Date of birth: 1943
Occupation: Municipal employee.
Marital status: Married, two sons.
Disease treated: Hemorrhagic stroke.
How it happened
It happened in April 2003. I was on my way into the dining room when I suddenly collapsed. Fortunately, my wife realised that I had had a stroke and immediately called for the emergency doctor. She witnessed both my parents suffering a stroke and therefore recognised the symptoms. I was given a scan at the hospital. It proved my wife’s fears were correct. I was administered different drugs to try and stop the bleeding in my brain. Later on, my wife told me that they had feared I might not survive the stroke. However, sometime around midnight the bleeding finally stopped. I had to remain in intensive care for three more days then I was transferred to the observation ward. After two more days I was transferred to a regular ward.
I had lost the ability to swallow and so I had to be tube-fed. I also had lost my ability to speak, I was only capable of a very few, short words. Immediately after the stroke I could not sit although this improved with time. But I felt awful and I had lost all hope that I would get better, especially as I suffered from constant headaches. My wife kept soothing me and reminded me how positive my parents had been after their strokes.
It was not until four weeks after the stroke that my mood changed. I was transferred to a rehabilitation centre and it was my number one priority to get out of that wheelchair. After four months I achieved my goal: I was able to stand. My next challenge was walking. Meanwhile, I had been discharged from the rehabilitation centre but I still kept up the daily exercises and went for regular checkups. Admittedly, my daily walks were more like a ‘stroll in the park’ than an energetic hike. But I still had some problems to face. First of all, keeping my balance: I could not put the foot affected by the stroke flat on the floor and so had problems keeping my balance. I was told that my foot would probably remain paralysed although I did take six tablets a day in an attempt to treat the problem. Secondly, daily hygiene: I could not do anything without the help of my wife. She even had to assist me when I needed to go to the bathroom. And thirdly, my head, the headaches just would not go away.
In 2005 I read an article about a stoke patient who was treated with stem cells and subsequently regained many of his body functions. My sons searched the Internet for further information and came across a web site. We got in contact and found out that their offices were in a nearby town. On completion of all the formalities, I registered myself for the therapy.
First stem cell treatment in December 2005
Extraction of bone marrow and injection of the stem cells was completely without problems.
Surprisingly there were no headaches at all immediately after I woke up from the anaesthetic. After a few days I had another surprise. I was able to put part of my damaged foot on the ground and a few days later I could put the whole foot down flat. The following six weeks showed further progress. Talking became easier and easier. The words started to come back and my vocabulary broadened quickly. Gradually, I found it easier to keep my balance and I was able to walk steadily. When I thought that I was back on the track again, I gave my wheelchair back as I did not need it any longer.
I continued physiotherapy for six weeks after the stem cell treatment. The trainer was totally stunned, “Right now you are capable of things I would not have dared dreaming about!” Only ten weeks after the stem cell treatment I got rid of my cane. Slowly my arms, which had been useless, improved and I stopped taking any medication. Now I can raise my arms to chest level. Of course, this is still not perfect but it is enough to take a shower by myself – I do not need my wife’s help any longer. I get along very well.
Regaining the ability to speak and walk helped me to return to my old life. I am enjoying it so much and I am very thankful. When I think back to the days in hospital when I thought my struggle was in vain.
Stroke patients should consider and make use of autologous stem sell treatment. Two of my friends, who also suffered from a stroke, took that advice.