25 April 2012

A Follow-Up on the Regenexx Stem Cell Procedure for my Knee



In my last post I talked about how I avoided another knee surgery by using an alternative treatment called Regenexx SD. Essentially the procedure extracts stem cells from my hips and injects them into my right knee. This was back in February and since that time, I have had some requests for another update. So this post is to report on my follow-up with Dr. Centeno since having the treatment.

Current Status

A couple of weeks ago I had my first follow-up with Dr. Centeno since I had the Regenexx treatment back in early February. It had been seven weeks since the treatment and everything is going extremely well. I've been doing cycling workouts as well as various core workouts lately to get back into shape for the cycling season (the foam roller is my personal masseuse right now). The day before my appointment, I had just started running two to three times a week. I'm also coaching my youngest daughter's soccer team again which requires running, kicking, etc. So far I'm happy to report that I have no pain during these sports at all. This is great news because it means that the tears in the meniscus are doing very well as a result of the procedure. The only issue I have currently is some stiffness of the muscles around and through the right knee which were preventing me from doing a deep squat on that knee. This is a result of my mental guarding of that knee to protect it. At the urging of Dr. Centeno and my physical therapist, I started squatting deeper and deeper a little at a time to stretch it and get it used to regular full motion. I have already found that this continued stretching and squatting is helping that along nicely, even just in the last couple weeks.

Dr. Centeno also performed the standard Lachman test on my right knee. To even his surprise, it was quite tight and responded very well. As a point of comparison, he also tested my left knee (the one that has never been injured) and it is very loose. It was so loose, in fact, that I could see the dislocation. Again, even he was surprised. So he tried my right knee again and he really tugged on it, but still it wouldn't budge. Because I was also diagnosed with a partial tear to the ACL, this was wonderful news! It means that the procedure has changed the state of the the ACL as well. We were both very happy to see this level of progress. I guess it was wonderful news for my right knee (the one that had the Regenexx treatment), but not so good news for my left knee. After this demonstration, I explained the stiffness in the left knee that has been increasing over the years. I had even been joking that perhaps I should have the Regenexx treatment on my left knee after the right knee is all healed up. So I'm having a MRI on my left knee to see what's going on with it. Depending on what we find, I am seriously considering the Regenexx treatment for my left knee as well. This is a testament to the results that I have experienced from the Regenexx treatment. I'm not sure if I will have it right away or not. I've got come cycling events coming up in June, so I would need to have it done really soon if I'm going to keep up my workouts in preparation for those events.

Continued Physical Therapy + Supplements

Not only am I continuing with some minor physical therapy to loosen my right patella but I am also continuing to take doses of a chondroitin/glucosamine supplement and a hyaluronic acid supplement twice a day. (The Collagen II contains the protein building blocks to support damaged cartilage and the hyaluronic acid lubricates the joints and helps to prevent free radicals from destroying healthy cartilage.) Additionally, last week I began a series of IMS (Intra-Muscular Stimulation) treatments for some muscles in my hamstrings, quads, IT bands and lower back. IMS is essentially deep tissue acupuncture to create micro-damage in key muscles to encourage them to heal themselves. It will take a few more treatments before I see some distinct results, but I'm hoping that this will dovetail well with the core workouts, yoga and cycling that I do.

Regenerative Medicine

I have a friend who sells surgical tools and equipment. One tool he's selling now is a laser that is used to create micro-damage in very specific locations of the human heart. Just like what Dr. Centeno did with my knee, such micro-damage causes red blood cells to respond to heal the area (i.e., encouraging the body to heal itself). This creates an ideal situation for the injection of stem cells to grow new tissue in place of damaged tissue. He told me that they do this procedure for patients who have chronic heart disease and in some cases they can double the heart's ability to pump blood. For some patients, this translates into adding years to their life. So when I mentioned this procedure for my knee to him, he immediately knew what I was describing and told me that regenerative medicine is the new wave. So, in my opinion, the FDA better wake up and embrace the future and stop playing favorites with big pharma. Here's some interesting info on the lawsuit against stem cells from the FDA:


Conclusion


According to my doctor, my verall my progress has been excellent and, at this point, I couldn't be happier that I chose the Regenexx procedure vs. surgery. Now tomorrow I have an MRI on my left knee to begin the possible pursuit of the same regimen of treatment for my left knee. Stay tuned.

08 April 2012

A Trip To Japan Over Spring Break



During my kids' spring break at school a couple of weeks ago, we traveled to Japan. My oldest daughter's soccer team did a cultural exchange with a soccer team in Arao, Japan, staying with host families, playing soccer and experiencing Japanese culture. Here's a photo of all of us just as we arrived at the Fukuoka Airport in Japan.

