On this date one year ago I announced to my family and friends that I would soon be traveling to Florida for stem cell therapy. After extensive research and prayer I had decided to undergo the revolutionary procedure. Using the little fat on my body the doctor would extract my own stem cells from the adipose tissue. Once harvested the stem cells would be replaced back into my body through my blood stream and nasal passage. I would be back on my feet within a few hours but the work of repair and recovery from the damaging multiple sclerosis attacks would be ongoing. The procedure offered no guarantees but it did provide few risks. Two days after making my announcement by way of FaceBook and the church prayer chain, I boarded a plane to Florida.
The next three days were an amazing, miraculous experience. To begin with, the doctor wasn't even sure he could gather any tissue from my tiny legs. He surveyed the rest of my scrawny frame and determined that there were no other options. The legs would work or nothing would. To his happy surprise, not only did we gather tissue but the extraction produced more stem cells than average. I left the out-patient procedure office six hours after entering feeling drowsy but excited and exhilarated. I had stem cells! Even though I knew I couldn't count on any certain outcome I was invigorated with the hope of a new future. Just a few days later I was back home feeling strong, joyful and thankful.
Over the next few months little change occurred. A few of the symptoms that had miraculously disappeared at the initial stem cell injection returned. The twelve months following the procedure proved to be a roller coaster of ups, downs and varying degrees of in-betweens.
Despite repeated stem cell disappointments the treatment wasn't a failure. The results it produced weren't precisely what I was anticipating or hoping for but it was far from a bust, a waste of time or a waste of money. As I look back on my stem cell journey one year out I can say with honesty and sincerity that the decision to receive stem cell therapy was one of the best I've ever made.
The physical changes that have occurred as a result of the procedure are less than transformative. The most drastic change occurred in my claw foot. On the day I received the cells my foot released from its claw like state and has only returned to it for a few days here and there for the past year. That one change would be enough to make the stem cells a success but the benefits don't end at my toes. The benefits go all the way to my heart and soul.
The decision to undergo stem cell therapy was about far more than my physical body. When I committed to the procedure and scheduled my trip I did so as an act of faith in God. In that one decision, the decision to have the treatment, I confirmed to God that I trusted what I couldn't see. I trusted Him, His plan for my healing and His power to make me new. I knew stem cells might not be the avenue He would use but I believed that if He so choose, He could indeed use them to restore my body.
What I didn't anticipate was how God was planning to use my stem cells for a work of rebuilding, renewal and restoration far greater than any my body could ever need. God went to work on my heart. He started rebuilding my patience, assurance and peace. He used my stem cells to increase my trust. With the multiplying of my stem cells came a growing desire to feast on the Word of God, rest in His presence and soak in His promises.
The doctor at Stemedix told me that the stem cells were emergency repair cells. They would go to where my body was in the most desperate need. Little did any of us know the greatest distress my body was in was hopelessness of the heart. The stem cells did indeed go to work right away. And they've been working ever since.
A year later it would be normal and expected to ask the recipient of stem cell therapy, "did it work?" For this patient I can say unequivocally, "yes." But not the way you'd think.
If you happen to be mulling over the decision to receive stem cells as the road to full health and vitality I can't make any promises for the outcome. You may have improvement. You may even gain mobility in a clawed foot or clearer vision in blurry eyes but I won't fool you and claim fat derived stem cells are the cure for MS. But if you're looking to take a step of faith and put your trust in what you cannot see, believing with every fiber of your being that God is the Ultimate Physician who can use any means He so chooses to heal and restore, then stem cells might be the procedure for you.
Stem cells were the healing my body needed. They did an amazing work of restoration on the desperate distress of my heart and soul that was on the brink of losing all hope. I didn't know that what I needed most was for my spirit to be infused with trust in God's plan. Thankfully God knew the dire health of my heart's status and He touched it with His healing hand.
God touched my ailing spirit with stem cells, the stem cells I choose to receive from Him one year ago today. On July 27, 2015 I made one of the most important and best decisions of my life. I choose to trust God completely and that is a decision I will never regret.