Human Embryonic Stem Cell Therapy Restores Hope for Amanda

August 19, 2008–Question of the Day

“Is a pain in the ass worse than a pain in the neck?”

That seemed to be the question of the minute, hour, day and week as Dr. Jung dug her elbow deeper into my nervy-hypersensitive bum for the umpteenth time while Dr. Choe pressed hard on two points at the back of my neck.   Tears flooded my eyes and trickled down into the pillow as I lay face down on the floor.   Last week my tears were a steady flow like a dripping faucet.

Despite his remarkably youthful appearance Dr Choe celebrated his 79th birthday on Sunday, August 17th.  He is agile and strong, and is well respected around the world.  On the morning of our first day of treatment, Dr. Choe was confirming dates to work on Nelson Mandela within the next month in South Africa.  I felt very privileged to have a doctor of his caliber work on me in my little condo on the river in Basalt.

Dr. Choe & Dr. Jung

“No pain, no gain!”  Dr. Choe repeatedly voiced to me in his thick Korrrrrean accent.  After seven days straight with six hours per day of pain and torture inflicted upon my body by these two oriental doctors, I feel battered, beaten and emotionally worn down. 

“Crying is good.  Keep crying.  Your body is weeeeleasing,” affirmed Dr. Choe.  

As a result of this intense body work, I admit that my legs are supple, my muscles have pink blood flowing through them and my swelling has reduced.  My joints are more flexible and my spine is aligned straight with my knees and my feet.

“Your legs are like pink tenderloin!” exclaimed Dr. Jung.

“Wow, you white woman now.  No longer purple woman!”

And this is how I passed the hours last week—42 hours in total lying on the carpet in various positions as these two Korean oriental doctors massaged and burrowed into my every muscle and tendon.  Brown bruises dot my groin, thighs, calves, feet, and bum.  I learned to cry and meditate through the pain, loving each excruciatingly tender spot.  With their full body weight, both Dr. Jung and Dr. Choe walked on my feet, up my legs, jiggled on my butt, and edged up my spine to my shoulder blades.  I felt as if my breath was being sucked out of every cavity of my lungs.  My body withstood their weight.  My muscles loosened with new elasticity and my skin became rosy-pink.

On Saturday Dr. Jung pin-pricked each toe several times squeezing dark crimson-purple droplets of blood that seeped through my plum-colored skin.

“See, your blood is dark.  Not good.  Blood should be bright red.  Blood is stagnant.  That why you have poor circuwation in feet,” explained Dr. Choe.

I’m beginning to sound and think Korean.  I feel Korean.  I can even sing and hum in Korean.

Gomapsomnida Dr. Choe!”  I reply.  Thank you.  Thank you for wreaking pain on me while exuding such confidence that all will be well.  How can such positivity produce anything but positive results?  Right?

By extracting the dark blood from my toes, oriental theory has it that the new blood will be drawn into my feet increasing my circulation.  Immediately after Dr. Jung performed this blood-letting exercise, my legs became incredibly hot to touch and were no-longer splotchy purple.  Amaaaaaazing!  Simply amazing! 

Warmth means life, as opposed to my normally cold lifeless extremities.  My greatest challenge now is to keep my legs and feet warm and alive.  Socks might be a temporary part-time solution, but regular body-work massaging blood into my little tootsies is paramount.

Another Test of Acceptance

Someone questioned me last week over the telephone, “So, are you walking yet?”  Implying whether the treatment was worth it financially and physically?  I tried my hardest to not take this comment to heart.  I am not leaving a stone unturned.  I have sixteen years of paralysis to work on and I accept that my dreams to walk may not happen overnight.   What all this treatment and disciplined body work boils down to is a better quality of life.  While it is difficult to reconcile that everything isn’t ideal, I press on with new traces of muscles firing in my legs, and I swim into a vast ocean of Hope.  Yes, my goal is to walk, and yes, I want it badly, but my reality is to continuously check in with myself by accepting where I am right now, in this ever present moment in time.  I feel better, in fact, I feel fan-bloody-tastic! 

If this past week produced anything wonderful and great, it was the simple and essential factor of bringing the energetic life-force back into my lower limbs.  Dr. Choe says there are four laws to optimum health:  Mind; Skin; Breath; and Movement.  I have learned how to create the necessary foundation to give my muscles the best possible chance to restore function and come back to life.  Now it’s up to my embryonic stem cells to keep growing new nerve pathways, along with meditation, and continued physical therapy and yoga for muscle strengthening and patterning.

One word to describe Amanda Boxtel:  unconventional.  A few more words… stubborn, creative, loveable, compassionate, incurable optimist, pioneer.  And…like my stem-cell buddy Ryan McLean, I’m an occasional sassy-pants too.

My next trip to India is confirmed for October 23—November 26.  Thank you Karen for donating your Continental air miles to make this upcoming trip possible–I am so very grateful.  My big sister Michele will join me for the first two weeks, which I’m excited about.  We will be able to get reacquainted after many years apart.  Mum will then take over care-giver duty as Mum/friend/scrabble-partner for the last two weeks.

With love to all and thank you for your continued support and encouragement, Amanda (and Tucker too). xoxox

Tucker snoozes during my treatment.

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