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Same-Day Satisfaction

Dental implant protocol restores retired bus driver’s lost smile.

Thirty-three years ago, New York native Robert Ballas left the big city and headed to Florida. One of the first things Robert did upon arrival in the Sunshine State was look for employment. He didn’t have to look for very long.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

With his Same Day Teeth, Robert can eat pain-free again.

“I put in applications at multiple companies, and one of the first to reply was the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority,” so I went with them,” Robert, 67, elaborates. “I wound up working for them for 22 years, but I didn’t drive one specific route.

“I was like a fill-in operator for drivers who didn’t report to work, so I basically knew where all the routes went. They handed me an assignment on a day-by-day basis, and I drove whichever route they gave me. That kept things interesting.”

Robert liked that his job didn’t tie him down to an office or desk all day, but being on the road offered him little opportunity to attend to personal business. One of the things Robert failed to take care of was a dental problem that started some 20 years ago.

“I bit into a peach, and it loosened one of my bottom front teeth,” Robert remembers. “It was very painful, but I was a macho guy, so I ignored it, hoping the pain would just go away. But as time went on, it only got worse.

“I eventually had problems with my molars and larger teeth, too. I brushed my teeth in the morning and evening, but I didn’t visit the dentist. Eventually, those teeth started falling apart, and I had problems chewing and eating.”

It wasn’t long before Robert’s front teeth began failing as well, and he started hiding his smile when greeting bus passengers.

“I got self-conscious, and I covered my smile with my hand,” he relates. “If someone told a joke and laughed out loud, I wanted to laugh, too, but I covered my mouth with my hand instead. Then about a year ago, that loose front tooth finally fell out, and I looked hideous.

“I couldn’t tolerate seeing myself that way, so I went to a dentist near my home. He told me that my teeth needed to be removed and that I should get dental implants. He recommended visiting Coastal Jaw Surgery for that work.”

“The new teeth are great. I like them better than the teeth I was born with.” – Robert

At Coastal Jaw Surgery, Robert met Lindsey Pikos Rosati, DDS, MS, a periodontist and implant specialist at the practice’s Palm Harbor and New Port Richey locations. Dr. Rosati evaluated Robert’s teeth and recommended upper and lower dental implants using Coastal Jaw Surgery’s Same Day Teeth® protocol.

“Robert came to us as a periodontal consult,” Dr. Rosati remembers. “He did not like the appearance of his teeth and was embarrassed by his smile. I reviewed his x-ray and told him he deserves to regain his quality of life and his ability to chew foods he enjoys, such as corn on the cob and steak.

“His teeth at that point were not savable, but that did not mean everything was hopeless. He had the option of doing Same Day Teeth®, during which we remove the failing teeth, get the mouth healthy, place dental implants and anchor a new, permanent smile.”

Surgery Roadmap

To begin the Same Day Teeth protocol with Robert, Dr. Rosati ordered a three-dimensional CT scan of his jaw. The CT scan provided information on Robert’s bone volume and the location of vital structures. It served as a roadmap for Robert’s implant surgery.
“Using this scan, we determined the size of the implants we would use and where to place them,” Dr. Rosati acknowledges. “We reviewed this information with Robert, and he was able to visualize the process on the screen.”

Robert then met with Coastal Jaw Surgery’s prosthodontist Philip J. Hedger, DMD, MS, who specializes in the aesthetic component of the Same Day Teeth protocol, designing Robert’s smile and bite.


Before and after images courtesy of Coastal Jaw Surgery.

“Dr. Hedger reviewed the various options for Robert’s teeth so he could gain an understanding of what his final outcome would look like,” Dr. Rosati says.

On the day of Robert’s implant surgery, Dr. Rosati removed his unhealthy teeth, smoothed out his bone and placed dental implants in his upper and lower jaw, all in the same day. Dr. Hedger then anchored Robert’s new smile to the implants.

“Patients wear the permanent teeth for about four months,” Dr Rosati observes. “This is a trial period to decide if they like the appearance of the teeth and allows the patient’s bone to bond to the implants while still enjoying their new smile with permanent teeth. It also gives them an opportunity to get used to talking and functioning with the new teeth prior to receiving their final set.

“While other practices will place implants and put patients in dentures for the healing process, the biggest advantage of the Same Day Teeth protocol is that if patients have strong bone the day of surgery, then immediate permanent teeth are anchored onto the implants, avoiding loose, removable dentures that do not fit well and move around in their mouth.”

Life-Changing Process

Dr. Rosati performed Robert’s implant surgery a few days after Christmas 2019. Robert then received his new smile. Coastal Jaw Surgery’s Same Day Teeth protocol uses state-of-the-art digital technology that allows patients to have immediate load permanent teeth following surgery.

“The new teeth feel great,” Robert says. “I like them better than the teeth I was born with. They look very natural, which enables me to enjoy smiling again. I can also eat again, too, pain free. The process has been life-changing. I should have had it done years ago.

“In the beginning, they don’t want you eating hard food like corn on the cob that could upset the implant posts while healing. But once they’re fully healed, you can chew anything you want, and I’ve reached that point. I can basically eat anything I want with no problems whatsoever.

“I absolutely recommend Coastal Jaw Surgery to others, without a doubt!”


Vein Reliever

Minimally invasive procedures soothe chronic leg pain.

Charlie Myers was a young man of 30 in 1978. At that time, he was managing drugstores for a large, national chain. The job was often stressful, so Charlie pursued a new position that was a little less taxing. He found exactly what he was looking for with an industrial supply company.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

After undergoing three minimally invasive treatments on his leg veins, Charles can now stand for hours without pain.

“I was lucky enough to work for that company for 36 years,” says Charlie, now 72. “I started out as a driver and moved up from there. In the beginning, I also did some sales and customer service, but I mostly worked as a purchasing agent, specifically for factories that contracted with us to buy products for them.

“Most of the products I purchased were general factory supplies, anything that a manufacturing plant or machine shop would use. It was those types of businesses that I typically worked with as a purchasing agent.”

Charlie retired in 2014, then relocated to Florida in January 2019 after a hurricane devastated his home up north.

“We were living on Topsail Island off the coast of North Carolina, but Hurricane Florence took care of that situation, so we moved to Homosassa,” he elaborates. “We’re still close to the water but not directly on it, which seems to be better as far as hurricanes go.”

Charlie increased the time spent on his favorite activities, such as walking, cooking and caring for his pet cats. But last year, he began to experience pain in his legs that made it difficult for him to walk or stand for long periods.

“I’ve had varicose veins for years, since I was around 50 years old, but my legs never hurt until the beginning of last year,” Charlie relates. “And once that pain started, it just got worse and worse.

“It was mostly an aching pain, but sometimes it was sharp. On a scale of one to 10, it was usually a five or six. The pain was more annoying than anything else because it became relatively constant. By April, my legs were hurting just about every day.

“The pain changed my life to some degree. I stayed away from activities that were taxing on my legs because they made the pain worse. I stopped doing anything that involved a lot of walking.”

Charlie was convinced the discomfort was related to the veins in his legs, and by April 2019, the pain had become so intense that he decided to visit a vein center. He discovered one close to his home and highly rated in Premier Vein Centers.

