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Amanda Boxtel (see http://amandaboxtel.wordpress.com/)

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Saturday, July 28, 2007

As I type this email communiqué, I am sitting propped up in a hospital bed at the older hospital. An air conditioner is humming in the middle of a window and a fan is whirling above my head.  I have a catheter in my spinal cord and strips of micro pore tape plastered across and up my entire back.  I feel like a mummy.  A thin plastic tube runs up the length of my spine and connects to a port…the port for the magical stem cells to be injected into my body.

My room is sparse but I have all that I need.  God Bless my dear Gabrielle.  She has been with me for three and a half days and she is my angel per usual.  She sleeps on a pull-out mattress on the floor by my bed, keeps me company, plays Scrabble, laughs, chats, and entertains.  We have had more quality time together in these past three days than we have since our last trip we made together.  I adore traveling with Gabrielle—she is so easy to be with and completely accommodating.  We like the same foods, we crave our morning cuppa together, and we are even reading the same book on virtually the same page without planning it.  I love Gabrielle so much and I am blessed that her husband Todd let me have her for this precious time.

Gabrielle has witnessed me make some more strides forth with my stem cell treatment.  Although I am not sure how to tactfully convey my ground breaking news to the world, I shall resort to the simple facts…I had my first bowel movement on my own in fifteen years last night.  Yippee!  I have also emptied my bladder completely on my own four times since yesterday with only a small residual of fluid left (which is normal).  Now, Gab is a true friend.  It was so funny I must share at least some of the facts.  I was sitting on the pot as Gabrielle held my legs open and I held the plastic container to collect my urine and measure the amounts.  After my maximum effort exerted and fully voiding, Gab’s nose gave a wiggle, a sniff and she asked, “Are you sure you didn’t do anything else?  Have a look”.  I looked and low and behold, a small nugget was in the loo.  My God!  I shall spare you any other details, but this is truly miraculous given that I haven’t been able to use my bodily functions normally in fifteen years.  Thank you Dr. Geeta Shroff and Dr. Ashish.  I feel like I am becoming normal again (whatever normal is).

On Thursday Gabrielle and I checked into Room 201 at Nutech Mediworld.  A nurse inserted an intravenous needle into the back of my hand and filled my veins with burning antibiotics mixed with sodium chloride.  At 12:30 p.m. I was rolled into the Operating Theater surrounded by nurses in blue gowns with face masks.  I was then transferred on to the familiar skinny operating table and told to lie sideways in the tightest fetal position with my chin and knees tucked into my chest.  Dr. Ashish proceeded to inject my site of injury with anesthetic to numb the area.  He then inserted a catheter below my injury level in between the spinal processes to the outside of the spinal c ord.  The tube to the catheter runs up the outside of my spine and attaches to a port over my shoulder.  Tape covers my entire back and is now beginning to itch.  My body was then stretched out and Dr. Ashish injected three fat syringes full of stem cells into the port.  More than fifty million stem cells were injected and flooded my lower spinal cord.  Like liquid jelly, I could literally feel pressure as the icy cold cells filtered through into my cells, my veins, my nerves and down through my buttocks into my thighs, my calves, and into my feet.  It was as though a million rubber bands were wrapped around my legs compressing every cell and firing them into action.  With each i njection the pressure increased, and searing pain swept through my lower back, abdomen and down my legs.  My nerve pain intensified and then pins and needles tingled all the way to my toes.  I was wheeled back to my room and lay on my back with two bricks under my bed tilted downhill for four hours.  Another fifty million or so stem cells were injected that evening.  Two more doses were injected through the port the following day.  I was required to lie on my stomach for two hour intervals after each dose, with my head still downhill.  With the third and fourth doses, I felt intense pressure in my head around my ears, nose and sinus cavities.  It was as though I was immersed fift y feet below the ocean’s surface sensing the need to equalize my ears.  After a short while, the pressure and pain subsided completely.  It was after the third massive dose at approx. 4 p.m. in the afternoon that I had my little miracle moment in the toilet. J  Yes, the stem cells work that rapidly—I find it hard to believe myself. 

Today is my third day without showering, my arm pits stink, my hair is greasy, and the tape is still itching and stuck to my back.  I keep reminding myself, “It’s worth it Amanda, it’s worth it.  Picture every stem cell bathed in golden light sprinkling loving healing energy throughout your body like fairy dust.  It’s all worth it!”  Now is the time to bring my higher spiritual self to the forefront and bring it into balance with my physical, mental, and emotional self.  This is my chance in my lifetime to crush all iniquity in my life and live more vivaciously than ever before.  I continue to pee on my own and life is fabulous.   I am grateful beyond description.

I thanked Dr. Ashish with immense gratitude.  Later I learned that Ashish in Hindi means Blessings.  I give blessings to you my friend for your great work for humanity.  He and Dr. Shroff have the most amazing jobs in the world.  EVERYONE in this hospital shows improvement!  And it isn’t because of a pharmaceutical drug to band aide an illness and temporarily treat a patient.  The human embryonic stem cell lines created by Dr. Shroff is a cure for humanity—I see her treatment as life giving life.  In Dr. Ashish’s own words:  “This is as big as the discovery of fire.  You have been injected with the most intelligent chip ever created. It is God given.” 

I am on the third day of my procedure and Gabrielle is venturing out into Delhi on her own for the first time.  She has returned to the apartment to have a shower and grab some tuna fish that we’ll stir into some mayo for lunch on Rye Crackers.  This afternoon she’ll fight the traffic in a taxi and visit a couple of the more reputable markets for some shopping and trinkets.  She’ll be accompanied by Carroll, another angelic lady who is looking after a Parkinson’s patient named David Moore from Perth, Australia.  David, like everyone in this hospital, has shown remarkable improvements.  He and Carroll flew into Delhi barely three-weeks ago.& nbsp; When I first met David I observed that life was slowly being sucked out of him—he was expressionless with nothing more than a mumble for speech…and he hardly moved his body.  He has the freezing kind of Parkinsons (as opposed to the shaking kind).  After 2 ½ weeks on embryonic stem cell therapy, David walks independently across the room consciously picking his knees up high; he is writing his name perfectly (and is preparing a love letter for his wife in Australia); and he is speaking in his mother tongue with a heavy English accent that hasn’t been heard for the past sixteen years.  Apparently with the return of his speech came the old accent.  So, I’ll always be an Aussie, no matter how hard I fight to retain my accent while living abroad, it will always be there deep inside.  Once an Aussie, always an Aussie. 

