Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Look Who's Standing Now!

We are having a wonderful vacation in beautiful Lake Tahoe.

Take note... Chris is sitting and I AM STANDING! Yeah!

A few pictures from our trip
The view from our cabin

Drew and I played Go Fish. And he beat me every time.

The boys were on the Bar B-Q

Fun with our cousins



Let's stay in Tahoe forever!

I love my sister!

It is always more fun with Mom and Dad!

Sharing a chocolate malt at our favorite place, Snoflake.

The Tahoe Queen

We are so grateful to enjoy such a beautiful place with our family and friends.  It has been a remarkable summer.  I continue to have lots of energy and my over-all strength is better than before my stem cell procedure.  I usually have 4 or 5 really good days followed by a day of rest.  The stem cells will continue to heal and repair for the next 6 months or so.  Patience is a virtue.

As summer vacation comes to an end and the school year begins, my wish is that everyone has had a summer full of relaxation, fun, and lots of love!

xoxo,
Julie



Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Two Week Update

After my last post, I had four rough days. My chronic fatigue seemed to return, my breathing was troubled, and my body was weak. I felt very discouraged as I rested. But after a few days of rest, I returned to my post-stem cell self.

Full of energy and stronger. In fact, I walked up the stairs all by myself, no assistance. Big girl!

Because I was feeling so good, I was able to travel with my daughters to Manhattan Beach for a woman's conference. I met Katherine Woodward Thomas, a national best-selling author, who is endorsing my upcoming book, The Essence of a Mother. Very Exciting!


While I was in class, the girls had a great time at the beach. It was a wonderful girls trip, and McKenna drove all the way to LA and back!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

One Week Update

Hard to believe I flew back from Panama one week ago! I am so happy to be home, with my loving family, and sleeping in my own bed. I love the USA!

Here is a quick update:

Before stem cells:

I needed assistance getting in and out of the bath
Used my wheelchair full-time
Chronic fatigue, no energy
Had to be carried upstairs
Could not roll over or bend legs in bed without assistance

Post stem cells:

Can get in and out of bath on my own
Use walker in the house 80% of the time
Full energy, no need for naps
TONIGHT I walked up 10 stairs unassisted!
Can roll over and bend legs easily and freely

I am amazed at the progress I have made in such a short amount of time. I love my new stem cells! Thank you for your continued thoughts and prayers.

Love,
Julie

Friday, June 24, 2011

I'm coming home!

I can't believe it.  I made it!  Today, I had my final physical therapy appointment, and I received my last stem cell injection.  Over the course of the month, I have received millions and millions of stem cells.  Now it is time to go home, rest, continue physical therapy, eat healthy and let the stem cells do their job... repair.

Here are a few pictures from our final days in Panama.

We met some friends for dinner.  
On the cab drive over we were stopped at a stoplight,
and looked out the side window.
There, in the middle of the rush-hour traffic were three men juggling!
Only in Panama... or maybe San Francisco.
video

Beni Hana's
Abdul and his wife Dhoha are returning to Kuwait tomorrow.
Eric and Tracy have one more week of therapy before returning to the States.
It was nice to have a farewell dinner with our new friends.

I fell in love with the people I have met in Panama.  

This is MY TRIBE.

 Dick DeLeon, trainer at BioFit Physical Therapy

 Dr. Herrera, Anesthesiologist
Dr. Herrera administered all of my intrathecal injections.
I mentioned to her that injections #1, 3, 5, and 7 did not hurt, 
and the even numbers hurt.
So she said, "then we will call your final injection # 7+1, instead of #8"
It worked.  Injection # 7+1 did not hurt. :)

 My nurse, Santa (during my procedures, he sings to me when I get nervous)
Dr. Herrera, and Dr. Bowen
I wish I could pack them up in my suitcase and bring them home with me.

 Dr.Paz, Medical Director of the Stem Cell Institute
I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Dr. Paz
He has a brilliant mind, and is a trailblazer in his approach to
treating disease and injury.
I am honored to be his patient.

 My new friend, Pauletta, from Tennessee.  
She is here to assist her friend, Jody.
Jody is receiving stem cell therapy after being shot in the spine 
by her ex-husband and was left paralyzed from the neck down.
Jody is so inspiring to me, she shows up everyday with a smile on her face.

