Stem Cells

I traveled to Chicago last week for my long awaited stem cell procedure.  It actually snuck up on me with it being right after the holidays.  We got the kids back to school on Monday (it was rough for them after 2 weeks of staying up late and waking up at noon!) and took the red eye out that night.

We got to the airport with plenty of time, only to find out that our flight was delayed an hour.  That gave us enough time to have a couple of glasses of wine before getting on the plane.  I normally do not sleep on planes….at all….while my husband can fall asleep within seconds of takeoff (so annoying!).  This time however, I slept!  I’m crediting the wine and may have to knock back a couple of glasses before all future flights :-).

We landed in Chicago around 6:00 in the morning and went straight to our hotel and checked in.  Amazingly, our room was ready!  We got settled and showered and headed out to meet with my doctor, whom I had only previously talked to on the phone.  I was really looking forward to meeting him and getting the process started.

We got to the office and met with Dr. Sheinkop and his nurse, Mary.  We briefly reviewed my history and MRI results and discussed the stem cell procedure.  They did measurements and noticed that my right quadriceps was much smaller than my left, my right calf muscle was also smaller, and my right knee measured bigger because of the chronic swelling.  He gave me a Prolotherapy injection in my knee to help prepare the stem cells.  It was a little uncomfortable but wasn’t too bad.  Based off of our discussions, he was still optimistic that the stem cells were going to be beneficial to me.  He guessed that he would be able to extract betweeen 950,000,000 and 1.5 billion stem cells from me.  I had been following the pre-extraction directions almost to a T so I was very optimistic too.


Getting the Prolotherapy injection

After the injection, we went back to the hotel so my husband could work.  In the evening we went to an outlet mall and got some retail therapy in and then went and had dinner.

We had to be at the doctor’s office at 7:30 the next morning so we got up early, showered and had breakfast.  I took the pill the doctor prescribed (to help relax me) an hour before the procedure and we headed out to the office, crutches in tow.  We checked in and before I knew it, I was on the table getting my stem cells removed.  Even though I definitely felt the effects of the pill I took, I do remember them being drawn out.  I didn’t see the needle but judging by how much my back hurt afterwards (and the lumps I have), I’m pretty sure it was on the large side.  But, it wasn’t too bad and it was over with before I knew it.

After the doctor had extracted the stem cells, I waited a period of time while they manipulated them.  This time is honestly a little fuzzy, but I think I was on my cell phone just playing around (and hopefully not sending out too many texts? :{).  I had another pill at my disposal and I do remember them asking me if I wanted to take it, but I was feeling pretty good from the first pill still so I declined.  Soon enough it was time to put the stem cells into my knee.  They had a curtain drawn between us so I couldn’t see the procedure but I do remember feeling the shot (maybe the numbing shot?)- it hurt a little bit, but the sting didn’t last too long.  I know Dr. Sheinkop used imaging to make sure that he was getting them where they needed to go, so I’m hoping they stay put and do their thing.


Post Stem Cell Removal….and a couple of new lumps

After the procedure, they told me they got approximately 750,000,000 cells.  This number is an estimate that they get by taking a sample and counting by eye, how many they see under a microscope and then using a formula to calculate/estimate the actual number of cells in the sample they are looking at. So it is somewhat subjective but it’s a good, general guess.  Anyway, the number was significantly lower than what Dr. Sheinkop guessed they day before so I took this hard.  I wanted to have THE most stem cells possible so that my chances of this working are optimized.  To hear that I could’ve (should’ve?) had more was a little disheartening, so I shed some tears.  A few in the office, and a lot in the hotel afterwards :(.  We went back to the hotel and sat around all day (my husband worked) and went to dinner and a movie that night.

Thursday, was a free day but my husband had a lot of work to do so we sat around the hotel again.  I needed to stay off my knee anyway so it was fine…but I did get a little sick of staring at those hotel walls.  We went to the Bulls game that night and it helped to take my mind off the stupid numbers.  It was so cool to be at a NBA game….and we had pretty awesome seats thanks to a friend of ours.  The Bulls won which was fun, but we also got to see a couple of players that played college basketball in Washington (Isaiah Thomas and Kelly Olynyk).  Plus, it was free Tiki Mug night so we got awesome souvenirs ;-).

Friday, we went back to the office in the morning for my PRP injection.  They took 4 vials of blood from my arm and I went back to the waiting room and waited about an hour.  I went back in and Dr. Sheinkop did the PRP injection (with the help of imaging) into my knee.  I got a new knee brace to wear and with my crutches, high hopes and a lot of prayers, I flew back to Seattle that afternoon.


 A look at the knee after getting home and taking off the knee brace.


About Paige

I am a runner, wife and mother of three. I've been running since I was a kid and had my first taste of victory when I beat all the boys (and girls) in my grade at a school run. Since then, I've had a love/hate relationship with running....I love to run but hate how the training can sometimes monopolize my time and prevent me from doing "fun" things. So, I try hard to find the balance between challenging myself with running, while still having lots of fun on the side.
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2 Responses to Stem Cells

  1. TrailTara says:

    Good luck Paige, hope this works for you. I had my first PRP injection this week, which was interesting. Hopefully we both get a good result 😊


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