A Merry Stem Cell Christmas!

A Merry Stem Cell Christmas!

by: Julia Aimers

Owner and Head Coach

Team Triumph Triathlon Club

Today I ran 10km in the beautiful hills of Vermont. No big deal right?...for some people, and for others well, they just don't run. Why am I feeling so Merry? Because I haven't been able to run 10km in 5 years. My last long running race was the Shelburne, Vermont half marathon in November of 2012. A skating accident in February of 2013 on the world's longest skating rink, the famous Rideau Canal in Ottawa, Ontario damaged my previously damaged knee and took me out of running.

Without going into the trials and tribulations of what happened between then and now, I can tell you that I had a meniscus "clean up" that actually gave me pain in my knee that I had never previously experienced. My running career and triathlon days were over and I was not a happy camper. Triathlon is not only a big part of my active lifestyle but as the Owner and Head Coach of Team Triumph Triathlon Club, triathlon coaching is also my career.

I started researching stem cells as an option to heal my knee so I could run again. Much to my surprise, I found Doctor Simon in Ottawa who was just starting to do stem cell injections. I opted in and after having some fantastic follow-up Platelet Rich Plasma injections with Dr Ouelette in Ottawa, I was running 5km again and doing triathlons!!

Having done my research, I decided to improve my knee healing more with what I called the "Cadillac version" of stem cell procedures, at the Regenexx Clinic in Colorado. The Doctors there have many years of stem cell procedure experience. They also have specific injection and blood draw methods that we just weren't seeing in Canada. I arrived at the clinic and was given a one hour assessment by Dr Schultz. During our previous 30 minute phone consultation he had surmised that there may be trouble in my lower back as well that was causing some of the knee pain. A quick X-ray and boom he was right there were some issues in my spine as well! During my thorough evaluation he also discovered I couldn't feel my big toe and due to years of competitive badminton ankle sprains, I had some damage there as well. All of this was affecting my knee.

Without going into the whole incredible procedure that lasted over a course of about nine days, I had stem cells injected into my ankle, my knee and my spine. On Doctors orders, I was wheeled to the gate at the airport, flew home and had to learn to be patient. Patience, hmm not something I'm good at when it comes to being inactive. After 4 weeks of rest and wearing a full knee and ankle brace, I was able to start back up gradually. Swimming came first...then spinning...then running. During that time, there were good days and days it took everything I could to smile while I was teaching classes. Pain would come and go and I was constantly questioning if I had made the right decision and whether I was doing too much, too soon.

At the 3 month mark, I found myself ready to run. So I started the walk run program which I give my clients who are coming back from injury or learning to run. I needed patience again but my stem cell mantra was now in full swing..."I will run again, I will run again, I will run 10km again!". Gradually I removed the heavy brace and moved to the lighter brace. By slowly adding more distance each week I was able to run without pain during or after my runs. One day I forgot to put on a brace at all and this was it, the day of reckoning! I was running again!!

Today, 4 and a half months post stem cell procedure at the Regenexx clinic in Colorado, I ran 10km in the beautiful hills of Vermont and that was the Merriest Christmas gift ever!!

Never give up on your dreams.

Happy Holidays!


p.s. my smile would have been bigger in the picture but my lips were frozen! It was a wee bit cold in Vermont today!





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