I’ve made it no secret on this blog that anxiety is a part of my life. When someone asked me recently what exactly makes me anxious, I quickly realized that this person didn’t really know anxiety like I do. I’m anxious about falling when I’m walking, I’m anxious about someone I love getting in a car crash, I’m anxious that a food I eat will make me sick, I’m anxious that a tree will suddenly fall on our house, I’m anxious about shopping, and I’m anxious that my kids will stop breathing when they are asleep (to name a few). It’s called generalized anxiety disorder for a reason-I’m anxious about pretty much everything.
But if someone asked me what scares me most, I’d have an answer. 4 different answers in fact.
- Something happening to my kids or husband because I’m away from them
- Not having enough money
Pretty Heavy stuff, right? Don’t worry, this is actually a happy post. But first, there’s one more fear,
5. Not being able to walk
What if someone told me that I could likely remove fear #5 from my list, but I’d have to face fears #1-4? Would it be worth it? That’s what this post is actually about.
When I wrote my In Sickness and in Health post about my current medical issues, my marriage, and decisions regarding my MS, I hinted that there might just be one more option. It looks like that option is alive and well.
It’s a Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant. Wait, this is still really heavy? Maybe this will help.
(Are you familiar with my ability to quote this movie? It wooed my husband early on.)
So, back to the Stem Cells.
There is a collection of amazing doctors worldwide, including Dr. Richard Burt at Northwestern University Hospital, who have been performing transplants using one’s own stem cells (hematopoietic) as a treatment for MS and other autoimmune diseases. The results are fantastic. The procedure is complex and a little confusing, but I’ll explain it in future post. I’m still awaiting final insurance approval, and am trying to focus on being present right now. (You can also get info here).
Dr. Richard Burt, who will be my doctor if this all goes through, has been performing Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplants for almost 15 years, and his MS patients have experienced halting of disease progression, improvement in disability, and decreased lesion load (lesions are the scars on the brain and spinal cord that characterize MS). But it is not an easy procedure, it’s in Chicago, and it’s not cheap. Oh, and there are just a few needles involved. Fears #1-4 take your places.
It’s a risk/reward or cost/benefit game.
I’m hesitant to write anything else about this until I get the clearance from insurance, but I will say I’m hopeful for the first time in a long time. And that feels like it might be enough to get me 1) on a plane 2) away from my kids for several weeks for a hospital stay that will be 3) full of needles and 4) result in massive bills.
Sometimes you have to face your fears in order to see what possibilities lie ahead. Fingers crossed.