Human Embryonic Stem Cell Therapy Restores Hope for Amanda

May 22nd–The Week That Was

Ah, it feels good to have my fingers tap away on my keyboard after a ten-day dry spell.  Yes, my computer crashed.  Thank goodness for Dell India!  A clever technician rightly predicted that my computer’s problem was due to a faulty video card, which had to be FedExed from nowhere else but…the USA!  Ten days later and viola—I have a new motherboard, a replaced video card, a new three-pronged adapter, and a computer that is fully functioning.  Apparently the two-pronged power adapter had insufficient voltage and caused the breakdown.  Oh, India!

I am propped up on two pillows on top of a semi-hard linoleum covered mattress in Room 201 at the older hospital in Delhi’s Gataum Nagar.  Even with a five-inch catheter inserted into my back and itchy micropore adhesive tape covering my entire spine, I feel at home here.  I have been admitted for a three-day epidural catheter spinal procedure.  I’ve just finished painting my third watercolor—a mountain scene dreaming of Colorado.  My ears tune into the familiar squeals as clusters of children play in the park outside my window.  My belly is full after virtually inhaling four rye crackers smothered with wild Sockeye Salmon for lunch.  I snuck a suitcase filled with yummy goodies through customs to endure my month-long visit—I can only tolerate curry a few nights a week.  Dr. Shroff will be happy to know that I’ve had my protein for the day.  The air conditioner whirrs and I am content.  Judy is out with another patient’s husband sightseeing Old Delhi walking pavement that is four centuries old.  

The days have been pleasantly cooler this week.  Judy brought an early monsoon with her.  During the wee hours of the morning we have witnessed torrential rain pelting down with almost cyclonic wind gusts, loud claps of thunder, and dark purple skies lit up with spectacular lightning fireworks.  Judy repeats over and over, “I can’t believe I forgot my rain jacket!  I was expecting 110°F temps and dry heat.”  All I keep thinking is…Give it a few days Jude and you’ll get what you’re asking for without a doubt!

The Week That Was

May 11th marked the birthday of my Godson in Tasmania—Happy 6th Birthday Joel!  I haven’t seen Joel or his family for more than four years.  He is such a big boy now.  Not surprisingly, Emily’s Spa arrived a day late due to Continental’s delayed flight plan—air is inevitably unpredictable it seems.  She endured hours or should I say “days” of travel to fly half way around the globe to selflessly care for me.  Em left her husband and eighteen month baby boy behind to experience Delhi at its best and most challenging.      

We threw Em into a three-day living hell for me.  I had the dreadful “lumbar puncture procedure” that every patient fears.  For me this procedure means a three-day headache combined with continuous dry-heaving and nausea.  As I continue with my stem cell treatments my body seemingly becomes more sensitive or baby-like.  Em soothed my furrowed brow with a damp cool washcloth; she curled up behind me and held me tight; she bathed my hands in peppermint and lemongrass oils; she worked my points with reflexology to help the nausea go away; and she emanated such unconditional love that any friend would savor for life.  Em even prepared tiny toast squares with the crust cut off, each one buttered individually for me to try to stomach, along with apple and banana chunks.  She was my Godsend.  I swear I couldn’t have done it alone!  Thank God for Emily Hightower!  Em pulled me through the worst of the worst and nursed me back to health.  For three days, while Delhi buzzed on in its chaotic madness, Em caved up in my hospital room to help me recover.  The lumbar puncture is invasive and typically induces a massive headache as the cerebral spinal fluid is tapped.  A fine needle was expertly inserted by Dr. Ashish into the thoracic site of my injury inside the spinal cord.  He then flushed my shredded cord with life-infusing stem cells.  I held onto the vision of the cells saturating my spinal cells and feeding them God’s nectar.  Even as my head began to pound and my stomach churned I played this vision over and over in my mind.  Emily reinforced the image in my mind by verbally walking me through a visualization of energetic light traveling through my spine reaching up into my skull, the plates separating and pressure releasing from my crown.  Literally, as she verbalized these words while pressing the back of my neck and base of my spine with each hand, I felt a tremendous release in pressure.  Instantly I felt nauseous and I dry-heaved one more time.  Her intuitive healing abilities are sharp and spot on.  Later Emily expressed that she too felt the release and her own pangs of nausea.  She literally felt my angst and pain.  Em is a kindred spirit and I cannot reiterate how incredibly blessed I was to have her live through this procedure with me.  Thank you my Angel friend.

Em had the opportunity to put her skills to work and treat two patients in the hospital (Leah and Patricia, a lady with ALS from Australia) with Thai Massage and Reflexology.  She also bravely conducted a small yoga class for the patients and caregivers, which was yet another fine example of Emily’s selfless giving toward others.  As the week neared to a close, Em’s little boy was calling her home and she left a day earlier than scheduled.  I am not sure if I could leave a little one at home for the first time and travel thousands of miles away from my Baby.  She is a mother, a wife, yoga teacher, intuitive healer, friend, and a soul sister for life. 

The room felt empty without Emily.  I sat in Room 208 at Nu Tech Mediworld last Sunday, alone.  A tear rolled down my cheek as I drank my morning coffee by myself and I felt so far away.  I had to remind myself of my purpose for being here in India, literally half way around the world where the earth has rotated exactly 11 ½ hours ahead of my home in Colorado and day bleeds into night.  I am here for me…and for humanity.  Em was still flying west, while Judy crossed the skies and flew east at the same time.  I seized my precious alone time to be creative.  I painted two watercolors, holing up in the quiet of my room with my music, brushes and pallet.  Judy’s flight arrived on time!  With just two small bags I could tell she was ready to take on Delhi. 

Judy is extraordinary.  Her marriage to her husband Troy was a love story that epitomizes unconditional love from the divine.  For 14 ½ years Judy cared for her ailing husband.  Three months after their marriage, Troy was diagnosed with a tumor the size of a lemon on his brain stem.  He was operated on within two days.  The surgeons took 98% of the tumor.  The remaining 2% was dissolved with radiation.  Two weeks later Troy stopped breathing, yet he was revived.  As a consequence, he became a non-verbal incomplete quadriplegic with a feeding tube and no short term memory.  Each night Judy would drive home from work and take over looking after her husband as the primary caregiver. She lay next to her husband for 14 ½ years and taped his eyes shut at night so he could sleep.  Her love was so pure and immense I was humbled beyond words.  Judy allowed Troy to live his life to the fullest.  I remember taking Troy downhill skiing in Snowmass just so he could experience the gift of flying on the snow.  When we asked Troy five minutes later how he enjoyed his skiing experience, he had no recollection.  Troy taught everyone to literally live in the moment and seize every sweet nanosecond we have of life.  Troy died August 6th last year, and just a few days ago on Wednesday, May 21st it would have been Judy and Troy’s fifteenth wedding anniversary.  She was simply astounding on that day.  We acknowledged her anniversary and she rose to the occasion with such beauty and love in her heart.  This is the friend who I have with me for the remainder of my treatment.  I have a woman that has been through the worst of the worst.  She knows about pain, hospitals, and grief.  While she is in grief, she is whole, human and beautiful.  She cracks jokes, keeps me laughing, and beats me at scrabble.  She embraces this paradoxical city with its quirks and hardships…and takes it all in her stride.  I couldn’t have asked for two of the most incredible female friends to accompany me on my journey—Emily and Judy.  Through you I can be me.  Both of you help me keep my light shining.  I will be forever appreciative for your love and selflessness.  Thank you my friends.

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