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


  1. I wonder if you are doing any kind of physical therapy or training post stem cell treatment. I was wondering, assuming that stem cell therapy is successful in replacing the damaged cells with good one, can we expect these new cells turn around and right away take over the function. After all, in nature, some of these functions, such as balance, takes several months in childhood to work during which child (or indeed related brain cells) get trained and start functioning. These new brain cells may need some functional training (e.g. PT) before they can take over their job. Just a wild thought based on my reading of the book "The brain that changes itself" (chapter 3) by Dr N. Doidge. Please comment.

    Mike Kazemi, MSA patient