Sunday, June 27, 2010

Post 26 – Concluding My “Noble Experiment”

Almost one hundred years ago, America decided to fight the problems associated with alcoholism by banning the manufacture and sale of liquor. No one knew for sure whether Prohibition would succeed, but many believed it was at least “worth a try.” Thirteen years later, when Prohibition was considered a failure and had been repealed, observers came up with the term “Noble Experiment” to describe how good intentions don’t always turn out the way one hopes.

In a way, the stem cell procedure described in this blog might be considered my own Noble Experiment. Almost a year ago, I chose to face the problems associated with Multiple System Atrophy (MSA) by undergoing a procedure that uses one’s own stem cells to replace those cells affected by MSA. Nine months ago after I underwent treatment at the X-Cell Center in Cologne, Germany, I had high hopes the procedure would stall or maybe even reverse the effects of MSA. Even though the results were unpredictable, I figured it, like Prohibition, was “worth a try.”

Despite the treatment, I must report an ongoing deterioration in my overall condition – especially in my mobility. I am finding it very difficult to move around, even with a cane. I’m using a walker more and more both in and out of our new condo, mainly to avoid my greatest fear – a fall and broken bone. My other main complaints include a significant drop in blood pressure upon standing, frequent light-headiness brought on by simple movement/bending, poor speech volume/articulation, and somewhat diminished mental cognition. Overall, I’d say I’ve progressed (or regressed) to the mid-stages of MSA with a new rating of 6 with 10 being the worst.

Frankly, I feel that whatever benefit I may have gotten from the stem cell procedure is no longer a factor. I seem to be following the same general path so many other MSA patients have gone down before me, although I’ve wondered why the disease progresses more slowly in some than it does in others. I can’t be sure – but I think exercising and trying to stay fit (both physically and mentally) plays a major role.

So, I’ve decided to change the focus of this blog from one of sitting around waiting for my supercharged stem cells to save the day, to one taking a more active role in improving my own condition. Last month’s entry mentioned our move to a condo with a well-equipped fitness room. I plan, with help of the resident trainer, to develop a sensible exercise program aimed at staving off the atrophying effects of MSA.

Who knows, this may turn out to be just another Noble Experiment with little likelihood of success, but I figure its still “worth a try.” I’ll be back in a month or so with more on the exercise program.

Finally – to those of you still deciding whether to follow the stem cell path please don’t let my lack of long-term positive results dissuade you. I still believe medical science will eventually unlock the mystery of MSA through improvements in stem cell technology. Let’s hope that day is near.