Friday, November 16, 2012

2012 Final Update

As 2012 comes to an end, I thought I would post an update. As many of you know, I am coaching again - something I thought I would never do again since retiring from coaching in 2010 - I am amazed how much I have improved - sometimes you forget how far down you were down because you simply get used to being that way. A year ago I was wearing a foot/ankle brace to help with the foot drop on my left leg - I had a walker at the house and needed to use it more than I wanted to - my pride was too big to think I had to use it all of the time. I shuffled around the house from wall to furniture just to get to "my chair", so I could get some work done on the laptop. I remember all of that and can tell I am so much better now - no brace, no walker, no shuffling - walking, working, and even jumping rope!

But what I didn't realize was what I looked like in 2010 - I knew I was better than I was a year ago, but how about when I took my first trip to Panama in June of 2010? Well I was looking back through some of my pictures from my Panama trips and I found these video clips from that first trip. These are clips from my physical therapy work with Ivan at the Bio-Fit clinic. You can see I could barely walk on my knees without falling over and how unsteady and stiff I was.

So for anyone who wonders if stem cells and the grace of our God really make a difference, just let these videos tell the story. This last video is of my present status (Nov 2012). I never thought I would be able to jump rope again, never thought I would walk normal again, and never thought I would coach again - I obviously didn't have enough faith - so I am so thankful that God decided He would smile on me even though I had given up on some of those dreams. I am better in 2012 than I have been in probably 4 or 5 years!

This graciousness and goodness bestowed on me has made me realize I have a bigger mission than coaching football - I used to think that was my mission - now I realize I am here for a bigger cause - to help others not lose Hope and not lose Faith as they are facing difficult situations.

Each week I meet and talk with someone about my journey as they are facing a similar dire situation - I get more satisfaction from that than I ever got from winning state championships (the crazy thing about those state championships - we never got satisfaction from them - we would immediately start thinking "how can we do it again"!) That's a whole new blog, so I won't get into my realization of how true Solomon was in his book, Ecclesiastes.

I simply say thanks to our gracious God, thanks to the Stem Cell Institute in Panama City, and thanks to all of you dear friends who have prayed for me and cared about my health - you are the Best! May God bless all of you!

Love you all,

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Great Day in Ft Worth for Stem Cell team

Saturday, March 31 was the annual MS Walk in Ft Worth. This year, thanks to the Stem Cell Institute and some of the area stem cell patients, several of us MS sufferers and stem cell patients met for the Walk. Here's a picture of several of us who have been to Panama, or Costa Rica, for treatments - (from L - R) Richard, Carolyn, Shelley, Carla, Judi, Holly, and me.

We wanted to give the Stem Cell Institute a presence in that sea of MS victims and caregivers. I wish all of them knew that many of us in those blue t-shirts were there walking, actually completing the whole mile, even though we were once unable to do such. I wanted to grab that microphone that the organizers were using and tell all of them "There is HOPE - it doesn't have to be what you hear from your doctors so often. It can be more than 'Let's keep taking this medication so you might get worse at a slower rate' "

I personally never heard about the possibility of actually improving when I went to good doctors here in the US - but I chose to try the Stem Cell treatment in Panama, and I walked that mile on Saturday! A year ago, six months ago, I couldn't have done that - but after my third trip to Panama in September, my walking, my balance, and my stamina all improved dramatically. And many of those in our group on Saturday have a similar story; some results more dramatic than others, but most all of us have seen and felt the changes that give us that Hope that all of those sufferers at the Walk are looking for.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

2012 Update

Well, I realize there may not be many readers of my Panama blog any longer, but just in case someone does return, I wanted to post an important update.

In March 2011 when I returned from my second trip to Panama (my last blog), I soon had a MS relapse. It was the biggest setback I had experienced since my diagnosis. I spent a week in the hospital in Dallas and had numbness from my toes to my chest. When I got home, I was better - the steroids had made the numbness go down to just my lower legs, but I was practically home bound - used a walker or cane most of the time and spent most hours sitting in a chair at home - feeling like this was going to be my lifestyle for the rest of my days!

