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Regenerating the Elders: Stemming the Tide

The Platelet Rich Plasma is the yellowish substance. The stem cell is the clear liquid.

My husband and I have gotten into regenerative medicine big time. Both of us just had stem cell therapy.

Regenerative medicine is defined on Google as: “the branch of medicine that develops methods to regrow, repair or replace damaged or diseased cells, organs or tissues. This field holds the promise of regenerating damaged tissues and organs in the body by replacing damaged tissue or by stimulating the body’s own repair mechanisms to heal tissues or organs.”

I damaged my left knee this past summer. The MRI showed three tears in the meniscus, plus osteoarthritis and inflammation.

“Get a replacement,” my husband ordered.

I’d just nursed him through a total hip replacement and wasn’t anxious to become the one in the hospital bed. So, I started with SynVisc injections. SynVisc is made of hyaluronic acid that helps cushion and lubricate your joints, (which in my case had become as dry as the Sahara).

“If SynVisc doesn’t work, the next step is PRP. Then stem cell therapy,” the orthopedist said.

“What’s PRP?” I asked.

“It stands for Platelet-Rich Plasma therapy. You can look it up on Google,” he said as he injected my knee.

So of course I went to Dr. Google. “PRP is a form of regenerative medicine that can harness healing abilities and amplify the natural growth factors your body uses to heal tissue. Plasma is the liquid portion of our blood. Platelets, also called thrombocytes, are blood cells that cause blood clots and other necessary growth healing functions.”

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy uses injections of a concentration of a patient’s own platelets to accelerate the healing of injured tendons, ligaments, muscles and joints. In this way, PRP injections use each individual patient’s own healing system to improve musculoskeletal problems.

So there, I knew what PRP therapy was. I had a feeling I was going to need it although over a ten-week period, the SynVisc improved things. I could sleep without too much pain and I could walk again—almost two miles. But I was definitely not perfect.

Meanwhile, my husband had had pneumonia and was mistakenly prescribed Levaquin, a super antibiotic with an unfortunate side effect in people over 65—it can damage the person’s tendons. And it did. Moe could barely walk because of the damage, let alone play golf.

This is what brought us limping into the doctor’s office in Kona, Hawaii.  The doctor examined us and went through our health histories and blood tests. On the next visit, he suggested PRP and a stem cell for my knee. For Moe, he suggested stem cell therapy in the blood stream.

“It’s experimental, but we’re having phenomenal results,” he said.

Last Friday, the doctor drew my blood (I have stingy veins—he said something about a turnip) then put it in a centrifuge. After about 45 minutes, he injected PRP in my right knee. Then he injected my left knee along with a stem cell.

All was super easy in my right knee. In my left knee—so painful!!

“That’s because you have so much inflammation in that knee,” the doctor explained as I moaned.

My husband and I have been having intravenous vitamin infusions every couple of weeks since September. We have a “Myers’ Cocktail” that contains magnesium, calcium, B vitamins, vitamin C and magnesium. After, there’s a small infusion of Glutathione. These infusions enhance the immune system, reduce fatigue, and help with seasonal allergies plus other benefits. Since my husband was already hooked up, the doctor injected the stem cells for him right into the IV—no pain for him!

No problem!

“When will we see results?” I asked the doctor as we left his office.

“Your knee is working day and night on a microscopic level to improve tissue health. Most patients can see more significant improvements at weeks 4-8 and 12+ weeks post injection,” he said.

Four to eight weeks!!!!! OMG!!!

Now, it’s only a week later. (I’m sure it’s been a least a month). I’ve been under instructions to rest my damaged knee. Tomorrow I can start a mile walk every other day. For someone who’s used to walking at least three miles a day, it’s taken a lot of patience to stay away from my Nikes. But I want to give this procedure a chance. I’ll let you know what happens.