Sure, I’m pretty much a grown adult, but when it comes to the Holiday season I get so excited and basically revert back to a 5-year-old. Christmas 2012 was an extremely painful Christmas for me, yet, I still kept up my holiday spirit and tried to enjoy the holiday the best I could. That year, I remember asking Santa for a new body. My body was so inflamed, I was in so much pain and was just plain miserable.
Christmas 2013 I asked Santa for pretty much the same thing, but in Christmas 2014 I asked Santa to make sure the Regenexx procedure I would be receiving in the new year would be the solution to all of my problems! Oh, and I also decked my crutches out in Christmas lights (check it out here) 😉
This Christmas, Santa didn’t receive a letter like that at all.
Over the years, through diet and lifestyle changes, I’ve reigned in my inflammation, taken the upper hand of my autoimmunity and (so far) regenerated 40% of my femur bone. I’ve put in a lot of hard work. I spent 6 months bed ridden, 3.5 years on crutches, at one point I was spending 5-6 days in bed because of bone crushing fatigue and malaise and my body was fighting itself so much there were days I thought I’d never see the end. Not to mention, on top of the psoriatic arthritis, complex regional pain syndrome, anxiety, depression and avascular necrosis, I was dealt a melanoma diagnosis as well!
Over the past 3.5 years I’ve basically completed a rebirth of my entire life. I’ve worked tirelessly to find ways to help myself, I’ve tried to learn as much as I could about all of my conditions, I’ve connected with others in similar situations and I’ve made sure to stack my team with the best of the best.
When it came to combating my AVN, Dr. Charles Glueck helped me realize WHY I had AVN (and helped me revive one section of my AVN that HAD NOT collapsed yet) and Dr. Pitts at the Centeno-Schultz clinic helped me combat the rest of my AVN.
So how did my AVN journey begin?
Well, first it started by receiving an AVN diagnosis in December 2012.
Then, after spending years on crutches, seeing basically every orthopedic in the tri-state area, and being told countless times that no one could offer me any hope, I found Regenexx.
I immediately contacted the offices and quickly made an appointment to see the Regenexx doctor here in Pittsburgh. Unfortunately, at that time, the office wasn’t offering the bone stem cell procedure that I needed. They were only doing the tendons and ligament procedures of Regenexx. Because I felt like this was definitely the solution I needed, I consulted with a doctor in New Jersey who did the procedure and also talked to Dr. Schultz at their headquarters clinic in Colorado. I ended up scheduling my procedure with the doc who was doing the most of them at the time, Dr. Pitts. All of this happened during the Fall of 2015, but I had to wait a few months to get it done because of some family obligations. I was annoyed at first, but I truly believe everything occurs in the perfect timing. (I even wrote a post about that perfect time here!)
March 2015, my parents and I traveled out to Colorado to have the Regenexx stem cell procedure done. It was such a surreal experience. (Want to read about the whole procedure? Start at this post and click your way through the posts. I’ve posted about each phase of the procedure, like my Day 1 post, and my recovery, starting with Post Regenexx Month 1!)
So, why am I a huge proponent of The Centeno-Schultz clinic and their Regenexx procedures?
Well, for starters, for the first time in 3.5 + years I’m off pains meds, I’m not on crutches, I’m not in constant pain, I’m walking and getting stronger every day . . . OH ANDDDDDD I’m getting my life back. Dr. Schultz and Dr. Pitts were the first doctors who gave me HOPE. Hope that there was a solution to my problem. Hope that I’d get my life back. The hope that I’d been so frantically searching for through every disappointing doctors appointment I had had during my disability leave.
I truly felt like these doctors were in complete alignment to my healing philosophy. Prior to seeing them, I had changed my diet, my lifestyle, my thinking – everything. I truly believe that in order to achieve complete, whole healing, you must attack your life as a whole. Mind, body and spirit. Dr. Pitts so understood that and I really appreciated and respected that about him.
The month prior to my procedure I decided to take the plunge on an endeavor I had been talking about for years. Yoga Teacher Training. Some thought I was crazy. I mean, I’d been on crutches for 3+ years, I was getting a procedure done the next month . . . how would I be able to do it? My program ran from March to November 2015 and I truly believed it helped bring a whole other level of healing to my procedure. Why is that you may ask?
Yoga is the epitome of mind, body and spirit. Not only did I learn (or tried to learn haha!) how to be a great teacher, but it truly forced me to focus on ME physically, mentally and spiritually. It also gave me an amazing community to celebrate the wins of my procedure with. Don’t get me wrong, I have the biggest cheer squad at home, but it was nice to have a group of yogis who were sending a ton of positive vibes my way too.
Regenexx has shot some awesome videos of past patients who are thriving because of the procedure and I was approached to shoot one of my own. I WAS SO FREAKING EXCITED!!!!!! I started this blog because I wanted to get my story out there, I wanted to let other patients know what I tried, what worked, what didn’t work and offer suggestions on routes to try. But, above all, I wanted other patients to know that they weren’t alone – I was struggling and there are so many others out there struggling with the same thing. (Are you one of those patients? Check out this AVN Facebook group!)
So needless to say, I jumped at the opportunity and they sent an awesome director from California, Doug Orchard, to shoot the video on me. We spent the morning running around Pittsburgh, shooting me in different yoga poses in different locations. (Huge thanks to my Mom who drove us around and let us just jump in and out of her car!) Honestly, it couldn’t have been more perfect. Most would think that shooting yoga poses, at 7am, in dreary December weather would be less than perfect, but I truly couldn’t have been happier! Christmas has always been so special to me. There truly are 2 sure-fire ways to get me in a good mood- Celine Dion Music and ANYTHING Christmas. As we ran around the city, shooting this video, there were Christmas trees, Christmas lights and Christmas music playing all around. And the best part? I WASN’T ON CRUTCHES! I WAS WALKING!!!!! AND I WASN’T IN PAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The whole experience was so surreal. I feel so honored to have been given the chance to shoot the video and I’m SO grateful to the Doctors at Centeno-Schultz for creating a procedure that has given me my life back.
If I could tell any patient one piece of advice, I’d say it’s SO important to empower yourself. Get out there and do research on your condition. Approach your condition(s) with love, focus on your wellness and do everything in your power to help jump-start your healing process.
Don’t ever accept less than you believe you deserve.
Don’t ever stop until you hear answers you want to hear.
DON’T EVER GIVE UP!
Not only am I WALKING and ROCKING around my Christmas tree this year, but the Centeno-Schultz Clinic wrote this blog post about me and published this amazing video. (I got a kick out of the line about my Dad haha!!)
Take a moment to watch the video below. It brings tears to my eyes when I watch it. I couldn’t have turned out any better.
When 2015 started, I knew in my heart it would be my best year yet. It’s with such a grateful and blessed heart that I end this year of my life on such a huge high.
This year my incredibly supportive family and I are celebrating a year of truly astonishing wins.
It truly is a very, merry Christmas this year. #thankYouPapPap
Wishing You A Pain Free Day!