Gabrielle and I retorted that we wanted love letters from David too.  He quickly responded, “I’ll photocopy some for you”.  He has his humor back and a sparkle in his eye in just two weeks.  I have my own love letters that arrive on a weekly basis from Dale.  He is beautifully old fashioned and the entire hospital staff watches me light up when a letter arrives from Basalt addressed to Dr. Geeta Shroff, Personal for Amanda Boxtel.  Thank you Sweetheart, your letters keep me alive and remind me how much I miss you.

Another Aussie patient residing in a room on the second floor is Martin.  Martin is 34 and has diabetes.  He has been blind twenty-four years seeing light and dark only, and has been receiving stem cell treatment in Dr. Shroff’s hospital for eleven days.  Martin has also been catheterizing to empty his bladder.  This past week Martins’ insulin levels have decreased by remarkable amounts, he is slowly regaining his vision (he could make out Gabrielle’s eyebrows and vague facial features), and he is fully emptying his bladder on his own while standing up.  WOW!  What more can I say as I write with a tear in my eye and amazement in my gut.  Astounding, simply astounding!

A taste of our daily life experiences…

On Tuesday I sat in dappled light on my balcony and caught a sunbeam while eating my lunch.  In the branches of the Neem tree I noticed a nest with baby chicks squawking for food from their Mummy.  I think they were crows.  I discovered I had company and wasn’t alone after all.  The Neem tree is well known for its medicinal qualities especially for treating diabetes and apparently it makes your skin glow.  With that knowledge, Mum ate five leaves immediately.  They taste very bitter.  Upon finding out that they are also used as an anti-fertility herb, I stopped taking the leaves in fea r of jeopardizing Mr. Singhs’ prediction of my giving birth to two baby girls. 

Gabrielle was a little panic stricken on the second day of her visit.  Distraught and sweating she tore through the door of Room 201.  The hospital sits adjacent to a park and children’s play area.   What we thought would be a great idea turned out to be disastrous.  Bearing two small jars of marbles, Gab entered the park.  She eyed five or six kids and headed their way.  With cupped hands she displayed the marbles.  Big mistake!  In an instant as she began to hand marbles to the bare-footed ragged little ones, she was literally mobbed by about thirty pulling at her arms, her clothing, and her legs—all begging.  The begging grew louder each moment:  “Laaaydy, Laaaaaaaydy more, more…Lady…more!”  Flustered she passed the entire second jar to what she thought was the teacher who glared at her with a look to kill…you know—the type of evil eye that speaks louder than words: “Thanks but no thanks for creating a problem that I now have to deal with”.  In a quick minute, the kids were snatching marbles, crying and Gab was in the midst of a small riot.  Upon her return we decided that we will either opt to keep the other toys in our room or beg Dale to bring an entire box of marbles f or his visit in two weeks to appease every kid on the block.  How much is the baggage weight allowance per bag for international travel?

Yesterday’s giving was a little more toned down—but shocking.  We meandered out of the confines of our apartment complex and around the corner.  When I thought I had seen the worst, it got worse.  I am not sure what is worse than worse…and how bad the standard of living can actually get.  Trash is strewn on the sides of the street where I’ve also noticed children, dogs and cows defecating and urinating.  This is the same place that children, dogs and cows forage for scraps to eat.  Virtually on top of the piles of rubbish are blue-tarpaulin tent-like dwellings.  The day before Gabriell e’s visit, I rolled down this street with Trevor, another Australian patient receiving treatment from Dr. Shroff.  A small infant who lay motionless on a piece of board was covered in about two hundred flies. 

I turned to Trevor: “Do you think he’s alright?”

“I think he’s dead!” he whispered.  We rolled on, turned around at the end of the street and rolled back. The child moved ever so slightly…and the next day he was gone from that spot.

I feel so fortunate.  Gabrielle passed the marbles to a teacher who was giving alphabet lessons to tiny little ones using square slates with chalk.  They were all beautifully behaved and nodded their heads with hands in the prayer position in unison, “Namaste”.  They are happy.  I ponder: What is happiness and where does it stem from?  They have nothing and yet they are happy.

As we return to the apartment, my lungs are filled with pollution from our venture outside.  My head hurts and I blow dirt from my nostrils.  My separation from home has me longing for and has given me a new appreciation for the beauty, the cleanliness, the crisp unpolluted air and clear distant horizons.  I miss everything so much.  I miss the simple pleasures of cooking in my kitchen and eating fresh fruit with the skin on; eating crunchy lettuce, mouth watering Swiss chard or kale, and fresh pink wild salmon cooked medium rare.  Ah, to drink water from the tap…  But mostly I miss my dog Tucker, Dale, and my dear friends.    I miss snuggling, I miss kissing, I miss being in love and feeling loved.  I miss taking Tucker for his daily walk and watching him play catch in the river.  Oh, I miss the river…gazing at its constant rhythm in motion—a metaphor for my life.

Mum’s departure was awful.  She was haggled by a horrible man begging for rupees right through the departure gate.  He had zero empathy and refused to budge, let go of her sleeve, and allow us the pleasure of a last private hug to share some quick loving moments together.  For this reason alone I had an immediate love-hate relationship with India.  I imagined Mum half giving the middle finger to Delhi as the plane’s wheels left the ground, and half holding her hands in the prayer position bidding a Namaste of complete gratitude saying, “Thank you India, thank you Dr. Shroff, thank you, thank you, thank you…Until I see you again.”