Premier Vein Centers, which has offices in Homosassa and The Villages®, is the practice of Ravi Sharma, MD, a board-certified cardiovascular surgeon with expertise in blood vessel disorders affecting the legs.

During the first visit, Dr. Sharma ordered an ultrasound of Charlie’s legs. It showed a number of veins were leaking and not enabling the proper flow of blood back toward Charlie’s heart, a condition called venous insufficiency.

Circulatory System

“Venous insufficiency occurs when deep leg veins, which lie in groups of muscles, cannot pump blood back to the heart,” Dr. Sharma describes. “Chronic venous insufficiency has multiple causes.

“Over long periods of sitting or standing, the blood in leg veins can pool. This increases the venous blood pressure and weakens the vein walls and valves, thereby damaging the valves. Damaged valves prevent proper blood flow back to the heart.”

Venous insufficiency has many signs and symptoms. Signs can be seen, such as bulging varicose veins, swelling, and thickening and discoloration of the skin of the ankles or legs.

Symptoms can be felt, and they include throbbing, aching, stinging, burning, itching, nighttime leg cramps and restless legs. These signs and symptoms are indications that the veins are not functioning properly.

“It is extremely important that patients experiencing any of these signs and symptoms have their leg veins assessed,” Dr. Sharma asserts. “Leaving the condition untreated can lead to more serious complications, including leg ulcers, infection and a breakdown of the skin.

“When seeking a physician for care, it is crucial for people to choose surgeons who specialize in venous diseases and only venous diseases. I recommend staying away from physicians in large practices that offer a wide variety of services who perform venous treatment as a side service.

“The physicians people choose should also be experienced in the advanced procedures available to treat venous diseases. In addition, they must also express genuine concern and compassion for their patients. Physicians with these qualifications achieve the best outcomes.”

Premiere Vein Centers offers a full range of advanced, minimally invasive treatment options for addressing varicose and spider veins. These treatment options include microphlebectomy, endovenous laser ablation (EVLA), sclerosing injections and VenaSeal.


Microphlebectomy has replaced stripping, the outdated, more invasive procedure during which doctors removed the large veins by making big gashes across the leg that often left sizable scars.

“With microphlebectomy, the incision is tiny – about the size of the tip of a scalpel – and we can do much more through that small incision,” Dr. Sharma describes. “And with this procedure, patients end up with tiny marks on the skin or no scars at all.”

During EVLA, a sterile laser fiber is introduced into the incompetent vein through a small puncture in the leg. Laser energy is then delivered through the fiber, painlessly closing the vein in less than an hour, using local anesthesia.

Sclerosing injections are used to treat spider veins. Dr. Sharma uses ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy (UGS) to guide the injections that gently close the problem vessels.

VenaSeal is a non-thermal closure system that relieves symptoms by delivering small amounts of a specially formulated medical adhesive, or “super glue,” to the diseased vein. This permanently seals the vein. This procedure does not require multiple needle sticks and, in some cases, support stockings are not necessary.

Dr. Sharma uses his expertise to determine which procedures will work best based on each patient’s symptoms and health status. These advanced treatments are all performed in a comfortable office setting and result in little or no downtime and discomfort.

“Our patients are often very relieved to discover that there is no general anesthesia involved in our minimally invasive treatments,” Dr. Sharma relates. “And they are happy to learn that they can resume activities right away following the procedure.”

Premier Vein Centers provides a free initial consultation and accepts most insurance, including Medicare.

“Free of Pain”

Using ultrasound, Dr. Sharma discovered that eight of Charlie’s leg veins were not functioning properly and were failing to send blood back up his legs. To correct the problem and alleviate Charlie’s pain, Dr. Sharma used three minimally invasive procedures: EVLA, microphlebectomy and UGS. The treatments were scheduled over several months, which worked out well for Charlie, who rates the
outcome as excellent.

“Dr. Sharma performed the laser procedures and vein removal in May, June and the beginning of July 2019,” Charlie reports. “He gave my legs some time to heal, then did the injections in October. He followed up in January and February of this year to make sure everything in my legs was good, which it is.

“The procedures worked perfectly. My legs hurt pretty much daily when I first went to Premier Vein Centers, but my legs don’t hurt anymore. Where the pain was a five or six before, now it’s zero. I’m completely free of pain, and that’s exactly what I was looking for.”
Charlie has fully returned to his activities. Without pain, he can walk and stand for hours.

A secondary benefit of the treatment is the elimination of Charlie’s unsightly varicose veins. He is pleased with the improved appearance of his legs following treatment.

“I didn’t go to Premier Vein Centers to make my legs look better,” he says. “I went there to make my legs stop hurting, and that’s been achieved completely. My legs aren’t pretty, but they never were. Still, they look a lot better now than they did.

“My bulging varicose veins are pretty much gone. There are one or two that are still in the process of debulging. I’ve still got a few scars from where Dr. Sharma removed the veins, but those are a lot less noticeable than they were and will go away in time.”

Charlie is also pleased with Dr. Sharma and his staff. He credits Dr. Sharma’s knowledge and personality, and that of his staff, for helping make the procedures easier to handle.

“Dr. Sharma is excellent with his procedures and really knows what he’s doing,” Charlie says. “I looked at his history and career in surgery and knew he was a good choice. It is important to me that he is a cardiovascular surgeon because that shows a high level of expertise.

“Dr. Sharma is witty, which is unusual and refreshing in a doctor. Some of his staff members are also witty, and they’re all very good at what they do. My experience at Premier Vein Centers was pleasant, so far as someone sticking lasers in you can be pleasant. I definitely recommend them.”

Impressive Decompression

VAX-D, a nonsurgical vacuum therapy, eases neck and back pain.

Sylvia Ecker thought her third trip to Florida would be just like her first two: short and sweet. From the beginning, though, her husband had something else in mind. His intention all along was to remain in Florida permanently.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Sylvia, left, visited
Dr. Aderholdt, center, after he successfully treated her son David for a painful ruptured disc.

“We first visited Florida in 1949 and then again in 1951, but both times we went back home to Jamestown, New York,” Sylvia, 88, recalls. “After we came here again in 1956, we just decided to stay. My husband was planning to remain here for life.”

In Florida to stay, Sylvia began looking for employment. She always enjoyed math and had taken accounting courses in college, so she applied when she discovered an opening as a bookkeeper for a medical group. Following an intense group interview by all the practitioners, Sylvia was hired.

“I started out keeping the books for three psychiatrists and a marriage counselor,” she recalls. “When they split offices, I worked for one psychiatrist and the marriage counselor for 30 years, then I was the bookkeeper and secretary for the marriage counselor for another 20 years. I was always interested in mental health, so the job worked out well for me.”

As Sylvia grew older, she developed osteoporosis. As a consequence of the decrease in bone density associated with the disease, she lost several inches of height. The osteoporosis also caused the collapse of several vertebrae in her lower back, which further contributed to her loss of height. The collapsed vertebrae also pinched a nerve and caused sciatica, which led to intense pain that radiated down her right leg.

“I really can’t get over just how well VAX-D Therapy works.” – Sylvia

“Before the osteoporosis, I was 5 feet 3¾ inches tall, but now I’m down to 5 feet 1 inch,” Sylvia reports. “And there was an aching pain on my right side from the sciatica. The pain basically ran from my buttocks down to my ankle. It made it difficult for me to walk and do my daily activities.

