full recovery’ of their neurodegenerative deficits” says Janice, “I hadn’t seen anything like that anywhere else”. She contacted CCSVI Clinic in late 2011 and after a succession of calls with the researchers and surgeons they decided in favor of the combination therapies.
“I went to CCSVI Clinic in India without knowing what to expect” says David, “but I basically had one shot left and this was it. I was becoming pretty disabled, and I couldn’t think very clearly”. David was triaged with a clinic intake of other MS patients and had the liberation therapy on March 27, 2012. They also drew bone marrow from his hip bone in the same procedure. When he woke up from the procedure, he again felt the immediate effect of the widening of the veins. “In case anyone doesn’t believe that the liberation therapy works, I can tell them that this is much more than placebo effect.” The MS symptoms described earlier again disappeared. Four days later he had the first of the stem cell injections from the cultured cells taken from his hip bone during the liberation therapy. The first transplant was injected into the area just below his spine. Over the next 4 days he would receive about 100 million stem cells cultured in specific growth factors for differentiated effect.
He was not quite prepared for what happened next. A few hours after the first transplant, he was taken back into his hospital room and was transferred to the hospital bed. “I’m not completely helpless when it comes to moving from a chair or a bed”, says David, “One of the things I can do for myself is to use my arms to throw my leg into a position to be able to shift the rest of my body weight over to where I’m going. But this time to my amazement, I didn’t have to pick up the dead weight of my leg and throw it. It moved on its own, exactly where my brain told it to go”. Shortly after his first stem cell transplant procedure, some motor function in his lower body had returned. “This was the first time in 10 years I had any sensation or motor function below my waste so it was quite a shock.”
In the next month, most every motor nerve and body function has either returned or is on its way to recovery. “It’s been over a decade since I’ve had any power over my elimination functions. Now it’s all come back. I have total bladder control”. He’s also working out every day, following the physiotherapy routine given him by the clinic. “For years, I haven’t been able to work out without getting sick for a couple of days afterward. Now I have muscles popping out all over the place where I haven’t seen them since my MS became progressive…and I can work out as hard or as much as I want. With my ability to do the hard work my balance is improving each day and I’m able to take steps unassisted. I’m definitely going to be coming all the way back.”
Dr. Av Gupte, the neurosurgeon who has now done over 2000 adult autologous stem cell transplants for various neurologic disease conditions says that the stem cells in David’s body will continue to work their healing process for the next year. “With the incredible progress I’ve seen so far, I won’t need a year”, says David. “It’s only been a little over two months and I have most everything back. I can’t wait to get up each day to check out my improvements. My right hand is completely back to normal without any numbness and the left is on its way. I have good strength in my legs now and I’m working on the balance”.
Other MS patients treated with the combination therapy over the past 18 months have seen similar improvements but none have been as disabled as David. “If I can come back from where I was, most everyone with MS could too. For me, CCSVI Clinic has been my miracle and I can’t say enough about the doctors, researchers and staff who are helping me to recover. For me, MS was my previous diagnosis”