Even after going to physical therapy and doing everything I was supposed to be doing, my progress was minimal. I was fitted with a brace for my left leg to help the foot drop that was causing me to stumble. My mobility was very limited and I needed help getting most anywhere. I could not hold my new grandson unless I was sitting down, and I couldn't walk across the room without thinking about each move.

In September of 2011 I went back to Panama for a short visit to get what Dr. Paz called a "little booster." My mom went with me for this third trip - we stayed in the hotel by the MultiPlaza mall and had a good time since it was mom's first trip to Panama. But the best news was what happened once we returned.

I had begun a daily log of my condition weeks before I went to Panama - mainly measuring and logging my walking and mobility - here are the exact numbers leading up to my trip and once I got back - these numbers are coming straight from my calendar log - (on a scale of 1 - 10 - how well am I'm getting around):
5,4,5,4,5,5,5,5,5+,5,(panama), 5,5+,5+,6,6,6,
7,8,6,7,7,8,7,8,8,6,6,6,7,8,7,7,8,8,8,8,8,8,7,7,7,7,8,8,8,7(end of Oct)
7+,8+8,7+,7+,7,7+,7+,8,8,7+,8,8,7+,7,7+,7,7,7+8,8+,7+,7+,8,7+,7+,7+,7,7+,7 (Dec)

I know these numbers don't mean a great deal to you, but they are huge to me - the difference in getting around at about a 5 compared to 7 & 8 is really big - numbers don't do it justice. My mobility is MUCH improved - I don't need the brace any longer, I walk like a normal person until I get tired, I can stay on my feet longer, I can jump rope again, I can stand and walk with my grandson in my arms, I don't have to think to walk from one place to another, and even Kathy sees a huge difference (she has been a little hesitant about the good of stem cells).

So I am very excited and encouraged about my improvements. I can live a fairly normal life right now. And I don't know if it's the stem cells that made the difference or simply God's grace and favor, but I do know it all happened right around the 3rd trip to Panama, so the stem cells had something to do with it. As I have said numerous times before, maybe God is using the stem cells to help me just as He used the Jordan River to heal Naaman's leprosy after he dipped in it seven times.

But I do want to say this - all of these news shows (60 Minutes, 20/20, etc) coming from the US, that keep saying there are no benefits to stem cell treatments, are only showing you what the FDA and US drug companies want them to say. They have not talked to me, or Richard Humphries, or Preston Walker or many others who have seen dramatic results - we are not healed, but our quality of life is greatly improved and many people are witnessing it. (Now that I am better and getting out, people in town constantly say, "I can't believe how well you look and how good you are doing.")

Don't listen to those media shows and don't just listen to me - come see the difference!

Thanks again to all who have helped and have been encouraging in my quest to overcome this disabling disease. I encourage all of you to take your health issues into your own hands - be pro-active. What do you have to lose? Many of you may be thinking just like I was - if I do nothing, I know where I will be in 3 years.

One last bit of information - the clinic in Panama is having good but maybe mixed results with MS treatments, but they are whipping, yes whipping, arthritis! If you have a friend or loved one who is dealing with arthritis and the doctors here have said, "your only hope of being mobile again is knee replacements and/or hip replacements", then you owe it to your friend or yourself to call me or get in touch with the stem cell clinic. What do yo have to lose? There are no side effects or dangers to stem cell treatments. Do it today!

Stay Strong!
Sam Harrell

972 268-3894 (website)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Ultima dia - Last Day

We are flying back to Texas tomorrow, so this will probably be our last blog. Thank you for reading, and I hope it has given you a little better idea of what's going on here with the treatments and with Panama City. It's a very interesting city that you need to visit someday.

I definitely want to say thanks to Jack & Jean for making the trip with me again. They were great! I felt like they spent most of their time walking to Super 99 and Super Kosher and preparing meals - Jean would always fix meals that were "legal" on the Bio-Fit eating plan. It's not a diet because if you follow it, you will be eating healthy and eating all day! I could have never made it without them. I hope we can return one day simply to eat at Napolis and chase raspado vendors - Jean's two "must do's"!

