Date of birth: 1964
Marital status: Married, two sons (16 and 18)
Disease treated: Stroke
How it happened
It happened in 2004 during the night when I was at home. I felt unwell, as I had been suffering from a weeklong headache. My wife called the emergency doctor and I was immediately taken to the University Medical Center Amsterdam where I was treated instantly. But unfortunately the oxygen supply to my brain was not sufficient. Though I was taken to a special hospital after the stroke, I suffered more impairment than normal with immediate treatment. I sensed that something was wrong so when I was discharged from the hospital I asked for my medical file. It was lost and nowhere to be found.
I was entirely paralysed on my left side. Me legs were numb; they felt like cold lumps. I could not walk properly any longer. My arm was as heavy as lead. I was hardly able to care for myself; dressing and undressing and going to the bathroom became a challenge. But there was one more thing that made me feel terrible. I could hardly speak. My words all sounded so strange and my mouth and the lower part of my face were numb. Eating was quite a challenge and driving my car was impossible, not to mention working. I received rehabilitation treatment for quite a long time but eventually we were told that further progress was unlikely.
I felt more insecure than I had ever felt in my life. I lived in constant fear of falling whether I was outdoors or inside our apartment and the steep stair to our apartment terrified me. We live in the heart of Amsterdam on the second floor of a beautiful pre-war building. Also, I did not want to talk to other people. This was particularly hard on my family.
One day we read an article in a newspaper about a man who had received post-stroke autologous stem cell treatment and was able to work and drive his car. My wife and the boys checked the Internet for further information. Knowing where and how the treatment was administered, they immediately registered me. More information was required until I was ready to be treated.
The stem cell treatment in September 2005
Bone marrow was extracted from my hipbone. Fortunately, a sufficient number of stem cells could be harvested from the bone marrow. After I underwent neuronavigation surgery and the stem cells were injected through a catheter into the damaged area of my brain.
Whilst recovering from the anaesthetic my wife and the medical attendants immediately realized that I kept touching my mouth and ran my hand over the right side of my face. After I had totally regained consciousness I was able to feel my mouth for the first time in ages. Soon after, my legs felt normal and warm again, not resembling cold lumps any longer. The spasms got fewer and fewer. Words came back bit by bit and most notably my pronunciation is now clear. Finally my right leg is more and more flexible and I can I lift it to coffee table height. At last, my wife does not need to help me any more and I feel much better. I am no longer afraid of falling and I enjoy socialising again.
I started taking driving lessons in December. I now drive an automatic with the accelerator on the left side. I have even started working again for my old company. At first I was only capable of working three days a week. But now I am working every day from 8 in the morning until 2 in the afternoon. I receive physiotherapy and rehabilitation treatment three times a week. After more than a year of struggling – not just me but the entire family – our daily routine is almost normal. Finally my wife’s peace of mind has returned and she knows that I can cope without her help when she leaves for her full-time job in the morning. Although, the boys always supported me and accepted my problems, they are glad I have regained my independence.
It does not necessarily have to be true if you are told that you will not make any further progress. Do not settle for that – please go and find out about further treatment options.