The past few blogs have been progressively difficult. After deleting several long drafts I’ve decided to just sit, write and publish. I hope it comes together enough to be worth reading.
This used to be more like a public journal of my personal experiences and feelings while dealing with ALS. The stem cell surgery changed that for me in many ways and I didn’t see it coming, even though looking back, I should have.
I’m going to write a little about what I’ve been dealing with. On one hand I want to tell everyone about what I have experienced post surgery, about several changes, things I can do now that I couldn’t, at least as well before surgery. At times I have an experience of something seeming to not be as well as I first thought, but it returns right back to improvement. I think to myself the improvements I’m experiencing can’t be attributed to a placebo effect. You just can’t will or believe strong enough to reverse this condition. I have dreams of going for the testing, the proof, that this is really happening and in every dream I am worse than pre-surgery baseline.
There are things I still struggle with. I’m in no way meaning to send a message that I’ve been cured. I believe I’ve been given more time and quality of life. How long or if I will continue to feel more improvement is something I can’t answer. I can say before this Neuralstem study, nothing else came close to these results.
Everyone wants to walk of course, but with upper body strength it is much easier to have quality of life in a chair. The cervical spine procedure I had is really what is meant to help people live longer with the ability to breathe. I’ve known people who were still walking and driving but respiratory issues caused a faster death. ALS can be a very different journey for individuals and very similar at the same time. One may live several months to several years, and some live quite a bit longer but always progressing to the final stage of paralysis. Breathing issues is the most common way it takes a person’s life. In many cases choosing to have a tracheostomy performed can add years of life. It does come with a big emotional and financial cost. You will need constant care. It was something I had made no decision about because it does extend your life but you keep progressing. It would have been real difficult to me if my breathing was very bad early on while still having decent abilities in other areas to make that decision.
My very first FVC breathing test at Emory ALS clinic day was 101. I felt great about it and expected to continue for a long time. I think every time I returned it went down a little more. I started waking with headaches and a feeling for a deep breath that would have a crackle at the end of the deepest breath I could take. I was walking with a rollator at the time also and found myself out of breath with less exertion and stopping to sit and catch my breath. After x-rays coming back clear I had a little more extensive testing at Emory. The breathing scores while on my back were low enough to qualify for needed assistance. I was lucky enough to have a Trilogy 100 ordered. I won’t get too into it now, I believe I did in the blog about my Trilogy, but it has AVAPS setting that I found much better and easier to use than the BIPAP setting. You can have two settings only at once. I chose AVAPS for mask use and for the Puff System of Ventilation for when I just need a few breaths.
Now for the news on my breathing. I haven’t used a mask in weeks. I’m very grateful for the Sip and Puff because I do still use it as needed. I have no doubt my ability to move air in and out has improved though. A part of me can’t wait to show it and it’s also one of the things I always dream about being worse.
My feelings have been pretty raw while experiencing changes and also trying not to over-focus on them. This and several other reasons have made blogging difficult for me. I hope you bare with me as I get back in the groove of regular blogs. I do have much more to say and hope others experience great results with other trials, and the others in this trial benefit like I have. I’ll be back soon as possible. Thanks for reading…