We have so much to be thankful for this year. I have experienced some remarkable changes in what my body is feeling and able to accomplish. All of which is due to the the stem cell treatments Dr. Shroff and Dr. Ashish have given me on the two trips we took to India in the past year and the associated physical therapy I’ve subjected my body and mind to. I am extremely thankful for my beautiful, loving, kind, supportive, remarkably-adaptive wife, Kathy. Without her I am nothing. If she hadn’t been there for me I wouldn’t have gone to India and been a part of Dr. Shroff’s incredible program. For our two kids, Megan and Kari, who have been right there throughout this process, along with Megan’s husband Jeff, pushing us forward and helping when we need it. What amazing adults our kids have grown up to be. For Kathy’s parents, Les and Helen Dotson, and our brother, Kirk, without your love and financial support we wouldn’t have been able to undertake this journey and experienced the outstanding results from it. For the love and help my family has given us, my mom Ramona, and my dad Eddie and his wife Shara. And for all of you; our relatives, friends, co-workers, acquaintances, and strangers, who have done so much. The donations, friendship, and support you have provided is overwhelming, and has inspired me to work hard so I can obtain the maximum benefits from these treatments. It has been truly unbelievable to have received so much from so many. Thank you! We are truly blessed.
It’s impossible to contemplate that just a year ago we were making the final preparations for our first trip to India. God, time has gone by so fast. So much has happened this last year. I reflect on what has transpired and reread our past postings, refreshing my memory as to what we have experienced and done. Who would have even thought we would do and see what we have, not just in India, but also here in the the US. Our lives have been irrevocably changed. We will never be able to look at the world in the same light as we once did. Reflecting on being a part of something so amazing as to think it quite possibly will change the way spinal cord injuries can and will be treated in the future is mind-blowing. In our lifetime there will be incredible progress in the way stem cells will be used to treat an array of diseases, injuries, and afflictions. Knowing we were a part of this transformation is so cool. I only wish I could have had the opportunity to receive stem cells when I got hurt or soon after. I wonder what my life could have been like had I been given the opportunity to receive stem cell therapy soon after my injury. Our lives are full of “what ifs” and it does me no good to think this way, but it is human nature to ponder these variables and contemplate how they could relate to the life we have lived.
I recently received an e-mail from my friend Amanda Boxtel. She was in India for her fourth round of stem cell treatments and will be home, to Basalt, Colorado, on Thanksgiving Day. Amanda sends updates to legions of people who follow her on her journey to recover function lost in skiing accident 15+ years ago. These updates keep us apprised of the progress she is experiencing and of all of the small things that make up spending time in India undergoing stem cell therapy. I aspire to emulate Amanda’s positive frame of mind and attitude. She attempts to provide the best possible environment for the stem cells she receives, so they can grow and develop, repairing the damage in her body. I too want to give myself every advantage so I can get the most from the stem cells I have been given. Amanda is an inspiration to all of us with spinal cord injuries who have chosen to go to India because of her and have Dr. Shroff help us get better through her program. I am indebted to Amanda for being the first patient from the US to go to India and for being such a strong, positive advocate for stem cell therapy and research. I can only hope with the change in presidential administrations that we will see a shift in the support, funding, and participation of stem cell programs and therapies. The United States is a long way behind other countries in the pursuit of unlocking the potential of these cells, and providing treatments to those who can benefit from the use of them.
Our daughter Megan, recently commented in the blog about making sure I clarify our upcoming fund raiser, the “Phantom Ball”, so people understand that there won’t be an actual ball for invitees to attend. The whole concept of Phantom Ball was to afford people the opportunity to donate money to our stem cell fund without them having to dress up, go out on the town, and attend another fund raiser during the already busy and hectic holidays. As previously stated, we need to target a large number of people to raise the necessary funds for our next planned trip in late January. Our goal is $30,000. Only by appealing to previous donors and the general public, can we hope to attain this goal. We won’t be able to send an invitation to everyone, so if you don’t receive one it’s not because we forgot, it’s because that’s just the way it is, and we would appreciate your help immensely, so please donate anyway. We need every dollar we can get. Thank you!
I am continuing to progress while walking in the parallel bars with crutches. Bruce and I can definitely see that my ability to stand and walk is becoming easier and that the sequences involved are smoother than before, even though in a video of my actions they seem pretty jerky. My confidence has risen over the earlier attempts in which I struggled greatly. Our plan is to continue working on improving my strength, balance, and technique. I think over time I can lengthen the time I am upright walking with a walker, that is the logical progression unless something dramatic happens with my abilities and I am able to gain and control more muscles, coordinating my lower limbs to ambulate better. Walking with crutches is going to be confined to the parallel bars, even though we are going to attempt walking outside of them this week. I am excited to try this, but am filled with anxiety
about the thought of doing so. We tried to stand from sitting on an exercise table and when Bruce lifted up on the back of my pants, as I stood, we almost caused me to do a face plant on the floor. Once I finally became stable (as stable as I was going to get), I couldn’t do anything else. There was no safety net, like the parallel bars give me. It felt like I was a deer caught in the headlights of an onrushing car, frozen where I stood. I can’t foresee transferring from my chair onto the crutches as a viable means of locomotion, at least with a walker I can ambulate on my own, not so with crutches. Man, this walking is a long, slow process.
We hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving. Peace be with you!
Deer in the fields on Thanksgiving Day!