With so much love as always,

Amanda and Gabrielle (xoxoxoxo)

P.S.  Now Gabrielle has yellow curry on her green shirt.  The curry continues to haunt…

Monday, August 6th


I am ecstatic to report that I am the proud owner of a very strong ham string in the left leg.  Yes, my lower left leg can now move backwards from the knee down to the foot on its own!  This is a first!!!!!  In fact, I feel my gluteus maximus beginning to kick in, along with other abdominal and leg muscles that haven’t felt alive for fifteen years.  I have a weird sensation that I can deeply tense my calf muscles.  The awareness in my lower limbs is strangely phenomenal—as if a little electrical current has been turned on filtering pins-and-needle tingles all the way to my toes.  This is all apparent after my most recent two embryonic stem cell procedures.  My body is waking up and I am both the audience watching synonymous with the actors playing out the motions.  I applaud with glee at the slightest flicker of movement, and I sweat with exertion to fire-up a body part that has been paralyzed for what seems like an eternity.

Last Saturday Gabrielle and I checked back into Room 201 at Nutech Mediworld.  Within minutes I was draped in a bottle-green gown lying face-up on a gurney.  In the Operating Theater, three masked angels dressed in blue maneuvered my body into the fetal position as Dr. Ashish Verma prepared the stem cell syringes for injection.   As if on cue, the power cut out completely but the trusty generator light kept shining on my back.  This procedure entailed swabbing my back down with a sterile solution and then numbing the area.  Dr. Ashish then inserted an extremely fine needle in between my lumbar vertebrae directly into my spinal cord, which was similar to an epidural.  He then injected two syringes of stem cells into the cord.  The procedure itself took a matter of minutes and was pain free.  I rolled onto my back and lay still for fifteen minutes.  I was then transported back to my room and asked to lie flat on my back without moving for the next six hours.  The foot of my bed was elevated on two bricks so that my head tilted downhill.  I felt a little dizziness and pressure in my head yet it was tolerable.  At 8:00 p.m. I was allowed to roll onto my side but I wasn’t meant to sit upright for the next twelve hours until 8:00 a.m. the following morning.  Four bo ttles of electrolyte fluids pumped through my veins in the course of the evening and the next morning.  Three separate antibiotic injections staved off possible infection.  I’ve been jabbed that many times in India I’m beginning to feel like a pin-cushion.  With obstinate intravenous needles I sometimes wonder why I voluntarily signed up for such torture.  Then, when I pee on my own I quickly remind myself why.

Gabrielle and I passed the time with visits from Martin, the blind diabetic patient who continues to show improvement in both blood sugar levels decreasing to normal; and he is regaining his sight so that he can make out more defined images.  At one point I tried to play travel Scrabble flat on my back with the board in the air and an IV dripping through the veins in my wrist.   When the IV ceased to trickle because my hand was too high we gave up the game.  As they jabbed the other wrist to begin another IV, Gab even sang to me. 

When I was totally bored and lying on my left side with the right knee tucked behind my left knee, I pointed my finger to my lower left leg and exclaimed with full intention,

“Gabrielle, I just want to move that leg over there!” 

After I made that comment, I moved my leg…just as I had intended. Stunned, I said,

“Did you see that?”

“YES!  OH MY GOD, did I see that?  Amanda, you moved your leg!”

“Yes, I moved my leg!” 

Gabrielle leapt from her bed and was standing before my legs saying, “Do it again!”

I did it again.  I moved my left leg from the knee down backwards from the edge of the bed to the center of the bed four times.  On the fourth time the movement became weaker.  I was isolating my lower limb completely—a movement that had to stem from the ham string.

Gab screamed, “Call Dr. Shroff!  You must tell her.”  

Today I demonstrated my new leg movement to the physio therapists: Chavi, Deepti, and Deepak; and to Dr. Ashish, and Dr. Shroff.  Dr. Ashish was so excited he ordered a spontaneous ‘deep spinal muscle’ procedure in the OT.  It was another fifteen minute procedure involving injections of stem cells directly into the back muscles on either side of my spinal cord.  The injection on the left side was excruciatingly painful as the fluid bled through my left buttocks, thigh and lower limb.  The burning pain was unbearable…but with time, it dissipated.  I felt electrical tingles all the way to my toes on each leg. 

My limbs are responding beautifully, my mind is alert and positive, and I am grateful beyond words.  It’s all worth it!  I ask, “How can we deny a world filled with spinal cord injured patients the right and opportunity to receive this miraculous treatment?  It has been fifteen years that I haven’t been able to move my lower left leg on my own…and now I can.  While the movement is slight and fatigues easily, it is there.  I am living proof that human embryonic stem cells work!

I have immense gratitude in my heart and soul.  I am thankful for the body that is mine.  I ventured into this journey free of expectation or attachment to a specific outcome.  One percent change in my body would have been a small miracle…but I never imagined that I would begin to regain my bodily functions and accomplish all that I can do and feel today.  I embrace my legs, my bladder, my bowels, my abdomen, and my nerves with a golden light of love and gratitude.  My body is a temple and my legs are connected.  I am not a half a woman but a whole woman—I am One.  I have a song in my heart that is peaceful.  I give thanks…so many thanks for this opportunity to be here in India and I feel blessed to be receiving the gift of life. 

A Verrrry BIG Elllllleeeeeephont!

The amber flame of my candle is flickering as I watch the same orangey-yellow sun set amidst the silhouette of the neem tree branches.  A purple-blue orchid sits in my window, and four little elephants stand side-by-side on my desk—two with their trunks up for luck and prosperity, and two with their trunks down symbolizing peace and as Gabrielle claims, “groundedness”.  I asked where she heard that bit of trivia and she confidently replied, “I made it up.”

In India and Asia the elephant is a powerful totem animal symbolizing royalty, fertility, wisdom, and success—here’s praying for all of the above!  Indra, the God of Rain, used the gray elephant to bring forth the monsoons.  I think Indra was working overtime this past week given the torrents that flooded the northern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.  I’ve never seen rain pelt down so hard for so long.  All through the afternoon and night it showered last Thursday—buckets and buckets.  Small floods caused road blockages in downtown Delhi, and the stench lifted.  Delhi had a much needed bath. 

