Monday, November 30, 2015

Stem cell progress update! Lots of exciting improvements! I can now move my toes on the right foot, not my ankle yet but hopefully soon! I can also now use the abductor machine at 10lbs! I have tried to use this machine many times with 0 weight and couldn't even get it to budge. Now I can do it and with 10lbs, so those muscles have finally woken up! I have also doubled in weight in 2 of the other leg machines I use. I have been struggling with 10-15lbs on them each day, but now all of sudden I am able to do 30 :)

Monday, October 19, 2015

I woke up today to discover I can now lift my right knee up!!! This is BIG!!! I can only do it 2 or 3 times before it gets tired, but I will be practicing every day!! I hope my ankle movement will return next, that's most important so I can improve my walking!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Ok these stem cells might really be kicking in now! One of the leg machines I use I have only been able to do 30lbs max, over the last few months of going to the gym 3 times a week. Today all of a sudden I am able to do 70!!!!??? I am really in shock right now to see an increase like this out of nowhere.. just 2 days ago I was struggling with 30!! I was also able to add more weight to 2 out of the other 4 leg machines I use. I can't believe it!!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

After many hours of flying I am finally HOME!!!! I was welcomed back by a surprise by friends!! They all wore green too haha!! I am so lucky to have such amazing friends and family to support me. I am happy to be home and will continue updating my progress here over the next few months whenever I notice changes!! Fingers crossed for great results :)

Friday, July 10, 2015

I MADE IT TO THE END!! I am both happy and sad to say that this journey is over and I will return home tomorrow! No more needles but I sure will miss all the amazing friends I have made here with all my heart! They made this experience enjoyable even through all the injections and headaches. Biggest thank you to my dad who has been so amazing to join me on this trip and help me out with everything. I am really lucky to have such an amazing dad. Thank you to my personal trainer Arnaldo for being an awesome pal at the gym, helping to push me to my limits and playing all that Gaga for me during our sessions haha!

Thank you to the doctors and staff at the Stem Cell Institute for making me feel so comfortable and loved! It REALLY makes a difference how scary and painful medical experiences can be when you have the right people! I will miss you all and keep you updated on my progress!!

My last day consisted of a physical therapy session and then over to the clinic for my last spinal injection and IV. Afterwards I was given a survey to fill out and got the results of my blood work, which everything was fine except my vitamin D is low. Then we did my video interview and I received 2 bottles of Stem Kine supplement. I am happy to say I had no headache after Wednesday's injection of the bone marrow stem cells so tomorrow I should feel fine during my all day journey home!

Thank you again to everyone who has followed my progress and supported me! Thank you to everyone who has kept in touch with me when my internet was working haha. I am very lucky to have been able to have the opportunity to get this done finally, and am looking forward to seeing the results!! I will keep posting on here when I notice new things, so keep an eye out! Love you all!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Internet keeps going in and out today, so I will just give a quick update before it goes out again. Had a good physical therapy session this morning and I have started packing up my things just in case I have a headache after tomorrow's inject and don't feel like packing! I am so happy tomorrow is my last day! No more needles! I have a very long day of flying on Saturday and then I will be HOME! I am very homesick and really looking forward to seeing everyone! I am also sad that tomorrow is my last day because I have to say goodbye to so many amazing people here!! We be keeping in contact though and they will be able to see my progress online at least :) Thank you to everyone who has kept in touch with me during the first few weeks when the internet was working, it really helped the time go by!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Today in physical therapy I attempted to use the bike, it was very difficult for me! My feet kept slipping off of the pedals and it was hard to keep my right knee upright.

My therapist Arnaldo assisted me but wrapping my foot with a GREEN elastic band and that really helped with my foot slipping off! By that time though my legs were already very fatigued and it was a struggle to pedal on my own so he assisted lightly with that also.

I also had my very first injections of my bone marrow derived autologous mesenchymal and CD34+ stem cells. The syringe for the IV was HUGE!!! Biggest I've ever seen haha! The needle was bigger also :( A total of 83 million stem cells were infused, and an additional 37 million through the spinal injection. I haven't gotten a headache yet which is awesome! Though the doctors did warn of possible side effects tonight, lets hope I have lucked out!

I also accidentally deleted yesterday's post and don't know how to get it back lol. Oops! There was not much to report yesterday, my legs were tired so instead of the workout I go to use the electrostimulator on my legs again.

