Tuesday, November 20, 2012


I have put together a fundraising webpage to help with the cost of my stem cell surgery.  Please email the link to anyone you think might be interested in donating.  I cannot tell you how much this surgery would mean to me and how much I appreciate any financial support.  Thank you in advance.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Stem Cell Surgery

Yesterday Jeff and I drove to Kingman, AZ to meet with a renowned spinal surgeon to discuss the details of having my own stem cells injected into my spinal cord.  Let me first explain how we came to here about this surgery and meet Dr. Smith.

Jeff was attending his annual Chiropractic Biophysics Convention at which various speakers discuss the latest research and techniques concerning the spine.  One of their featured speakers was Dr. William Smith, a leading spinal surgeon based out of Las Vegas.  He spoke for a couple hours on the growing use of stem cells for healing purposes, particularly for those people with spinal injuries.  Jeff was absolutely blown away by the lecture and called me to tell me the details.  We both felt that it was more than just a coincidence that this doctor just happened to be speaking at a chiropractic convention that Jeff was attending.  It honestly felt heaven-sent.

Since then we've been trying to coordinate a time to meet with Dr. Smith to discuss the actual procedure.  Well, yesterday we got our chance.  Here's the breakdown.  Basically Jeff and I would fly to Cyprus, an island in the Mediterranean, where there is a state-of-the-art hospital and research facility.  Upon arriving I would get settled into a beautiful hotel and prepare for surgery.  The 3 hour surgery would then follow, which would involve harvesting stem cells from my bone marrow.  The cells would then be separated and prepared for re-injection.  Dr. Smith would then make a 3" incision in my back and carefully make his way to my spinal cord.  Once there he would identify the injured portion, clean away any scar tissue, and inject the stem cells above and below the injury site.  He would then close me back up and send me to recovery.

The surgery is mildly invasive and the recovery should be minor (nothing compared to my first surgery).  Results would then follow in the next weeks and months.  Dr. Smith was very clear that my results are not guaranteed, and that 20% of patients have no results.  I think the most important thing to note, though, is that no one has had any adverse effects due to the procedure.

Jeff and I have discussed this very expensive and basically experimental procedure a lot and feel that it is something we're meant to do.  I believe the Lord had a hand in the circumstances that put Jeff in touch with Dr. Smith.  I am an excellent candidate for the surgery because I'm only 7 months post-injury, and the procedure is definitely more successful in newly injured spinal cord patients.  I'm also in excellent health and am already seeing function return to different parts of my body.  I firmly believe that this surgery will make a dramatic difference in my recovery.

With that said, the biggest hurdle to overcome will be coming up with the money to pay for the procedure.  We have not received an actual quote for the procedure, but Dr. Smith believes it will be somewhere between 30-45K which includes all of our accommodations, food, and travel around Cyprus.  The only thing not included in that cost is the air fair, which I'm sure will be few thousand dollars for the both of us.  Since Jeff and I basically have no money, and are even still paying my previous medical bills, we will be fund-raising to acquire the funds.  Jeff is setting up a non-profit organization where people can make a tax-deductible donation.  In the meantime, if you have any great ideas or would like to help in any way we would appreciate it.  We are looking to have the surgery done sometime in January.  Yikes!  I know that we can raise this money, it's just going to take a lot of people getting the word out, so start racking your brain.

I am so excited that this opportunity basically fell into my lap.  I know that the Lord's hand is in it.  Please pray for us as we prepare for this next big journey in our life.

By the way, you can go to the link below and learn more about the procedure and check out some pictures of the facility.  Thanks so much for your support!  Love, Brittany

Here's a map if your unsure of Cyprus' location because I was.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

My Fun Weekend

I want to preface this post by saying that my blogging about my daily life since my accident will not always by happy or cheery.  I suffer daily with challenges, and don't think it helps me or anyone else to try to hide that or paint a pretty picture over it.  I also don't think it's positive to dwell on the negative.  So, with that said, I am going to try to find a healthy balance between complaining and being overly positive.  Let's just say that I'm going to be honest.  Here goes.

This weekend was a tough one for me.  It seems like I'm in a cycle where I experience several good days followed by about 2 bad days.  Friday and Saturday were basically my bad days.  I was overly tired from lack of sleep and my body just seemed to ache everywhere.  On top of that, I had major bladder control issues and experienced lots of Autonomic Dysreflexia (AD).  If you're not familiar with AD, it's basically a warning system that people with spinal cord injuries develop.  For example, if I had an ingrown toenail I would be unable to sense any pain, so my body finds other ways to tell my brain that there's trouble down south.  These signals manifest as high blood pressure, headaches, muscle spasms, among others. My body unfortunately is very sensitive to my bladder.  If my bladder is full of more than about 200 mL (2.7 ounces) of fluid (less than half its capacity) I start experiencing AD.  My blood pressure jumps to about 165/90, and I experience horrible chest pains.  The problem is usually resolved if I empty my bladder.  So this whole weekend, I basically felt like I was going to have a heart attack.  Fun, fun!

Another fun thing I deal with is uncontrolled muscle spasms.  This is another joy that people with spinal cord injuries deal with.  Basically, the parts of my body I can't feel, i.e. my legs and abdomen, contract and spasms randomly or in response to discomfort.  Fortunately my spasms aren't too bad and don't cause too many problems except at night.  When I'm trying to sleep, my legs will start jerking and spasming at random.  The problem can only be resolved if I change positions (not an easy task).  This makes trying to get comfortable and sleep very difficult.

The last thing that has been driving me crazy this weekend is my shoulders.  My my rotator cuffs are extremely inflamed and irritated from overuse.  I use my shoulders excessively every day to push my wheelchair and transfer around. This has caused them to be very sore.  The solution to the problem is to strengthen my shoulder muscles, but I can't do that until they heal from where they're at which is taking FOREVER!

OK, it's late, and I've complained plenty.  Consider this post an insight into the world of a paraplegic.  Good times.  I will try to focus my next post on the wonderful things in my life because there are plenty.  Good night.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Halloween 2012

Halloween this year was particularly fun. The neighborhood we live in is known for its Halloween block party, so we were excited to get involved this year. We pulled our barbecue out front and cooked hot dogs while the kids ran around in their costumes playing with friends. We have such a wonderful neighborhood. Alexis was a vampire princess. She was practically unrecognizable with the black hair and makeup. I think she actually scared herself. She told Jeff that next year she wants to be something a little less scary like a policeman. Jackson was a lion. I was worried I wouldn't be able to convince him to put his costume on, but after he saw Alexis dressed and ready to go, he complied. I even got him to sit still long enough to paint a nose and whiskers on his face. All-in-all, it was a great Halloween. Now on to Thanksgiving.