Perhaps the rain’s downpour was partly due to Gabrielle’s and my incessant quandary over purchasing a certain elephant—our dilemma was not only the price, but the animal’s size.  Yes, this elephant is large—bulky enough to warrant its own suitcase.  We dreamed elephants all week.  Gabrielle tossed and turned and finally I said, “If you love it, buy it”…and like a true friend I added, “And if you die, I get it…Deal?”

So, on Friday Gabrielle purchased Ellie.  Weary and with nowhere to go due to the downpour outside, we stuck to our guns and bartered the shop owner down by half the price.  The deal was through…but how the hell was Gab going to get Ellie home?  As the Universe would have it, two doors down sat a luggage shop filled to the ceiling with suitcases and duffels of every size, color and shape.

Namaste, kripaya (please) can I come in?”

Three men jumped to their feet and proceeded to remove about twelve bags piled high from the doorway so my wheelchair could barely squeeze in.  Upon entering my left castor wheel snagged another half-dozen that toppled behind me.  Gab followed with the elephant cradled in her arms. 

“Verrrry BIG elllllleeeeeephont Maam!”  Exclaimed the shopkeeper as he produced the first suitcase, reached over me and threw it on my lap.  This guy’s armpits reeked to high heaven that I almost passed out.  I’ve never in my life smelled such bad BO.   

As Gab tested the suitcase size according to Ellie, she said, “No, it’s not big enough.  Bigger please.”

In a flash and a whiff of an armpit, the man twisted and dumped a larger case on my lap. 

“This one’s got some sort of sticky stuff on the cover.  Do you have another case?” smiled Gab.

He leaned over my head, pits fully exposed, and produced another case but it was black.  By this time I’m gagging. 

Gab sweetly asked, “Oh, I prefer the blue.  Do you have a blue case?” 

Unbeknown to Gab, the man’s odor was putting me over the edge as he kept repeating, “Maam, veerrrrrrry BIG elllllleeeeeephont….verrrry BIG elllllleeeeeeephont.”  My coping mechanism brought on the giggles.  In the pure ridiculousness of the moment I couldn’t handle this man hanging over me any longer.

“Gab, take the blue…please, I beg you, take the blue suitcase.  It’s a damn big elllllleeeeeephont.  Chalo—let’s go!”

How many Indians does it take to wrap an ellllleeeeeephont?  Exactly three. 

Ellie is now on her way back to the USA as checked luggage in a blue suitcase minus the sticky stuff.  She’ll land on American soil at 6:25 p.m. Monday night Colorado time, hopefully in one piece.  Don’t get me wrong, this gal is gorgeous.  She is pure rose wood with camel bone inlay that is so intricately placed she glows with grace, peace (trunk is down), groundedness, prosperity, and wisdom.  Oh, it is also said that the elephant has a most auspicious symbolism embodying strength and power of the libido.  So Gab my friend, may Ellie bring you luck and joy in sex for the rest of your days. 

Gabrielle left at dawn this morning and it was a tearful goodbye.  No lady in India dares to expose her shoulders, cleavage, nor legs, yet there I was in my pajama top with bare legs and hair like a bird’s nest as I waved farewell.  With a quick glance up, I caught three Indians peering down at me from the balcony above.  I didn’t give a hoot and they kept looking.  Indian men aren’t afraid to stare.

Gabrielle has a halo that shines over me and brings my true self alive.  She lets me be me.  Her light radiates wherever she goes and she is loved by all.  Thank you Gab for giving selflessly to me these past twelve days.  You travelled half way around the world to help, encourage, love and support me.  Together we witnessed my body coming alive after fifteen long years of paralysis.  You saw me do Number 1 and Number 2…and you were the first to witness my lower leg move on its own—all in a week and a half.  Wow!  Thank you for your unconditi onal love and friendship.  You mean the world, the sun, the moon and the stars to me.  Thank you my Didi.  I am missing you already.

Gratitude to All for your emails.  I get excited when I turn on my computer morning and night to check my inbox (that’s if the internet is working…It’s been frustratingly sporadic lately so forgive me if I don’t always reply).  Gabrielle and I agreed that if there was one word to describe Delhi, it would be paradoxical

With love and Namaste, Amanda xoxoxo

I am alone this week until Dale arrives next Monday—Yippeeeeeee!!!!  I can hardly wait…seven more sleeps!

August 13-21, 2007

Dale's Arrival Heralds Right Leg Movement!

August 13th was a significant day—the day that my right toe and right hamstring kicked in!  Yahoooooooo!  This day also marked Dale's arrival on a flight that was three hours late.   As I nervously waited outside customs with a red lumpy rash covering my entire face and a uneasy tummy, I chatted with a South African lady and handed over my most precious commodity—toilet paper. (As a side note, in two months I never contracted the dreaded Delhi Belly!)   Better safe than not…how could I let this lady venture out into the streets of Delhi without this absolute necessity? 

Finally I had Dale by my side to experience the beauty of the people, my progress, and treatment.  Dale knows my body…a body that used to be swollen and bloated, with flaccid muscle tone, no leg movement, and a lot of stiffness and spasticity in my lower limbs.   After we left the airport we headed straight into Chavi for therapy.  Dale was astounded by my new appearance (regardless of my red-dotted face), and how my body had changed so radically in two months.   Per Dr. Ashish's orders, we jumped in a car for the older hospital to prepare for a two-day spinal procedure.  Dale hopped right into treatment and my routine with ease.  He was such a loving support and a comfort—what I had longed for two months.

Room 201 was waiting for our arrival, along with the familiar bottle green gown and cute, giggly nurses.  Opi and Dimples escorted me into the Operating Theater one last time.   Dr. Ashish performed the procedure with confidence and delightful chatter as I lay on my side in the fetal position.  He inserted another five inch long catheter into the outer sheath of my spinal cord and taped down the tubing that ran up my entire spine.   A port hung over my shoulder, which Dr. Ashish used to inject the embryonic stem cells.  He gave me a more concentrated dose in two syringes and tilted my body slightly to the right so the stem cells bled into the nerves on my right side.   I felt icy cold stem cells encased in tubing traveling down the outside of my back and into the catheter.  Extreme heaviness swept through my right leg and the familiar pressure of a million rubber bands compressed my muscles.   My burning pain increased with almost unbearable intensity and then dissipated after a few minutes.  After receiving my final big dose, Dr. Ashish made a pact with me, which was settled with a firm handshake.   He said, "Lie flat on your back until 7:30 p.m.  Do not move your body at all.  At eight o'clock I want you to move your right hamstring with the same intention that you used for your left.   Deal?"

