Friday, January 30, 2009


It’s pretty hard to definitively say that I’ve improved because there are many conflicting results and they are all subjective. This may sound confusing so let me explain. The athletic therapy that I undergo which I’ll just refer to as physical therapy for consistency seems to be progressing quite well. As I’ve explained before, the goal of therapy is to retrain my muscles and body to perform movements that I previously could not do or had problems with. This objective was the entire focus of my therapist in China and although the techniques and exercises are very different with my therapy now the overall mindset is the same. With each new week that I visit my therapist she is able to identify improvements in my balance and strength. For example holding myself in a kneeling lunge position for 1 minute without falling over or the use of any balance support is something I can do no problem today but could not do at all 3 weeks ago. I try to not use my cane while walking around my house and I’m very happy to report that I do quite well. My therapist in China would not allow me to use my cane at all while doing walking exercise and I remember quite clearly how difficult, slow and clumsy my walk was. I even reviewed the video of my walking during therapy sessions and compared to how I perform today there is an obvious improvement. The problem is that the improvements are not maintained and I always seem to revert back to the same difficulties.
I can’t really claim any positive change in my walking because I still move as slow as a turtle and have great difficulty on ice or snow and uneven surfaces. Hopefully this will come with time, continued therapy and hard work. A major problem that continues to hamper me is the fatigue factor. I still tire very easily and when I become fatigued, which doesn’t take much, my body’s performance and movements deteriorate rapidly. Any progress I might notice depends on the time of day and what I’ve been doing but I recognize improvements that most people don’t see. My ability to go up and down stairs is much better but I’m sure others don’t notice. This again is not in terms of how fast I can move but rather performing the movements properly without cheating. Anything I do no longer comes as second nature but requires continual thinking and focus on the proper mechanics of every action. With each step I must concentrate on keeping my pelvis level and my posture upright without any leaning frontwards or to the side. My feet must point forward not angled and as I step up I must isolate my weight through my heel and push up extending my leg without locking my knee at the upper range of motion. My other leg must follow in a straight line by bending at the knee and not rotating my foot, leg or hip to the outside. It really is a lot to think about but eventually the process will be automatic and second nature. I now only need the handrail or my cane to ensure balance, I can step up or down two stairs rather than climb one rise at a time and my tows don’t typically catch the nose of each stair tread.
You can imagine how tiring it is for me to perform the most basic tasks like walking or climbing stairs not just in the physical sense but mentally. I have to be conscious of every move I make and every motion is deliberate not automatic. It is typical for me to drag my feet when I walk instead of lifting my foot with each step which is why I can trip on the smallest stone or bump. My eyes are very important as I have to watch where I place each step and where I plant my cane on each stride. Now that I can feel some progress in my movements I find myself becoming aware of everything I do such as keeping the weight in my heels while standing, my posture straight and upright and my core tight with so many positions and actions. I still have a long way to go but as long as I can notice things getting better eventually others will see my advancement as well. I’m still counting on the coming months to bring forth further improvement but as long as I am able to maintain without further progression or any new problems I’m happy! It is difficult to determine where I see my progress coming from whether its physical therapy, acupuncture or the stem cells. Perhaps it’s because of the stem cells that my body can benefit from the therapy and exercises I do but I don’t think anyone can say for sure. I do not want to build false hope or expectations, I just want to maintain hope and continue working on getting myself better.
Oddly enough after I was just boasting in my last blog how I never get sick, WHAMMO I came down with a cold this week! Fortunately it hasn’t been bad and I was only affected for a few days, I’m pretty much on the mend now. The shooting pains I was experiencing in my chest have also disappeared and will hopefully not return. The disease continues to act as if it has a mind of its own and is by no means predictable so I continue to pray for healing and that my condition will not worsen. I will always keep my blog up to date with any changes that occur so keep checking for new posts.

