Blake is midwestern teen in every sense of the word, big, strong and to the point. A heralded athlete with NFL aspirations hampered by profound fatigue and cognitive impairment that struck him right before he began high school. Medical evaluation, including work up at the Mayo Clinic, eventually lead to autonomic testing. This included a test called tilt table which involves inversion of the body. It is meant to elicit symptoms and physiologic alterations related to posture. He was diagnosed with dysautonomia and orthostatic intolerance based on these evaluations.
Despite standard medical therapy his symptoms persisted, in fact worsened to the point he could no longer attend school. On November 13th 2013 Blake underwent TVAM therapy. A novel endovascular procedure based on an autonomic reflex called the venous distension reflex. This reflex is activated by dilation of veins. He had his jugular veins and two additional veins treated. Blake did well after treatment. He has regained cognition and will return to school next month. Fatigue was no longer an issue and he is back practicing with the football team.
His mom, Tammy Williams, shares the experience of his recovery in an article published in the Mustang Times on June 24, 2014, just over 8 months after Blake’s TVAM procedure.
Blake William’s Road to Recover
By Trey Hunter, Mustang Times Staff Writer
Mustang’s Blake Williams can’t remember exactly what has happened over the last year. He can’t tell you what caused it and can’t tell you much about the process of fighting through it, but he can tell you that he’s slowly getting better and has the strength to encourage those who are fighting the same thing.
In the spring of 2010, Williams injured his right shoulder after pitching in a baseball game. Not only did the injury end a potential pitching career, it caused scar tissue to build up in between the clavicle and top rib bone, causing improper space for blood and nerve flow. This led to symptoms no parent could imagine watching their child go through.
“We noticed a lot of things going wrong,” Tammy Williams, Blake’s mother, said. “We thought he was losing his vision, we noticed he couldn’t be in closed environments and he was getting body tremors and becoming very nauseated and weak. He would tell us he was having hearing difficulties and he had a dull feeling instead of having thoughts run through his mind. The doctor told us it was like Blake was going through a stroke that took three years to process.”
Williams was properly diagnosed with dysautonomia at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Mich. last August. Dysautonomia is also known as autonomic dysfunction with orthostatic Intolerance and high blood pressure, causing improper blood flow that can lead to tachycardia (fast heart rate), bradycardia (slow heart rate), palpitations, chest discomfort, low blood pressure, light headedness, gastrointestinal problems, excessive fatigue, exercise intolerance, nausea, visual disturbances, weakness, shortness of breath, mood swings, anxiety, vertigo and migraines.
The disease caused Williams to not only miss the entire 2013 football season, it also caused him to miss the entire junior year in school.
“It was like I was dead for seven months,” Williams said. “I can’t remember a whole lot over that time. It felt almost like I was in a coma. I didn’t get to see my friends or family, I couldn’t play any sports, I wasn’t able to go to school. I really couldn’t do anything and I couldn’t remember it either.”
After being diagnosed with the disease, the Williams family flew out to Newport Beach, Calif. for a successful TVAM/angioplasty procedure performed by Dr. Michael Arata, MD, of Autonomic Specialists. The surgery was able to decompress each of Williams’ two jugular veins and a vein running through his kidney as well, producing immediate results both Williams and his family are thankful to see.
“After the angioplasty we noticed immediate improvements,” Tammy Williams said. “He started to get color back in his face, his vision started to become more vivid and he started to have thoughts race through his head again. His vision improved so much he said it was like somebody colored the sky with markers.”
Williams may not be able to recount everything that has happened over the last three years, however, now with a clear mind, one thing sticks out to him the most.
“I’m very thankful and very blessed,” Williams said. “I’ve been given a chance to do things I love again. That gives me the chance to let those who are going through the same thing know that there is a reason to stay strong and have faith. It’s a chance for me to witness and give my testimony, proving that God really is good.”
See the full article here: www.mustangpaper.com/contentitem/373686/1586/blake-williams-road-to-recover
Letter from Blake Williams received June 14, 2014, 8 months after his TVAM procedure.
“All went well after my TVAM/angioplasty procedure in Newport Beach, CA!! Normally during the angioplasty procedure, Dr. Arata only balloons 1 compressed vein in 1 jugular in the neck. I had both left & right jugulars ballooned and kidney vein ballooned. The dr. found that there was slight compression in left leg but thought the vein was large enough to allow blood flow, but to watch it in the future. Also major compression of vein in right shoulder area. This is the arm that has the constant tremor since Jan, 2013. I injured this shoulder Spring, 2010 while pitching in baseball. It ended my pitching career. Thus, excess tissue (possible scar tissue) has built up in between the clavicle & top rib bone. There isn’t enough space between these 2 bones to allow proper blood & nerve flow. Dr. Arata wanted to decompress that vein, but there is too much tissue to allow ballooning. We’ll follow up with a surgeon at home to review that area.
Improvements from TVAM can be seen right after surgery to months following. Immediate improvements are: 1) I had color in my face, I used to be pale, 2) nearsightedness is more precise & vivid; colors are as if someone has colored them in; more vibrant; possibly can see a little bit further, 3) mental fog, I had thoughts racing thru my head, rather than a dullness feeling, 4) I’m reading again with no issues!!!!!, 5) I’m not sensitive to touch; it doesn’t hurt to be touched, etc!!!! I wasn’t able to be in closed environments like malls, basketball gyms, classroom, etc. The lights, noise, smells, crowd, etc made his nauseated, have migraines, etc. I’m able to do all with no problems. Except I haven’t been back in a classroom setting since May, 2013. I wasn’t able to attend school this last year due to my illness. I’m social again going out with friends, tweeting, texting, snapchatting, etc.
I had become lifeless prior to the TVAM. Now, i have my spirit back!!! Thanks to Dr. Arata, and his wonderful staff! God is good :)” – Blake Williams