Human Embryonic Stem Cell Therapy Restores Hope for Amanda

January 11 – January 26, 2008


Tami in our cozy 12’x10′ hospital room


Delhi Ellie

First two weeks, January 11 – January 26, 2008

Saturday, January 26, 2008 – Republic Day in India (and Australia Day too!)

Today the Australian headlines read:  Beer, Barbies and Babes.  Aussie, Aussie, Aussie…Oi, Oi, Oi…  I don’t think the Indian’s have such a chant for their holiday (or I haven’t yet heard it).  Every noise seems to be drowned out by constant horn honking abuzz with traffic zooming by and an aircraft roaring overhead.  Silence doesn’t exist in Delhi.  Now that I am a tiny bit more seasoned to the racket and frenetic pace of this absurd city, I’ve learned that peace must come from within.  I see it in every person on the street.  That calm equanimity and air of happiness emanates from the gaze of a homeless woman sitting on the curb; to the security guard in front of the hospital; to the auto rickshaw driver quietly sitting in seven lanes of smog-filled traffic.  In the four months I have been gone from this city, nothing has changed.  Delhi will always be chaotic, yet life flows here.  I am dumbfounded by this paradoxical dance…hysteria entwined with serenity. 

If a chant exists to celebrate Republic Day in India, it’s most likely permeated with “Om” in a rhythm that is more Godly and spiritual that resonates with the soul. 

Tonight, we’ll celebrate Australia Day with some Aussie friends foregoing the traditional Barbie for a still-somewhat-westernized-dinner of lamb minus cumin, coriander and turmeric, ending with a promised apple pie and ice-cream for dessert.  Yes, very Aussie, which my belly is hungry for after two weeks of curry.  Mmmmm.  I must say, with fingers crossed in fear of jinxing myself, that my clothes are stain-free of saffron and bright yellow curry.  Alex Shaw has invited us to dinner with her hubbie, David, and their two kids, Laura and Jack.  David has very aggressive and debilitating ALS yet he is putting up a stellar fight.  The family opted to sell their home in Australia and move to India to receive Human Embryonic Stem Cell therapy from Dr. Shroff.  It seems to be the only treatment that is keeping David alive infusing his life and his family with hope. 

January 26 celebrates India’s establishment as a Republic in 1950.  Mahatma Ghandi, India’s greatest advocate for a nonviolent passage to Independence from Britain, called the people to work toward independence on this day in 1930.  The celebration lasts for three days.  While Delhi never comes to a standstill, many of the streets are closed; a terrorist alert is imposed upon the city; a parade showing off India’s military tanks, missiles, camels, and elephants is broadcast on National television; and Dr. Geeta’s patients don’t have physical therapy!   Chavi was granted a day to sleep in.  During our PT session yesterday she mentioned that she had purposely requested her Mummy not to wake her this morning so she could rest in delicious heaven—a rarity for my blessed physical therapist who works diligently six days a week.  When I woke at 7:53 this morning, I prayed Chavi was sleeping sweetly and soundly.  One consolation for today:  I still get my daily IM (intramuscular) injections of stem cells, regardless of the holiday. 

Later this week January 30th marks Martyr’s Day.  On this day in 1948 Gandhi was assassinated by a Hindu fanatic in New Delhi.  So, it’s a celebratory week and holy time for prayers and songs for our Indian friends.

I find it hard to believe that I am already two weeks into my month-long treatment.  I haven’t been in a mental space to write, taking my time to process many thoughts, and visit with friends from around the globe.  This is our first day of rest. 

Mum finished one book and is on to a James Patterson thriller titled: The Quickie.  I can always count on Mum bringing along a few James Patterson novels to pass the time away.  She especially loves his books because he sets the scene in four pages, making the rest of the read a page-turner.

Mum’s been here almost a week.  Tami Cassetty, my beautiful new friend and physical therapist from home, spent the first week transitioning me into Delhi and hospital life.  Tami was as awesome a friend I could ask for.  She really stepped up to the plate and had to drag me from my britches out of Basalt the day we departed in a full-on blizzard.  January 11th was disastrous weather wise.  In fear of a cancelled flight out of Aspen, I scrambled to leave some five hours early as Gabrielle frantically stuffed the last items of clothing into my suitcase, and drove off with my sweet Tucker in the back seat.  (Thank you Gab).  Tami then drove us to DIA, braving horizontal snowstorms, icy conditions, and cross winds on I-70.  Even more courageous was Tami’s mom, who drove almost seven hours home to Carbondale that evening after dropping us off at the International terminal.  Our journey had just begun.  Twenty hours in cattle class was torturous on my already-spent body (United never granted my upgrade, which is a whole other story in itself).  My wheelchair hadn’t been tagged properly and was lost for almost an hour and half in Frankfurt, and to make matters worse, I realized my favorite silver watch had dropped off my wrist as I sped through the streets of Delhi to our hotel.  For a mere 600 Rupees my wrist is now garlanded in a lovely Indian Sonata with a blue dial to keep track of time (it’s quite boring really).

Having Tami visit Delhi with me was absolutely perfect.  Tami and Chavi met and swapped Amanda stories chatting about my progress.  Chavi was able to show her some new exercises and in turn, Tami was able to share some new ideas with Chavi.  Tami was a perfect travel buddy and caregiver.  I appreciated having her company so much.  Each morning she would call home to her husband, her Mom, and her two adorable kids.  I loved hearing her chat as a Mommy to her girls, Megan and Maeve.  She asked about their days and sent them hugs and kisses from afar.  It made me yearn to have a family of my own one day.  Tami is a beautiful Mommy and it shows in her children.  My favorite comment from Tami while she was in India was:  “Where’s the beef?”  This is how I will remember Tami in Delhi.

1 Comment»

  Helen Richards wrote @

Thinking of you, Amanda. Looking forward to hearing more exciting news of your progress… It was good to catch up with your Mum…
Would love to be ‘touring’ Delhi with you…
Love Helen & Jessie

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