The previous post was of the invitation to our “Phantom Ball” we mailed out as the fund raiser we currently doing. So far the response has been favorable. Since this process is just beginning we are tempering our expectations with realism of the current economic situation. We hope and pray that our community, friends, co-workers, and relatives will help us in obtaining our goals for raising the necessary money to journey back to India in January. We tried to get as many people as possible involved in the efforts to raise the monies to fund this next trip to India and still not impose on their time as they try to squeeze all of the holiday happenings into their schedules. We want to thank everyone for their generosity and support in this time of turmoil and uncertainty. We are truly blessed to have so many people supporting and helping us.
I ask that anyone with air miles on United and Continental to please donate them to us, or buy the tickets in our names, please contact us for the dates and times It is important that we fly from Newark, NJ to New Delhi,(on Continental) and back again in Business Class. My feet swelled terribly on our first trip, I also developed pressure sores on both heels. Thankfully we were able to get upgraded on the second trip, to and from, so I was able to get my feet up… This helps reduce the swelling that takes place from sitting so long, and also reduces the possibility of developing blood clots from the reduced circulation in my legs.
We had a nice Thanksgiving, spending the day with Kathy’s family in Rifle. Now we are attempting to get through the commercial onslaught about Christmas without going crazy. Funny how as a child you looked so forward to the holidays, with the time out of school, the presents, all of the good food to eat, and time to unwind, decompress from the pressures of life. Now I tend to cringe at the thought of another holiday season thrust upon me by the vast publicity conglomerates hammering me to buy their products so I can prove how much I love my family based on what I can buy them. If I can’t afford whatever I need to buy, no problem, you can just charge it! Talk about sensory overload. After spending last Christmas in India I am able to reassess my priorities and conclude that the love of my wife and family is the greatest gift I can ever have and all I aspire for. The support they have given me throughout my life, and especially since I’ve been injured, is truly inspirational. I am a lucky man to have so much, given so readily by those who love me. I thank God for allowing me to share in their lives.
Upon reflection, comparing this last year to the present, and what it has meant to us, I feel as though I must be dreaming because my life seems so surreal. My life is like a movie I’m watching instead of what I’m actually living. We spent last Christmas and New Years making new friends with our fellow patients at NuTech MediWorld, learning all of the exotic names of our Indian doctors, sisters, therapists, and hospital workers, and marveling at the hope this far off, exotic place and its people, had given us There were so many unknowns when we first went to India. We were terrified! Now, all of those things that seemed so overwhelming and enormously impossible, aren’t so daunting or important. The people at the hospital embraced us, helping us to cope and understand what we needed in order to function in their society. Dr. Shroff and Dr Ashish, with the help of their staffs, gave so much of themselves so we could be there and take part in their remarkable program with the hope of regaining some of our lost function, and to share in and learn about the intricacies of Indian culture. For that we are eternally grateful.
Reading e-mails from our friends, who are either in India now or have been there recently, serve as a reminder as to why we are doing this and motivate us to go back. This is the only unfortunate aspect of this journey, having to travel half way around the world to receive these treatments. Kathy and I recently attended a seminar on stem cells at Mesa College,(the local college). There a doctor from Denver gave a talk on the progress research teams at the University of Colorado Health Science College are making on developing workable stem cell treatments for a variety of injuries and diseases. There has been some remarkable advances, especially in eye injuries and cornea regrowth, and treatment of burn victims through regrowth of their own cultured skin. It was amazing. The most revelling aspect of their work was that every research team was trying to replicate embryonic stem cells through some form of DNA manipulation, mutation, and culturing. They understand that the answers lie in the use of embryonic stem cells, not in other types of stem cells, they just need to unlock their secrets and develop their potential. Granted they were using specific types of stem cells to grow specific tissues, but they know the greatest strides will be made in the utilization of embryonic stem cells, or cells replicating them When the doctor was asked when we might see clinical trials utilizing stem cells, he answered that because we were in the midst of a stem cell revolution and because things were advancing so rapidly, “exploding” was the term he used, that it would only be a few years before we would see something. He wouldn’t quantify what a “few years” might be. All of this just reinforced our decision to go to India and get Dr. Shroff’s help as I will be too old to be able to do the necessary rehab if we wait for help here in the US. Sad, but true.
There isn’t much to report on from the therapy standpoint. Bruce and I continue to work on my flexibility, strength, endurance, and walking. Recently we experimented walking with my crutches on the outside of the parallel bars. This entails narrowing the distance between the bars so my legs and braces remain within the confines of the bars, but the crutches are outside of the bar’s envelope. This takes away some of my dependence on leaning the crutches against the bars for balance and to contain the outward motion of my weight shift when I advance each foot when taking a step. I can’t believe how much tougher this made taking a step, nor how much it emphasized the amount of weight I was exerting on the bars for balance and support. With the parallel bars narrowed there isn’t much room for my legs and the leg-braces, consequently I wasn’t getting enough clearance between the braces for them to clear one another when I took a step. If it isn’t one thing it is another. We are in a constant state of flux, changing to trying and find the right combination of things so I can walk, but at the same time maintain the best body posture possible. I’ll bet you never knew walking could be so complicated. No wonder I don’t do a very good job of it. Too many things to remember and coordinate. We work at this until I’m soaked, my hands hurting too bad to continue from supporting my weight instead of my legs doing the work. I can’t believe how much energy I have to expend to move such a short distance, I’m thankful when we finally quit for the day. I feel like I’d never done this before, everything seems so foreign. Amazing how changing a simple aspect of the routine can cause such different, difficult results. God grant me patience and strength.
There have been a couple of new or changing sensations in my body. I noticed my upper right thigh muscles, next to the hip joint and groin area, seem really tight, like the muscle is constantly expanded, and feels really heavy. I can tighten my abs and butt muscles, (at least it feels like the muscles tighten), and my thigh muscles feel like they contract and tighten too, with each contraction of my abs and buttocks. When I watch my muscles, as I attempt this, there is no movement in the thigh muscle. This is so strange, to have these feelings, but have no movement. The only thing I can figure out is that all of the sensation must be from the associated nerves and not the actual muscle, but I can “feel” the muscle moving. These are the same sensations that I feel in my other muscles when I try to move them, or when they are being manipulated. So odd to have this sensation of your muscles moving, contracting, but the limb or body part doesn’t move, yet the nerves are telling me it is. At least there is something happening, no matter how mind boggling and confusing it is.
We have started planning and organizing the things we need accomplish and get ready for this upcoming trip. It’s only a little over a month away. Many have asked whether or not the recent events in Mumbai will keep us from returning to India. I’d be lying if I said that we hadn’t thought a lot about this, but until the US government comes out and advises against travelling to India, then we must go back. We really don’t have much choice if we want to see continued progress. India is the only place we feel gives us the hope we need.
Christmas will be upon us so soon. If I don’t get this blog updated before it gets here, we want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! We pray this holiday season is a joyous one, and a safe one. We want to thank everyone for everything they have done to support and help us in this past year, and the new one soon to be here. Peace be with all!
PS. No Blog Master oversight again, hope I used enough commas!