AWAKENINGS

Human Embryonic Stem Cell Therapy Restores Hope for Amanda

7.19.07

Only in an Indian hospital would a patient be fed spicy orange-yellow curry with roti bread lying
down for lunch. Now, how is one meant to eat runny curry lying down and not spill? I‘m proud
to declare, ―I did it!‖ but I‘ve had practice. On three separate occasions (and sitting up mind
you) permanent yellow-ochre turmeric stains have bled into my white cotton pants and two white
tops. How do Indians stay clean? In a month‘s time I‘ll soak them in some strong American
bleach, and if the stains don‘t come out, then they‘ll serve as my reminder of curry in Delhi and
God-awful heartburn. ―Nehaan–No more curry for Miss Amanda…I beg, Madaaaaaaaam,
pleeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaazzzzzzzzzzze NO!!!‖
Today Mum and I witnessed Dr. Shroff produce another world first. I cried, Mum cried, we all
cried (I think it‘s in our Australian blood to cry, plus the fact that I am a hormonal female might
have something to do with it). Dr. Shroff has entrusted us implicitly with her exciting news so
we cannot divulge anything right now, but beware, in a month‘s time, this news will make global
headlines! Oprah, we are still waiting for you to contact us—this story is bigger than anything?
Has anyone got ANY connections?
I continue to be in awe of Dr. Geeta Shroff. I am humbled by her astuteness, her grace, and her
personable, unassuming nature. She has brought life and newfound optimism to so many people
who had reason to give up. I am blessed to be one of the few who have discovered Dr. Shroff
and to receive treatment from her and her staff. Simply said, she is phenomenally phenomenal.
Today I had another stem cell procedure, which was less invasive than the previous. Dressed
with my hair in a pony tail, my jeans unzipped, and a bottle green hospital gown open down the
back I lay on my side in the fetal position in Dr. Ashish‘s operating theater. A male assistant
dressed in surgical blue stood over me like a guardian angel, holding my body in position on the
two foot wide narrow table. Dr. Ashish injected two doses of stem cells into the muscles on
either side of my injury site on my back…and that was it. Yes, it was over before I could count
to a hundred. I was taken to my little room to rest for an hour or so with a fan humming loudly
overhead, a good book, and the curry.
When my heartburn was beginning to rise in my throat and every burp brought curry on to my
taste buds, Chavi entered the room to measure my legs–my beautiful faithful Chavi and PT from Heaven. Chavi recorded that the swelling in my legs has decreased significantly since my first
day of treatment on June 25th. They are slimmer by up to one or two centimeters in
circumference around my thighs, calves, and ankles. I have LEGS at last…and I am the proud
owner of ANKLES—ankles that are no longer swollen globs of purple-white. Will this last? If I
keep up my physical therapy and tie-die my uglier-than-ugly white medical stockings, then me
thinks they might stay slim. Chavi also confirmed that my strength has increased in my legs, my
balance is better, my spasticity has decreased by 50-60%, and I continue to pee regularly
(emptying at least 50% on my own). Next week I will stand up in leg braces and my therapy will
become more rigorous. I am ready. Bring it on Chavi!

Mr. Singh, his wife Geeta, and his physical therapist Dr. Deepti, were once again color-
coordinated today—it was Yellow Day! Without seeming too impolite, I tactfully questioned
them directly whether they made their morning phone call to match up their outfits. Mr. Singh
affirmed that it was indeed Yellow Day. According to Hindu Astrology Thursdays represent
Jupiter and the color yellow. Each day apparently corresponds to a different color. I‘ve
determined this is a great excuse to go shopping. Mum is set up for boring white and green days
(and sadly there isn‘t a day for pink—except for maybe on Friday). I‘m going to do my best to
surprise Mr. Singh every day next week with a synchronized outfit. Here‘s the list: Sunday-red;
Monday-white; Tuesday-orange; Wednesday-green; Thursday-yellow; Friday-any color;
Saturday-blue or black. Gabrielle and Dale, I shall expect you to pack your suitcases
accordingly .
Mr. Singh insightfully read my palm and predicted that I‘ll have two baby girls and that the next
forty years will be a whole lot better than the first forty. First comes love, then comes….? It
must be the week for palm reading, as Dr. Shroff made a similar prediction, following her
remarks with… ―And when is Dale coming (I mean visiting)? Let‘s get started!‖
My Hindi continues to improve with a few new words learned each week. Don‘t worry, I won‘t
come home with a lyrical rhythm to my speech—that‘d be too much entwined with my Aussie
Yankie mishmash. My tongue loves wrapping itself around names such as Chatorrrrrsingh,
Shakuntala, Iysha, Rrrrrrrrrrromita, Raj, Geeta, Krrrrrrishna, Jeet, Arrrreeeena, Bhatttttti,
Brrrianca, Chavi, Deepti, Opi, Ashish, Rajeev, or Vandana. Of course, there are a bzillion that I simply cannot pronounce nor attempt to remember. Often people will shorten their names on
purpose for us westerners to cope.
Dr. Shroff has a brand new hospital facility. On March 17th she purchased a five-story building
on a busy street located in Green Park, South Delhi.