Monday, July 6, 2015

I finally made it to my last week!! Over the weekend I was lucky enough to actually see some fireworks on the 4th, I had no idea they did that over here! And I also noticed another change, the last 4 and a half years my right ankle spasms in a way that it would bounce up and down rapidly when I pushed my foot on the ground or if my foot was being pushed against. The last few days this spasm has stopped! This is an exciting sign for me because I remember my left foot would also do the same thing right after my injury, and after the spasms finally went away I was able to move my foot a lot better! So I am very excited to see if the same is true this time around!

My legs felt strong today so I got a good 10 minutes in on the treadmill followed up by various leg exercises. My dad and I have been documenting all of exercises, weights, etc so that when I return home I can continue this at the gym each day. It feels like I am only making minor progress with the workouts, but that is due to my legs being way more fatigued from the constant spinal injections, which sometimes cause me headaches, back pain, and/or weakness. Even with all of the obstacles I am still increasing in weights, so I am super excited to see my increases over the next few months when I am able to train at my maximum and the stem cells are working their magic!

I had another spinal injection today and once again felt the pain very much! I also felt the cold a LOT more today when my back was being prepped. I still cannot feel temperature on my legs yet, but it looks like I am really gaining a lot of sensation in my lower back that I did not have before the treatments! Only 2 more spinal injections and 2 more IV infusions and I am all DONE!!

Friday, July 3, 2015

My legs were still a bit tired today but I pushed myself to get on the treadmill anyways! Plus ever since my physical therapist found out I like Gaga, he has been making playlists with all her songs to play on the gym's Bose sound system during all my sessions! How awesome is that? Great motivation while I am working out! I wanna be able to dance again one day and I know the stem cells combined with my hard work I can get to that point!!

Today was Romeo's last day! Such an amazing person and friend I have made during my stay here in Panama. I am so proud of him and excited to see his results over the next few months!

Today I also had my third injection for the week and am so happy I made it through them! Again I had a lot more pain so my sensation is for sure improving, at least in the upper areas of my back. I can even feel more of the cold when my back is being cleaned and prepped before the injections. I have 3 again next week but then that's it and I am all done! One more week, I am almost there :)

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Internet is still acting up, sorry for the late post today! My back was hurting from my injection yesterday so in my physical therapy session today I just used the electrostimulator to give my muscles a good workout while just laying down.

For dinner we went out with our new friends we made while we are here, Romeo and Jenny. Their last day is tomorrow we will miss them!! My dad treated us to dinner at a place called Jimmys and it was very yummy! I got a seafood pasta which I was very impressed with!

I have another injection tomorrow so lets hope my back doesn't get so sore afterwards again! I am already feeling much better so at least I will get to have a good sleep tonight.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Great day today! My legs felt stronger than usual, I used the treadmill today at therapy and increased from 4 sets of walking for 4 minutes at 1.7mph, to 4 and a half minutes per set. Im going to push for 5 minutes next time!

And my crutches finally arrived, my physical therapist ordered them for me and I will get to borrow them for the next 2 weeks! It will be very nice to walk around a lot more now and to give my legs that extra little workout each day.

I had another injection today and I felt the pain again like I did on Monday, which means I AM getting more feeling back already!!! I am SO excited about this, but also now I am not looking forward to getting 4 more painful injections! I only have a week and a half left here and can't wait to come home!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Some bad news, the internet seems to be acting up here at the condo. My phone won't connect to the wifi at all, and the laptop loses the wifi signal every once in a while. Hopefully it will not interfere with my postings but I will try my best! I had a very good workout today, my legs were very tired but I still managed to get some good reps in! Also focused on upper body today, I am moving up in weight!

Right after we got back home from the gym, a huge storm hit! It was super loud and intense, and was a bit scary since we are all the way up on the 15th floor!! It lasted for a few hours before it died down.

I have my next injection tomorrow and hopefully I won't have a headache afterwards! My head was fine after yesterday's injection so lets hope for the same! I will also be looking out to see if the pain of the needle is as intense as it was yesterday, if so then I really may be getting feeling back already! :)

Monday, June 29, 2015

Today I noticed a few changes!! I noticed this morning my upper right thigh had some spasms(I also noticed these on my left leg shortly before I was able to move it!). I have never had spasms there in all the years since I have been injured! Second thing I noticed was during my spinal injection today it was a lot more painful than the previous ones, which could be caused by increased sensation returning from the stem cells! I will have to see how my next injections feel to be sure first. This week and next week I will be having injections Mon, Wed, and Fri! Hopefully I won't have any more headaches though! Today in therapy I had a very good session, went on the treadmill at 1.7MPH for about 4 minutes and I was able to do it 4 times, an increase from the last time I was on the treadmill! Afterwards we worked on my chest and biceps for the rest of the session.

