Wow! what a week. We are home! So far this morning I’ve taken Harper on a walk, started my second load of laundry and just sat down with a cup of coffee and my laptop. Now where to start. This week seemed like the longest week ever so I’m sure I’ll leave something out but let me give it a go…
First let me say the whole experience with Stem Cell institute was great. Extremely professional, organized and top-notch facilities. From the drivers to the nurses to the coordinators to the doctor! All receive an A+.
The city of Panama was a bustling metropolis. With tons of high-rise apartments, office buildings, hotels and restaurants. Lots of green space and trails for walking. We had a great water view from our room and were able to look out every morning and see all the ships in que for their trip through the canal. Not to mention all the mountains in the distance. It was a great city to visit. The people were kind and warm and were always happy to share the history of their city. We spent our days doing the doctor appointments, physical therapy for Stephen(gym for me) and relaxing by the pool, reading etc. Usually followed by dinner and an episode of Ozark (if you are not watching it, go watch it now!) Now that we know what to expect we have a few other sites we want to visit next time. (Annddd we both dediced we are getting Rosetta Stone/Spanish for Christmas!)
The actual treatment went like this: Tuesday- Met the doctor, did blood work, went over medial history and reviewed current medicine. Wednesday- Intravenous infusion + 2 perilymphatic injections, followed by 1 hour of physical therapy. Thursday-Intravenous infusion. Friday-Intravenous infusion + 2 perilymphatic injections, final medical evaluation and discharge, followed by 1 hour of physical therapy. Sounds so simple right? It was actually extremely quick and painless(for the most part). The infusions took about 18 minutes, and the injections were quick but did have some noticeable injections site soreness afterward. No other side effects to speak of. Doctors orders were to take it easy, hydrate-hydrate-HYDRATE…..and that was it. And we did just that. There are suggestions about keeping a healthy life style: limiting processed foods, processed carbohydrates, increased fruits/vegetables and little-to-no alcohol consumption with the exception of red wine(limited). The doctor said to look for signs of improvement anywhere from 2-8 weeks . Reported improvements are typically overall increased energy, less fatigue, improved balance, strength and bladder functions just to name a few. All cases are different and Stephen’s results are his and his alone. A follow-up treatment is recommended but varies in timing depending on his overall improvements.
The whole trip seems like a dream of sorts. This is NOTHING we ever imagined doing. I was asked if it was weird getting medical treatment in another country. And I guess it wasn’t weird, because like I said, it was all so professional. It was just different. We are usually only at the doctor when we are ill, or doing a yearly check-up, or something isn’t right. And for most of us there is so much time waiting for the doctor, feeling irritated and then rushed. It was just a different experience. Everyone who was visiting the clinic was there for the same reason. It was so well run and we always felt like we were getting their full attention. We met so many families from all over the US and it was humbling to hear their stories and what brought them to Panama. We heard first hand accounts of positive results and just the aura of hope around everyone. It was emotional and eye-opening and for lack of a better word…promising.
So for now this in the end of the actual treatment phase for a while. Now we just have to wait and let the stem cells do their thing. Follow the doctors orders and pray this works like expected. Stephen is feeling excited about the possibility of the new changes and I’m sure he will be sick of me asking every day “soooo, do you feel different today?” But it is part of the journey. So many things left to be experienced and only time will tell. So please keep the positive thoughts and prayers coming. We BELIEVE!