Sunday, July 11, 2010

Update from Home

Because I had visited with you for 30 straight days, I hated to simply stop cold turkey and leave everyone hanging and wondering about this blog. However, since I had no real news to report, I didn't feel like I needed to blog simply for the sake of blogging. So I have been on hold until now.

This is really a report about the future of the blog with a small update. I plan on providing occasional updates on patients who were in Panama and updates on stem cell developments which I may receive, so I will continue the blog as new developments occur.

The doctors have told all of us to give the stem cells from 3 to 6 months to do their work inside our system, so we will be patiently but anxiously awaiting the next several weeks. We greatly appreciate the help of so many people who helped get us to this stage of being patient and anxiuos - I'm not sure any of us were feeling too hopeful or anxious six months ago.

As for some of my fellow MS patients: Steve is back in Ennis and going to physical therapy weekly and is feeling better and using his cane less. Janice reported that she is using her scooter less and her walker more. Judi has said that she is able to lift her right leg (her bad one) better, is using her cane less, and is more steady when she walks. I walked up the steps (and down later) to Ennis HS the other day without using the rail. As I have said before, those things sound small and perhaps insignificant to some, but those are all big steps for us.

Each day we do something that we couldn't do earlier is a small victory - and small victories keep us encouraged and excited about tomorrow. That sounds like HOPE, doesn't it!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Heading Home - with Gratitude

I didn’t realize I was feeling the pull of home until last night. It suddenly hit me “ I sure miss the USA, and Texas, and Ennis”, so getting up at 4:00 AM this morning wasn’t all that bad. Our Panama flight went to Miami first , and that’s where we are now, so I’m 1/3 of the way home – in the USA but still looking forward to Texas and Ennis.

This has been a tremendous trip – not just to get the stem cell treatment but to see how much more they are doing with stem cells. The SCI does not guarantee anything to the patients, but there are some patients who have had some truly significant progress with MS, autism, spinal cord injuries, muscular dystrophy, and others diseases while some patients have seen only slight changes. The doctors don’t know right now what causes the different responses, but obviously if you don’t try it, then you won’t have much chance or hope.

Hope is what motivated me from the very beginning to seek other treatments because I knew where I was headed if I continued what I was doing, and that outlook wasn’t very hopeful. As I have reported, I have seen some very small improvements at this stage - ones that you probably won’t even recognize, but they are real and I am very encouraged what the next 3 to 6 months may bring. And this encouraging outlook is thanks to you.

Once I decided that I wanted to pursue these stem cell treatments, that hope motivated me to seek fund-raising help, and WOW, how you great folks responded. As I have said before it was very overwhelming and humbling to have so many wonderful people send funds, send encouraging letters, and offer so many prayers. Then came the benefit in Ennis for Steve and me, and to have so many people put that huge event into motion was unbelievable and humbling as well. I will never be able to express my thankfulness and gratitude to everyone, but please know you are true angels to me, and I hope I can be that to some of you in the future.

I mentioned Naaman (2 Kings 5) in an earlier blog because I can really relate to that story. God could have healed Naaman’s leprosy without Naaman leaving his country or going to the muddy Jordan or washing in it 7 times, but He asked that of Naaman. Although reluctant, Naaman followed the directions of Elisha, God’s messenger, and Naaman was healed. Why did the healing take all of that work? God doesn’t need our help or muddy water or seven trips into the water, but He does want our faith and commitment. I didn’t have to go to Panama, stay there for four weeks, and get spinal shots that some people don’t believe in, but God may be testing my faith and commitment as well.

Don’t be afraid to look into some of these possibilities if your Hope candle is flickering – maybe an angel of God is causing the flicker.

Love you folks, Sam

Friday, July 2, 2010

El Ultimo Dia

Well today's really our last day here in Panama, and we leave with mixed emotions. Obviously we are ready to be back in Ennis and Duncan to see family and friends, but we feel like we are leaving friends here also. Jack, Jean & I have really enjoyed our stay these last 2 weeks, and it's primarily because of the nice folks.

I want to say "Gracias" and "Hasta la vista" to a few of our new Panamaian friends and others we have met in Panama: First the team at the Stem Cell Institute who took such good care of us, answered all questions and encouraged us - Yvonne, Vivian, Dr. Herrero, Dr. Hernandez, Dr. Paz and Dr. Riordan; then the crew at the Cell Medicine Lab who took such care of our cells - Melisa, Dr. Tribaldos, MarjaLaura and the many lab techs; the Stem Cell drivers who did an unbelievable job getting us to all of the appointments in the crazy traffic - Roberto, Luis, and Ricardo; also the drivers who got us around the city for other activities - William, Victor, and Alex and one special taxi driver whom we used the last 2 weeks for everything - Luiz; the ones who lined up our living quarters - William then Christine, a new friend from Florida and her manager, Beby - these nice ladies saved us when we were looking for a place for that 4th week; the group at Bio-Fit who do a tremendous job of working with your disabilities with such patience and also guide you in your lifestyle for health - Bill, Javier, Dick, David, Miguel and my personal trainer and QB, Ivan; my fellow Stem Cell patients - Dana, Julie, and the Texas crew of Janice, Judi, and Steve; our new friends at the Crossroads Bible Church who made us feel so welcome and worshipful - Steve & Heather Gunn and Keith & Wilma Forster; my Island of Taboga friends - Hiddo & Cynthia and their helpers at the Bed & Breakfast and our fisherman friend Enrique; and any others who I have probably left out. Thanks for making our stay in Panama fun, enlightening, encouraging and hopeful. Hope is what began this journey, and you have played a huge part in making it continue.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Pictures - match with story above

July Begins

It's hard to believe the whole month of June has passed - it seems like just yesterday we were landing in Panama on June 5th.

This last Thursday is like my usual Friday - we went to PT this morning and will go to the clinic this afternoon for our final injection and our final consultation with the Dr's. They will tell us how many million stem cells I received (yesterday at the lab they told us that they count those cells with a laser), and the Dr's will tell us what to expect over the next several months.

At PT Ivan continued to work on my balance and core. You see us on the Bosu balls - I can get on the Bosu by myself now. I have ordered one for the house because you can do so much on one of these Bosu balls. I now must convince Kathy to throw a ball with me, as Ivan would do - that may be more difficult than balancing on the Bosu.

Not many days or meals left here in Panama, so Jean is trying to plan everything so the cupboard is just about bare as we exit. She is doing a great job of feeding us meals recommended by the Bio-Fit team. So we are eating right, exercising daily, and getting new stem cells weekly - that's a hat-trick in the health world.

Well I'm going to rest now before we go to the clinic - my goal is to have my BP under 115 when Dr. Herrero comes in with the needles! Last chance to accomplish this goal so it's game time!