November 6, 2008

Hooray for Hipermás

Hello All . . .

I have already been in Costa Rica for 2 weeks of my 4 week stem cell treatment to treat my Multiple Sclerosis.

It was a little hectic before I left, trying to get everything done and situated so that I could be gone for 30 days.  Sorry I wasn't able to contact so many of you that sent well wishes and words of support before I left.  I have been thinking of you all and wanted to send a little update.

Week one was busy.  I met with doctors, had lots and lots of blood taken, had a "mini lipo" suction to extract stem cells from my adipose or "fat" tissue, had physical therapy twice, and had 2 intrathecal (in my spine) injections of adult stem cells derived from donated umbilical cord blood....

and that was just the medical stuff.

As for the rest of week one, I ate some great Costa Rican food - enjoyed the fresh rainy smells almost every day - brushed up on my Spanish while discussing random topics like politics, iPhones, volcanoes and beaches with local drivers that take me to and from the hospital everyday - watched "Eight Below" on HBO - chatted with friends and family on Skype - met other patients who are going through the same treatment - and best of all, realized that this treatment I ventured upon could possibly be the future treatment for so many others worldwide with MS and other diseases.  It's awesome to be a part of something in its infancy, AND HAVE IT WORK!

Week two has gone well.  I had injection #3 on Monday.  It was more painful this time, but I think it's because I was sitting too far back on the table and wasn't curved over enough when the anesthecian first injected me with the numbing agent.  The doctor quickly reacted to my discomfort, numbed me some more, relieved the pain, and proceeded with injecting the stem cells.  Tuesday through Thursday I had physical therapy again.  Each session my therapist is pushing my limits more and more.  Today she worked my back muscles, and boy am I sore, but a "good" sore.  It's different than the daily swimming and yoga I am already so conditioned to.

I am noticing small changes, but am reserved in reporting until I am sure it's not just because I "believe" so much that this is going to work.

Like the rest of the world, we watched the election updates, reports, and speeches on CNN on Tuesday evening.

On Thursday, Rajan and I ventured to Hipermás (owned by Wal-Mart) to do some more grocery shopping.  I felt like I was back in San Diego at my local Wal-Mart, except the wine and spirit section was much larger and the gift wrapping and party aisle had handmade piñatas and elaborate gift boxes,  go figure.  Raj loves to eat :) so that means he loves to cook so he can eat well.  The gourmet meals being prepared in our apartment hotel kitchen rival the gourmet restaurant down the street.  We are a popular pathway in the evening as wonderful smells waft out our front door.  I'm waiting for the neighbors to invite themselves over for dinner.

With grocery bags full of random items like wine and fresh chicken and ketchup and rice, we hurried through the rain to the red taxi with the yellow triangle across from the store.  The cab driver had no idea where our hotel was, and "él no habló inglés".  After explaining where we wanted to go by referencing different nearby places of interest, he figured out where we were headed.  They don't use addresses here in Costa Rica.  Instead, they use references like "the supermarket is 300 meters past the park".

Tomorrow I have physical therapy at 9:00 am and then a 4th injection at 10:30 am.  The majority of the rest of the day will be spent lying flat so I don't get a major headache from the spinal injection.  Raj will be attached to the internet on his ipod or iphone, and maybe there will be a good movie playing on HBO.

Thanks again for all of your support and encouragement.

Goodnight ...
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