"Yes Dr. Ashish.  Deal!  I'll move my right hamstring, I promise!"  I made this statement with complete confidence…and in front of Dale, with both of our eyes focused on my lower right leg as I lay on my side isolating my upper body and hip flexors; I moved my right hamstring on command!   My leg and foot moved backwards from the knee down.  The movement was slight (an inch or two is all) but it was there.  I then sat up with glee and said, "Let me try my toes."

With the same intention, I moved my right toe repeatedly.  Dr. Ashish came in to check after 8 p.m. and upon hearing my news he high-fived my right hand in the air with elation.  

"See, I told you.  Anything is possible Amanda.  You will continue to see improvements."

As I lay flat that evening on a thin hospital bed, Dale curled up next to me.  He was exhausted and jet-lagged.  His feet lay next to mine.  All of a sudden I felt a deep sensation in my right foot as though he had rubbed it with his foot.   I sat up and looked at our feet.  They were still.

"Did you rub my foot with your foot?"  I asked inquisitively. 

"Yes, did you feel that?"

"Yes, do it again!"  And Dale rubbed the bottom of my foot over and over.  I could feel a deep sensation and I knew he was there, rubbing away.   My leg didn't spasm at all.  I could simply feel his rubbing deeply underneath my skin.

"Can you feel it now?"  He asked.

"No…."  I hesitated as I looked at him with disappointed eyes. 

"Hah!  I was testing you…I stopped.  What about now?"

"Yes….yes….and yes!"

Dale had witnessed three little miracles in the span of an hour.  He was speechless.  He couldn't believe what he was seeing with his own eyes…my body was coming alive.

In summary, here is a list of the noticeable changes in my body that have taken place over the past two months of receiving human embryonic stem cell treatment.  Keep in mind that I have sustained a spinal cord injury and paraplegia for 15 ½ years—since February 27, 1992.   During that time, my disability has remained stable.  While I have not regressed, I have definitely not shown any progress with muscle power or return of sensation.  I have kept my legs supple and alive with regular massage and occasional acupuncture and acupressure, which contributed to my overall well-being.   My active life-style was also a plus.

Human Embryonic Stem Cell Treatment—June 25-August 17, 2007

Report:  August 17, 2007


Swelling has reduced significantly.


Spasticity is absent.  I am more flexible and I no longer feel the stiffness in my legs.


Muscle power in both legs has improved.  I am able to take resistance while moving hips in abduction and adduction, and I can bend both knees at will.  Hamstrings work on both legs (left is stronger); quadriceps in both thighs; glutemus maximus muscles in bottom (evident in backward crawl); contraction of muscles underneath both feet.  Big toe on right foot moves up and down; and smaller middle toes on left foot wiggle. Deep sensation under both feet; pins and needles electrical tingles down both legs to toes.  Deep sensation in my bottom.  Overall heightened awareness and connectedness in my lower body to my toes.  Muscle tone in legs has increased.


Abdominal muscle strength has increased.  I am able to apply pressure during bladder and bowel movements.  Voiding urine ranges from 50% to completely emptying, depending on the time of day and fatigue.


Back muscles are stronger down my spine giving me more balance and control.


Nerve burning pain has subsided by 50%.


Overall energy levels have increased.


Most importantly, I have had zero negative side-effects from treatment.

My goodbyes to my new friends in India were tough.  Friday, August 17th was emotional and teary.  Dr. Shroff and Dr. Ashish are a perfect team complimenting one another with their expertise, cheery optimistic dispositions, and humbling natures.   We embraced lovingly and agreed that I would report in with an email and follow-up phone call to Dr. Shroff once a week.  I will continue with my physical therapy exercises daily and I will use my leg braces to stand and practice walking.  I will maintain my strength and give my stem cells the best opportunity to "gestate" and grow in my body.  I should continue to see improvements over the next two or three months.   It has been proposed that I return to India for a top-up treatment over three weeks in early December this year.  What a perfect 40th birthday gift for myself!

Dale and I boarded our British Airways flight Saturday morning, August 18th with a surprise upgrade to Business Class.  Gillian, the crew director for my incoming flight from London Heathrow to Delhi, had worked her magic.   She had sent messages through and Dale and I were completely spoiled our entire journey home.  Wow, thank you Angel.  What an amazing gift to fly flat on our backs and stretch out in luxury and comfort.   Gillian, we felt your loving energy all the way home.  Thank you soooooo much.

Back in Basalt Monday night I couldn't sleep a wink and stared at the ceiling.  Exhausted and trying to come to terms with all that I had experienced and was feeling…here is what I wrote at 4 a.m.

Early Monday morning, August 20, 2007

"All of our lives have changed in ways too inexplicable to understand at present, but I am concentrating on "today" and trying not to look back into the past, or anticipate too much from the future.  All my yesterdays have led up to today, and all my tomorrows will grow out of it, so I'd best be here and now!"   Paula Zurcher—August 12, 2007

These past 48 hours have engulfed my mind and body.  As I flew half way around the globe, I tried being lucid in all my actions and conscious of what was happening in every moment of time, place, and circumstance.   Paula's wisdom became my silent mantra reminding myself to be present and awake each and every moment, while knowing that my thoughts have the power to turn a situation around.  I practiced seeing things as they are, feeling each moment right now, and being aware of the reactions taking place within me at the same time.   It's been an enlightening whirl of emotions and subtle realizations.

