Thursday, October 2, 2014

Faith is Renewed With Hope From Stem Cell Therapy: A Husky's Personal Journey

Faith DaBaldo

Faith.

In addition to the religious definition, "faith" also means: “Confidence or trust in a person or thing” and a “belief that is not based on proof.” 

Faith, the name, also means confidence, trust, belief.

Confidence. Trust. Belief. 

Three simple words that can shape the decisions we make and the lives we lead. Faith is something our pets place in us, which is an honor and a privilege. We sometimes embark upon a journey with an unclear path, armed only with the faith that we are on the best path for our situation.


Today, I’d like to share with you an inspiring story about embarking upon such a journey, where confidence, trust, and belief play key roles, coincidentally with a beautiful Siberian Husky girl named “Faith” and her hu-mom, Jeanette. 

"Starbucks, Mom?"
Her name and the definition have joined together as partners on a journey of health and possibilities. Faith, whose beautiful face reflects that of youngster, is in fact celebrating her fourteenth Birthday today (yes, 14!) lives with degenerative arthritis and, in an effort to give her the best, most comfortable healthy life possible, Jeanette avails numerous cutting edge therapies to help keep her girl as strong, fit, and healthy as she can: aqua (swimming), water treadmill, chiropractic, laser treatments, and most recently, stem cell injection.

Before embarking upon Faith's journey, I'd like to share a little about this inspirational dog. Jeanette says she had wanted to bring a Siberian Husky into her family for about seven years prior to becoming Faith’s parent in 2000. When she finally found one, named Faith, she fell in love with her. Only when she went back for the Husky, it was too late as another family had already taken the puppy. Feeling sad at the missed opportunity, Jeanette said her mother told her,  “Jeanette, you have to have a little faith. God has a Husky coming He will choose just for you.” Sure enough, the pretty little single-litter pup, who Jeanette named Faith, entered her life on December 2nd of that same year, and they have been a loving team ever since. 

Faith ready for her pool therapy!
Jeanette says, She has always loved to play ball, go for walks, and one of her favorite pastimes was going to the dog park. In August of 2012, I started to notice a change in Faith’s gait. At the dog park, she was trotting more than running and seemed to being favoring her right hip. I immediately talked to my vet and we did diagnostic testing and Faith was diagnosed with arthritis. Faith has a number of allergies and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), so this sometimes can complicate treatment. We discussed meds and then a follow up appointment was scheduled for that Saturday. I was on Facebook that Friday and saw a post from FiveSibes where Gibson was getting laser treatments. I immediately did the research. On Saturday, when my vet walked in, we both at the same time said, “What about laser treatment?” He then referred me to Faith’s current rehabilitation vet.


 Faith receiving a laser treatment at the vet's office.

According to Jeanette, Faith's arthritis, "has progressed, as all degenerative diseases unfortunately do. She has not been at the dog park in a year and the seven walks per day are now at two, but she is resilient and has an enormous drive in her.” Faith participates every week in rehabilitation therapy. She walks on an aqua treadmill to build muscle and loosen the stiffness, she swims each week to build muscle, receives laser treatments, and sees the chiropractor several times per month, says Jeanette. Since Faith has IBS, Jeanette says they have to be careful with giving her supplements that may cause gastrointestinal upset. She does receive a weekly Adequan® injection, which according to Adequan Canine, is "a prescription polysulfated glycosaminoglycan (PSAG) that helps prevent the cartiladge in your dog's join from wearing away. It helps to keep the cartilage healthy and intact, so that the bone in the joint cannot touch other bones."

Even with her current therapies, at times Faith was struggling and
"Thanks, Mom. I love you."
Jeanette knew it was time to explore more options. Enter stem cell therapy. So just when did Jeanette hear about stem cell injections and what prompted her to move forward with the treatment? She says that her vet has worked with VivaStem® Stem Cell Fluid Therapy since 2011, and then this past summer when things became rough for Faith with bouts of pancreatitis and IBS, Jeanette knew she needed to look to other means in order to help her Husky.  Jeanette explains, “Faith lost weight, and because she was not overweight or had any extra pounds to utilize, she lost muscle mass, which bloodwork confirmed. She also started to show noticeable limping in the front right leg. Faith’s kidney values were also up.”


What exactly is this stem cell fluid therapy that Faith will be doing? According to VivaStem® Stem Cell Fluid Therapy's website at www.stemcellfluidtherapy.com, VivaStem® is a patented natural healing fluid that activates stem cells in horses, dogs, and cats, helping them heal from injury, nerve damage and relieving arthritis pain.”

According to the article "Stem Cell Therapy for Osteoarthritis" on the Arthritis Foundation's arthritistoday.org website, "The hope is the injected cells will regenerate damaged joint tissue...," states Farshid Guilak, PhD, professor of orthopaedic surgery and biomedical engineering at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C. A growing number of researchers, including Guilak, suspect they may help by reducing inflammation. "There is a theory that is getting more and more support that these stem cells produce anti-inflammatory cytokines...," states Guilak in the article.



