Monday, June 24, 2013


 Last week I told you about my arrival in Panama for a Stem Cell Treatment for secondary progressive multiple sclerosis.

Notice that I did not capitalize one word of my little companion; I guess I just don’t have much respect for this pest.

June 14th, 2010...the official start of this amazing Stem Cell Journey, and the day that Dr. Fernandez came to where I was staying and took an enormous amount of blood. Why, you ask, did he come to my hotel instead of me going to the clinic? At the time, the clinic was searching for a new location because they were bursting at the seams! So it was easier to do it this way. Now, the blood draw is done at the clinic because they have a much larger facility. The purpose of taking so much blood: the standard tests, but also, the Stem Cells would eventually be delivered to me in my own plasma.
The next day, my medical driver picked me up to go to my first appointment at the clinic. Now I knew that the clinic was located at the Hospital Punta Pacifica, so associated with them. The surprise I got as we drew near to the hospital were the words on the Hospital itself….Johns Hopkins International Medicine. I began to cry with joy.

This was real and I knew without a doubt in that moment that my life would never be the same. The
clinic has since moved to a much larger space outside the Hospital but there is still an association.
Remember that my treatment was scheduled for a month. That length of time is no longer the protocol for Multiple Sclerosis at the clinic that I go to. I have to say that the protocol seems to change all the time…What works best? That is the question. So during that month, I had a mini lipo. From the time we are born to about age 5 (as explained in the book “The Cells that Heal Us From Cradle to Grave” by Dr. Roger Nocera) our bodies store young, powerful Stem Cells in our little bellies. About a pound or less of fat is extracted and sent to the Lab where it is processed and Stem Cells are extracted and tested for viability. I had the opportunity during the month to visit the state of the art MediStem Lab which was quite impressive. During the last week of my stay, my own adipose fat Stem Cells were returned to me via a small IV, called a push.

I also had a treatment that is no longer the protocol for MS: intrathecals, or spinal injections. These spinal injections contained Mesenchymal Stem Cells from donated, healthy Umbilical Cords which were thoroughly tested at the lab. I still get these Stem Cells but not through the spine anymore. I receive them through a small IV, a push. I have to admit that I am not complaining.

I also had Physical Therapy every weekday for 4 weeks. The purpose is for the obvious reason but here is the most important reason for PT: the new Stem Cells must be moved in order to do their work. If new Stem Cells just sit in the body, they will not get to where they are needed. There is no guarantee that they will get where they are needed anyway, but moving them is the only way to get the possibility of that repair to old damage, about 65%.

After an MS patient receives Stem Cells in this treatment, the immune system is modified for a period of up to 9 months. That means 2 things; the disease cannot progress for how ever long the modification period is and the patient (ME in this case) have enormous energy and feel great! Oh my gosh, I was a machine!

Now for the fun stuff…what weird new things were happening to me as I was receiving these new Stem Cells? The first thing that happened was that I suddenly did not need my 1.5 reading glasses anymore. When I put them on, I got such a headache it was ridiculous. 3 years later I can still read the tiniest print. Second, my medical driver always picked me up in a van. It was always a bit of a struggle getting in that van. One day, I just climbed in like a kid…no issues. That same day, when I was getting out to go to PT, I leapt out of that van, ignoring the steps. I just did not think about it and when I turned back to look at my daughter, she and my driver looked incredulous. Third, I suddenly could kneel down to plug in my computer. Well, kneeling down had gone the way of the rotary phone about 15 years before I got to Panama. When I got home, I could kneel down and pet my dog, pick up something that had fallen…whatever. Fourth, I had a pretty excruciating pain running under the right foot. I was finding it difficult to put pressure on that foot. Just for reference, my right side is the most affected side. Well that pain went away sometime during the month. Fifth, the bladder, the bladder, the bladder. I went to Panama with the front pocket of my suitcase packed with pads for incontinence. Three years later, I have not bought another package. My bladder got fixed during that month. And finally, my legs got stronger. That scooter order that I had in the works before I left for the treatment? Well, I cancelled that. I can stand up for a long time now, I can cook again. I don’t have to sit down after a minute on my feet anymore. I think the first treatment was a homerun!

Next week, I am going to tell you what happened when I got home. I hope you will join me!