I recently took my children roller skating, when I say took them I mean drove them to the facility because of course I can’t roller skate. Anyone reading this blog who is from Calgary will likely remember Lloyd’s Roller Rink, what a blast from the past! I can recall spending many afternoons there when I was younger, maybe 13 or 14 years old and the place hasn’t changed. Some people now use inline skates or rollerblades instead of the larger heavier four wheel skates but other than new music, everything is the same. It was like entering a time warp, the strobe lights, flashing coloured lights and mirror disco ball brought me back twenty five years. We were attending a birthday party along with at least 5 other birthday celebrations; I was completely surprised at how busy the place was. As it turns out Lloyds has been there for over 40 years, kind of puts time into perspective.
So you may be wondering why I’m writing about roller skating, well I made some very interesting observations. Most of the people I saw were not very good whether they be young or old and it was almost comical watching people try to stay on their feet and off their butt. What I noticed was that many people experienced the same difficulties with balance and trying to move around that I go through just trying to walk. There was the stumble factor, it’s difficult to pick up your feet like you do when you’re walking so trying to manoeuvre around the very crowded concourse was very difficult for some and I witnessed many people trip over a shoe or coat lying on the floor. Then there’s the problem with balance, if there was no wall or railing for support it was very hard for some people to stay on their feet and skating around the rink wasn’t possible without holding on or having the reassurance of a wall next to them. For those experiencing these difficulties, moving around and attempting to get anywhere was a very slow process. The look of instability and desperation to grab onto something solid was very familiar to me. This is the closest comparison to my balance and walking challenges that I’ve ever seen outside of someone stumbling around in a state of complete drunkenness! Fortunately for these inexperienced skaters there is a simple cure to their problems, just unlace and remove the roller skates, oh how I wish my problems were that easy to solve!
My health update remains the same, no fantastic new improvements but I am holding steady and still feeling pretty good. My back feels much better although it’s still not healed, like I said in my last blog, I think this will be a recurring injury and I will always have to be careful not to aggravate it. There is good news from my eyes; I think the new drops have been working because I’m not experiencing as much pain generally speaking. If I have been on the computer too long or my eyes are just tired then the problems come right back. They typically do feel better throughout the day and I will see my ophthalmologist again this week so we’ll see what he has to say.
I belong to several MS and stem cell email groups so I receive many new articles and research updates but I have not seen any advancements or treatments that are imminent. I stated that I would write about new advancements that are being made but there is truly way too much information to sift through. When I sat down to do some follow up research I realized that a person can literally spend days on this task so suffice it to say that there is a lot of work underway. For instance it was recently reported that Canadian scientists have been able to manipulate skin cells to reprogram themselves to an embryonic like state and further progress has been made in creating mature human neurons from neural stem cells of the human brain and spinal cord. I think the most important research is in controlling cell differentiation meaning understanding how to create specific cell types from your basic stem cell and there are many examples of advancements in this area but of course much work remains to be done. There is also extensive MS research being undertaken outside of stem cell science. A new drug called Fampridine-SR is in phase III trials which has been shown to improve walking speed in MS and there are many other MS research programs being conducted. I don’t really care where the advancements come from as long as they become available in time to benefit me before the disease has a chance to progress any further. I remain optimistic and hopeful that the stem cell transplants I underwent will keep progression of my MS at bay for at least the next three to five years while further advancements develop.
I have always understood of the fact that stem cell transplants are not yet a cure but a hopeful treatment alternative. The point behind this treatment is that it creates and maintains hope which is extremely important when the medical community offers nothing. Hope is alive and strong!