DOB: November 1934, Bucharest, Romania
Disease treated: Macular Degeneration
All day today I have watched the falling snow with the full realization that it might not have been possible but for the grace of things made possible in this wonderful world of ours. I live near Bucharest now, but I lived most of my life in Texas where, in my last position before retirement, I was fortunately selected to be a counselor for disabled students in a community college. It was there that I became aware of the kinds of assistance needed by people who have lost their vision – even a part of it.
Thus, about ten years ago when my ophthalmologist told me that I had the earliest signs of Macular Degeneration, I knew what that meant and knew that I had to prepare myself for the eventuality of the loss of the major portion of my sight. I took the suggested vitamins and minerals, ate accordingly and did research to see if there was anything that could be done to preserve that precious gift of sight.
So much of the literature on the subject of AMD was disappointing to say the least. Nothing had been discovered to combat the onslaught of drusen that gradually knocks out one’s central vision. One treatment has been found to help those with wet AMD, but none at all for the dry version which is what afflicts me. I am grateful that my situation is not as serious as it could be, but still cherish the privileges that come to me due to my ability to see and that I do not want to lose. Having these drusen interfering with my vision, I am more acutely aware of these as I go about the normal activities of the day. To see the falling snow, to read, to use the computer, to see the faces of those around me and the pictures that come via the computer, not to mention email contact with friends from so many places in the world – these are just a few things for which I am grateful.
Stem Cell Therapy
In the fall of 2008 in email conversations with my sister, I became aware of the possibility of stem cell therapy. Research on the Internet produced several options. Therefore, in November, 2008, my husband and I flew to the clinic where the implantation of stem cells from my own bone marrow was accomplished. The extraction of bone marrow was not at all painful, nor was the implantation of the resulting stem cells. I was very fearful that I would not be able to tolerate such procedures, but it was not so. No fear, no pain. The following day my eyes were swollen and bloodshot and I could see the world only through tiny slits. I was worried, but consolation was at hand and I was grateful that my husband was with me even though I could have managed alone.
Since then I have continued researching AMD on the Internet and it was there that I read that timing is so important to the maintenance of one’s ability to see. The most recent research has reported that, thus far, stem cell implants have not recovered lost sight, BUT with stem cell implants the disease does not seem to progress! And that is so with me. I have maintained periodic visits with my ophthalmologist in Bucharest. She reports that the drusen are the same. I was very disappointed when she said that. I thought that I had made a huge mistake until I realized that I needed to ask her another question: Have the drusen gotten worse? “No,” she said. “They are the same.” The Rx for my glasses is the same as well. It has not changed since my stem cell treatment and though cataracts interfere in their way, I can still drive, watch TV and do all those things which I could not otherwise accomplish. Reading the small print? Not a problem. There are remedies for that. The Amsler Grid? I thought that the lines were beginning to bend, but now they are in a proper grid, just a bit squiggly in places! I feel blessed indeed. Thank you Dr. John, and Dr. Lombardi!