Saturday, April 16, 2011

Islet cell transplant - Day 1000

Today is my 1000th day since my transplant.  I keep track of this number on my blood sugar logs and this feels like an important one.

Everything is going will with my islets in general, but lately I have been having some problems with getting colds.  Since Feb. 1st, I have had one cold after another.  Sometimes upper respiratory, sometimes GI, and this last one has been both.  To make matters worse, my BGs and insulin needs increase during these bouts.  That makes me worry about my islets.

As of now, I am feeling much better.  My BGs are back to normal and my insulin as of yesterday has returned to 8 units/day which is my normal.  I am blaming it on our lousy weather and the fact that I have to be out in it more to take Dolly out.  I have been recruiting more help with this since my last bout of illness and that seems to be helping.  I think I have developed an actual fear of the cold weather.

Dolly is continuing to do well.  Her housebreaking is almost perfect.  She has learned her "sit" and "down" commands and comes when she is called.  We are working on barking for attention and jumping on people.  She also has shown some submissive/fear behavior with other dogs that we are trying to recondition.  She is very eager to learn and is lots of fun to play with.  She is beginning to get the idea of fetching.

I went to a very interesting lecture this week at the community college where I teach.  The topic was stem cells and the speaker was Arnold Caplan who is the founder of Osiris Therapeutics.  He did a wonderful job of explaining how adult  stem cells are harvested from body sites like bone marrow and fat cells and described the various applications of the products. The harvesting process is similar to that of my islets from the pancreas.  The cells are removed and isolated through centrifugation.  The stem cells are next exposed to specific enzymes that direct which type of tissues they will become.  The cells, called mesenchymal cells, are originally located on blood vessels.  Their function is to repair the vessel if it becomes damaged and to neutralize the immune system so that the repair work will not be compromised.

This topic was extremely interesting to me because I know two people who have had stem cell treatments for their diabetes.  Sandra, whose son had a treatment with stem cells from his bone marrow, and Eliza who had her treatment with her own adipose cells.  Both have had positive results.

I told him about my islet cell transplant and he seemed very interested.  I explained to him that if my islets don't last forever, that maybe stem cells might help.  I asked Dr. Caplan if he thought I had enough of my own islets left to repair and he didn't think so.  I asked about the islet cell pouch procedure which could be loaded with stem cells.  He thought that would probably not be available in time for me.  He did say that he believed that my problem was not my islets dying off, but my long term exposure to the immunosuppressants.  He strongly recommended that I ask my doctors about the possibility of a stem cell treatment.  The stem cells have an immunosuppressive effect and could possibly allow me to lessen my current dose of immunosuppressive drugs.  I said that I would ask about it, and I will.  Now that I have had more time to think about it, I realize there would be complications with doing this.  First of all, it would compromise my data for the study.  I am still committed until my 3 year anniversary which is in July.  Second, how would you calibrate the dosage of either the stem cells or the immunosuppressive drugs?  I would be afraid to risk the possibility of leaving my precious islets unprotected.  I am planning on having this discussion with both my endo here and with the doctors in Minn.  It will be very interesting to see what they think, as always.

The beginnings of Spring!
Hopefully, straight to Summer.

1 comment:

et63 said...

Great post Kathy!! I would be careful currently in your situation being on the antirejection drugs. You have done so well with your islet transplant. For me, not being eligible and finding out results that would make any sort of transplant for me difficult at best I found the stem cells to be my best option. In taking 38 years to get my body into this shape, I can't expect one treatment to make it all better. I do, however, still believe this is the road and most user friendly if you will, way to a cure.

Happy Easter to you and your family!!