“When the pain became severe, I went to a chiropractor. After about seven visits, my condition improved. But this year, the sciatica flared up again while I was vacuuming, and the pain returned.

“The pain was at least a five on a scale of one to 10, but it might have been higher. It was so bad that I couldn’t walk to the mailbox to get the mail or walk to get the newspaper. Eventually, I had to have the newspaper delivered to me.

“I went back to the chiropractor for a few sessions, but I didn’t get any better. Then I went to my family physician, who suggested pain management. That’s when I remembered that my son had gone to Dr. Aderholdt after he ruptured a disc in 2004. Dr. Aderholdt helped my son so much that I decided to visit Dr. Aderholdt myself.”

Craig S. Aderholdt, DC, at Back Pain Institute of West Florida, provides the most advanced treatments available for patients in severe pain. Among them is a unique, nonsurgical treatment called VAX-D® Therapy, a patented, FDA-approved medical decompression technique for alleviating pressure on the discs of the spine.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Sylvia with her son David

Dr. Aderholdt is one of the few doctors in the country who offers VAX-D Therapy. Based on his examination of Sylvia, her symptoms and what he saw on x-rays, Dr. Aderholdt recommended VAX-D Therapy for Sylvia.

The Opposing Team

VAX-D, or vertebral axial decompression, is not a traction device. Dr. Aderholdt emphasizes that it works differently and achieves significantly better results.

“For many patients, chiropractic adjustments alone can relieve their pain,” Dr. Aderholdt points out. “But for select people who suffer with conditions such as sciatica or herniated, bulging or degenerated discs, VAX-D Therapy has proven extremely successful.

“Sylvia was a good candidate because the treatment is effective at alleviating low back pain. It also helps with numbness, tingling and pain that radiates down the arms and legs.”

Each treatment typically lasts about a half-hour. The patient relaxes on a comfortable, computer-controlled table, secured by a pelvic belt or patented cervical collar, depending on the area to be treated. Carefully specified tension and pressure changes guide the use of VAX-D, allowing the therapist to focus decompression at the exact level of spinal dysfunction.

The VAX-D system is computerized, which enables the table to make subtle but targeted movements. These movements create a powerful vacuum within the disc space. This vacuum gently draws the disc back to its proper orientation, pulling nutrient-rich spinal fluid into the disc and stimulating repair cells that effectively mend the disc.

“Nothing else can create such a powerful vacuum,” Dr. Aderholdt contends. “There are imitators, but VAX-D’s vacuum effect is the most powerful one known. That is what makes VAX-D such a valuable tool for pain relief. In addition, VAX-D doesn’t allow the muscles to contract, like other machines can. In fact, it is the only nonsurgical treatment that has been clinically proven to reduce disc pressure to negative levels.

“I consider VAX-D one of the most effective nonsurgical medical treatments for low back pain, neck pain and sciatica today. This revolutionary technology is one more tool I can offer patients as we work toward relieving pain and maintaining the health of the lumbar and cervical spine.”

Studies show that VAX-D is effective in more than 88 percent of patients who go through the protocol. Many patients report a significant reduction in back or neck pain after only a few treatments, but Dr. Aderholdt stresses that actual healing takes longer because bulging or herniated discs require a series of sessions to fully reposition themselves.

“Some patients think they will get relief after a handful of sessions and they can just quit, but that’s not the case,” he notes. “Patients must follow through with all of the required treatments to get the full benefit.”

An added consideration is that VAX-D Therapy can eliminate the need for surgery in some patients.

“Many patients with severe back or neck pain want to avoid surgery, and that is something that VAX-D allows,” Dr. Aderholdt confirms. “With surgery, there is the potential for serious complications. Because VAX-D is noninvasive, those complications are avoided.”

Sylvia began receiving VAX-D Therapy treatments at Back Pain Institute of West Florida at the end of April. She initially went for treatment three times a week, but because she responded so well, her treatments were decreased to twice a week.

“The treatment is amazing,” Sylvia enthuses. “It stretches me so that the bones in my back can separate instead of remaining crushed together, which they were. It allows healing liquid to go between the bones as well. Dr. Aderholdt showed me my x-rays and explained how my condition is getting better.”

Herniated Handicap

Deborah Ihde retired after 40 years as a hairstylist when her husband became ill and she resolved to stay home to care for him. After her husband passed away in 2014, Deborah began spending time in the Florida condo they purchased for retirement.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Deborah Ihde

“The first winter, I came down to Florida but went back home to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania,” Deborah remembers. “But the second winter, I came down and said, I’m staying because I love it here. I’ve been in Florida year-round for about five years now.”

Since making the permanent move, Deborah has found a fun, new way to spend her time. She also found a partner to do it with.

“I do woodworking as a hobby,” she elaborates. “I make small tables and benches, which I paint and sell here and there. I got into it because my boyfriend is a woodworker, and I was painting things in wood. One day two years ago, he said, Why don’t I teach you how to make furniture. I tried it and enjoyed it. Now, we both make furniture and have a lot of fun doing it.

“My boyfriend has a workshop, and I sell some of my things on Anna Maria Island at a place called Scavenger’s Marketplace. I have a little space in a shop there, but I sell some of my stuff on Facebook Marketplace as well.”

Deborah believes the four decades she spent styling hair contributed to the three herniated discs that developed in her neck. The issue caused her constant discomfort, but when the herniations began affecting her nerves, the pain became unbearable.

“One morning, I woke up in excruciating pain,” Deborah remembers. “On a scale of one to 10, the pain was past a 10. It traveled down to my shoulder into my arm, and my hand became numb. I didn’t know why it happened. I thought I must have slept wrong.

“The pain was so intense that I was screaming and vomiting. I went to the emergency room, and they thought I was having a heart attack. Then they ordered x-rays and an MRI and discovered that I had a pinched nerve in my neck. They started shooting cortisone in my neck, which eased the pain a bit, and they gave me muscle relaxants and other pills.

“A little over a year ago, I had a procedure in which the doctor went in with an electric hot needle and cauterized the nerve. He said that would probably last about a year, and he was right. When pain started coming back, it was manageable, about a four or five most of the time, but when I turned my head, I could feel that something wasn’t right.

“At one point, someone mentioned that there was a place in Bradenton doing VAX-D Therapy, but they didn’t know who it was. Then a couple of months ago, I saw a front-page article in Florida Health Care News and read that it was Dr. Aderholdt at Back Pain Institute of West Florida.”

Because Deborah was suffering with herniated discs that resulted in a pinched nerve and pain radiating into her arm, Dr. Aderholdt considered her an excellent candidate for VAX-D Therapy. He recommended that Deborah return to Back Pain Institute of West Florida three times a week for a total of 28 treatments.

“VAX-D Therapy is definitely worth it. I recommend it.” – Deborah

“I agreed to try VAX-D Therapy because, unlike the other treatments I tried, it actually fixes the problem,” Deborah relates. “During a VAX-D treatment, they put a collar around my neck and hook me up to a machine that gently pulls me for one minute then relaxes for one minute, then does it over again for a half-hour.

