Jonathon Bodnaryk heard the call of duty and enlisted in the Canadian Armed Forces in 2005.
In 2006, after completing basic training he did a tour in Afghanistan with 1st Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment, Charles Company, 2005-2008.
Since his return health problems have plagued Bodnaryk, including a back which needs repair, repair he wants to have done in Germany.
Having the work done in Germany will mean Bodnaryk will face costs not covered by either Sask Health, or Veteran’s Affairs, so a fund-raising steak supper will be held at Tapp’s Brewing Co Ltd Feb. 8.
To understand Bodnaryk’s situation, his mother Susanne Mitchell said it is important to understand his tour with the infantry.
To begin with Mitchell said her son “is very flat-footed,” a situation which was not the best for an infantry soldier.
“He got stress fractures in his shins,” she said. “Since he’s been back he’s needed both knees fixed.
“All of this played a role in his back.”
As did regular patrols carrying 120 to 170 pounds of equipment on his back during his tour.
Veterans Affairs Canada has assisted him in seeing neurologists and specialists at the Spine Pathway clinic in Saskatoon, but there are no further therapies the Canadian medical system can offer. He cannot sit or stand for very long and he loses feeling in his legs resulting in frequent falls. Lying in bed seems to help, and he needs to use a cane to help him when the pain is extreme as well as to help prevent falling, explained Mitchell.
In terms of Bodnaryk’s back Mitchell said he has been found to have “two degenerative discs” and a third one has been compressed.”
The discs need attention. Bodnaryk has been accepted as a candidate for lumbar disc replacement surgery in Germany. This surgery is not available in North America and has been done successfully in Germany for approximately 15 years.
His doctor supports his decision to have this surgery but the surgery is not covered by Veterans Affairs or Health Canada, explained Mitchell.
So why go to Germany?
“It’s the leading place for back surgeries, and John has looked at all the options,” she said.
Generally the method of treating such disc issues it to fuse them, explained Mitchell.
But at the German clinic Bodnaryk wants to go to, the discs are actually replaced.
Disc replacement “is relatively new in Canada,” said Mitchell, adding it is only done in Ontario and British Columbia, and while that would be a cheaper option, they guarantee the discs for only 15 years, while in Germany it is 90.
“The clinic (in Germany) he is going to is the engineer of the discs,” said Mitchell. “They have years of doing this kind of surgery.
“Me, as a mom, I want to send him to the best qualified place.”
Mitchell said while her son has one more test to undergo, a 3D MRI of his back and spine, if it goes as expected they hope to be in Germany by April, or May.