My Tribe.

I am blessed to have been able to receive treatments and care from the Stem Cell Institute.  I am blessed to have crossed paths with many loving people in Panama... cab drivers, security guards, restaurant owners, doctors, nurses, patients, staff, physical therapists, tour guides, and people on the street.  I am blessed to have such loving support from hundreds of friends and family.  I am blessed to be the recipient of thousands of faith-filled prayers.  I am blessed to have a compassionate son who gave four weeks of his summer to serve me.  And I am blessed to be going home to a warm, loving family.

Once again, I extend my deep gratitude for the love and support extended to me and my family.

Love,
Julie

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Four Days left in Panama!

I can't believe I will be coming home in four days!

Tomorrow is spinal injection #7.  So far #1, 3, and 5 did not hurt. And #2, 4, and 6 hurt!  So, if we continue to follow this pattern, tomorrow will be a piece of cake!

Here is what Scott and I have been up to during our down time (besides watching seasons 1, 2, and 3 of Grey's Anatomy)

 Scott and I enjoying learning about the Panama Canal.  
We got to see a movie and explore the museum, too.

 We had dinner at the Alberto's on the Causeway.
The Causeway is a long road connecting three islands.  All of which are built from the rocks and ruble dredged up when building the Panama Canal.  The food was delicious, and the view of the city spectacular.  We invited our driver, Oscar, to join us for dinner.  He kept us laughing.

Watching the Panama vs. El Salvador futbol (soccer) game.
When Panama would score, you could hear the whole town erupt in cheers, fireworks, and gunshots.

video
Scott and I ventured to Casco Viejo (Old Town Panama City)
We enjoyed a wonderful lunch at an outdoor cafe, Casablanca.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Seeing more improvement

Today was a good day. I spent the day resting in our nice little apartment.

Good news... As I was getting ready for bed, I stood up and walked with a cane into the bathroom! It wasn't pretty, and maybe a little dangerous, but I did it! It was about four steps (did I mention our apartment is little?) it was a good day!

My last week's schedule:

Monday - physical therapy, 6th spinal and 3rd IV
Tuesday - physical therapy
Wednesday - physical therapy, 7th spinal
Thursday - physical therapy
Friday - physical therapy, 8th spinal
Saturday - fly home, hug and kiss my girls and Chris :)

Love,
Julie

Thursday, June 16, 2011

More Stem Cells

Today I had Physical Therapy.  This is my wonderful trainer, Tannia

Dr. Hernandez.  He administers my stem cells into my arm.

This is a picture of my stem cells from my mini-lipo

Viewer Discretion Advised
My Spinal Injection
First my back is sterilized, then a sterile protective film is placed on my back.
Catheter is inserted into my spinal cord, Stem Cells are introduced.


Last night we had a fun time with some of our new friends.
Dinner at a local sushi restaurant.
Me, Scott, Joe, Scott, Tracy, and Eric

The food here has been interesting.  Looking forward to the organic food and local farmer's markets back home. We are so spoiled to have plenty of healthy options in California.  My favorite food in Panama... the butter!  The butter here is so good. Weird, I know.

Love to all,
Julie

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Doctors are impressed with my quick response.

Today, I received my 4th spinal injection and my 1st IV infusion.  The IV stem cells go through out the body to reduce inflammation and fix the immune system.  It went well.  The spinals are uncomfortable, but tolerable.  I was discussing my progress with one of my doctors, and she said that my improvement is the earliest she has seen.  Most patients start to see improvement after 3 - 4 weeks.  Based on my experience of quick response to the stem cells, she feels that I will continue to have great results.  The perfect candidate for this procedure!  Yeah!

Me with my beautiful stem cells.

Another new friend, Steve (Texas).  This is his second round of treatments, he is being treated for MS.  His advice to me was to be patient, over the weeks and months improvement will come.

Wednesday, physical therapy.  Thursday, spinal and IV injection.  Friday, physical therapy and tour lab.

Again, thank you for you prayers. love and support.

Ciao,
Julie

Monday, June 13, 2011

A Specific Prayer...

