Four weeks have passed since we arrived in India, and only six days remain. It’s about this time that our minds transition from feeling desperate to go home to wishing we could stay. Last time we were here, we were reasonably sure we would be coming back for another round of treatments. This time we’re not so sure. Financially, another trip could push us over the edge. To survive with Lyme, treat it at home, and come for stem cells twice we have emptied our savings, closed out old 401K accounts and borrowed tens of thousands from our current one, used up all the equity on our home (which, like most homes in America, is now so upside-down it will take years to recover), had to ask for help from you, our family and friends, and racked up enormous balances on several credit cards. Another trip could break us. So as we come to the end of our journey here, I find myself looking at my current surroundings as though I may never look upon them again. And it makes me sad. I know I’ve said it before, but as dirty, noisy, smelly, frustrating and crazy-making India is, it is also shockingly beautiful and, ultimately, humbling. Coming to this country of extremes is an opportunity to discover who you really are, what is really important to you, and how you plan to react to the real challenges life throws your way. I would love to think that we’ll return someday. Maybe for stem cells. Maybe not.
Maybe we won’t need to.
On Monday, we received some good news. No. 1’s SPECT scan results came back, and the measure of improvement is SPECT…wait for it…acular! In talking with Dr. Geeta Shroff, the prognosis is excellent and hope is high. For those who don’t know, the dark patches are bad, showing limited oxygen to the brain. So the lighter the image is, the better. We compared last year’s two scans (one in September before stem cells and one in November after two months of ESC injections and procedures) to last week’s, and the difference is shocking. Nearly all the areas of his brain, starving for oxygen for so long, have been opened wide and are once again receiving life-giving blood. Neurons, axons, and all kinds of tissues are being renewed and rebuilt by Dr. Geeta’s stem cells, which will continue to divide and differentiate for the next nine months to a year. On top of that, though he will likely have more ups-and-downs, today No. 1 is feeling better. He woke up this morning feeling more rested after a good night’s sleep filled with less chaotic dreams. The fog has lifted a bit, and his ever-present headache is gone. Like the whole of India, waiting for the monsoons to bring life back to the land and its people, we have waited for hope to return, and, finally, finally, it has. Like the monsoons, the relief of his symptoms may last only a few hours. If we’re lucky, perhaps a few days. But however long it lasts- after looking at the pictures of his brain- he knows that relief will return. And one day soon, it’s gonna stick.
Monday night we joined our friends on the patio for our usual evening party and shared the great news. Everyone was overjoyed for us, wondering aloud at the massive changes and hoping that their results would be as successful. Showing those who were still in the first stages of treatment, we assured them that this stuff really does work, to be patient, hang in there, stay positive and have faith. Someone brought out a laptop and speakers, and we blasted music into the hot, wet Indian air. Next thing we knew, Ral, one of our favorite Australians was tying a white, cottony bag around his face to give himself a downy beard. A pair of sunglasses, a branch that nobody was using and another, darker bag as a hat finished the look, and the Nu Tech patients, caregivers, employees, and half the neighborhood were treated to a concert by ZZ Top!
The girls in the group became instant groupies, and, Brett, another favorite Aussie was roadie for a night. I don’t think I’ve laughed so hard in… well, I really don’t know how long. The combination of ecstatic joy for my husband and myself and the love I feel for the people that surround me here lifted my soul into the heavens to dance. I almost couldn’t sleep that night, as my heart was set to burst, so I lay awake and whispered my prayers to the darkness with a smile spread from ear to ear. It is the same prayer I’ve held close to my heart for so long. I prayed that my husband and I might see health, so that we can bring health back to the world. I prayed for our Nu Tech family, and our family and friends at home. I prayed for peace and wisdom and children. I prayed for you, readers, and I prayed for India.
I prayed that one day we’d be back, not for more treatments, but as healthy individuals, come to show our future children where our lives and theirs truly began.