After a seven-year ordeal that has included major surgeries, radiation and a blood transfusion, Michael Sorowski sat outside the provincial legislature building, hoping to generate some attention — and a resolution.
Sorowski, originally from Moose Jaw and now living in Grenfell, is on a hunger strike to protest his experience over the last seven years with the health care system, which he describes as “very cruel.” It started when Sorowski was diagnosed with a third nerve palsy schwannoma, a benign tumour attached to the nerve that controls his right eye.
Sorowski has had two craniotomies performed to try and remove his tumour. He says his first surgeon told him that they wouldn’t be able to remove the full tumour and that he would need radiation treatment to prevent the rest of it from growing.
“The way I think of it now, in hindsight, is had I known at the time I would have never gone through with the surgeries,” he said.
“I wish (the doctor) would have just recommended going straight to radiation. Now, in hindsight, it’s ruined my life by going through that first surgery.”
The first surgery was on Oct. 26, 2016. According to Sorowski, a major artery that feeds blood to the brain was clipped during the procedure. He says he needed a blood transfusion because of how much blood he lost and now needs to carry a red blood cell antibody card in case he ever needs another transfusion.
“I have scar tissue on my brain now, so I’m now epileptic. I had three grand mal seizures — the nasty ones where you’re out cold and shaking — before they figured out that I was epileptic,” he said.
Sorowski now needs to take Keppra, an anti-seizure medication, twice a day. While he has suffered many side effects, other medications have not been as effective for him.
“I’m damned if I don’t take it, of course, because I’ll have seizures and damned if I do take it because it’s affected my personality. I’m much different than I used to be. I used to be patient, easygoing, more likeable I guess.”
Sorowski says he tried calling the offices of the health minister and the minister in charge of SaskPower, and speaking to Moosomin MLA Steven Bonk, before embarking on his hunger strike at the Legislative Building on Sept. 26. He said it hasn’t garnered a response from the provincial government yet, but he plans to continue until a settlement is reached.
In a statement, the provincial government said its respects citizens’ right to protest as long as they are following established processes and permits. The province also said that all doctors who practice in Saskatchewan are licensed by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan, and must adhere to standards of practice and ethical conduct established by the College. Anyone with concerns are encouraged to contact a client concern specialist.
Originally from Moose Jaw, Sorowski had moved to Grenfell for a job with SaskPower and bought a house there.
“It’s the only reason I live in little Grenfell, I have no other reason to live here, and it was a job I loved,” he said.
He was given the clearance to return to work after two years and eight months of treatment, but there was a two-year time limit to return to his job.
“I don’t think it’s a very fair policy to lose your position from seeking healthcare,” he said.
“No one ever told me I had two years to return to work or I’m going to lose my position. They told me a week before the two years was up.”
There was also a two-year time limit to sue for medical malpractice.
“Obviously in my case it took me longer than two years to realize that this is life altering, life changing,” he said. “For the rest of my life I’m going to live with the consequences of this.”
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