I am home and I am changed.  I have been a part of history in the making.  My body is tired yet it is alive...more alive than it has ever been!  My mind is alert.  It is 4:30 a.m.  I am wrapped in a blanket of love.  My neighbors and friends have thoughtfully welcomed us home with surprise sticky notes scattered in different rooms; groceries are stocked on the kitchen counters and in the fridge; I have new plants; there are soft rolls of toilet paper in the bathrooms; a fresh cake of smelly soap sits on the tub; and a huge vase of colorful sunflowers, lilies, and roses perfumes the air.   My surroundings are familiar yet I feel unsettled.  I feel a light pleasure of being at home entwined with a heavy ache and missing in my heart for what I have left behind.  I know full well that my purpose right now is not to grasp, but to be.  And so I sit here in darkness.

Dale is asleep, and Tucker is curled up on the ottoman with his head resting on a scrap of sheepskin like the spoiled pup he deserves to be.  I have parked my wheelchair at the dining table.   My laptop screen illuminates the room along with a faint golden blush from a vanilla scented candle.  I see the silhouette of the cottonwood branches in the moon's glow and a hint of dawn settles on the horizon.   The crisp mountain air and constant purr of the river outside my window is peaceful and comforting—a welcome gift of nature's serenity as opposed to the steady hum of the air-conditioner that has lulled me to sleep these past two months in Delhi.

These past two months in Delhi have changed me more deeply beyond the embryonic stem cell therapy and the miracles that have taken place in my body.  I have been on a journey of discovery into the most intimate recesses of my consciousness.   It has been an adventure of delving into my emotions—of letting go and forgiving, embracing my fears, and fully accepting and loving myself.  With that, my body has come alive with India's spell.

I learned to embrace Delhi's incomparable diversity.   Its frenetic pace, splendid color, old with new, filth, pungent smells, and incessant hustle and bustle contradicted an overall voice of prayer and calm equanimity amongst the people.    While paradoxical describes Delhi, the word family embodies India.  There, the divine bleeds through into the unique and eternal face of Humanity and I was One, a part of a collective whole…a part of a family.

I have been surrounded by the most loving, nurturing people who genuinely cared and cheered for my every success.  From our faithful driver, Chatorsingh; to Celestin, the doorman; to Raj, the hostess with the mostess; to Vandana, the receptionist; to Ruth and Isha and all of the nurses; to the doctor's assistants; to the room attendants:   everyone has an attitude of optimism as though they are a part of something special helping their fellow man.  You all have impacted me and have made a difference.  "Thank you!" I kept saying with each breath, frustrated that I couldn't express ample gratitude for all that was given to me.   "Thank you for giving me life.  Thank you for the gift of life."    

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

I am back to myself.  I am rested, my laundry is almost done and everything has been "de-Delhified".  Tucker has had a bath and he is lying by my side with his head on my wheel.  Last night I inhaled my dream meal that I've been craving for two months—wild salmon, Swiss chard and a crunchy green salad…and I slept through the night with my head on Dale's chest.  Life is great.   I am catching up and I am immersed in a valley of love. 

Thank you to this most special community for supporting and cheering me every muscle movement and new sensation of my way.  Thank you for your emails, for your positive energy and your welcome home gifts.   Mostly, thank you for your belief and on-going encouragement of Dr. Shroff's ground-breaking stem cell treatment.  I am part of a world first.  I will heed to my calling to create positive awareness and share Dr. Shroff's human embryonic stem cell therapy around the globe so that it is made available to everyone.   Along with Dr. Shroff and Dr Ashish Verma, I too have a purpose and a responsibility to Humanity.  I am living pro of that embryonic stem cells work!  I have received a gift from God.   I will inspire and motivate others restoring hope into the vocabulary of those who had given up. 

My message is:  "Don't give up hope.  Instead, look forward to wellness.  You have the opportunity to experience the gift of life with human embryonic stem cells.   No matter what your ailment is, whether you are deemed incurable or terminally ill, you will get better!"

With so much love and thanks from my little condo on the river in Basalt, Colorado…

Amanda xoxxoxo



January 27 – January 31, 2008

A Promise Kept

Four months at home of hard work and intense physical therapy with Tami, Gabrielle, Dale, and Zander; a weekly yoga session with Emily Hightower; and a weekly massage with CP; walking regularly in my leg braces and parallel bars; and cycling on my electrical stimulation bicycle three times a week has ALL PAID OFF!!!!!  I am pleased to report that Chavi (my adorable physical therapist in India), Dr. Shroff, Dr. Ashish Verma, and Mum are absolutely thrilled with my progress.  Having been gone for four months, they clearly see my strength and improvements.  It has been tough to monitor my own progress at home.   My trunk mobility and lower abdominal strength is remarkable. 

·         I can rotate my pelvis while on all fours;

·         I am able to lift up a hand balancing on two knees and one hand with ease and without falling over (originally I had difficulty simply balancing on all fours, let alone crawling forwards and backwards);

·         I am stronger when I lift up to a kneeling position on my knees, balancing with my therapist/partner and maintaining a straight posture with my hips forward;

·         I am able to slightly kick my leg (knee down to foot) away from the mattress when sitting on the edge (something I could never do before—quads and hamstrings);

·         from a sitting position in the wheelchair I can lift my legs one at a time and place one foot forward in front of the other, which is evidence of increased power in my leg muscles;

·         and Mum is amazed at my ability to place my legs on the bed one by one on my own without lifting them with my hands. 

Upon leaving India last August, I made a promise to Chavi that I would return stronger than when I left.  I kept that promise and Chavi is impressed.  While the stem cells continue to grow, I have rewarded their growth feeding them with the necessary conscious mental positivity and physical stimulation in exercise. 

I firmly believe that mental consciousness influences stem cell expression.  Dr. Laurance Johnston forwarded me a note after he recently finished reading the six volume metaphysical/spiritual classic “Life and Teachings of the Masters of the Far East” by Baird Spalding.  In lectures given in the 1935-37 period, Spalding stated the following, which seems very relevant to HESC transplantation.

Page 78 Volume 6:

“As the cell divides and creates a new cell, our thought is implanted upon it.”

“In the first cell, all is perfect. That cell was first known as the Christ cell.  It is always just as young as ever it was. It never takes on old age. It is the primal spark of life. When we implant in it our thoughts of limitation or old age, or any condition outside of perfection, the body responds. Cells born from the first cell take on its image. Originally it is the image and likeness of God. It is perfect in every way. But it becomes the form we carry in our minds.”