This weeks schedule is intense with physical therapy everyday and FOUR stem cell injections. Two in the spine and two intravenous. The IV injections are putting my own stem cells back into my body.  These stem cells not only repair damage, but they work on "fixing" the immune system.

As you are praying for me, please pray specifically for my body to continue to welcome these new stem cells, and be strong through the process.  Sometimes, it all seems like too much to bear.  It is these times that the thoughts, prayers, love, and support of others hold me up.

Here is a picture of some of the new friends I have made at the Stem Cell Institute. They each are inspiring in their own way. The three gentlemen in the wheelchairs are being treated for spinal cord injury. The gentleman standing to my right (TJ, he is a physician from Texas) is being treated for MS, this is his second round of treatments.


Pictured: Eric (California), TJ (Texas), Me, Scott (Canada), Abdul (Kuwait).

I pray that each one of my new friends is able to have positive results from their treatments.

My love to you all,
Julie

Friday, June 10, 2011

Seeing more improvements!

I had my third intrathecal injection yesterday.  It went well, not much pain.  I mentioned to the doctor that I have been experiencing severe pain in my sciatic nerve, and wondered if this was a side effect of the spinal injections.  She said it was not.  The pain I am experiencing is from the stem cells regenerating my nerves.  WOW!  That is exciting and worth every ounce of pain.  BRING IT!

The additional improvements I have noticed are, my breathing is back to normal.  This improvement is quiet exciting, as it was very concerning to have such difficulty taking a deep breath.  I have also had improvement in my bladder function.  I will leave it at that.  For those of you that suffer from MS and want to know more, just send me a personal email jewelsjensen69@aol.com and I will give you more detail.  I have been a bit more tired and my legs feel weak, I've been told this s normal as your body gets accustomed to the new stem cells.

Picture of me and Chris before he left Panama

Chris flew back to the States Wednesday night and was reunited with the little girls yesterday.  They were so happy to be back together again.  Thanks Mom and Dad for driving the girls back to Cali.  And a  BIG thank you to my parents and family for making their stay in Arizona so memorable.

Thanks for all of the loving emails and comments on the blog.  It is uplifting to hear from you all.  I am unable to respond o everyone, so please know that I deeply appreciate your kind thoughts and I send you all a warm hug and big smooch!

I am really enjoying being here with Scott.  Not very often does one get to spend two weeks with their son in a foreign country.  I couldn't ask for a better son!

Love,
Julie

Looking forward to a weekend of rest.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Second injection down! Eight more to go!

I continue to see little improvements! The chronic fatigue has been lifted. The strength in my arms is returning, my manual dexterity is improving. When sitting or lying on my back, I am able to hold my legs in a bent position. (they used to just flop to the side, with absolutely no control). I am amazed! What are these little miracle workers called stem cells?

My second injection wasn't as "enjoyable" as the first. When placing the needle in my spinal cord, the doctor hit a tender spot. So, she had to pull it out and reinsert the needle. Apparently, this is common. Needless to say, it HURT! My spine/back is tender today.

I continue to have rehab everyday. My trainer's name is Tanya, and she is wonderful. We work hard stretching and strengthening my body, preparing it to walk again.

Today I have rehab, tomorrow...rehab and my 3rd spinal injection, Scott and I will also get a tour of the lab; where all of the stem cell preparation happens.

Chris flies back to the states tonight and will reunite with the girls. He has taken such good care of me, like he always does. I appreciate all of his hard work and efforts to make this happen! Without Chris, I wouldn't have been able to be here. My deepest gratitude for such a loving, supportive husband. One of the beautiful lessons I have gained through this challenge is the gift of experiencing true love and undying devotion. Chris gives meaning to the marriage vows, "for better or for worse, in sickness and in health". I love you!

Blessings,

Julie

Sunday, June 5, 2011

My new stem cells are working!

It has been less than 48 hours, and I am already feeling benefit from my new stem cells!  The first improvement I noticed was the chronic fatigue has lifted.  When we were going to bed Friday night around midnight, I felt "amped up" (similar to after drinking an iced chai latte).  I was able to stand up from my wheelchair and brush my teeth, standing straight up!  I haven't been able to do that for several months, usually having to sit.