I also want to say thanks to all of the wonderful folks who made these stem cell treatments possible. So many incredible coaches and friends across the state and many great folks from Ennis and Ellis Co all made it possible by giving to the Foundation of Hope last year. You were so generous that your gifts funded the trip in June and this second trip, and I would have not made either one without you. We called it Foundation of Hope because you have put Hope back in my life, and I will be forever grateful!

I am also thankful for Dr. Davis and others who created the Foundation and who are still managing it and looking to do more through it. Our hope is for Steve and me to be at the next fund raising event and to jog up to the podium this time so you can be a witness to what these treatments have done for us, and we can all raise more funds for others who have been struck with MS.

I want to say thanks and bid farewell to my friends in Panama at the clinic and at Bio-Fit - Dr. Herrero, Dr. Hernandez, Dr. Paz, Dr. Randy, nurse Santamaria, nurse Tamara, Samantha, Vivianne, Silvia, Yelena, both Robertos, our drivers, Lou, Senor Jarvier, Dick, and the others at Bio-fit, and to Luis, the best taxi man in Panama. I'm looking forward to coming home, but it was still a little sad leaving those people today - this being the second visit made them all feel like good friends.

After my last injection today, I came back to lie flat for the 2 1/2 hours, and then we went to the Multi-Plaza Mall to eat our final dinner in Panama. Jack got pizza, Jean got sushi, and I got KFC - sounds like some true Panamanian food, doesn't it. We're ready for some good Texas barbeque and Mexican food.

Thanks again for everything - love to all!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A New View and a New Treat

Well, our little trip to find raspados was quite enjoyable and enlightening. Luis, our favorite taxi driver, took us to find a street vendor then he took us to the park that is below us and next to the ocean.(see the video first for this view - this video is at the bottom of the blog) We've been looking at this park from the 22nd floor and when you get down there, it is much larger and very nice. Plus when you get down there everything else looks bigger and different.

For istance, we didn't realize the Trump Tower was so large and was concave shaped. We also got a picture from this new angle of the island with the white "house" on it; plus a shot of the ships waiting in line for entrance to the Canal; some more Frigate birds swooping around looking for some birds with food; a shot of people playing in the park; and a photo of the rough rocks that are all along the shoreline (now we know why we don't ever see kids jumping in the water down there).

Now, back to those delicious raspados. You see the vendor making one - he puts the snow-cone cup in his ice shaver, flips it over with one flick of his wrist, and begins scraping the ice - it takes him about 10 seconds to fill that cup. Then you choose your flavor - the best one was maracuya - Luis told us that was the best flavor and he was right. Not sure you can see the condensed milk swirled around on top of Jean's maracuya, but it's there and it was good.

This blog entry is free - no charge - your extra entry for the day. I wanted to give you a feel of what we saw from the park, and I wanted you to know what it was like to find the raspados vendor. This one didn't have his umbrella up because it wasn't too sunny, but the raspados were still good - just didn't get the full affect of chasing down a vendor with his umbrella. You definitely need to put raspados on your "must do" list for your trip to Panama - and don't forget maracuya is The Flavor.

More Panamanian Meandering

Do you remember the guys working on the scaffold and painting the building next to us? Well, we got a picture of them pulling their scaffold up in place. Look at this guy - he's sitting on a ledge at the top of the building, leaning over, pulling this rope, one leg dangling off as if he's watching Frigate birds and drinking coffee - and he's about 25 stories high (that's the building in the next picture after they are on the scaffold)!

Also got a picture of Lou, my trainer at Bio-Fit - it's Lou, me, and Dick who worked with me some last year and is still a trainer there. Also got a picture of school kids walking down the street, going home. Remember the kids in public school go for half a day each day - some in the morning and others in the afternoon. Their 3 month break (summer break) just ended at March - they were off from Dec - Feb - that's part of the dry season, and it's always warm here so climate doesn't matter.