“…if we carry the image of perfection always, what will it do for these cells? It will build perfection.”

Page 92:

“The moment a cell divides itself from the parent cell, and the instant before it divides itself, it takes on the exact image of the parent. As it goes out, it comes under the influence of this imperfection that we think for ourselves. What happens? We see the vibrations of the cell lowered, and in some instances when it attaches itself to the organ where it belongs, it is a dead thing…The very thought influence of imperfection influences that cell until it dies. The vibrations go so low that the dynamic influence flows out.”

I have managed to maintain this positivity regardless of my immense challenges these past few days.  Last Sunday I had my backpack stolen with all of my most important documents including US passport, wallet (credit cards), cash, driver’s license etc.  The backpack also carried my Vocare electrical stimulation device I use to urinate.  Although my bladder is becoming stronger I still use the device to empty fully and to check the residuals left in my bladder.  This negates the use of catheters, and thus exposing me to possible infection.  So, the device is gone!  What is my lesson in all of th is?  I MUST learn to fully pee on my own—which I am, on most occasions.  My bladder is getting stronger.  All of my belongings/documents can be replaced.  My lesson is to surrender, let go of all of my attachments, and know that I already have what I need—the love from my mother, my friends, this beautiful community here in India, food for my belly, a roof over my head, and a warm comfortable bed to sleep in at night.  I have so much more than the lonely soul on the roadside across the street who has nothing but the shirt on his back.  A new credit card arrived via FedEx today, and a new electrical stimulation device will arrive by Monday.  A new passport is being processed at the US Embassy…so all is well.

Human Embryonic Stem Cell Procedures

In the two months of my first treatment last summer I had a total of five procedures along with six days of intense physical therapy and walking with leg braces.  This time around for my second treatment, Dr. Shroff and Dr. Ashish Verma are condensing all five stem cell procedures into one month.  The procedures include:

1)    Caudal Procedure (toward the tailbone area) – injection of two syringe-fulls of HESCs into the cauda equina area near the coccyx

2)    Deep Spinal Muscle Procedure – two injections of HESCs into the muscles on either side of my spinal cord at the site of injury

3)    Thoracic/Lumbar Puncture – injection of two syringes of HESCs below or above the injury site directly into the spinal cord

4)    Three-day Procedure – catheter inserted into the outer sheath of the spinal cord with tubing that is taped to the back and a portal that hangs over the shoulder.  HESCs are injected into the portal to saturate the outer spinal area over the course of three days.

5)    Two-day Procedure – same as three-day but only for two days.

No physical therapy is allowed during procedures.  Each procedure affects the body in different ways.

Both the Caudal Procedure and the deep spinal muscle procedure went without a hitch.  I noticed that my strength improved and Chavi increased my therapy repetitions to fifteen counts instead of ten.  After therapy, I practice walking in parallel bars.  My leg braces have been a challenge because my right foot has a tendency to supinate inwards.  Gabrielle, bless her heart, FedExed my leg braces back to India so they could make some critical adjustments.  I was hoping to try some different braces, but I will instead locate a good prosthetist in the United States to mold new braces that will fit correctly and put me in correct alignment.< SPAN style="mso-spacerun: yes">  All-in-all, I am showing improvement and the HESCs are working!

Thank God for Chanel No. 5

On Monday, January 28th I had a very traumatic spinal procedure.  The procedure was a Thoracic puncture directly into the spinal cord.  Last year in my first treatment I had this procedure done below my level of injury in the lumbar region.  This time, the procedure was conducted above my injury at approximately the T-4/5 area.  My goodness, I don’t want to EVER have this procedure again—I feel like I’ve literally been to hell and back.

In the operating theater I was asked to sit up on the operating table with my chin tucked into my chest.  I curved my back in the fetal position sitting up.  I was asked to keep very still.  Dr. Ashish swabbed my back clean instructing me not to have a shower for a couple of days.  He then anaesthetized the area and inserted a very fine needle into the spinal cord.  He proceeded to inject the human embryonic stem cells.  I felt immediate burning and warmth all over my back and down to my lumbar region.  Electrical tingles filtered to my toes.  After a brief while, Dr. Ashish asked me to lie down on my back, he tilted the operating table up and down, right and left.  I felt a huge gush of tingles on my inner left thigh.  Deep pressure filled my ears and sinus passages and I felt like I was submerged beneath fifty feet of water.  My legs felt heavy and stiff.  The blue theater angels then carted me away to what I deem to be “my” room…201.  Not long after a humungous headache throbbed in my temples.  The headache became a migraine and soon after my vomiting began.  I vomited for a straight 25 hours.  If I couldn’t bring anything up, I still dry heaved.  Clutching a silver kidney dish, I retched until my insides ached.  Finally I ate half a pear upon strict instructions from Dr. Sherma, a beautiful young doctor who said he wasn’t leaving until I got better.  I kept the pear and a half a cup of tea down…and the vomiting ceased…yet the headache persisted.  The nurse was kind enough to give me an injection into my right thigh (the one where I can’t feel) to help with the headache.  Each time I threw up, my body sweated profusely and then I shivered for ten minutes.  I was a putrid, sweaty, sticky mess and my arm pits stunk like an Indian in a luggage store in 117 degree heat at the height of summer in Delhi.  Mum whippe d out the Chanel No. 5 and splashed my wrists and neck. 

“Thank God for Chanel No. 5”, she smirked. “It goes really well with the Detol Antiseptic Soap I used to wash my bum in the shower this morning!”

And then, in her candid moment she exclaimed, “Manda, after this procedure I expect nothing less than the Can Can…and I’ll watch you do it on the webcam on Skype from home.”

Now that’s a lot to live up to…but if Mum wants the Can Can, I’ll do it. 

I say, “Thank God for MUM!”  Mum has been a pure Godsend.  When I’m sick, I want nobody else but my Mum.  She soothes my brow with her cool hand, comforts me, and is calming.  I love my Mum and I’m really thankful that she is here.  (Mum’s are also great when purses are snatched and you’re left stranded without a cent to call your own.)  Thank you Mum for your patience, perseverance, and unconditional love. 

