Stem Cell Side Effects: Each Person Is an Individual

Most of my time here at Nu Tech would be considered by most people's standards as 'boring.' I say 'most people' simply because since Lyme Disease has slowly increased my disability, therefore increasing my ability to be content with doing 'nothing.' I'm rarely bored these days; even doing nothing is often 'something.' I used to be one of those 'busy people,' with my life scheduled in 30-minute increments to maximize productivity: college, work, projects, family and friends, etc. (One of my close friends even nicknamed me "Hummingbird.") Many of you probably relate, I'm sure. So, here at NuTech, I've been very busy doing nothing!

As I've previously written, the routine is simple: breakfast, injection, physio, lunch, physio, injection, bed. Somewhere in between that, I sit in my room and Skype family and friends, email, write, read, stretch, shower, or just talk to Andrea. (We've clocked a lot of conversational miles over the years.) Sometimes I get out for a little shopping, for dinner, or for a short sight-seeing stint. (See bird-nerding pic at Lodi Gardens.)

I thought that my blog would be focused on the medical side of stem cells, but I haven't written much on this topic because, well, not much has happened. I have not experienced any real side effects from receiving stem cells.

Some people with Lyme have said they feel 'wired' the first few weeks, then 'tired' the last few week. Amy blogged about feeling extremely hungry and extremely emotional at times; some people have noted increased sweating. My doctor even warned me, "stem cells will make you hungry and frisky.".A few Lyme patients have talked about nothing happening until the first 5-6 week mark, and then noting a sudden turn around where they notice significant improvements. They wake up one day and just "know they are getting better."

I did have a few days of significant improvement, and I did think maybe I was one of those people, but now that my back is hurting today as I sit here, I realize that I am not one of them. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that I don't think it is working or that I won't heal; it's just not happening drastically, which, from a scientific perspective, doesn't surprise me at all. Stem cells take time: nine months to three years. In the meantime, from a medical perspective, I have not noticed any real side effects from a day-to-day basis.

There are certain situations that do bring about side effects from stem cells, but these are more intensive, and are, for me, probably caused by the various methods of receiving the stem cells more so than the stem cells themselves. The least invasive way to receive stem cells is via injections, given here twice daily. These injections are sub-cutaneous (although people keep referring to them as intramuscular, which is incorrect) and can be received in either arm or somewhere else if requested. (I have been getting mine in my hip lately.)

Depending on the patient's condition, stem cells can also be infused in an IV drip, which can tax the body and increase fatigue. I receive an IV drip with stem cells about once a week, on average. Most of the time, I feel fine after. The most dramatic and involved way to receive stem cells here is by what is known as a "procedure."

"Procedures" are different methods of injecting the stem cells into your spinal cord. These procedures are much more involved and are only done by Dr. Ashish Varma, who is the main doctor here besides Dr. Geeta Shroff herself. As you can imagine, these procedures would cause some 'side effects,' but again, I believe it is not the stem cells but the invasive application that causes the side effects. But this is just me. I do notice, however, that my condition improves drastically, right after a procedure. I have had four types of procedures since I have been here, but each and every patient who comes here is different, with different stem cell needs. There's no point in comparing notes in who got what procedure and why.

Coming up: more details on procedures themselves, my latest CT scan, the life of a 'caretaker' here, and (hopefully) and updated improvement list…

Stay tuned.