“Dr. Aderholdt explained that when the machine is pulling, it’s allowing the spinal fluid to get in between those discs and possibly gets the herniations to go back where they belong.

“The VAX-D Therapy is part of a three-part plan. I also get electrical stimulation, which loosens up the tight muscles in my neck, and I spend time in the hydro bed, which soothes everything at the end. None of the treatments are painful.”

Halftime Statistics

Sylvia and Deborah are still receiving treatment, but both have achieved significant pain relief. That relief didn’t come immediately for Sylvia, but Dr. Aderholdt reassured her that it would come eventually as long as she continued with the sessions.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Following several VAX-D treatments, Deborah can now turn her head without pain.

“After about the ninth treatment, I became a little discouraged because I didn’t think I was improving,” Sylvia admits. “So I talked with Dr. Aderholdt and he explained that the treatment was like going up a hill and coming back down again.

“He told me I was nearly on top, but that I still had a ways to go and was doing fine. That encouraged me to keep on going, and after the very next session, Dr. Aderholdt said, Oh, my goodness Sylvia, your back has really improved.

“And by then, I was really feeling the improvement. I’m still not back to normal just yet, but my back feels much better. The pain is only about a two or three on a scale of one to 10 now, so I’m able to walk to the mailbox and walk to get my newspaper.

“Dr. Aderholdt also gave me some exercises to help strengthen my back, and I know that if I’m faithful with the exercises, I’ll get even better faster. I can’t get over just how well VAX-D Therapy works.”

Deborah has experienced similar improvement in her neck.

“My pain is definitely better because I can now turn my head with no discomfort,” she says. “Before, my pain was a four or five most of the time and sometimes even more than that. Since starting VAX-D Therapy, my pain is now a one or two, and after I’m done with a treatment at Back Pain Institute of West Florida, I usually feel even better than that.

“The pain that ran across the bottom of my shoulder blade and right where my arm meets my back is definitely a lot better. And my hand is not as numb at the end of the day. Doing the woodworking and painting furniture probably aggravates the pain. I don’t know if those are the best things for me to be doing, but the treatment is definitely helping.”

Deborah is not the type of person to sit still all day, and her activities may contribute to her neck pain. But that doesn’t stop her. She’ll take an over-the-counter pain medication if absolutely necessary, but VAX-D Therapy is eliminating most of her discomfort.

“I take Advil®, Tylenol® and medicines like that for pain, but I don’t like to take a lot of that stuff,” she says. “I’ve taken a lot less since I’ve been getting VAX-D Therapy. If this relief can be sustained, I’ll be really grateful to Dr. Aderholdt and Back Pain Institute of West Florida. VAX-D Therapy is definitely worth it. I recommend it.”

Perilous Position

Stem cell therapy regenerates dentist’s neck and fingers.

Tampa native Vivian Medina, DDS, has been interested in health care since she was a teenager. So when she got the chance, she attended Creighton University School of Dentistry in Omaha, Nebraska, then turned her education into a lengthy career.

Photo courtesy of Vivian Medina, DDS.

Dr. Medina, who chose dentistry over medicine, prepares to treat a patient.

“The fact that dentistry allows more flexibility for home and children made it more appealing to me than medicine,” she explains. “Plus, dentistry is very detail-oriented, and I like that. So, I chose to go into dentistry and never looked back.”

“I’ve been practicing general and cosmetic dentistry for 29 years now. At my practice, we treat patients of all ages and specialize in patients needing aesthetic work.”

Years ago, Dr. Medina suffered a sudden disc rupture in her lower back. She was told that the rupture was caused by years of poor positioning on the chair she uses while working on patients. After treatment, she believed that the pain was gone for good and she would have no more problems.

“But four years ago, I started having neck issues that were also related to poor posture, and that pain was on a whole other level,” Dr. Medina recalls. “It was very sharp pain, and after a few hours, I couldn’t continue my workday. I had to take on an associate to help with the load because I couldn’t stay in the same position to work all day.

“The pain was pretty intense, a 10 on a scale of one to 10. But it wasn’t something that could be relieved with a couple of Tylenol® because there were three herniated discs in my neck. When those herniations placed pressure on my nerve roots, it felt like fire.”

Dr. Medina still has many years of dental practice ahead. Being able to freely move her neck was more important to performing her work than moving her lower back or any other part of her spine. To avoid surgery, Dr. Medina sought treatment for her neck pain from several specialists.

“The only things I was offered were injections into my neck or, if I couldn’t handle the pain anymore, fusion of my neck,” she states. “Neither of those options satisfied me. Then, I received a copy of Florida Health Care News, saw the tagline Don’t Operate – Regenerate! and became curious.”

Don’t Operate – Regenerate! is the motto of Erick A. Grana, MD, of Regenerative Orthopedic Institute in Tampa.

Dr. Grana specializes in regenerative medicine and treats patients with a nonsurgical technique called stem cell therapy. This therapy uses the patient’s own specialized stem cells to promote the growth of tissue in joints ravaged by arthritis or injury.

“Regenerative medicine treats diseases and injuries by harnessing the body’s own healing powers,’’ Dr. Grana informs. “The natural healing process is accelerated by a combination of growth factors and bioactive cells in the form of stem cells and platelet-rich plasma (PRP).

“This process results in a safe, effective treatment, and unlike traditional surgery, which can result in blood loss, scarring and long, painful recovery periods, stem cell therapy requires only injections into the damaged joint.

“It also offers a much quicker recovery than surgery. Typically, patients begin to feel a noticeable decrease in pain after a few weeks.”
“I read the article about Dr. Grana’s stem cell treatment and how it can help,” Dr. Medina relates. “I had heard about the success athletes had using stem cells to treat injuries. I thought it was the most minimally invasive, natural way to help my condition, so I decided it was a good option for me.”

Tissue Regeneration

Stem cell therapy is autologous, meaning it utilizes stem cells, PRP and growth factors taken from the patient’s body. Using the patient’s cells eliminates the chances of side effects or rejection.

Stem cells are extracted from the patient’s bone marrow or fat, while the PRP is taken from the patient’s blood. The harvested stem cells are separated through a centrifuge and injected into the painful area to stimulate the regeneration of damaged tissue and the healing of tendons, ligaments, joints or spinal discs.

“When I was first introduced to stem cell therapy, I recognized its tremendous potential for patients who would otherwise have limited treatment options for pain relief,” Dr. Grana recalls. “Patients with osteoarthritis, in particular, have very few choices other than surgery when the condition advances and damages the joint.

“I haven’t had pain in any of my fingers since I received the stem cell therapy.” – Dr. Medina

“Since surgery has potential complications, when we treat arthritic joints without surgery, patients do much better. Not only can we relieve the patient’s pain, but we can also reverse some of the damage done by the osteoarthritis. This is accomplished by regenerating the cartilage and connective tissues in and around the joint area.”

Dr. Grana has developed a system for the delivery of stem cells and PRP into the pain generators in and around joints such as the knees, shoulders and hips. It’s called RegenaJoint.

He also developed a similar system to treat the spine called RegenaSpine. RegenaJoint and RegenaSpine are minimally invasive procedures performed in the doctor’s office using a local anesthetic. Patients typically resume normal activities immediately following the procedure.