We had a wonderful experience in south Japan in a city named Arao in the Kumamoto Prefecture. It's a very rural area with many small towns and lots of farming all around. The girls played in a soccer tournament and had three exceptional players from Japan join their team for the games. It was a very different style of play on a smaller, dirt field with only eight players per team and 12 minute halves. The ball traveled very fast on the dirt and the Japanese teams were all boys with only a few girls. They were very precise in their play and very fast. Then we traveled a couple of hours to Komamoto city to play a two of all girls teams on a turf field. Again, very precise passing and very quick feet, overall a great time was had by all. The girls were exhausted after all of the soccer.

At the end of the first few days while we were still adjusting to the time zone change, every evening my youngest daughter Bailey and a friend's son Cameron would fall asleep at dinner. They are each nine years old.

After playing soccer for a few days, we went sightseeing for the rest of the trip. Here are some of the things we experienced:
  • The first day we arrived we visited the mayor and the school superintendent of Arao city (in all of our exhaustion from traveling). This was very special to them and we were very happy to be a part of it. The next morning it was raining so in the morning a few of us went bowling with all the girls while another group of adults visited a sword maker and an historic Buddhist temple (I was chosen to chaperon the kids bowling so I missed out on visiting the temple - I would have loved to experience this). Then in the afternoon all of us joined up and went to a mall for some shopping. The bowling alley and the mall both looked like they could be in nearly any city in the US really.
  • While in Kumamoto city we visited Kumamoto Castle which dates back to the 15th century. The size of the entire castle complex is enormously vast measuring roughly 1.6km from east to west, and measures 1.2km from north to south. The height of the main castle keep is 30.3m. The complex has 3 castle keeps, 49 turrets, 18 turret gates and 29 smaller gates. It's size and beauty has to be seen to be believed really.
  • One day we traveled to Amakusa to go dolphin watching (dolphin watching photos). It was so much fun to be in a boat cruising along side the dolphins as they swam. We even got to see some baby dolphins swimming with their mother.
    * Another day we traveled to Nagasaki to visit the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum and Peace Park, a memorial to the victims and the history when atomic bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki by the US in 1945. This experience left a lasting impression on myself and most everyone else; the atrocities that humans commit upon one another is shocking. This was a similar to Janene's and my visit to the Halocaust Museum in Washington, DC years ago.
  • Still another day nearly everyone went to an amusement park named Greenland Resort and Amusement Park (this site is in Japanese but the photos are great). A few of the adults also went to visit a Japanese pottery studio.

We also had multiple dinners and parties while we were there both at large areas where we could gather and in small groups in Japanese family's homes. Experiencing the Japanese life and culture in this way was something that we will never forget. It was a very good for all the girls to experience life in another country, especially one that, at times, could seem so different from the US and yet so similar. I have always enjoyed the experience of other cultures throughout my travels in Europe and I'm glad that my girls got to experience Japan.

Nearly everywhere we went during our trip, there were Japanese people who were amazed by my youngest daughter Bailey. Evidently the Japanese people are enamored with her blonde hair and blue eyes. She was like a celebrity and they wanted to have their photo taken with her. They would ask to touch her hair and stroke it with a look of awe. I was a bit freaked out by it at first but it became so common and hilarious that we all just laughed and laughed.

If you would like to see more about our trip, take a look at the blog and photos that Janene and I maintained while we were in Japan. There are plenty of photos and blog entries by the girls about their experiences.

05 April 2012

Start/Stop MongoDB Using These Aliases



Just a quick note on working with MongoDB on Linux/Unix.

Recently I needed some ready-made commands to start and stop MongoDB that I could just copy/paste and go, so I created the following aliases for my Bash profile that did the trick. I use these for developing with MongoDB on a MacBook Pro exactly the same way that I make use of aliases for PostgreSQL and MySQL. These are mainly notes for myself for posterity but I'm hopeful that they may also help someone else as well:


# Start up MongoDB using a forked process and log appending
alias mongostart='/var/mongodb/bin/mongod --fork --dbpath /var/mongodb/data/db --logpath /var/mongodb/log/mongodb.log --logappend'

# Shut down MongoDB safely using the soft kill on the PID
alias mongostop="kill -2 `ps aux | grep [m]ongo* | awk '{ print $2 }'`"


Put these in your ~/.bash_profile or ~/.profile, reload the profile and away you go. Obviously you will need to adjust the paths to suit your own environment.