Today, my arms had enough strength to fold two loads of laundry.  Pre-stem cells, I would have only been able to fold one pair of socks before my arms were too fatigued to continue.  I never thought I would be so elated to fold laundry!  Lourdes, our wonderful housekeeper, is going to be happy about this improvement. :)

One down, and nine more infusions to go!

Thank you to all those who continue to pray for and support me and my family.  We feel your love!

I am a blessed girl.

Humbly,
Julie

Friday, June 3, 2011

Note to Jul...

Hi Juls. I am so happy to hear that you have "beautiful" stem cells. Although, it doesn't surprise me.... You are so beautiful in every way that of course your stem cell would be also. : ) What a blessing. I missed talking to you today, but here are a few pics so you can see what the girls have been doing.
We went swimming at a really fun pool
On the way home from swimming, a friend down the street was selling bunnies.
The kids insisted that we go get one...and WHAA LA! We have 3. How did this happen? Jake bought them with his own money. We were a bit hesitant since we are not huge PET People. But I actually really like them the more I play with them. The kids spent about 3 hours tonight playing with them. They loved it!

Presh and B are buds now. She is sooooo good with her. All of them are so sweet with her.
All is well. We miss you and Love you so Much!
, J

Doctor says my stem cells look beautiful!

Hola!

I saw Dr. Paz, director of the clinic, and he told me that he was at the lab and my stem cells that were extracted look beautiful. They are great! :)

One of my dear friends, Terrie is an artist and she sculpted this adorable Prayer statue and gave it to me. It is a reminder to me of all the people who are holding me in prayer. I bring her with me to all my treatments.

When having my mini-lipo to retrieve my stem cells, I asked if I could bring her into surgery. One of the doctors said to leave her with my husband, then Dr. Hernandez offered to hold her for me while in the O.R. Here is the picture he took...


I just got home from my first intrathecal (spinal) stem cell injection. It went very well. After prepping my back, the actual injection only took two minutes. The gentleman in the stripped shirt is one of my doctors, and the other gentleman is an assistant. I was nervous, so he sang to me "Don't Worry, Be Happy!". (side note, do the doctors look really young or am I just getting older?)


Thanks for all of your love and prayers,
Julie

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Mini- Lipo a Success, now resting and recovering

Tuesday, I had a day off while the doctors wait for my labs to return. We visited the Panama Canal. Here is a picture of the largest ship going through the Canal. It cost this ship $387,000 to pass through!


This is our oh, so friendly and helpful driver, Byron.



Here is a clip of me recovering from my mini-lipo procedure yesterday morning.  I was feeling pretty wiped out.
video


I was very impressed with the hospital, nurses, and doctors. The facility was modern and very clean. The staff was attentive, kind, and helpful. The doctors were professional and had great bed-side manner. I was a bit nervous going into my procedure, my surgeon stayed right by my side, held my hand, and assured me he would be with me the whole way through.

He told Chris later that I fell asleep talking about my children. I don't recall, and it doesn't surprise me... I miss them so much! We will be back together before you know it!

Scott arrives tonight!  :)

Hugs to all,
Julie

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

My Prayer......

Mom and dad went to LA to meet Jul and Chris on their way to Panama and pick up the girls to bring them to AZ. They will be staying with Mom and spending lots of time with us and all the cousins. We are so excited to have the Jensen Girls here to Play and we love them so much. We wish McKenna and Scott could be here too. : ) We will take good care of them Juls so don't worry about them for a second. We spent all weekend at the cabin for Memorial day and had a blast. When I was tucking Lola into bed, she was saying her prayers and was blessing You, (JUL) and asked Heavenly Father to please help her mom walk again. My prayer today along with Lola and many others is that each little stem cell will be a good one and will help Jul's on her road to wellness and walking. I love my sister and I am thankful for all of your Prayers.
Love, Jen

Monday, May 30, 2011

Love the doctors in Panama!

I had my first doctor's appointment today.  It was so nice to meet with doctors who take the time to actually visit, discuss, explain, strategize a plan to healing, and get to know you as a patient and a person.  This is the FIRST time in nine years where I met with a doctor, and felt hope about changing the course of my MS.  Had to travel to Panama to find the answers.  And I am very glad I did!