Hospital Lobby

On July 16th two floors became
operational—the ground floor lobby/meeting area; and the basement level therapy department
with a nurses facility that accommodates five beds.

Therapy Gym

The physical/occupational therapy
department is outstanding and meets American standards. The room is huge, air-conditioned,
clean, mirrored, and freshly painted in cheerful blues and yellows with matching curtains. Four
therapy beds take up one third of the gymnasium, with various therapeutic apparatus for patients
to use such as steps, parallel walking bars, ladders etc. One corner is devoted specifically to a
fine-motor work area for hand-eye coordination etc.
Dr. Shroff gave us a quick tour of the first floor, which is expected to open for patients beginning
next Monday. This floor‘s bright color scheme is orange and yellow and accommodates a
nurse‘s station with approximately six rooms. Each room has its own accessible bathroom with
toilet and shower. A shower chair or bench will be provided for wheelchair users. The rooms
will most likely be filled with twin beds for the patient and a caregiver, along with a small
refrigerator and countertop. I did notice one room that has an adjoining room for a family
member or caregiver and a little extra space, along with a shared bathroom. In a separate corner
on this floor was a ―living room‖ filled with a television, chairs and couches for patients to relax
and be social. The attention to detail is superb. The next floor will be the same design but in
green, and the top floor will be decorated in blue–which is where the operating theater will
eventually reside. Again, Dr. Shroff continues to make huge strides every day, keeping up with
her influx of patients from around the globe.
The countdown is on to Mum‘s sad departure. I asked her to stay one more week but she is
ready to leave, which I respect. She has been an absolute Godsend and has helped me in so
many ways. Each night she draws the curtains I can‘t reach; she hangs my clothes in the closet
that are too high to grasp; she cooks; she rescues me when I nearly don‘t make it from the
shower chair to my wheelchair; she turns the light out when we go to bed; and she even boils the
kettle in the morning for my dose of caffeine. They are little things but they are HUGE. Yet
mostly, Mum has been my best friend and my adoring Mummy (all the Indians call her my Mummy) this past month…and I couldn‘t have made it without her. We have laughed, we have
cursed, and we have cried together. She has encouraged me every step, roll, movement, and
breath of the way through this process. We have played numerous games of Scrabble; she has
kept me sane when I have either lost it or almost lost it; we‘ve grocery shopped; clothes shopped;
knick-knack shopped; been tourists; and we‘ve been haggled enough together for a lifetime. She
stands by my side, tells me I need to eat more protein, and I absolutely LOVE her for it. She
cares and I am her Baby. I am going to miss Mum so much. When we begin finishing each
other‘s sentences I know that we‘ve connected again on an inseparable Mother-Daughter level. I
only wish we lived closer than half way around the world. Finding Dr. Shroff and coming to
India has been Mum‘s dream as much as mine. She aches to see me walk again, yet she knows
that I am content and happy in my life regardless. Mum, one day I will walk by your side
looking for that elusive pink shell on Currimundi Beach and we will wiggle our toes in the sand.
Never lose sight of the dream—for your daughter and for the rest of the world. If I don‘t walk
again in my lifetime, then hold the belief that we are paving the way for others who will take
their first steps with Dr. Shroff‘s innovative therapy.

Me and Mum!


So, it‘s farewell to Mum on Sunday. Saturday night we will dress up in our Punjabi suits and go
for our last supper. On Wednesday I have my dearest Gabrielle arriving. Get ready Gab for a
whirlwind trip in exotic Delhi.
Tonight‘s dinner: A juicy mango, kiwi fruit and fresh plain yogurt (to tame the curry from
lunch).
With so much love and kisses to all…thank you for your emails, encouragement, well wishes!

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