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Patient Reported Outcome – Barbara

After 35 years of bending over low desks teaching art to young children, in 2010, I was diagnosed with spinal stenosis. As my doctor described it, my back had ‘shut down,’ leading to nerve compression at L2, L3, L4, L5. In New York in 2014, the doctors told me I would end up in a wheelchair as my stenosis progressed.

It did get worse before it got better – but stem cell therapy proved those doctors wrong.

In 2015, new MRIs revealed degenerative spondylolisthesis, a spinal condition in which one vertebra slips forward over the vertebra below.  My cervical spine (neck) MRI showed bulging discs at multiple levels. My spinal cord was flattened at C4/5 and C5/

There was burning pain to my right leg and foot, as well as tingling at the bottom of the right foot. It felt ice cold. It was so bad I could barely drive. I had pain and stiffness in my neck radiating to my shoulders and head.

I had tried a couple of steroid epidurals, but they had short-lasting relief. I reacted poorly to pain meds like gabapentin and did not like the idea of those anyway, so I stayed with natural solutions and just endured the pain.

By 2016, I was 72 years old and in severe pain from lumbar and cervical spinal stenosis, degenerative disk disease, and arthritis. I slept in a recliner, was unable to drive, and was in constant pain from head to toe. My arthritic fingers limited my ability to open bottles and prevented me from doing my pottery, which I had so enjoyed.

After years of trying conventional and natural solutions, I researched stem cells. My research and the people involved gave me confidence that stem cells taken from my fat (adipose tissue) were the right choice.

The turnaround started in March 2016 when I was treated with my adipose (fat)-derived stem and regenerative cells (ADRCs).  A plastic surgeon harvested my fat. Then, a board-certified specialist injected my ADRCs into sites of pain and arthritis.

Finally, the ADRCs were delivered IV. I believe the IV drip reduced my chronic inflammation. It made a big difference in how I felt.

The results were amazing. Within two weeks, I noticed relief. My neck, arm, and finger pain began to subside. I had hope that I might be able to work with clay again without the debilitating nerve tingling and numbness in my hands and fingers.

By the fall of 2016, it was time to test this idea out with my pottery. Starting with baby steps, I took some classes at the education center at the Foosaner Museum in Central Florida. I began to get my confidence back and better control of my hands and fingers by working with clay again. I tried the potter’s wheel but, at first, found that bending motion was too strenuous on my back. Instead, I began to hand-build sculptures.

One of my passions is creating large and small Fairy Houses, Castles, Dragons, and other pieces of sculpture. Having been successful in selling my art locally, I am satisfied with my accomplishments.  Yes, I am creating thanks to the stem cells I received in 2016.

When I retired from teaching, I became a Master Gardener and landscaper in New York. But, I had to dissolve my business due to the nerve pain in my back, legs, and feet. When I moved to South Florida, there was now a desire to get back to the earth

After my stem cell treatment, I was determined to become more active again.  I became a Master Gardener and bought a home where I created my gardens. I also volunteer at a community garden where I help with maintenance; yes, weeding and bending. Although, I am careful not to volunteer to turn the compost bin! That job is left to the younger generation.

My most significant success was yet to come. It had always been difficult for me to sit still for long as that was when I was in the most pain. Before the stem cell procedure, ZUMBA was my exercise of choice, but that was painful due to the neuropathy and arthritis.

There were a few bumps along the way with other health issues, but today I am an avid ZUMBA enthusiast: Three classes a week and in the front line every time.

In summary, five years after the treatment, my strength, mobility, and flexibility have increased. I’m enjoying my life. Yes, there is an occasional flare of neuropathy, but not debilitating. My latest MRIs have shown no advancement in the stenosis. Along with herbs, a massage once a month to relieve muscle stiffness, acupuncture, a better diet, and my Zumba workouts help me stay on top of my game.

I have prayed too. And, those prayers were answered. I believe there was a Devine Hand in all of this.

Looking back, the stem cell treatment from adipose cells for cervical and lumbar stenosis and degenerative disease saved my future. I am grateful to have my mobility back and to be looking forward to more years of independence due to this experience. At nearly 77 years old, I am in better health than I was twenty years ago.

Thank you all.

Barbara Darbin
June 2021

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