“I Have No Pain”

“There was little discomfort during the actual injections, but that quickly passed,” Dr. Medina reports. “Now, I typically have no pain in my neck. The only time I do is if I fall back into the position with my neck down and forward, which caused the problem in the first place. If I do that, I might develop pain that’s a two or three on a scale of one to 10.

“But part of that is the fact that as I get older, I’m less tolerant of pain. So I’ve also made alterations to my chair, which also helped. Now, it’s rare that I’m in that bad position and abuse my neck. And that’s good because once the pain is gone, I’m not very happy if it comes back.”

Dr. Medina was extremely pleased with the resolution of her painful neck condition, then early this year, she started struggling with pain in the fingers of both hands. To ease the pain and provide extra support, Dr. Medina began taping her fingers with gauze. But as the pain increased, she visited multiple physicians seeking answers.

“The specialists said the problem in my fingers was degenerative osteoarthritis that developed over my many years of practice,” she describes. “Dentists are constantly gripping their fingers, and we perform fine motor movements all day long. But the specialists told me nothing could be done for my hands.

“Since my neck treatment turned out so well, I reached out to Dr. Grana to see if he could treat my hands the same way. He agreed and injected my stem cells into my fingers.

“My hands have really improved since then. I’ve continued to work and don’t need to wrap my fingers anymore. I haven’t had pain in any of my fingers since I received the stem cell therapy. The inflammation that was present and the knottiness that was occurring from mineral deposits are much, much better. Stem cell therapy really worked for me!’

AFib: Hurried Heartbeats

September 21st, 2020

Atrial fibrillation, or AFib, is the most common type of irregular heartbeat, or arrhythmia. With AFib, your heart beats much faster than the normal 60 to 100 beats per minute. To create a normal heart rhythm, or sinus rhythm, your heart’s upper and lower chambers must work in concert. But with AFib, the activity of those chambers is out of sync.

The heart pumps blood to the rest of the body, and the pumping is controlled by the heart’s own electrical system. Each heartbeat is essentially an electrical impulse that navigates through the heart. The impulse is generated by a small mass of specialized tissue in the right upper chamber, or atrium, of the heart called the SA node.

The SA node sends the electrical charge to the AV node, which is located in the wall of tissue that separates the right and left atria called the interatrial septum. The AV node conducts the impulse from the atria to the ventricles, the bottom chambers of the heart. Each impulse moves blood through the atria into the ventricles, from where it is pumped out to the rest of the body.

With AFib, the atria don’t move blood into the ventricles effectively, so the ventricles can’t pump blood to the body efficiently. This can cause your heart to beat irregularly, to be very rapid and feel like quivers or thumps in your chest. AFib can lead to serious heart-related complications including heart failure.

When blood is not pumped efficiently out of the ventricles, it is more likely to clot. If a blood clot leaves the ventricles and enters the bloodstream, it can lodge in an artery going to the brain and cause a stroke. People with atrial fibrillation are 5 to 7 times more likely to have a stroke than the general population. And about 15 to 20 percent of people who have strokes have this heart arrhythmia.

It is estimated that between 2.7 million and 6.1 million people in the United States have AFib. It is more common with age, so as our population gets older, this number will increase. Further, more than 454,000 hospitalizations in which AFib is the primary diagnosis occur each year, and AFib contributes to about 158,000 deaths annually. And that number is expected to rise.

A congenital heart disorder can cause AFib, and certain diseases and conditions that can damage your heart can result in arrhythmia. Possible causes of atrial fibrillation include high blood pressure, heart attack, coronary artery disease, heart valve disease, chronic lung disease, previous heart surgery, an overactive thyroid or metabolic disease, a viral infection, and exposure to stimulants such as caffeine, cocaine, tobacco or alcohol.

Some people have no symptoms and don’t know they have AFib. Their arrhythmia is typically detected during a physical exam when the doctor performs a test called an electrocardiogram, or ECG, which measures heart rhythm. Common symptoms of AFib include the following:

  • Rapid and irregular heartbeat
  • Fluttering or “thumping” in the chest
  • General fatigue
  • Dizziness, faintness or confusion
  • Chest discomfort
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness
  • Sweating

In addition to an ECG, your doctor may use other tests to help diagnose AFib. These may include a Holter or portable event monitor, which records your heart’s electrical activity over a period of time. Transesophageal echocardiography, or TEE, uses sound waves to take pictures of your heart through your esophagus. Your doctor uses this test to look for blood clots.

Treating AFib generally includes making certain lifestyle changes, including quitting smoking and limiting your intake of alcohol and caffeine. Also, control your high blood pressure and blood sugar levels, exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight, and eat a heart-healthy diet that is low in salt, saturated fat, trans fats and cholesterol.

Initially, medications are used to treat atrial fibrillation. These include medications that control heart rhythm, which help return the heart to normal sinus rhythm. Thera are also medications that control heart rate. These work by preventing the ventricles from beating too rapidly. Anticoagulant medications, or blood thinners, which reduce the risk of blood clots and stroke, are also typically prescribed to patients with AFib.

Among the nonsurgical procedures for atrial fibrillation are electrical cardioversion and radiofrequency ablation. With electrical cardioversion, an electrical shock is placed on the outside of the chest to “reset” the heart to normal sinus rhythm.

During radiofrequency ablation, a catheter is inserted through a blood vessel and gently guided into your heart. Your malfunctioning tissue is destroyed using radiofrequency energy delivered through the catheter, and the tissue can no longer send abnormal signals.

Implanted pacemakers are among the surgical procedures for atrial fibrillation. Another is the maze heart surgery. During this procedure, the surgeon cuts small slits in the upper part of your heart. The scar tissue that results interferes with the transmission of electrical impulses that cause AFib, and normal heart rhythm is restored.

Bundle of Joy

Combo treatment brings long-sought relief, reduces need for opioids.

Wayne Bloomberg, 68, is a native of western New York. When he was a young man, he didn’t have enough money for college, so his uncle got him a job repairing farm machinery. Wayne’s career as a heavy equipment mechanic evolved from that humble beginning.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

When CBD was added to Wayne’s treatment regimen,
it helped relieve his chronic headaches, back and neck pain.

“New York didn’t pay very well for farm equipment repair back then, so I packed up and moved to Florida in 1972 when I was 20 years old,” Wayne recalls. “In Florida, I found a job with more pay and more benefits working as a mechanic for Caterpillar®.

“For 34 years, I served as a field mechanic and worked in the shop the rest of the time. For the last 10 years, I was a master mechanic. My work involved rebuilding transmissions, converters and hydraulic cylinders, as well as troubleshooting electrical systems.”

For many of his working years, Wayne experienced intense headaches that interrupted his daily routines. Those medical issues eventually forced him to retire at age 63, although his doctors had urged him to retire years earlier.

“I was having serious headaches with sporadic nerve pain in the back of my head,” Wayne describes. “The pain was on the right side. I lost hearing in my right ear, and the back of my right eye felt like it was burning inside. Sometimes, my head hurt so much that I wanted to just lie down and sleep so the pain would go away.

