Monday, October 3, 2011

9 1/2 month post-transplant update

Chris at the top of the Duomo in Florence. Did we mention
that it was 462 steps to the top?
We celebrated Chris' 9 month transplant anniversary in style. To celebrate our first year wedding anniversary (September 18), we headed to Italy and are pleased to report the incredible changes we noticed in Chris' condition.

Prior to his transplant, Chris had a really hard time walking long distances, whether he was having a relapse or not. It was almost impossible for him in hot weather.

Italy definitely posed a challenge. Anyone who has been to Italy knows that to see all of the sites requires a lot of walking and a lot of stairs. And of course, there was a heat wave in Italy when we went and it was 34 degrees everyday.

But throughout our entire trip Chris had no problem walking, climbing and sometimes breaking into a jog (when he accidentally left our camera at the restaurant!).

The first thing we noticed was the lack of Chris' "floppy foot." (In case you hadn't figured, that is not a real medical term). It is caused by muscle weakness and tightening in Chris' left leg and the term "floppy foot" comes from the loud sound his foot makes when it flops on the ground. The sound is usually my first indication that Chris is having walking difficulty (because Chris never wants to admit it) and unfortunately it causes him to have really bad knee and hip pain.

Over the years we have both become accustomed to this noise when walking and it wasn't until a few days into the trip that we realized that we never heard it, not even once.  We even had days where we walked upwards of 20 km and climbed 800 stairs in 30 degree weather and Chris never once had to rest or felt any discomfort.

Even if you compare this to a few months ago when we were in Montreal (see last blog post), this is a huge difference. In Montreal, Chris found that the heat made it harder for him to walk and he did need to take a break because his "floppy foot" had kicked in and it was causing pain in his hip.

So throughout the trip we kept on trying to do things that Chris would have never been able to do before his transplant. It was a great vacation.

After coming back from Italy, we decided to head to the gym to burn off all of the pasta we ate and Chris decided to go on a treadmill for the first time in 5 years.

He isn't close to running marathons (yet!), but he was able to run for 15-30 second intervals at a pretty high pace. A year ago at this time, Chris couldn't even force his body to run.

We have also received Chris schedule for his research study. On December 4, Chris will have his 1 year MRI and then we will get to review it, along with Chris' previous MRIs, with Chris' neurologist on December 12.

We are really excited to see the difference in his MRI. With all of the changes that we are seeing, we know that there has to be a visible change in the lesions on Chris' brain. We are just curious to see how different his MRI will be from last year.

For us, the question is not "Did this procedure work?" its "How well did this procedure work?" I am hoping the Chris wins most improved.