I am 17, about to write my final exams for the second to last year of high school, with plans of going to university and dreams of becoming a success…
I am 24, unable to work a full day, unable to walk in a straight line, my body unable to do what my spirit wants. In a word, I feel hopeless…
I am 25, filled with hope for a brighter future; hope that I will reach my fullest potential and the knowledge that this is not the end!
So what happened between 17 and 24, what happened between 24 and 25?
The night before I had to write my last exam of my second to last year of high school I collapsed. I got up and collapsed again, this time with convulsions and tremors. My parents rushed me to hospital where I was prodded and poked, x-rayed and scanned. That finally gave an answer; the MRI scan revealed I had multiple lesions on my brain. Might this be MS (Multiple Sclerosis)? The doctors didn’t think so as I am young and male. So they diagnosed me with epilepsy and multiple lesions on my brain, gave me cortisone and sent me home. I was fine.
A year passed and again I was in hospital, again feinting and again getting cortisone. As the years passed I got weaker, the hospital visits got more frequent and my dreams and hopes… well they slowly grew fewer. I got tired easily, I was off balance, I occasionally lost bowel and bladder control and my eyesight got worse. So I went to a new doctor, again I was treated with cortisone, but this time for MS.
Fast forward 3 years and 6 cortisone treatments and the symptoms kept getting worse. I was no longer able to drive as my legs cramped and my eyes would no longer focus, I couldn’t work more than a couple of hours without needing to take a nap, walking tired me out quickly so I got my first wheelchair, I could no longer use my left hand to hold a fork due to the shakes and I had to move back in with my parents, away from my friends. I was crushed, my hopes and dreams shattered.
A couple of weeks before my 25th birthday my mother told me about experimental HSCT to treat MS. At first I was skeptical, as most people suffering from MS would be. But as I researched and spoke to people who have had it done, read their stories and saw what an effect it had, I started asking myself “Could this be it? The cure that I have been hoping and praying for”?
Well, I am about to find out!
HSCT stands for Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant and what that is, is basically a procedure done in 3 steps:
- Harvesting my own stem cells.
- Destroying my immune system with chemotherapy
- Reinfusing my stem cells.
The idea behind this is that as MS is a auto immune disease, destroying the immune system would destroy the MS and my new immune system will be as clean as the day I was born.