“There were some days when the pain was so bad I couldn’t see straight and everything was a blur. By the time I retired, I was getting headaches every day. My head hurt so much that sometimes I couldn’t remember what I did at work or figure out how I got home. That’s when I said, It’s time to retire.

To make matters worse, Wayne also suffered with chronic back and neck pain. He underwent surgery on his lower back and cervical spine. But his surgeon also recommended that he visit Sunil J. Panchal, MD, a board-certified interventional pain specialist and the president and medical director of National Institute of Spine and Pain, which has offices in Lutz and Tampa.

Unique Technology

“Wayne has suffered with low back pain for more than 25 years,” Dr. Panchal reports. “He also suffers with neck pain and pain that radiates into his head, causing chronic headaches. He previously underwent a cervical spinal fusion but still experiences persistent neck and head pain.

“Over the years, I treated the occipital nerves in the back of Wayne’s head using radiofrequency ablation. He experiences significant relief from that procedure, sometimes for two years, but the nerves regenerate and it must be repeated. For his severe low back pain, I implanted a spinal pump that aims low-dose morphine directly into the spinal fluid around the painful area.

“Recently, Wayne came to me seeking treatment options to complement his current regimen that would provide long-term relief from his headaches. He wanted to explore using CBD products. He looked at products available at stores such as GNC® and wanted advice on the products.”

CBD, short for cannabidiol, is one of the major active ingredients of cannabis, but it does not create a “high.” One CBD manufacturer, VERSÉA, stands out to Dr. Panchal because it employs a pharmaceutical-grade manufacturing process. In addition, its operators have experience in the pharmaceutical industry.

“This company possesses a unique technology that allows it to essentially micronize the materials involved in CBD production,” Dr. Panchal describes. “That provides a much more predictable, high-level absorption of the product, which gives the user a better understanding of their blood level so they can adjust their dosage for symptom relief.”

Dr. Panchal recommended VERSÉA’s CBD products to Wayne, who experienced excellent results. In turn, Dr. Panchal was able to lower the morphine dose from Wayne’s spinal pump, which reduces his risk of opioid-related side effects such as itching, nausea and constipation.

“Opioids taken orally also accelerate osteoporosis and interfere with immune system function,” Dr. Panchal observes. “So when I treat pain patients, I generally employ a strategy aimed at reducing their exposure to opioids or eliminating opioid use completely. The strategy typically involves treating the pain with a combination of modalities.

“Wayne’s modality combination includes radiofrequency ablation, a spinal pump and CBD. While Wayne was receiving a relatively low dose of morphine previously, this combination of treatments has allowed us to reduce his opioid dose even further. This strategy has helped relieve Wayne’s pain and benefitted his overall health.”

30-Minute Solution

“There are two kinds of CBD, low dose and high dose,” Wayne relates. “Dr. Panchal and I determined that I should use the high dose. Usually, I put two drops underneath my tongue and wait as long as I can before swallowing. The CBD drops help a lot. I typically get 60 percent to 70 percent pain relief when I take them.

“Sometimes, I put CBD salve on the back of my head when it’s hurting, and within a half-hour, the pain goes away and I start to feel better.”

Wayne reports that at its peak, his headache pain typically rated a nine or 10 on a scale of one to 10. But Dr. Panchal’s treatment strategy has lowered that substantially.

“Sometimes, I put CBD salve on the back of my head when it’s hurting, and within a half- hour, the pain goes away and I start to feel better.” – Wayne

“With the treatment I’m getting from Dr. Panchal, I only have mild headaches now, about a two (rating) in the daytime and maybe a three or four at night, which is bearable,” he confirms. “I don’t have the really bad headaches anymore.

“And the CBD affects more than my headaches. It makes my entire body feel good. Sometimes, I rub the salve on my knees when they’re bothering me, and the pain is just about eliminated.

“Dr. Panchal is a very good doctor, the best pain doctor I’ve ever met. And his staff is very nice and pleasant. National Institute of Spine and Pain is very easy to deal with. I highly recommend them.”

Designer Eyes

Advanced technology eliminates need for glasses following cataract surgery.

Stefanie*, 62, began her career as a teacher, but before long she gave birth to four children. Unfortunately, raising her own children interfered with instructing other children, so she left teaching to concentrate on motherhood.

When her kids got older, Stefanie returned to school, but this time as a student to pursue a passion for interior design. She earned certification in the field and worked for a small design company for 12 years before retiring recently.

“We did residential versus commercial design,” Stefanie describes. “I worked with a lead designer who was wonderful. I was doing something I liked, so it wasn’t laborious for me to get up in the morning and go to work.

“The only reason I retired is because my four children live all over the country – two in Virginia, one in Texas and one in California who recently had twin babies – and I need the flexibility to travel whenever I can to see my kids.”

It takes a keen eye to be a successful interior designer, but two years ago Stefanie began to notice a decline in her vision despite previous LASIK® surgery to correct it. Her ophthalmologist, Clifford L. Salinger, MD, founder of The Dry Eye Spa & V.I.P. Laser Eye Center, told her the decreased vision was the result of cataracts forming in her eyes.

“Dr. Salinger warned me that the deterioration of my vision would continue,” Stefanie recalls. “He updated my prescription to tweak my glasses, but cautioned me that it was just a tweak. It wouldn’t correct the problem.

“Six months ago, my vision deteriorated to the point that even with the new glasses prescription, I wasn’t able to read without a magnifying glass. That was my motivation to bite the bullet and deal with my cataracts.

“When I went back to Dr. Salinger, he said, Good news! We now have a cataract surgeon at this practice. I’ve always trusted Dr. Salinger, so his recommendation was good enough for me, so I followed up with her.”

The new cataract surgeon at The Dry Eye Spa & V.I.P. Laser Eye Center is Helayna Brown, MD. Upon first meeting with Stefanie, Dr. Brown noted that Stefanie was suffering from many of the symptoms commonly associated with advanced cataracts.

“She was complaining of blurry vision, especially her near vision, in both eyes,” Dr. Brown reports. “She was also experiencing significant glare when looking at headlights that was affecting her confidence in driving. I recommended surgery.”

Clearing the Clouds

Cataracts are the clouding of the normally clear natural lens of the eye, most often due to aging. During cataract surgery, the surgeon removes the cloudy natural lens and replaces it with a clear, artificial replacement lens called an intraocular lens, or IOL.

“Before we begin cataract surgery, we take a series of detailed measurements to determine the appropriate focusing power for the patient’s replacement lens,” Dr. Brown notes. “We recommend an IOL option based on those measurements.

“Ten years ago, choosing the lens power was more difficult, and IOL options were limited for patients such as Stefanie who previously had LASIK surgery. That was because LASIK changed many of the ratios we use to complete the formulas for choosing the correct lens option. At V.I.P. Laser Eye Center, we preserve our LASIK patients’ charts indefinitely because we know how helpful they are at the time of cataract surgery.”

LASIK corrects vision by reshaping the cornea, which changes the eyes focusing power on the retina. Adjusting that can lead to clear vision, but reshaping the cornea also changes IOL measurements.

“In the past, patients who had LASIK were not good candidates for multifocal IOLs,” Dr. Brown points out. “Multifocal lenses correct for near and distance vision, with the goal of decreasing the patient’s dependence on glasses after cataract surgery.