The Stem Cell Institute has treated about 200 MS patients, and patients that have MS similar to me, have had 80% - 85% improvement.

America needs to get on board.  Stem cell medicine is amazing and can help thousands of people.

The lesson learned?  Listen to that little voice inside yourself that whispers and guides you.  That voice is always there waiting for you to ask, "what next? what is my next step?"  Listen to that small voice and you will never go wrong.  Six weeks ago, I felt confused as to what I should do to try and heal my body.  So, I quieted myself and asked.  The answer came...stem cells.  Today I sit in Panama preparing for my first intrathecal stem cell injection.  God is good.

Blessings,
Julie

Sunday, May 29, 2011

We made it to Panama

Well, we made it to Panama!  It was a long day of travel, woke up at 4:00am, flew out of LAX, arrived in Panama at 5:30.  Our driver met us at the gate and helped us through customs and retrieved our luggage.  It was very easy.  We were happy to arrive at our new "home away from home".  We walked across the street and had dinner at a new, local restaurant.  The food was delicious.  We met the owner of the restaurant and told him why we are in Panama.  He made me a deal... if, by the end of my treatments I can walk in his restaurant, I can eat for free :)  DEAL!


Chris is having fun mingling with the locals.  His three years of High School Spanish is coming back, and if he doesn't know the word in Spanish, he repeats himself even louder in English with a Latin accent.  It is quiet funny.  We are having a great time!  If you ever need a fun travel buddy, I highly recommend traveling with Chris!

Here is the view from our bedroom.  Panama City is full of beautiful high-rise buildings, and in between I am reminded that we are in a third world country.  The homes are small, tin and wooden shacks.


I am enjoying seeing another part of the world, and I feel blessed to live in America.

Doctors appointment Monday, Mini-lipo to retrieve stem cells Wednesday, first stem cell infusion Friday.

Love to all,
Julie

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Stem Cells Paid For!

Well, we did it!  Together we can make great things happen!

Yesterday we sent the wire transfer to pay for my stem cell procedure.  Thank you to all who helped contribute to my healing.  A total of $8089.76 has been donated to assist with the cost of my treatment. Your money went directly to my stem cells!  You are all part of my healing process.

I am packing up to leave later Thursday evening.  My daughters are starting to feel a bit sad because we will be apart for a month.  So, I got them each a blanket to have while I am away.  If they are sad, they can wrap their blanket around them and pretend it is me giving them a hug.  I will miss them dearly.


I am grateful for all of the generous donations, love and support.

Much love,
Julie

Monday, May 23, 2011

You always have a choice...

Who will you choose to be in the face of a difficult challenge? When life stinks? And things are tough?

We can't always choose our situation, but we can always choose who we are going to be in every situation.

It has not been an easy road, living with a chronic health challenge.  Sometimes I have acted out being impatient and short tempered, feeling sorry for myself (my poor husband usually being the lucky recipient of my frustration.  Thanks for your patience and understanding, Chris). 

I finally learned to acknowledge my difficult situation and extend love and compassion to myself.  This allows me to look at myself and who I am choosing to be in the face of difficulty.  Am I going to be unhappy, impatient and frustrated or loving and compassionate?  I choose to show up in life extending LOVE.

We always have a choice.  And it makes all the difference.

This I know for sure.

Only three more days until I leave!

Love and blessings,
Julie

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Yard Sale a HUGE Success!

Thank you to all those who donated their time, talents and gently used items and baked goods for the yard sale.

Thank you to the many, many people who so generously donated money and purchased items. We live in such a wonderful community of loving people. Thanks El Dorado Hills community!

Thank you to the families who were so patient with all of the traffic, and let us use their front yards for the most perfect location.

Thank you to all of the friends of McKenna who woke up EARLY on a Saturday morning to help set-up and work the yard sale. I am so moved by teenagers waking up and helping at 6:00am! You have raised wonderful kids.

Thank you to Lisa Gertsch for her time, efforts, talents, and love in heading up and organizing such an event. Everyone should be so lucky in life to have a friend like Lisa.

Thank you to my five wonderful, compassionate, hard-working children. For wanting to help their Mom get to Panama. I love you with all my heart!

FUNDS RAISED AT YARD SALE... $4,305.76!

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Love,
Julie