Monday, January 12, 2009

WELCOME 2009!!!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and New Years, mine was very good and family oriented. Now it’s on to a new year which is usually considered a good thing and I'm sure most will agree after the chaos the world experienced in 2008. It’s a time to look back at the year gone by and establish some goals for the year to come. For some this involves making new years resolutions but I never do this. Very seldom do people keep their resolutions so I figure why set yourself up for disappointment and failure. I prefer to use this time to think about goals I would like to achieve and things in my life that I’d like to change rather than make empty promises to myself.
When I look back at 2008, I’m quite pleased and consider it to be a successful year, a far better year than 2007. I did not really start the year with any specific goals but I did end up with some major accomplishments. I started writing a book in 2007 but that got put on the back burner with my efforts focused on going to China. The first few months of the year were spent researching stem cells and contacting people who had been to China and undergone the treatment. It was not until early spring that I had gathered enough information to convince myself that stem cell transplants were a viable treatment for me and going to China became a priority. Now I had a concrete goal, raising over $40,000 to get me there! Considering I had no experience in fundraising, coming up with such a large sum of money presented a very difficult and ambitious challenge. It wasn’t until late May that I got my website up and running and began collecting donations.
My original target date of late August to be in China proved a little too ambitious and didn’t make much sense considering the overlap with the Olympics. In the end I was very thankful not to be going that early, the heat would’ve been very difficult for me and arriving at the beginning of October turned out to be the optimal time. I was always positive and optimistic about raising the funds and never got too worried even at times when the cash coming in slowed to a trickle and things looked pretty dismal for my silent auctions. That’s the peace and confidence I gain from my faith in God and around every corner I turned He was there putting the pieces together and working in my life. In four months I had raised $45,000 and the timing of everything was perfect.
Not only do I consider my fundraising campaign a success but the actual trip and completion of the month long treatment program was also quite an achievement. I’m very happy with the fact that I stepped up and made the effort to take control of my MS rather than accept a fate of continued disability and the claim that there is nothing that can be done. I can’t declare the treatment a success yet as I haven’t experienced any real improvements and as I’ve recently explained I have actually experienced some problems. Various symptoms come and go as they always have however I never expected that situation to disappear. The sensory sensations that I was experiencing in my legs recently have pretty much resolved but now I’ve got a different problem. In an early blog titled MS the invisible disease I explained a painful neurological problem where I feel a sharp pain like a bolt of lightning travelling through my arm and this situation has reappeared. This time it started off with certain movements that would trigger a feeling like I’d been stabbed in the chest, its short lived but very intense. The pain was sill occurring after several days but can now last up to a minute and is extremely uncomfortable. Even though this is a recurring difficulty, it to will resolve itself and I don’t let it discourage me. I still have several months that I can see improvements occur and I will continue with my therapies in anticipation of a change for the better.
2008 was also the year that I was finally able to quit smoking. After 24 years and many failed attempts at quitting, I guess my time was finally up. I wasn’t a heavy smoker anymore and I really cut back in the month prior to leaving for China but did not expect it to be as easy as it turned out. My last smoke was on the sidewalk before entering the Calgary International Airport but it was different this time. I normally make a big deal in my mind to reinforce the idea that this is my last smoke and in a sense to say goodbye to a nasty habit that I enjoyed so much. On this occasion I didn't give it a second thought, I had already prepared myself to not smoke while I was in the hospital and it really did not bother me. The strange thing is you can smoke anywhere in China, even the hospital yet I didn't have one craving! I am positive that I will be able to stick with it this time.
I don't know if I'll have anyone following my blog anymore but I also consider it to be very successful. I actually had almost 5000 hits while I was away which was a complete surprise to me! Many people have said that reading my blog had become part of their daily routine and how disappointed they were when I would miss a day. I have received so many compliments on my writing and encouragement to write a book that I now feel inspired to carry on with the book that I've already started. It was actually my blog that caught the attention of W-Five which might also lead to another successful outcome. I've been told that the show will air on February 7th but that is not a confirmed date yet. I have no idea how it will turn out once they piece together all the footage they have but who knows where this could lead to or what doors it might open. Perhaps it will develop into a future promotional opportunity for launching my book.
As I look forward to 2009 I really only have one concrete goal set for myself which is to complete my book. Writing a book is quite a monumental task but it is an objective that is entirely up to me and something that has a measurable outcome. Successful completion of this undertaking will hopefully lead to a new career for me however this is not an outright goal but a hopeful long-term outcome. Although this is the only specific goal I have set for myself for the coming year, there are many other changes and accomplishments I would like to see in my life. An additional goal might be to have the book published in 2009 but I prefer to keep my ambitions dependent upon myself and not have to rely on anyone else or outside influences to achieve success.
One obvious change I would like to see in my life is of course an improvement in my health, specifically to the problems I face due to MS. Aside from multiple sclerosis I am an extremely healthy individual, I can't remember the last time I was sick from the flu or a cold. This is somewhat surprising considering I have spent a lot of time with my children while they have both been sick not to mention my roommate’s kids who seem to have colds very often. I've been on the verge of getting sick several times but have always been able to fight it off, knock on wood. I will be happy to see any positive improvements to my MS such as my balance and walking ability, no matter how small. There are so many little issues that I deal with that progress can occur on many different fronts. As I continue with my acupuncture and physical therapy I feel confident that I will achieve positive change.
I would like to find a girlfriend this year, or at least a woman that can see past my physical disabilities and accept me for who I am not what I can't do. Female relationships have been a real challenge, it seems that because I can't go hiking, skating or participate in most physical activities that I'm deemed unworthy. I’m really just looking for a friendship but every woman I meet wants to judge me based on potential husband criteria and apparently I fail in that category. After all my former wife openly admitted that she left me because I have MS, go figure. Sure I don't cut grass or shovel snow but I'll bet I'm a lot more useful than most husbands and I'm far from lazy. At any rate I don't want to be married or start off a relationship under that premise, I'm a lot simpler than that. There is someone out there for me; I guess it's just a matter of time and patience, hopefully in 2009 I'll find her.
I'm sure there will be many changes and new opportunities that will come up for me in 2009 that I don't have to set out and plan for at the beginning of the year. I'm happy that there are so many aspects of my life that I don't have to change and that I live with a very positive attitude. Sure I have my struggles but I am blessed in so many ways and I thank God for my blessings everyday. I wish everyone a happy and healthy New Year and that great things will come your way in 2009!
God bless,