I am very excited to have noticed these first small changes after only 2 weeks! I can't wait to see what the next 6 months have in store for me! :)

Friday, June 26, 2015

Today I said goodbye to two amazing people who had their last day of treatment today. I am wishing the best for them and excited to see the results of their treatments over the next few months!!

I may have said goodbye to two people, but I met 3 more amazing people today! I had the honor of meeting Dr Neil Riordan who is the founder of the Stem Cell Institute, the lovely Tina Hillstrom who is also here for treatment, and Mel Gibson who is here for a family member receiving stem cell treatment! It was so wonderful to share my story with them and to see how these treatments are also helping so many others!! I had my fourth spinal injection today which also went well, and my next one will be on Monday. If I notice any changes over the weekend I will post them! I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

I really pushed my legs to the limit today! In physical therapy I wore the Bioness L300 device on my right leg(which uses electrical stimulation to lift my ankle so I am able to take steps). I got on the treadmill and was able to sustain a speed of 1.4mph for about 3-4 minutes before needed a break. I completed 5 rounds of this before my legs were totally fatigued. Will try this again next week and see if I am able to increase!

After my walking I finished the session with working on my my back and triceps and then a good stretch to end it all.

I have my next spinal injection tomorrow and I am hopeful it goes as well as my last one did, I barely had any pain during it and no headache afterwards :)

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Had a very good workout at the Biofit center today! I have noticed my legs have been tired a lot more than usual from all the physical therapy everyday, working out muscles in my legs that I normally don't use very much. We worked on upper body and abs today as well, and my balance and core seem to be in great shape. It was difficult to stand while pulling the weights down but I had my trainer there to support me.

My doctor at the stem cell institute as well as my physical therapist suggested I start taking Creatine supplement to help with my leg muscles while I am receiving the treatments and therapy.

So far everything is going great over here! My next injection is on Friday so I will be working out hard everyday until then!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

I had my bone marrow extraction procedure this morning! The worst part about the whole thing was getting the IV in haha! I was very comfortable the entire time and didn't feel anything. I had to strip down and get into my gown and they set me up on the bed face down with pillows and blankets it was very cozy! I received antibiotics through my IV and was then wheeled into the operating room. They then took my vital signs and gave me the anesthesia and before I knew it I was awake and it was all over! They gave my pain medication also so I was in no pain after I awoke and still feel good a few hours since then.

The doctors will use the extracted bone marrow from my hip to harvest autologous mesenchymal and CD34+ stem cells. These will then be injected into my spinal during my final week of treatment. I have no physical therapy today so I am going to use this day to rest up from my procedure and will be back in action tomorrow! :)

Monday, June 22, 2015

During my visit here I am meeting such amazing people from all of the world who have also traveled here to receive stem cell treatment. I'm lucky to be making friends with such inspirational people and to have others to share this experience with!

I had my third spinal injection today as well as another IV infusion. I was shocked that it is even less painless than the second time! Almost no pain or discomfort whatsoever this time around! Tomorrow I have my bone marrow extraction procedure, which is done so that my own stem cells can be harvested from my hip. I was given the pre-surgical instructions to follow and have to wake up about 5:30AM tomorrow, which anyone who knows me that is a crazy time for me to be getting up haha!!

I will explain how the procedure goes and give more details about why its being done tomorrow. Wish me luck!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Had my second injection of stem cells into my spine today and there was even less pain than the first time! And only a very minor headache afterwards this time, I barely notice it. In therapy I got to try the electrostimulator which basically works all the muscles out in my legs while I lay down! It works very similar to my Bioness device that helps my right leg for walking around.

Before my injection today we go a chance to visit the local supermarket, which thankfully mostly everything was in english and they had many of the same products as we have in the USA.