Two days later, I still have a headache, but I’m strong enough to write as I sit propped up on three pillows in bed.  I had a light physical therapy session with Chavi–legs only!  Any exercise in the sitting position caused tremendous dizziness and made my headache worse.  While this procedure is the roughest on the body, it usually produces the most improvement in patients.  In my light therapy session today, Chavi noticed that I was stronger as I performed one exercise lying on my right hip, with my left leg bent.  I was able to assist her lifting my inner thigh and left knee upwards for the fir st time.  Wow.  Chavi was impressed.  Improvement already!

Dr. Ashish expects it to take seven days to fully recover from this procedure, which will be just enough time for me to begin the next procedure.  I can’t help but think—I volunteered for this pain…but as the saying goes, “No pain, no gain!”  I am keeping the big picture in mind.  I shall walk into this hospital one day!

As I type this little/long communiqué—yes, I know, it’s long overdue…Mum has gone shopping with Val.  Val is here with Lorraine who has ALS and is also receiving her second HESC treatment.  Lorraine looks fabulous—I mean, she actually looks younger.  Remember, HESCs are an anti-aging remedy too.  Lorraine has stopped drooling, her face is more alert, she is walking with perky steps and retains her great sense of humor.  Mum, Lorraine and Val are all similar ages, so the girls get on well and their room is warmer than ours. 

Mum and Val entertained themselves with a little shopping experience purchasing shoes and clothing this afternoon.  Delhi is always under construction and sidewalks don’t exist, except in the more posh parts of town.  On one particular sidewalk, which was literally a foot wide, the two negotiated a deep rocky trench.  Having both made a purchase from a store they were rewarded with a gift in the shape of a small square white box. 

“What do you think ’s in this box?” asked Mum.

“It’s probably a condom.”

“That’d be really useful for us.”

Val exclaimed, “We could put it on our noses so we don’t have to breathe in the Delhi dust.”  And the two laughed hilariously.

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.  Dur ing 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 wr ist is now garlanded in a lovely Indian Sonata with a blue dial to keep track of time (it’s quite boring really).

Two weeks have sped by keeping up with Delhi’s frenzied pace.  I have been more social here than at home.  Robert Margolin appeared with his friend Elizabeth soon after Tami and I arrived.  I met Rob at The Stem Cell Summit in Boston last September and challenged him that if his mind was curious and he wanted to see what was happening in Delhi with Human Embryonic Stem Cells, then why not visit?  Without hesitation, Rob jumped on a plane and ventured out of the United States for the first time in his life.  Elizabeth is an intelligent, gorgeous, fun medical student and both she and Rob were an absolute delight.  Rob has come to feel like a brother.  His knowledge on the world of stem cells is astounding and he became an immediate walking encyclopedia I could refer to when a question or thought popped into my mind.  Rob’s link to his website is http://www.stemcellresources.org/index.html which dispels a ton of credible information on stem cells including general resources, teaching tools, news and journals, and policies and ethics.  It was a privilege to have Robert visit, meet Dr. Geeta Shroff and Dr. Ashish Verma, and see what is deemed by many to be the holy grail of medicine alive and working in human patients.  One cannot deny that every patient in this hospital shows improvement and one cannot leave this place with a changed mindset having witnessed both science and resilience of the human spirit at play and in perfect unison.

I look forward to further collaborations with Robert in the United States.  He is a mover and shaker, and entrepreneurial at heart.  It is reassuring knowing that such a young, enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and sincere individual has visited Delhi.  The mere fact that he understands me, Dr. Shroff, and will be a cheerleader rather than a naysayer for this treatment means more to me than anything.  Thank you Rob for taking the time out of your busy life, and money from your own pocket, to witness the little miracles that are taking place daily with human embryonic stem cell therapy at Nutech Mediworld. 

The social calendar has been “chocablock” as the Aussie’s would say, or “full-to-the-brim”.  CP Kanipe (my beautiful massage therapist from Aspen) and her husband Steven paid a spontaneous visit while touring around India.   I am so grateful that they took the time out of their schedule to come to the hospital, meet Chavi, record my physical therapy on video, and share some quality Delhi time with Tami and me.  I could tell that after travelling for ten days they were fed up with haggling and India in general.  Delhi pushed them to their limits.  After Steven’s shoes were stolen on a train to Agra to see the Taj, they almost called it quits.  Thank God CP has big feet as Steven is wearing her tennis shoes for the remainder of their trip.  They spent just one full day in Delhi opting to fly back to the South where warm beaches, tepid water, and cleaner air awaited. 

Delhi’s smog is awful and is far worse in the winter months.  The air is thick with fumes, my eyes sting, and I can’t inhale a full breath.  When I travel by tuk tuk (auto rickshaw) I wrap a scarf around my face doused with droplets of eucalyptus oil.  At night homeless people huddle around open fires on sidewalks to keep warm and cook.  Thick smoke infiltrates the atmosphere mixed with exhaust fumes and a gray-brown haze envelopes the streets.  Trees are brown and dusty.  Dirt hangs in space.  Cloudy days keep the smog thick like soup and I find it almost unbearable.  When the nurses take my blood pressure three times a day, I am amazed that my oxygen saturation is generally 100% or 99%.  I keep thinking it’ll drop twenty points but living at high altitude has obviously served me well.

Tom Eldridge flew in from the UK to film a small documentary from the patient’s perspective.  He will continue to document my journey over the next two years, following other patients and my progress and recording my body awakening.  He has been a wonderful to work with.  His nature is gentle, easy going and not intimidating.  It’s as though the camera is invisible when Tom is filming and he has the most creative eye as if the camera lens becomes a part of him.  Tom has interest in sponsorship from Channel Five and BBC in the United Kingdom to help fund the film, which is really exciting.  He might even create a short 5-7 minute piece so I can show the community a slice of Delhi and my treatment here at Dr. Shroff’s hospital.

Having Tami, my faithful PT at home, 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 hug s 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.


Amanda Boxtel

"Human Embryonic Stem Cell Therapy has restored life into my limbs and "hope" back into my vocabulary!"