“But today, we have better formulas and better lens technology, specifically the Symfony® lens, which is an extended depth of focus lens. We’re now able to use multifocal lenses such as the Symfony in patients who’ve had LASIK, and they don’t experience the side effects of glare, halos and rings around lights that people with LASIK used to experience with multifocal lenses.”

“Dr. Brown is a peach,” Stefanie comments. “She’s super, very personable and informative. She explained the surgery and all of my replacement lens options very clearly, and we chose the more advanced Symfony lens.”

While the technology for replacement lenses has improved dramatically over the past decade, so has the technology available in the surgical suite. Dr. Brown now uses advanced equipment during cataract surgery that allows her to be more precise in selecting and placing the IOLs.

“During surgery, after I remove the cataract, I clip an attachment called an optical refraction analyzer, or ORA, onto the operating microscope,” Dr. Brown explains. “The ORA is connected to a screen that displays the machine’s readings and calculations.

“The ORA can calculate the patient’s residual refraction, which is a way to confirm that I’ve selected the correct replacement lens power. It’s especially helpful with patients who’ve had LASIK surgery because it acts as another check on the calculations and formulas we use to choose their IOLs.”

Ophthalmologists achieve the best visual results for their patients when they correct the patients’ astigmatism at the time of cataract surgery. Astigmatism is a common eye condition that occurs when the cornea is irregularly shaped or there’s a curvature of the lens, causing the vision to be blurry.

“The ORA provides the calculations for astigmatism correction as well,” Dr. Brown observes. “That enables us to choose the correct power for the toric version of the replacement lens, which has astigmatism correction built into it. Stefanie had astigmatism in one eye, which we corrected with a toric IOL.”

Greener Grass

Seeing the results of her cataract surgery made Stefanie realize that the symptoms she experienced before surgery were actually worse than she initially reported.

“Prior to the surgery, I didn’t notice colors fading. I didn’t realize it as it was happening,” Stefanie states. “But after surgery, there was a dramatic difference in colors. Now, the grass looks greener, and the flowers look prettier.”

In some cases, LASIK patients receiving multifocal IOLs such as the Symfony lens may need over-the-counter reading glasses for very small print or very dark environments, Dr. Brown acknowledges. But generally, people with the Symfony lens can go about their normal, daily activities without glasses at all. That was true for Stefanie.

“Since my surgery, I’m glasses free, and it’s just a pleasure not to have to reach for glasses all the time,” Stefanie says. “I still need the magnifying glass to read the very tiny print, such as that in the phone book, but overall, there’s been a dramatic
improvement in my vision.

“Having cataract surgery was a necessity for me, and I had an excellent outcome. I’m very pleased that I decided to have it done by Dr. Brown at The Dry Eye Spa and V.I.P. Laser Eye Center.”

*Patient’s name withheld at her request.

Zap That Blob

Noninvasive laser procedure answers distress call for eye floaters.

Jack Genova’s career was like a season of CSI: Miami. For 22 years, he was a chemist for the Miami-Dade Police Department
in one of the largest crime labs in the world. But Jack stresses that a real-life crime lab bears little resemblance to the one on the TV series.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Laser vitreolysis dissolved the vitreous floaters that moved in and out of Jack’s vision.

“What you see on CSI is entertaining, but it isn’t accurate,” Jack, 75, confirms. “It shows a glorified version of the job that we did. On CSI, one scientist knows everything about everything, from DNA to fibers, and that’s just not the case in the real world.

“In our crime lab, there were about 50 scientists, and we were highly specialized. One scientist did nothing but firearms. There were those who did nothing but drug analysis. Some did blood and serology, and others did trace evidence. It takes a long time to master one area. No one person can gain all the knowledge to do what they do on CSI.

“I did drug analysis, which involved all types of drugs including marijuana, cocaine, heroin and amphetamines. If necessary, I went to court to testify. I’ve testified in county, state, federal and international courts on various drug cases. Sometimes, I analyzed trace evidence such as glass, paint, fibers and fire debris.”

After his years in the crime lab, Jack concluded his career with the Miami-Dade police in the IT department as a computer service manager. Today, he runs an internet-based swimming pool equipment and supply business. But a longstanding issue with one of his eyes has increasingly caused him distress.

“About 10 years ago, I had a cataract removed from my right eye,” Jack recounts. “As a result of the procedure, some of the jelly-like substance in the eye dislodged and became a floater. I went to various doctors over the years, and they said it would eventually settle. Well, 10 years later, it still hadn’t settled.

“The floater was essentially a blob that came into my field of vision on and off. Sometimes, it looked like a spot, but other times it looked like a bug or spider web.

One doctor described it as the Titanic because it was so large.

“It mainly bothered me when I was driving. It came into my peripheral vision and I reacted to it. While driving down the highway at 70 mph, it came into my field of vision, and I thought that a car was coming from the lane next to me into my lane. I worried because that was dangerous.”

Jack did some research and learned about a laser procedure that removes floaters, so he began looking for providers who offered it. After visiting several physicians, he was finally referred to Peter J. Lowe, MD, a board-certified ophthalmologist at Retinal Eye Care Associates. Dr. Lowe subspecializes in diseases of the retina and vitreous. He described Jack’s problem as a vitreous eye floater.

“The vitreous is a cellophane-like lining on the inside of the eye,” Dr. Lowe explains. “As the eye ages or after eye surgery, most commonly to remove cataracts, the lining will often come loose. Typically, it stays in small, almost completely transparent sheets. Sometimes, however, it clumps up into larger debris fields and casts shadows on the retina. Those are eye floaters.

“Jack’s floater was bothersome and aggravated by eye movement. If he looked left, the floater moved right. When it crossed his line of sight in front of his retina, he experienced a momentary loss of vision clarity. This disruption of vision, which often occurred while driving, was the primary reason Jack wanted the floater removed.”

Unappreciated Indicator

To treat Jack’s eye floater, Dr. Lowe used a noninvasive procedure called laser vitreolysis, which dissolves the floaters into tiny gas bubbles that eventually disperse. Vitreolysis is safe, effective and FDA-approved. It is the only nonsurgical treatment for chronic vitreous floaters.

Vitreolysis takes 10 to 15 minutes to complete, requires no incisions and causes no discomfort. Dr. Lowe estimates that he has performed more than 1,000 such procedures since he began performing them in 2011.

Laser vitreolysis can be performed multiple times to achieve a successful outcome, without adverse side effect. Dr. Lowe, the only retina specialist doing vitreolysis in his area, performed the procedure twice to dissolve the blob-like floater in
Jack’s right eye.

As it does with many patients, the procedure carried with it a benefit for Jack.

“I had confidence in letting Dr. Lowe perform his vitreolysis procedure on me, and retrospectively, that was the 100 percent correct decision to make.” – Jack

Contrast is the variation in brightness that makes objects being viewed more distinguishable,” Dr. Lowe observes. “In ophthalmology, contrast sensitivity is an unappreciated indicator of visual loss, and under ordinary circumstances, not much can be done to improve it. But many patients who undergo vitreolysis realize a marked brightening and improvement in contrast sensitivity.