The last picture is one of a huge ship (cruise ship, we think) that sailed into the area much closer than any ship has ever come. It's in the area of the Panama Canal entrance, but it turned right toward us then dropped anchor and sat still for about 15 minutes. Jean thought it was a cruise ship with someone who got sick, so they came closer and dropped them off. Jack thought that was ridiculous - he surmised it was a cruise ship that only wanted to float around instead of "sit in line" at the canal. Neither one wanted to think the other scenario was remotely possible. I simply thought their conversation was better than a Seinfeld episode.

Finally, I want to review my last book of the trip. I finished Andy Andrews' The Traveler's Gift last night, and it was an very good read. It's one that I can recommend for Penny (Boston); she always likes to hear about good books, but I knew I needed to get something different than a basketball book and a criminal, drug-lord book for her to like (or she might quit reading my book reviews - librarians are a tough sell on books). The Traveler's Gift is very good - it combines a present-day story, with some known people in history, with some great life lessons. Penny, it's probably not as good as Same Kind of Different As Me, so don't hold me to that level every time.

We are planning on going out on the street this afternoon to find one of the street vendors who sells raspados - Panamanian snow cone - it has shaved ice with your choice of various flavors and condensed milk! I know that sounds horrible (with that condensed milk), but everyone just raves about them and says you must get one. So "find raspados" has been on our "must do" list, and our time is running short for our "must do's". We thought we better do it today since tomorrow is an injection day, and I won't have the afternoon to chase down some street vendor, riding a bicycle with an umbrella and selling day-old condensed milk poured over some fruit flavored ice! (I'll send a picture tomorrow)

Tomorrow is our last day of treatments, so our stay is about over. It's gone quickly. I'm ready for those "LaBron" stem cells to kick in.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

SCI staff and the Trifecta

I finally remembered to take the camera to the clinic, so I wanted to "introduce" you to the staff at the Stem Cell Institute. As I told you before they have a new, larger clinic this year and more people working at the clinic.

At the front of the office is Jelana, the receptionist. She's very friendly and speaks to me in Spanish each time I arrive for me to practice mi Espanol. Once you go past that room, you see Samantha and Vivianne - they are the coordinators of your stay here - setting up your PT times and your clinic times and coordinating the drivers to deliver you to both places.

You go back to a treatment room to get your spinal injections and that's where these three doctors and nurses are - you see nurse Santamaria, me, Dr. Herrero, and Dr. Bowen, before I get my injection today.

I got the Trifecta today so I thought I would snap these other pictures of the treatment. I didn't give you the spinal view, but I do show you the syringe that holds the stem cell mixture that they inject into my spinal fluid. This one syringe has between 7 - 10 million stem cells in it. Then I show you the IV photo with the syringe of stem cells (another 7 - 10 million) - Dr. Hernandez is administering this IV. And I have a picture of the booster shot in my leg. So you get the complete Trifecta in living color.

There are several new patients who arrived this week, and I have met them at the clinic or at Bio-Fit. Kyle from Enid, Oklahoma is here for MS treatments - he has his wife and FIVE children (all under age 11) with him. His wife may volunteer for the PT and injections before their four weeks are up. He's really nice and I sure am praying for him to see some improvements.

Then we have the Texas connection. Ken from Ft. Worth is here for MS treatments; another man and his mom are here with his young son who is being treated for autism and they are from Amarillo; another couple is here from DeLeon; and then one more couple, from Beeville, is here for his arthritis treatments. So it's been good meeting all of them and being able to reassure them that everything at the clinic and Bio-Fit is good and done right.

My prayers go out for all of these families - that God may use these stem cells as His instrument to help these people with these disabling diseases. As I have said before, I know God doesn't need stem cells to heal people, but He also didn't need the Jordan river to heal Naaman yet He had Naaman dip himself seven times in the river before removing his leprosy.

We're all walking by Faith!