I have no visits to the Stem Cell Institute or Biofit center on weekends, so my next post will be on Monday unless I notice any changes! I hope everyone has a great weekend! :)

Thursday, June 18, 2015

I had a very nice relaxing day today, a few hours after my treatment yesterday I got a very bad headache and stayed in bed for the rest of the night. I've been drinking plenty of water and I'm feeling much better now thankfully! The doctors told me headache is a possible side effect from the needle going into my spine. Hopefully it isn't so bad after my next injection tomorrow! I've also been doing very well in my physical therapy sessions, my trainer has been assisting me with both my lower body and upper body.

I met this awesome guy who is also visiting Panama for stem cell treatment, he is a week ahead of me and is already noticing some changes! Amazing!

Let's hope I notice some changes soon also! Thank you all for your love and support, its so nice to read everyone's comments and messages. Love you all!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Had my first stem cell injections today! It was a LOT less painful than I was expecting! Sadly they asked me to not take anymore pictures inside the center but I will try my best to remember every detail. First I was brought into the room with both doctors and an assistant, and they went over the process with me. They had me sit up on the edge of the table and got my vital signs and began to clean the whole area of my back. She then put a thin yellow cover over my back and really made me feel at ease by explaining every detail of what was being done and verifying each step with me. I was then given the numbing shot in my lower back and then the needle was put in containing over 9 million of the expanded allogenic mesenchymal stem cells. The process was 4 minutes long and there was no pain except for the pinch from the numbing shot. During the 4 minute process of the injection she would talk to me and the assistant would hold me in place so that I was perfectly comfortable. After that was completed I was given a cup of water and went into the next room for my IV injection of stem cells. I was given a prescription for pain meds if needed and instructed to drink plenty of water and lay flat on my back for 3 to 4 hours when I get home, so now is my chance to finally start season 3 of orange lol :)

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

I had my first visit to the Biofit center today where I will be having my physical therapy sessions for the month. My evaluation went well, they were impressed with the amount of movement I have already. The gym was very spacious and filled with lots of quality equipment. Only got one photo of part of it, but I will get many more over the next few days and go over the exercises and machines that I will be using there.

Here is a short video of some of the sights I saw on my ride to the Biofit center. Notice McDonalds, Popeyes, and Papa Johns mmmm :)

I have my very first stem cell injection tomorrow and I am very excited(except the part where a needle is injected into my lower spine!) So check back tomorrow and see how that goes! :)

Monday, June 15, 2015

Had my very first visit to the Stem Cell Institute this morning! I met with Dr. Jorge Paz Rodriguez and had my medical evaluation and blood testing done. I also recieved my schedule for the rest of the week. Tomorrow will be my first physical therapy session and on Wednesday I will be having my first stem cell injection. It will consist of an injection into my lower spine of expanded allogenic mesenchymal stem cells. These cells are found in umbilical cord blood and have the ability to turn into a wide variety of other cells(in my case, neurons and other important cells in my spine to help repair the connections between my brain and lower body that are damaged). Everyone on the staff was extremely pleasant and made me feel very comfortable and welcome.

I was tired last night so I didn't get a chance to give everyone a tour of our living conditions. It is called La Gaviota and is very close by to the Stem Cell Institute as well as lots of yummy places to eat(they have KFC and Taco Bell OMG!) and a grocery store. There is also a mall in walking distance and a casino ;)

The Stem Cell Institute also provided us with a cell phone and contact list so if we have any needs at all they will be taken care of and if we need transportation to and from anywhere!

And here is a quick walk through of our place:

I am very impressed with everything here so far! More to come tomorrow :)

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Made it to Panama safely!! And I must say I am VERY impressed! Everything is very high tech and modern, and everyone here has been so pleasant and helpful! We were welcomed at the gate with VIP service who helped us with all our bags and a driver picked us up and took us to our condo(super spacious and fully furnished!) We were greeted by our accommodations manager William, and he showed us inside and helped us out with anything and everything possible! I have my first appointment tomorrow morning and I am super tired after a long day of traveling so I will update a lot more tomorrow :)

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Hi everyone!! I will be using this page to document my trip to Panama and the progress I make from the Stem Cell treatment. I fly out on June 14th so bookmark this page and check back soon to follow me on this journey!!

Here I have created a video showing the current struggles with my injury as of April 2015, this way everyone can see the exact results and improvements I gain from the Stem Cell treatment:

I will be in Panama for close to a month and will share my progress and updates daily! I look forward to going on this life changing adventure and sharing it with all of you!

Much love,