I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it myself. Yesterday was the 6 week follow-up appointment with my stem cell doctor, and he wanted to do an ultrasound of my left hip to see if there was any progress.
Initially, I said no, I didn’t want to see, because if there were no signs of improvement I would be severely, irrevocably deflated. He then quickly reassured me that six weeks was still soon after the procedure, and that often times you can’t tell a visual difference anyway. We didn’t have to look, he said, if I didn’t want to.
Well, that just made me want to look. After a moment of thought, I told him to go for it, because my curiosity would get the best of me. It would be nice to know if the months of hard work I’d been doing with nutrition, supplementation, and exercise had made any difference at all.
The ultrasound gel was cold. I didn’t mind. Much better than my previous visit, when I lay on the table writhing in pain as they extract bone marrow from my lower back.
There were a short few moments of silence as the doctor studied the images on the computer screen, and then he looked at me with excitement in his eyes.
“You can already tell a difference,” were his words.
I swallowed in disbelief, and said the first thing that came to my mind: “No way.”
“Yes,” he said, the corners of his mouth turning up into a subtle smile. “There’s a clear difference from six weeks ago. You can see for yourself.”
He turned the screen towards me and pointed out my femur, and the line of cartilage he claimed was growing back. He then showed me a screenshot from six weeks ago of the same area, and there was a clear gap in the cartilage, almost like a gate door was left open. (I know, weird analogy, but that’s what came to mind). Even my untrained eye could see there was a clear, obvious improvement between the two images. In the new image, the gate had appeared almost closed.
“Hell yes,” escaped from lips before I could stop it. I asked him to flip back to today’s ultrasound, and then visually soaked up the improved image as much as I could, trying to burn it into my memory. Looking back, I should have taken a screenshot of the thing with my phone.
Walking (limping with my crutches) out of the office that sunny afternoon, the first thing I did was call my hubby and give him the good news. Then I texted/called other family and friends who had been supporting and praying for me during this ordeal. To actually have solid good news to report was surreal.
It’s still early yet, and I know I have a long way to go, but it so, so nice to finally be moving in the right direction. To say this year has been brutal would be a vast understatement. It’s also nice to know that the pain reduction and strength gains from the last six weeks have not been in my head. The mind can play tricks on you, after all.
And then there’s the question of how much aqua therapy is playing a role since the stem cells are obviously working. I still believe the water exercises and jacuzzi sessions have been very important. The stem cell doc prescribed physical therapy to go hand-in-hand with the stem cell therapy after all, so the two are working together. And there’s no denying that I was in less pain from the very first day I stepped into the pool.
We’ll see what the next six weeks bring, when I have another follow-up appointment. I have to stay focused and keep working hard.
It’s just nice to have some positive results, finally.