Friday, May 28, 2010

One week - One more change

We leave in 8 days and I'm excited about the trip. Steve and Suzie Betik are down there right now, and Suzie has been sending back informative and positive updates. Steve has had 2 injections of stem cells at this time so I can't wait to hear how he keeps doing.

We have had one more slight change in our plans. I will now be staying for 4 weeks instead of 2 weeks. They offer both protocols and you can basically choose either - they sometimes will recommend one depending on your condition. They had left that decision up to me saying both treatments are good and people see good results from both. The one difference they did point out was that more people return for a second trip who do the 2 week treatment. Well, that makes sense, and I didn't really have a reason not to stay for the longer period. So after listening to several friends and concerned ones, I have decided to stay 4 weeks - leave on June 5th and return on July 3rd.

I will have 8 injections and 2 infusions of stem cells and 15 days of fairly rigorous physical therapy. They are big on helping you get your strength, balance, and cardio back to a good level, and with MS that is important.

Not much more to tell until we get to Panama City, so check back around June 6th.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Less than a month from departure

Yes, I am going to Panama City, Panama for stem cell treatments for my MS. We leave on Saturday, June 5th and return on June 20th. Kathy is going with me.

We were scheduled to go to Costa Rica for these treatments but the ICM clinic switched us to their Panama City clinic. The clinics are run by the same group, have the same procedure, and are practically the same. They simply have two sites, and now we are going to the Panama site. No big deal - just a little further south. The US dollar is the national currency in Panama so that may be even better.

Some people suffering from MS have had good results with their MS treatments here in the US - there are more people than I ever knew who have MS and who are managing well - and for those people I am very happy because it can be a very ugly disease. For me, the current treatments have not had quite the same effectiveness. My symptoms and disabilities are not totally disabling yet, but they continue to go downhill. I am definitely worse than I was 6 months ago. So that is the reason I am going outside the US for treatments.

Adult stem cell treatments are not approved in the US yet (trials are being done in Chicago and in California), and I don't have 5 - 10 years to wait on FDA approval. Going outside the US does not frighten me. I am long past the thought that only US doctors and clinics have the right answers. (Did you know that Lasik eye surgery was being done very effectively and very often abroad before it was ever FDA approved - was it good only when FDA approved it and US doctors started using it?) Now don't get me wrong, I believe US doctors and my doctors are great, but sometimes they are restricted from doing things that may provide much good for their patients. Ten years from now when all of our doctors are using stem cells and singing their praises I hope we remember being at this stage.

So we leave in June with great hope of improving. We know this is NOT a cure, and we know there is NO guarantee of even getting better. But some people have and I am at the stage of "what do I have to lose?" I know how I am progressing with what I am doing, so let's do something different. When you talk to Preston Walker, Richard Humphries, Holley Huber, and many others who have gone and are glad they went, then there is much more hope than what I have staying with what I am doing.

So I am ready for June 5th, and I am SO thankful for all of the wonderful coaches, friends and good people of Ennis who made this trip possible. You are incredible!