The stem cells used in Faith’s injection are harvested from the placenta of horses, says Jeanette, and the procedure is done right in her regular vet’s office. “This is a non-invasive form of stem cell therapy because there is no anesthetic.  The vet injects the stem cell fluid into the dog subcutaneously. The dog is awake for the procedure, which would have to be as I almost lost Faith for the two surgical procedures she has had due to anesthesia.  One was during spay and the other was an IBS flare up, which lasted three months due to the anesthesia after a dental clean,” Jeanette explains that for the procedure, “Faith was pre-treated with a shot of Benadryl. About 45 minutes after the Benadryl shot is administered, the stem cell powered is mixed and dosage inserted in to the needle.”


And just how did Faith react to the injection? Jeanette says she did become “upset because the injection, which takes about the same amount of time to administer as a rabies vaccine injection, hurts upon going in.”


Faith was treated as a day patient, staying at the vet’s office for a total of four to five hours so they could keep a watchful eye out for any possible allergic reactions. There were none, and Faith was released to go home where Jeanette says she was “very sore and restless the first two days, and she had to continue treatment with the Bendadryl as well every eight hours during those first two days. As the soreness went away so did her anxiety.” 

 
 Faith, two weeks post stem cell injection.

Faith was back at water therapy on day three, post injection. “The aqua tread time was cut short and the right hind could not be lasered or adjusted (at this early stage), but the rest of the body was complete and you could see it really helped already with the soreness. “

 
Faith swimming strongly in water therapy.


To say watching for improvements keeps one eager, and nervous, with anticipation is an understatement. Jeanette says she was advised that it could take up to four to six weeks before she may see any real improvement in Faith as a result of the stem cell therapy. At that time, says Jeanette, “we will know if the stem cells took or not.” As of today, it has been three weeks since Faith's first injection. “We are looking for subtle changes,” notes Jeanette. “Mobility getting up and down should become easier, some of the lameness should subside, and a kidney values check will be done as a follow-up at eight weeks post injection. And, if the stem cells took, Jeanette says Faith will then have another treatment at six-and-a-half weeks and then every four months. 

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.” 
~Martin Luther King, Jr.

When pursuing something new, uncommon, or cutting edge, such as stem cell therapy, there is the unknown that can cause uneasiness, yet the desire to pursue it to a positive conclusion, sight unseen, gives us hope. Martin Luther King, Jr. summed it best when he said, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.” For Jeanette and Faith, it may be a while before they do indeed see the whole staircase, but Jeanette is hopeful that each step along the way will be a step toward healing.


I am not looking for the fountain of youth,” notes Jeanette. “I am hopeful this will ease her pain and stiffness and give her the opportunity to play with her toys and go for walks without having excessive pain.”


As a fellow pet parent, I know I’m always researching and discussing with my own vet various treatments and therapies, holistic and traditional, that are available or becoming available in order to help keep our pets health, and lives, better and longer. We owe it to our beloved companions, and to ourselves, to stay on the cusp of new discoveries for whole health, to not only give us something to believe in, but to have the information available that could help ease them and help them into their golden years.

We’ll definitely be following up in a few months with Faith and Jeanette to see how she is progressing with the stem cell therapy. “I am praying to have a good report,” adds Jeanette. We do, too! We do, too!

“I am not looking for the fountain of youth. I am hopeful this will ease her pain and stiffness..."
  ~Jeanette DaBaldo, Mom to Faith, the Husky

Now it's time to celebrate...what a special day for this pretty little girl! Faith, have a very Happy Birthday! You are a true inspiration to humans and canines alike. And may your birthday gift be continued good health for a long time to come, and much success with your therapies. Sending you Sibe nuzzles from our FiveSibes and big Husky hugs from me! 

And speaking of celebrating, here is a beautiful video titled “Faithy” created by Jeanette as a loving Birthday gift to her beautiful girl.




 “Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.”
~Mother Teresa



All photos and videos in this post taken by Jeanette DaBaldo and posted with permission.



5 comments:

  1. Oh that was beautiful!
    I know Faith and Jeanette from Facebook as well. She is a wonderful woman, and Faith is just so gorgeous and sweet. This was a lovely tribute.
    Happy Birthday Faith!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

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  2. Happiest Birthday to beautiful Faith, she is amazing and we so hope future progress moves quickly for everyone.

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  3. What a wonderful story about Faith and her wonderful human. Phantom gets a weekly injection of Adequan, and Mom thinks it does help. We send our best wishes for Faith to have good success with the stem cell therapy.

    Woos - Phantom, Ciara, and Lightning

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  4. Happy birthday Faith and good luck with the treatment,xx Speedy

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