Sunday, December 2, 2007

Life's Second Chances...

Dan and I are very grateful for this 'second chance' for recovery. The journey this year has been amazing... first, we researched the technology and watched as others experienced it first hand. From this we became convinced that there is a possibility for gains to be made from the stem cell treatment. Our goal was to take a small gain and make a significant life improvement from it. What would a little better lip movement do for Dan and his ability to speak clearly? What would more function in his right arm and shoulders do? Of course, we also focus on his leg, correcting the hyper extension problem and the potential gains that can come in walking with a normal gait pattern. Over the years, Dan has focused on therapy to try and improve these areas, and he has been able to achieve strength in repetitive movement in therapy. This has not translated into an improved quickness in response, and no matter how hard we have tried, his response time is still labored and slow. It seems that everything we take for granted... the movements we make without thinking about it... these are the things that have been hard for Dan. If you were to compare the spinal column to a five lane freeway where signals travel, there is a section of the road that is reduced to one lane and the signals get jammed and have a delay getting through. Everything Dan does has to be done slowly -- and regardless of different therapy efforts, this has not improved dramatically over the years.

Now Dan has six million new neural cells floating around in his spinal fluid. The task is to get the new cells to connect the neurons above the injury site to the neurons below and create "more lanes of travel" for the signals. The body and the brain will need help in knowing where to establish these connections and the stimulation will come through therapy-- very intense therapy. There will also be a period of training where we take the gains made in therapy and translate them into increased functionality. We need to change years of habits and re-train the brain on what it does automatically - the part that it controls without thinking. This is where lots and lots of repetitive movement become so important.

So -- really -- our experience is now just beginning... we have had a great adventure to China. We met so many wonderful people and new friends. Dan received great treatment and therapy... and now is the time to create a plan at home that will take him from the gains made in the hospital to further improvement over the next several months. It is critical that he get rigorous and consistent therapy - and this has been the concern that has weighed so heavily on my mind. How can we provide this to Dan with limited resources and with a full work schedule as well?

This is where the blessings come in! When we first decided to come to China, we had no idea HOW we were going to make it all happen. There was so much money to raise and the expenses were not only related to China, but also to getting the right system in place for the next year to optimize the stem cell treatments. How were we going to do it all? We were literally weeks away from leaving for China and we still didn't know how we were going to pay for it all... what I have seen is nothing short of a miracle as doors were opened for us and the path made clear so that we could have this wonderful blessing in our lives. The Schenk family surprised us with a fund raiser at our family reunion. The Maughan and the Balls families and many good friends have also been very supportive and have blessed us with donations. Our friends at Nuskin came forward just weeks before the treatment with a wonderful donation that really secured our ability to make this happen for Dan.

Now that we have returned from China, the cost of future expenses - Dan's ongoing therapies and equipment costs have been an obstacle. From the generous hearts of Dan's Uncle Rex and Aunt Ruth and his Father another door has opened and we are able to provide Dan a second chance for recovery. We will be able to get the equipment we need to stimulate and create the repetitive movement that Dan needs, as well as be able to provide him the intensive therapy he desires. We are truly grateful - and overwhelmed - by the love and support we have been given. It is truly another miracle in the making... We thank you all for your support - for your prayers - and for granting us this great opportunity! This is just the beginning (of the end..) Stay tuned for more exciting updates and we begin to implement the "post-China" program!

No comments: