I have created this blog to attempt to help those with chronic pain and depression. Sisyphus was a mythological figure sentenced to roll a stone uphill for eternity. In this way, I intend to approach chronic pain and depression as constant foes that must be your constant focus. Photo courtesy http://akrockefeller.com/blog/tibetan-autonomy-a-futile-odyssey/

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Projection and Introspection

Photo courtesy of Pinterest-public domain


Today is the day after the 2016 presidential election.  Predictably, about half of the people I know are elated and the other half are distraught.  It has been this way with politics, in my lifetime and since I actually started paying attention to it, since the 2000 election.

So rather than point out which of you are right and which are wrong (I say tongue-in-cheek), let me share a bit of my own life experience.

About 10 years ago or so, my family learned that my wife had a brain illness.  Up to that point, our careers and success had been linear.  We had a new baby and were both very successful.  I embraced life and it embraced me.  I enjoyed socializing with people, and thought that going ahead, all we had to concern ourselves with were our retirement investments and making sure our baby's college investment fund was filling up.

From that point, a cloud moved in over our heads.  My wife's health gradually decreased to the point that she was in severe pain.  Multiple surgeries and a loss of her career, and me having to watch her dreams slip through her fingers, eventually led to great emotional distress, not just for her but for me.

Our life changed.  We moved, I sunk into a deep depression.  I became irritable and dreaded any interaction with the public, having developed social anxiety.

However, through the slow dripping hell that we as a family endured, we also learned a valuable lesson.  That every day is a gift.  Now with two more children, a happy home, and laughter through the tears, we have learned that the most important thing in anyone's life is family.  That includes anyone that loves you and spends time with you.

This message is for my friends who are distraught, mostly, but also generally for anyone needing encouragement.  Although politicians and policy can affect your life, what matters is right in front of you.  As a family, we had to make adjustments.  Very uncomfortable ones.  But we did it together.  As my family has learned, love costs nothing, is not part of a policy or government mandate.  It is an inherent right and gift we can give to each other, regardless of who is in charge of our government.

I would encourage you to turn off the TV.  Unplug from the rhetoric that is being spewed and plug into who you are, who is around you.

I have not, in my entire life, had a sitting president or presidential candidate visit me in the hospital or at my times of deepest despair.  They are there, you are HERE.  So, be here and be present, and breathe out that which you cannot control.  Your mind and your heart will thank you, and so will those around you.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

update

Hello all.  It has been a while since I have posted.  It dawned on me that I should document my journey for the benefit of everyone reading this blog.

It is funny, in a way.  It is when you realize that you are back to dwelling on work issues, not being able to lift as much weight as you like or exercise as much as you want, etc., that you must be getting past a health issue that prohibited you from giving thought to any of these issues.

Over the weekend, we went to the Christmas tree farm to mark our tree for cutting.  As I walked up the hill, I had a bit of knee pain and felt the immediate reaction to be depressed, then remembered last year, working up the will to force myself to do the same while limping on a cane.  The effort last year was all I could handle for the entire day.

 It is all about perspective.  You can be in pain and still be functional. 

Here is a video of me recently regaining the ability to do double unders, which is where you jump rope while swinging the rope twice under your feet.  It keeps getting better and better.

http://www.regenexx.com/knee-stem-cell-recovery/




Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Hypnosis and Dehypnosis

Society is hypnotized. Read through your newsfeed and look at how people react to each other. There is very little real communication. There is mostly just a series of memes, one line insults, words spewed into the ether.

I am not accusing anyone of something I am not guilty of. We are hypnotized from the time we wake up until the time we go to sleep. Our phones, computers, radio. On a more personal basis, our political leaders. Our religious leaders. Medication. The list goes on and on.

There is a fundamental difference between belief and fear. I grew to understand this through someone named Fr. James O'Brien. His philosophy class shook me to the core, and sent me into about a decade of agnosticism. I spoke to him once at a reunion about my path and how I came back to Christ, and why he taught in the way he did. In his class, every week he would 'play' a different philosopher. Both philosophers that supported the existence of God and those who denied it.

He told me that you cannot truly believe something out of fear. But that in order to own a belief, you must hold it to the fire. If it burns away, it was an impure belief, but if it survives, and that truth does survive, then it would become part of your core. So rather than believing something because someone told you 'if you don't believe what I say, you will go to hell', you believe something on the basis that it was a universal truth that would uplift yourself, others and result in a closer relationship with God and your own purpose.


Photo courtesy www.publicdomainpictures.net

  I believe Fr. O'Brien was teaching a form of dehypnosis, similar to Roy Masters. In the short term, it was disruptive. Long term, it has given me confidence in my belief. That I could not only believe it in hopes that I would not be condemned, but that I myself could spread a message of God's love.
Every thought we have, word we say, action we take, affects others in some way. Either positively or negatively. It is so important that we set our intention before we act.

The old saying 'What Would Jesus Do?' comes to mind. Would Jesus sit with the disciples and make snide remarks about someone who walked past, or loft an insult at someone without having some motivation to help that person? Would he walk up and tell the person that since they weren't like him, then they would burn eternally.

The answer is that he lead people through example, and in every case would give himself to that person, rather than shun them. Would serve them, and in turn, they would serve him. No threat was ever necessary. In cases where he had someone less receptive to his teachings, he wouldn't yell at them and threaten them, he would teach a parable and speak of the love of his Father. In every case, planting a seed of wisdom and love that would grow in that person.


Photo courtesy www.publicdomainpictures.net
 

We should also act only in ways that help lead each other to salvation, always looking upward, not downward.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

The Path

There has been a lot in our world lately to cause one to pause and contemplate why it is all happening.  Some believe it is the end of the world.  Some believe it is social inequality, and others believe it is social justice.  As for me, I am just someone who is stepping back and trying to perceive what the cause of all of this is, as I feel all of the aforementioned reasons are symptoms of an illness.

What I have deduced is that it is a lack of inner peace.  It is really that simple.  Muslims calling for the death of Christians.  Christians berating those who they perceive as 'unsaved'.  Anger and blood in the streets.  Sarcasm and indifference from our politicians.

If you close your eyes, you are not closing them to the events going on in the world.  You may close them to examine your soul.  Your purpose.  



So many seek God in so many ways.  Some in the pews of a church.  Others in a mosque.  Others, with a needle, a prostitute, a can of alcohol.  A phone, a pokemon.  

Where God resides is within us.  He has always been there, yet we are untrained, unwilling, to close our eyes and see him.  To silence our mind and allow him to speak to us.  

We talk, but do not listen.  We hear, but do not listen.  We look, but don't see.  

God resides within us, within our own inner peace.  Should the world discover this, then all of the anger and hate would dissolve into love.




Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Zen and the Art of Flood Maintenance

I've a lot to write about.  I have been in such a mentally paralyzed state for the past couple of weeks that I haven't felt like writing anything.

When the state of West Virginia was hit with a flood that destroyed thousands of lives, like many others, I felt a NEED to help repair the situation.  In fact, it surprised me that there was such a positive reaction from around the country to help people in small towns that many had never even heard of.

Perhaps this is a flaw in my own cynicism.  Having listened to electronic conversations on social media, full of hatred and anger, admittedly I had grown to be very pessimistic about society.  Generally, to that point, I had believed that we had become a people who talk, but do not speak.  Who hear, but do not listen.  And who would rather talk THAN listen.

This generalization was disproved from all that has occurred on behalf of flooded areas of West Virginia.  

There is a massive amount of work remaining to do. And of the items that were lost, the psychological damage is even worse.  It will take years to rebuild the area, Physically, emotionally and spiritually.

One woman we helped had a grandfather clock proudly displayed in her living room.  Since it was water damaged, it had to be put on the curb as refuse, to be thrown away.  This clock was a gift that she and her now deceased husband had received in 1967 for their wedding.  An item she had to remember him by (pictured below).  Destroyed.

I am going to share some pictures of the effort, which included my 8 year old son, Patrick.  I am so proud of him and the empathy he shows.  He is mature in ways that many adults do not exhibit.

My sister in law also called the local news and told them about my donation collection effort, which I have included below.

I would also be remiss if I didn't mention that this trip and my ability to help physically with the effort was brought about by Regenexx stem cell therapy.

Please consider a cash or item donation for those affected by the flood.


http://wtov9.com/news/local/st-c-man-helping-collect-supplies-for-west-virginia-flood-victims
















Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Sacred sites

Over the weekend, I took my two oldest kids to the Serpent Mound in Peebles, Ohio.  The structure is set on a hillside above a 5 mile diameter meteorite crater that struck approximately 300 million years ago.  The mound itself is thousands of years old.  It is believed that it is intended to depict the constellation Draco, which is situated between Ursa Major and Ursa Minor (Big and Little Bear, or Dippers).  You cannot take a photo of the entire mound at once, even from a very tall observation tower.  It is a coiled serpent, where at the head it is about to swallow an egg.  Each part of the mound lines up with various celestial events throughout the year.


I tend to take an esoteric view of places such as this.  I personally feel there is intrinsic power in these sites, and that is why the ancients built things such as mounds, pyramids and other structures/glyphs in these locations.

I have heard people locally say there is nothing to do where we live.  Nothing is further from the truth.  There are over 300 mounds in Ohio (and there used to be thousands).  The ancient structures are a fascinating and renewing resource that you owe to yourself to visit. 






I walked away from this trip changed in some way.  I think my kids did also.  The conversation on the way home wasn't about video games, soccer, what to eat, etc.  It was about what we had just experienced.  My own problems faded as I realized what we had seen was much older than us, that many generations have passed and yet, this effigy still remains, to tell us a story of the past.  Perhaps of the present and future. 

There was no whining about never having been to Disney, or about things that they perceive that they don't have.  Both were talking about what they wanted to do when we go back.

I am thankful that I can share this with my kids.  So much time is wasted watching TV, playing video games, doing nothing.  Time, unfortunately, is something we can't get back.  I intend to take advantage of that which I have.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

New beginnings

Yesterday, had a great workout in my basement. Last night we built a fire in the back yard. I lay on my back and felt the majesty of the earth and sky.

Last night was the first night in about a year that I didn't take sleep meds.

I woke up this morning and went to sunrise yoga on the waterfront. Felt the breeze from the river touch my face. Allowed the air to fill my lungs. Allowed myself to be present there with my own thoughts rather than all of those around me.

I don't want to mislead anyone into thinking that stem cell therapy is a quick fix to anything. In fact, with this and with any other cure you seek, you must be willing to meet it half way. The healer ultimately is you.   What it did for me was allow me to awaken. And take a path , rather than sit on a bench and watch others walk on past.

When we feel all aspects of ourselves, our true being, our true potential may be reached.




Thursday, June 9, 2016

License to fly

When I decided to go through Regenexx Stem Cell therapy, I looked forward to walking again, maybe playing soccer with the kids, but had already given up on activities I used to do that involved bouncing.

Today was a landmark day for me.  To go from using a cane just 4 months ago, to BOX JUMPS!!!!



I don't know why I did it.  When I walked in, my body just told me to do it.  So I did 40 of these at 20" height!

I wonder what else I will get back?  I really miss doing double unders (where you jump rope two passes at a time).  For today I am all smiles.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Tangible Progress

I wanted to post an update about my health.  I am now a little over 3 months after the Regenexx procedure.  I am now able to sit back on my heels in a squat position:



3 months ago, I could barely walk, and only with the aid of a cane.  

This procedure works.  

I am doing things I had assumed were gone forever.  Slowly losing weight (right now, about 8 lbs less than I was 3 months ago)








Monday, May 30, 2016

You today

I would say over the past year, I have been as miserable as I have been in my entire life.  I let self pity absorb and consume me.  I became the stories I told myself in my head.  My anxiety and depression became my veil.

I am just now starting to climb out of it.  Putting this into perspective, I want to share something that is important to me.

Crossfit has been a redemption for me.  When I switched jobs and had to do more physical labor, it set me back so much that I couldn't do much of anything.  I felt I had lost a part of my soul and had been cast into prison.

Two years ago today, I did a WOD (workout of the day) called 'Murph'.  Crossfit has these wods called hero wods that are named after service men and women (military, police, firefighters) who have died.

Lt. Michael Murphy was a Navy Seal who died in a firefight in Afghanistan in 2005.  His favorite workout was the following:

Run 1 mile
100 pullups
200 pushups
300 air squats
Run 1 mile

This is also the same WOD we do for Murph.

Two years ago, I tipped the scales at 180 lbs.  I did the whole thing, the running, the pullups, the pushups (none on my knees) and all of the air squats.




I had intentions of doing it the next year with a 20 lb vest.

That would not happen.  In fact, at that point, I had started a decline that would see me gain about 35-40 lbs and tailspin into a nightmare of darkness.

So, 2 years later, TODAY,  I did Murph. I am still not running (and not sure if I want to tempt fate), so I did a row machine.



I am carrying too much weight to do the pullups.  Even 4-5 months ago, this would have been enough for me to go get drivethru and drown my sorrows in Mt. Dew.

Instead, today, I did body rows (basically lying on your back and pulling yourself up with gymnastic rings).  It is an easier version of pullups by far.  But you know what, I went.  I sweated.  I didn't focus on my weight and what I CAN'T DO NOW.

What I did today was a first for me in a long time.  Even when I would go to crossfit, spin class, yoga, I nursed a hurt ego.  Or felt like a lesser version of myself whom I was ashamed of.

I didn't feel that today.  I pushed myself and cheered for my other box mates.  They cheered for me.  My body screamed and my face was solid red. I left a sweat angel on the ground (which is a pool of sweat left after laying in waste on the floor).

Listen.  You have two choices.  To live or to die.  Those are your choices.  If you choose the latter, you will know it.  You don't have to put a gun to your head or a rope around your neck to do it.  It happens inside your head long before it happens to your body.  You will start the process by abusing yourself with sugary drinks, bad food, perhaps alcohol, drugs etc.  You will tell yourself you aren't any good for anyone.  That you have outlived your usefulness.

Choosing the former is a different process.  It doesn't happen in one day or one week like choosing to die.  It takes a LOT of hard work to choose to live.  Especially if you have suffered a setback.  You first have to strip yourself naked to the bone (not literally, but figuratively). and face all of the bad habits you have.  All of the BS you have surrounded yourself with.  You then have to make a CONSCIOUS CHOICE to leave it all behind.  You have to stop judging yourself, and get out there and do what you enjoy.  For me it is crossfit.  For you, it may be walking, riding a bike, yoga, water aerobics, anything productive.  Anything.  But productive.

What you need to realize is that there are a lot of people out there pulling for you, hoping you can fly again.  When you are in the 'choosing to die' state, you tell yourself and eventually believe that everyone is laughing at you and enjoys seeing your failure.

When you make this change in your mind, you will feel differently.  The weight that holds down your heart with hatred and anger will lift.  This has a healing effect in and of itself.  Just the conscious shift toward loving yourself from hating yourself.  It is a short walk.  It is also a short walk back.  So you have to remain diligent.

I feel better today.  Yeah, I am not the me of 2 years ago.  But I am me today.  You are YOU today.  There are all kinds of people who envy you today.  So be the best you that you can.  As we get older, this will shift.  But you can't constantly live in the past.  Always look ahead and be thankful for the gifts you have.

God bless.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Climbing out

Become who you are....



Do NOT accept what you have become...



The pit is a deep one.

Nobody will help you out.  Only you can make that decision.

Grab the rope and climb.  The real you is waiting there at the top.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Our healing power

A topic that has fascinated me since I was a child is the study of megalithic structures.  The pyramids have captured everyones' imaginations worldwide.  Approximately 10 years ago, a gentleman named Semir Osmanagich discovered that a vegetated hill in Bosnia was actually a pyramid that had been buried in vegetation over the years.


Skeptics quickly shot him down and said he was delusional.  He continued to press on, funding the project himself with income from his business in the U.S.

As years passed, he discovered an underground tunnel network.  To date, he has discovered approximately 6000 meters of tunnels, including great rooms.  



Many of those who have toured the tunnels have claimed that they have experienced healing of various ailments. Veronika Vranko, a 17-year old girl who had respiratory problems, which involved inflammatory cysts that resulted in lung capacity function of less than 1/2 or normal function, even after surgery to her right lung. After a visits to the underground tunnels, her doctor reported that her lung capacity had increased from 47% to 84%.

Another woman, 54-year old Sevim Mujevia, suffered from high blood pressure for 10 years.  In 2014, her blood pressure measured 220/135.  After she began regularly visiting the tunnels, it is reported that her blood pressure has not exceeded 140/90.

More and more people continued to report this phenomenon. Dr. Osmanagich, although a visionary, is also a pragmatist.  The healing power of the tunnels was not something on his agenda in uncovering them, but became a topic of interest when it became apparent that numerous cases were statistically deconstructing the theory that improved health and visits to the tunnels were a coincidence.

He employed a team of scientists to attempt to unravel the mystery.  It was determined that the tunnels had a presence of electromagnetism and resonance known as Schumann resonance, which has a frequency of 7.83 Hz.  This was believed to have been the resonance of the earth for thousands of years.  There are reports that, for whatever reason, this began to change around the year 1980 and is now at approximately 12 Hz.  

It was also discovered that the tunnel had very high concentrations of negative ions.  The tunnels had a maximum concentration of approximately 60,000 ions per cubic centimeter.  In contrast, the typical concentration in a forest mountaintop is about 1/10 of that concentration.  These negative ions are something we have tried to emulate with air purifiers.  Amazingly, the tunnels have this ability even after being sealed for hundreds or thousands of years.

These factors, as well as the complete absence solar radiation and natural radioactivity, are believed to be the reasons for the healing that has occurred in the tunnels. That in these conditions, the human body can start the self-healing process of regeneration.
________________________________________________

After studying the research of Dr. Osmanagich, it occurred to me just how far we as a society, a species, have strayed from ancient knowledge. Or how we have been steered away from knowledge that would enable us to be healthy without the use of invasive surgery or medications.

It was Nikola Tesla who discovered alternating current electricity.  This type of electricity enabled him to transmit electricity without wires. He dreamed of a world where his Wardencylffe towers would wirelessly transmit energy and broadcasts.  

Wardenclyffe Tower, Long Island, NY
Photo courtesy of Tesla Memorial Society of New York


Although this did not come to fruition in his lifetime, it has been theorized that this is exactly what the ancient pyramids did.  Pyramids exist on all of the continents. Perhaps Tesla uncovered an ancient technology.

Suffice it to say, I see a direct correlation with the aforementioned topics and my recent experience with Regenexx stem cell therapy.  My knee injury is now healing, simply by transplanting stem cells from bone marrow in my hips to my knee.  No magic.  No sorcery or spells.  Simply using the human body's faculties of self-healing.

Stem cell therapy is considered to be experimental.  Controversial.  These labels have been attached by the same lobbies that push pain medications and antidepressants on us.  That encourage us to get a total knee replacement (which is a joint amputation, replaced by an artificial device), rather than have bone marrow extracted from your own body and injecting natural stem cells from that marrow into an injured body part.

These labels have prevented stem cell therapy, at least the version that was performed on me, to be covered by insurance.  This is by design.  As a society, we are completely indebted.  A small percentage have taken the path to financial independence, either by becoming very successful in business, avoiding societal debt,  inheritance, or a combination of all of these.  The large majority are at the mercy of the dictates of the ruling class.  All by design.

We must, as a people, begin to understand the magnitude of this folly, and set about to undo it.  We are at a level of unhealthiness that is unsustainable.  Most of society, particularly western society, is medicating ailments brought about by ingesting toxins, and basically waiting to die.

Like Tesla, we must seek to discover what was once lost, and reimplement it within our society. Like Dr. Osmanagich has discovered, we each must discover our own healing power, inside the tunnels of our own hearts and minds.


I would like to sincerely thank Dr. Semir Osmanagich for allowing me to use his research as part of my blog.  Please visit his website at http://www.semirosmanagic.com/en/

Further thanks to the Tesla Memorial Society of New York, specifically Dr. Ljubo Vujovic. Please visit their incredible site at http://teslasociety.com/

(updated 5-29-16 with Wardenclyffe Tower photograph)


Friday, April 22, 2016

Helping Others

The most poisonous thing we can do to ourselves is focus on our sickness.  Our own pain.

The most therapeutic thing we can do is to focus on the sickness and pain of others, and in helping them.

This video brought this back to me.  You can see the healing properties for both people when my friend Sidney helps her client, Hunter, achieve something he could not do before.  Both benefit.








May God bless you, as he has blessed me.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Acceptance

I struggled yesterday with arthritis symptoms.  It was probably the worst I have felt since the Regenexx procedure, although nowhere near what it was prior to it.

This frustrated me and managed to put me in a very bad mood all day.  This is my typical reaction when things don't go as I want, and something that has held me back throughout my life.

The thing is, this isn't how nature works.  And, we are part of nature.


Nothing  observable in nature.....

Photo courtesy Alfonso Salgueiro Lora, Flickr Commons

                                                                          ......is linear.

Photo courtesy George Moga, Flickr Commons



 Everything in nature takes a path of least resistance.  This isn't because it is inherently lazy.  It is because the shortest path to a destination, or even to healing, is not a straight line.  Nature knows this.  Water knows that traveling in a straight line from point A to point B requires much more energy, than traveling along level and decreasing contours.  

We are not exempt from the laws of nature.  Every day is not going to be linearly better, healthier than the previous day.  It is when we decide that we know better than nature what we should do that we run into problems.  When we allow ourselves to adapt to nature's will, we can avoid setback and frustration.

When we accept what is, and allow ourselves to flow with the path of least resistance toward our destination, we can accomplish so much more than if we smash through barriers that should rather be avoided.
Photo courtesy Ding Zhou, Flickr Commons, http://dingzhouphoto.com


By accepting what is, today, we can discover more about ourselves and our purpose.  We can allow ourselves to heal and improve, physically, mentally, spiritually, by simply being present with where we are.  We can discover God's plan for us, rather than decide what our plan should be.


Photo courtesy Tim Geers, Wikimedia Commons






Saturday, April 16, 2016

Keep looking up

"There's a reason why this prison is the worst hell on earth... Hope. Every man who has ventured here over the centuries has looked up to the light and imagined climbing to freedom. So easy... So simple... And like shipwrecked men turning to sea water from uncontrollable thirst, many have died trying. I learned here that there can be no true despair without hope."

~ Bane explaining The Pit to Bruce Wayne in The Dark Knight Rises


Photo courtesy  Flickr Commons

How many times have we seen the light and turned our faces down in despair? Our only choice is hope. Faith can pull you through. 

We must never, ever let go. So often in life, we are almost out of the pit when we fall back to the bottom. Day by day, thought by thought....you can be free. Hope can overcome despair.

Friday, April 15, 2016

A layman's description of Regenexx Stem Cell Therapy





If you know me at all, you know how vocal I am about the recent procedure I went through for my osteoarthritis.  I wanted to explain in my own terms what the Regenexx procedure is and what it involves.

As I have mentioned previously in this blog, I have severe osteoarthritis (OA) in my left knee due to an injury that occurred about 15 years ago.  I have dealt with this medically through a number of ways, including two knee surgeries, steroid injections (for my knee, back and neck), gel injections, to name a few.  Where I began to see improvement was through chiropractic care, omitting foods that are high in sugar or gluten, and exercise.  Despite my best efforts, I eventually succumbed to the injury and was unable to walk without the use of a cane or leg brace. 

At this point, I decided to talk earnestly with an orthopedic surgeon about my options.  Although the minimum recommended age for a knee replacement is 50, at age 42, I had two separate orthopedic surgeons tell me that my OA was bad enough in my left knee to justify a replacement.  One of these doctors told me that he would put my knee at the age of someone in their 60s who had OA.

One day at a friend’s house, I told him of my plans, since he and I both shared a similar knee injury.  My friend is also a physical therapist, and he strongly encouraged me to forego the replacement, as he had seen this result in hip problems, along with the probability that the procedure could not be repeated, which would leave me completely out of a knee.

He had been researching stem cell therapy, and showed me a series of videos for a procedure originating in Colorado named Regenexx.  I was initially very skeptical and told him although I was impressed with the videos, I would need to think on it.  After all, I was already scheduled for the knee replacement, and what guarantee did I have that this wasn’t some marketing ploy by a crafty company, or that this would even work for me?

The wheels had already started to turn however, so I dug into their literature.  The great thing about Regenexx is the sheer volume of research they have done on their procedure.  If you are a numbers junky or love compare charts and charts of data, as I do, I encourage you to go to their website at www.regenexx.com.  If you think I am nuts for enjoying that sort of thing, I’ve got you covered, because I am going to explain to you exactly what the procedure is, and how it differs from others that are being offered.

All through our bodies there are stem cells.  I am no doctor and cannot go into great detail on this, but basically, stem cells are workers inside your body whose job it is to repair tissue.  When you go through an injury, such as I did involving a car accident, the toxicity in the injured area can drive away the stem cells.  In their absence, things start to go south.  In my case, my cartilage began to degenerate.  Nothing was there to help sustain it, and according to one study I read, cartilage in the knee due to OA can degenerate at a rate of approximately 4-5% per year:



Assuming this is true, over a 10-15 year period, you would lose the majority of your cartilage from the injured joint. 
  
 The Regenexx procedure consists of four visits:

1. Initial evaluation and determination of qualification for procedure.  Any doctor who performs the Regenexx procedure must go to training in the home facility in Colorado.  Only about 1 out of every 10 doctors who apply to perform this procedure are accepted by Regenexx.  So rest assured that if you go to a clinic that performs this procedure, they want to represent the brand as best as they can.  Not everyone qualifies for the procedure. That is to say, not everyone is a good candidate.  This is too complicated for me to go into here, but the takeaway is that your doctor will tell you your odds of the procedure’s ability to work for you.  If you agree to go to the next step, you will be scheduled for 3 additional visits:

2.  Prolotherapy:  This is a fancy term for an injection of saline/sugar solution.  This is prep for the actual stem cell therapy.  I noticed nothing at all after this.  No additional pain or relief.

3. The big day!  Stem cell therapy!    This is about 3 days after the prolotherapy.

a.       You start the day with a blood draw. 
b.       About half hour later, you have the bone marrow extraction.  Most of the questions I have had are about the bone marrow extraction.  First of all, you are completely awake for all of this.  No sedation, you walk out the same day and don’t have the side effects of being put to sleep.  This puts the fear of God in some people.  The pain of the bone marrow extraction is on par with getting a cavity drilled.  I wouldn’t rate it any worse than that.  You lay on your stomach, they numb you up, then you put headphones on to drown out the sound of the drill.  You feel a slightly unpleasant pressure for a short time, then your doctor taps you on the shoulder and says you are all done, go get some breakfast!
c.       About 2-2.5 hours later, you get the stem cell injection.  They injected me in three locations in my knee (about 1/3 of the vial of stem cells in each location) and honestly, I didn’t feel much of anything.  After this, you are done.  You will feel woozy from the blood draw and events of the day, so you need someone to drive you.

4. Post stem cell platelet (SCP) blood draw.  This is one of the unique characteristics of this procedure.  They take more blood from you after the fact, spin that down into a strong concentration of platelets, and inject it into the stem cell-rich area to help boost their effectiveness.  The platelets act as a sort of espresso shot for the stem cells.

Here is a great video of what happens with the stem cell platelet process, and why the length of the procedure helps improve the outcome: 





So, what makes this different from the other method that is being performed locally, which is the use of fat-extracted stem cells?  In a nutshell, the amount of stem cells they harvest from marrow is massive compared to that from fat. 

Why is that important?  When they inject the stem cells in your injured joint, your immune system attacks them.  They are soldiers who don’t know any better than to attack what they perceive as a foreign body that has been air dropped into the battlefield. 

I can personally vouch for this.  Although I couldn’t see inside my knee the evening of my stem cell injection, I know there must have been a battle on the level of the beaches of Normandy, because my knee swelled out to a size somewhere between a golf ball and tennis ball.  This eventually subsided.

Bone marrow stem cells are more appropriate for orthopedic tissue repair with the Regenexx process negating any difference in the stem cell content of bone marrow versus fat. 

I have heard of someone locally who had the fat-extracted stem cell method performed more than once, and that ‘it helps for a little while, but not much’. 

As for me, about 1 week after the last injection, I was completely free of the cane, walking with only a knee brace.  I was able to walk up and down steps, something that would have been impossible for me to do just a week prior without leaning heavily on a cane.

I am now almost 7 weeks post-op, and am completely free of the knee brace.  I am working through physical therapy, working on regaining stability of the joint, riding a stationary bike and swimming laps.

More importantly, I am playing with my kids!  Doing house chores (a harmful side-effect of getting better, I am afraid 😁), and generally, living a happier life. 

I was in a very dark place in the lead up to this procedure.  To put it bluntly, I was miserable and making everyone around me miserable.  Regenexx has done more for me than transplant stem cells….it has renewed my hope.  It has started to grow a belief in myself and my self-worth that I thought I had completely lost.  In short, it has saved my life.

If you decide to explore the Regenexx option, you need to ask yourself what your health is worth to you.  Look at the testimonies on their website, listen to mine.  I have nothing to gain from this by telling you what it has done for me.  I am not being paid by them to say ingratiating things about them.  It is just that I see so much suffering.  I see so many people in so much pain, losing so much of their life.  Seeing their families lose that time with them.

If you are told by anyone that you cannot regrow cartilage, that is unequivocally a lie.   Recently on an episode of the doctors, a Regenexx patient was showcased that had lost cartilage, and had replenished it through this procedure:




Someone I recently met, Julie Cerrone, who has for the past few years walked on crutches, has completely regained her life in an amazing way. 





She is a Patient Influence Network Director and actively spreads the good news of her recovery, and gives advice on how to lead a healthy, happy life.  Please watch her video and check out her website at http://www.itsjustabadday.com/

These are only a couple of success stories out of the thousands of procedures that have been performed. 

With that, I will end this entry into my blog.  May God bless you as he has me.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Focus on the things you can do, not what you cannot do

At my lowest, I found it was hardest to motivate myself to do anything.  In fact, I felt as though it was just punishment for me, for the mistakes I had made, for who I had become, to sit and do nothing. Add nothing to myself.

This is vicious cycle that can happen with chronic pain and depression.  You ache, so you self-lament.  You self-lament, which makes the aching worse.  You sit in a pool of despair,  not wishing to get out.  

I say this only to say, I understand.  I understand how revolting it is to hear someone tell you to do something, because every instinct in you wants to lash out and tell that person that they don't or couldn't understand what you are going through.

So what I want to offer are suggestions for how to keep moving.  It is so important to keep moving.  For many of my friends, moving physically is either very difficult or not possible.  So in the absence of that, what you can move is your mind.

Knit.  Carve.  Write.  Make a home-made card or gift for a friend who needs support.  Get a puzzle off the shelf.  

Idle hands (and an idle mind) are the devil's tool.  It leaves you reaching out and projecting your pain on those around you, which only drags them down and hurts you and your relationship with them.  

I have found that social media can be a great tool to connect with and support others.  It also has the effect of exacerbating symptoms of depression, when you focus on others' thoughts about religion, politics, etc.  It is OK to ACCEPT people for who they are, or to simply accept that they exist and may not be on your wavelength. But you don't have to ABSORB THEIR CONSCIOUSNESS.  

In the following video, Chris Dugan, a former NFL player who has had at least 28 brain surgeries for an illness known as Chiari Malformation (as of this video), talks about how important it is to approach life with a proper attitude.  That we have a choice everyday of one of two attitudes: a positive one or a negative one.  That we cannot change the way others act towards us, but we can change our perception of their actions, and our own interactions.  To focus on the things you CAN DO, not the things you CAN'T DO.  




We compare ourselves to an impossible idealistic standard.  All of us, everyday.  What we were capable of at 18.  How we look compared to airbrushed images of people we see.  To elite athletes.  To successful business-people.  

What you must do in order to be successful yourself, is first to accept yourself, and work with who you are.  This last point is a huge struggle for me, and one that I have come nowhere near accomplishing.  But I will continue to roll the stone, to carry forth who I am and try to make that the best version of me that I can. 

Monday, April 11, 2016

Great advice.

http://www.social-consciousness.com/2013/09/how-negative-energy-affects-your-life-and-how-to-clear-it.html?m=1

Sunlight through the rain

Every day begins with one thought. For me, most recently, this has been a self hating thought. That first thought sets the tone for the entire day. Those who have slighted us, something we perceive happened to us....the other party involved doesn't care about you. They are battling with themselves. Don't get drawn into the battle. Focus on building yourself from within. Focus on what you CAN do, not what you can't do. 

Focus on what you will do today to make yourself better. On those you will help. Not on those who try to hurt you. See the sunlight through the rain. 



Photo courtesy Zoltan Kelemen, Flickr Commons

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Lets get started

Hello everyone, I guess I have to start somewhere, so let me give some background on myself, who I was, am, and who I intend to be.

First, who I was.  Many years ago, I was a very successful athlete.  In high school, I was all state cross country and track, and I also qualified for states in wrestling.  My high school records for 1600 and 3200 stood for 25 years.

I went on to run cross country and track in college, twice all-conference and academic all-american, and competing at the national meet 3 times in cross country.

I went on to earn a masters in Environmental Engineering, which eventually became my profession.

Now, fast forward to the year 2000.  My wife and I were out for a drive when I attempted to pass a car in front of us.  The car turned left (into us, never having signaled that it was doing so), which caused our car to flip twice.

We escaped with our lives.  I thought I had been relatively injury free, but years later learned that this would not be the case.  In pictures from the car accident, I can see a large red mark on my left knee.   

I noticed almost immediately that I had difficulty with running.  My left knee felt like it had a stabbing pain.  I kept trying to run through the years, only to feel this ability diminish.

I discovered crossfit, which was a great outlet for me, since there are so many aspects of it that do not involved pounding your knees.  I also took up yoga.

In 2014, I switched jobs to a field that required me to walk a great deal on uneven slopes (whereas before I sat at a desk all day).  This proved to be my undoing.  I quit this job and went back to my previous one, but found that I was nearly unable to walk, and then, only with the use of a cane.



I managed to gain about 30 pounds over that year, fell into a deep fit of depression (something I have battled for a great deal of my life), and struggled physically and mentally.

Although only 42 years old, one of the top local knee surgeons said I qualified for a partial knee replacement. I scheduled this, then learned about a stem cell procedure known as Regenexx. I changed course and now, 6 weeks after the procedure, am shoveling out of the hole I fell into. I will share much more about this procedure which I feel is revolutionary and life changing. 

Coupling all of this is my wife's illnesses, which have nearly killed her twice. Beginning in 2007, she has had numerous brain and spinal cord surgeries for Arnold Chiari Malformation and Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. Through it all, maintaining a strength for me and our three beautiful children that I could only aspire to possess.

What I intend for this blog to do is to be a sort of diary. I don't intend to get on here and preach, for I have no sermon to offer. This shall be a theater of the heart. What I am going through at any given time. Something I did to bring myself up. Something that triggered a new low,that caused the stone to roll to the bottom of the hill.

I mean to offer hope through my days of hope. To offer solace in my days of hopelessness. Just simply to share my life with anyone who feels it would benefit them. 

All I ask is that you avoid conflict with comments. Provide support to each other and ask questions. I once had all of the answers. Time and experience have shown me that I had only knowledge I had gained from a doctor, an article, another person, a website. I will answer honestly based on my own experience but won't offer medical advice, because the only credentials I have are how I have managed my own body and mind. 

I have had this question asked of me, pertaining to my injury, my disability, my chronic pain....how much of it do you think is mental? The question of course implies that I am imagining some if not all of my leg, neck and back pain. After much reflection, my answer to this is that it is all the completely mental and physical. There is no grey line. No pie chart to distribute each amount. The pain of loss, the pain of missing out, the pain, simply the pain itself, consumes every corner of your mind. It feeds the nightmares and feeds the misery.

And only through your mind can you battle that which ails your body. The two are intertwined. And I want you to realize that I believe you when you say you hurt. You ache. I believe you because I am there and have been there for years at varying degrees.

Lastly, who I intend to be. I intend to be a better version of me. Eckhart Tolle speaks of the manifestation of ego, a version of ourself that projects our worst attributes. This is who I am now. I intend to disassemble this version of myself and be the me that I know I can be.