My son Roman was born with Spina Bifida in 2010. He is a L4-L5 level which means he cannot void on his own and does not have bowel control. His legs were very weak and he could not walk independently until he was 2.5 years old. He was able to hold on to a walker and push it slowly but the big change came after stem cells. He received his first stem cell treatment in China, and in Mexico twice since then. The latest change was from Mexico.
We arrived to San Diego a few days before treatment and checked into our hotel downtown. The next few days we spent exploring the city and taking a trip to the San Diego SeaWorld courtesy of Warrior Families Beating Spina Bifida Foundation. Roman really enjoyed that trip because he got to see the sea lions and pet the little sharks. He was not as excited about Shamu as I was.
The next day we were escorted to Mexico across the border with Grace and Abel Pena. They were really great and picked us up in their car and drove us to the hospital. The staff greeted us as we registered in as patients, signed some papers and answered questions about his blood type etc. I can understand how some people may be cautious signing things and giving consent to doctors in a different country but since I knew Grace and Abel from our previous trip to Mexico, I was at ease.
The doctors and nurses were very accommodating and made sure we were comfortable with our room and the procedure. It was much faster than I remember it the first time. The anesthesiologist and doctors talked about how they would only put him to sleep for a very short time and not keep him under sedation when not necessary. They had performed the spinal taps many times and knew their jobs very well. I felt confident in their care and did not have second thoughts about the procedure. I only wish that Roman cooperated as well as I thought he would. He did not like the taste of versed (the relaxing serum before procedures) so we opted to take him without it to the procedure room. The hospital has the coolest stair case that has a slide like side so they can transport people in a wheelchair up and down the twisty ramps.
During the procedure, Grace and I went to eat at a local place so that I would not be nervous and we hurried back because Roman was not going to be in the procedure very long. After we came back, Roman was not awake yet but was brought in soon after. He did great; there was no pain in his back or the IV. He was a bit freaked out thinking that the procedure was just beginning after looking at his IV. It took a while to convince him that we are all done.
After about half an hour, he began eating everything, and I mean everything he could get his hands on. The Jell-O, the rice, the juice, the fruit cup. We had asked for refills. He was feeling really great; He said “Is this Mexico? I like Mexico”…while he’s eating and watching Netflix on our laptop. (by the way, wifi works there and I would take a laptop with Netflix if you have it.)
We had a great experience and soon after we left back across the border to our hotel room. We stopped on the way while Grace and Able treated us to some local cuisine of ice cream, then sandwiches while walking around the outside mall.
Since the trip we have noticed Roman waking up in the middle of the night saying he feels his butt more and that he has to go pee. One day after about 1.5 months he had a wet diaper. He has never had a wet diaper in 6 years! Since then his recurrent infections suddenly stopped and he has been having more strength in his legs to run and walk without his AFO shoes. I am excited seeing these results they are truly worth it! The peeing is becoming more consistent and we are seeing good results in his muscle strength as well.
I encourage anyone that wants to give their kiddo a chance to improve their life to take a chance and make this trip happen.