Friday, January 22, 2010

Post 19 - Eighteen weeks after stem cell treatment

While I would prefer great positive strides in my fight with MSA, I appreciate even small steps in the right direction. One of those small steps is what took place this past Wednesday.

In my last entry I mentioned a concern that my condition might prevent getting through the two, back-to-back Elderhostel classes I present at a local college. I was especially concerned my voice would give out and I’d be forced to cancel the classes (dysphasia – throat/voice impairment is common with MSA). Well, after about an hour into the first class, I thought my fear was materializing. My throat suddenly felt constricted and my voice began to fail. A few gulps of water and a throat lozenge had little effect. Then, after a quick break, some strenuous throat-clearing efforts, and a few more sips of water, the constriction suddenly relaxed and I was able to continue. Thankfully, the problem did not recur during the afternoon class - in fact, by the end of the day my voice seemed stronger and clearer than it’s been in months.
(Added 1/27/10 - Finished my second Wednesday of classes. Throat and voice stayed strong throughout the full four hours).

The lesson I’ve learned from this episode is – if at all possible – keep exercising the areas that are most commonly affected by MSA to slow their deterioration. Try to walk, lift weights, exercise, sing, dance, and do whatever you can to postpone the atrophy that makes this disease so frustrating.

Speaking of frustration – I spoke last time about enthusiasm vs. fatigue experienced by most MSA patients – how we want to do something active but back away because we just don’t have the energy. Little triumphs like I experienced a few days ago serve as a reminder, for me at least, that we can take positive steps to prolong our active lives while medical science searches for the ultimate answer to MSA.

Stem Cell therapy status: No dramatic improvement to report – but no marked deterioration either.

Will update in a couple of weeks

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Post 18 - Sixteen weeks after treatment

Happy New Year to everyone! Fran and I hope 2010 brings good health and good fortune to all. Christmas week was great fun here in SW Florida – my two daughters, granddaughter, son-in-law, and even a big old chocolate Labrador brought much joy to our home.

All the extra activity of the Holiday Season was a bit tiring for me. Thank goodness for a few well-placed afternoon naps to “re-charge” my batteries. In addition, I’ve been more physically active preparing for our move into a condo complex. Packing, some spackling and painting, and store trips to look at new furnishings also added to the fatigue factor.

Right now my biggest complaint involves balance related issues. I’m really shaky when I walk and not able to safely do many simple things – like climbing a stepladder or even carrying a full cup of coffee. I start another term teaching two Elderhostel courses next week and what with my unsteady gait and difficulty pronouncing certain multi-syllable words, I hope I don’t give the class the impression I’ve been drinking at ten o’clock in the morning. I better explain things right at the beginning. I’m also concerned that my voice won’t hold out through two back-to-back, 2- hour classes.

Finally, I still can’t tell if the stem cell procedure has had any effect – good or bad. It’s been almost four months since my trip to XCell and I guess I had high hopes for some positive sign by now. Maybe the New Year will bring a pleasant surprise. Otherwise, I feel pretty good – which makes it very frustrating when I have the enthusiasm to do something but find I just can’t do it.

Again – Happy 2010 (or 2K10, or twenty ten, or whatever you want to call it). I’ll be back in a couple of weeks.