“Jack was one of those patients who noticed after the procedure that objects were brighter and clearer. And he had already undergone cataract surgery on his right eye and received a premium intraocular lens replacement that gave him 20/20 vision. The reason the contrast sensitivity in that eye was off was because of the floater and the shadow it cast in his vision. But that was corrected by the vitreolysis.”

“Skilled Professional”

“After the procedures, Dr. Lowe said, Let’s let your eye settle and see how the floater responds,” Jack recalls. “I won’t say that the floater is 100 percent gone. Occasionally, I see something small floating in my eye, but it doesn’t bother me or interfere with my driving.

“It was good to have such a skilled doctor as Dr. Lowe behind the procedure.” – Jack

“Vitreolysis is an elective procedure, but for me, it wasn’t elective. There was a physical reason I chose to have it done: The floater impaired my ability to drive safely. I call vitreolysis the Star Wars procedure: Let the power of the Force be with you. It was good to have such a skilled doctor as Dr. Lowe behind the procedure.

“I recommend Dr. Lowe as a skilled professional. He obviously knows what he’s doing, and he doesn’t perform the procedure just for the sake of doing it. He only performs it if he believes there’s a sound medical reason to do so.

“I had confidence in letting Dr. Lowe perform his vitreolysis procedure on me, and retrospectively that was the 100 percent correct decision to make.”

Conquering Childhood Cancer

September 15th, 2020

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month is observed every September by cancer organizations around the globe. According to the American Cancer Society, just over 11,000 children under the age of 15 will be diagnosed with cancer in 2020, and about 1,190 children are expected to die from it. After accidents, cancer is the second leading cause of death in children ages 1 to 14.

The most common cancers in children are not the same as the cancers seen most often in adults. When adults get cancer, it often begins in the lungs, breast, colon, prostate or skin. But in children, cancer tends to affect their white blood cells, nervous system, brain, bones, lymphatic system, muscles or kidneys.

How cancer spreads, as well as how it’s treated is typically different for children than adults as well. That’s mostly due to children’s unique responses to treatment. Another difference between childhood cancers and adult cancers is that the recovery rate is higher in children. Most children with cancer can be cured.

Thanks to advances in diagnosis and treatment over the years, 84 percent of children that are diagnosed with cancer now survive five years or longer. In the 1970s, that figure stood at 58 percent, so we’ve come a long way.

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is the most common childhood cancer, accounting for approximately 34 percent of all cancers in children. Leukemia is a cancer that begins in the bone marrow and spreads to the blood. From there, it can travel to other parts of the body. Three out of four leukemia cases are ALL.

Tumors of the brain and nervous system are also common in children. In fact, they make up about 27 percent of childhood cancers. Central nervous system tumors are cancers of the brain and spinal cord. They are the most common solid tumors that occur in childhood, and they have the highest mortality rate of childhood cancers.

Lymphoma is a less common childhood cancer that affects special cells called lymphocytes that are part of the body’s immune system. Lymphomas target the lymphatic system, the network of vessels, organs and tissues that carry clear fluid called lymph, which contains disease-fighting white blood cells, through the body.

There are two main types of lymphoma: Hodgkin lymphoma, also called Hodgkin disease, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Hodgkin lymphoma is a cancer of the lymph nodes. It can start almost anywhere in the body and then spread to just about any organ or tissue. These often include the liver, bone marrow and spleen.

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma affects the T and B lymphocytes, which are the immune system’s natural killer cells. These cells are produced in the bone marrow then travel to the body’s lymph glands, and to the thymus gland, intestinal tract, tonsils and spleen. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma can start in any of those areas.

Fortunately, childhood lymphoma is rare. Only about 8 percent of childhood cancers are lymphomas: 5 percent of children with cancer will have non-Hodgkin lymphoma while 3 percent will have Hodgkin lymphoma.

Certain cancers in adults and children are hereditary. But in adults, many other factors can contribute to the development of cancer. These include lifestyle and environment influences such as exposure to cigarette smoke, asbestos and ultraviolet radiation from the sun.

But in children, cancer is most often the result of DNA mutations that occur very early in the child’s life or while the child is still developing in the womb. As such, lifestyle and environmental factors play only a minor role in the development of childhood cancers.

There are multiple treatment options for childhood cancer. The treatment options chosen for your child depend on the specific type of cancer and how advanced it is. Among the types of cancer treatment are surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy and stem cell transplants.

Each childhood cancer has its own specific signs and symptoms, but there are some general signs and symptoms. Possible signs and symptoms of cancer in children include the following.

  • An unusual lump or swelling
  • Easy bruising or bleeding
  • Ongoing pain in one area of the body
  • Unexplained fever or illness that doesn’t go away
  • Frequent headaches, often with vomiting
  • Sudden unexplained weight loss

If your child displays any of these signs and symptoms, take him or her to a physician for an evaluation. Early detection helps ensure a positive outcome from childhood cancer.

User Friendly

Family-owned provider receives couple’s seal of approval.

Charlotte Gauss met her husband, Richard, a field engineer for Florida Power & Light Co., when she went to sign up her daughter and son-in-law for service. The mother of four was immediately taken with the Michigan native, and the attraction was mutual.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Charlotte and Richard are pleased with the treatment they receive from Alexis at Hearing Aid Lab.

That was 36 years ago. Now in their 80s, retired and living in Lake Mary, Charlotte and Richard have battled hearing loss for more than 10 years. During that time, they visited multiple hearing aid providers, but were generally dissatisfied with the service they received.

“The first person we met with spent hours talking about his life and being relational, but he didn’t solve our problems,” Charlotte describes. “And it was always busy in his office. Then, we ended up with a wonderful guy in Orange City who was helpful, but he talked all the time, and his waiting room was always crowded.

“We were going all the way to Orange City when we learned that there was a hearing aid place right here in Lake Mary. So, we called and made an appointment.”

The provider they discovered is Hearing Aid Lab, a family-owned business with offices in Lake Mary and Orange City. That’s where Charlotte and Richard met Alexis Guzman, HAS.

“Enjoyable Experience”

When Richard and Charlotte arrived at Hearing Aid Lab, Alexis listened to their hearing concerns. She also reviewed their lifestyle to get an idea of what technology would be most appropriate for them.

“Their main complaint was that their current hearing aids were not working for them, and they needed an upgrade,” Alexis reports. “In addressing those issues, I conducted a hearing test and discovered that Charlotte has a moderate sensorineural hearing loss while Richard has a moderate-to-severe sensorineural hearing loss.”

Sensorineural hearing loss, or SNHL, is related to damage in the inner ear.

“I showed them the various hearing aid options available based on their hearing loss and lifestyle,” Alexis recalls.

She recommended behind-the-ear, receiver-in-canal models.

“We chose Phonak® hearing aids,” Richard elaborates. “We think that they’re the best at getting rid of background noise, especially in loud restaurants or other places where there are groups of people.”

“Going to Hearing Aid Lab is an enjoyable experience,” Charlotte adds. “The others were frustrating. We always had to wait, and the providers seemed to think that if they get real relational they’ll have customers for life instead of concentrating on our concerns.

“Alexis is friendly but also fixes our problems. And she’s on time. Hearing Aid Lab is a peaceful, enjoyable place to visit.”

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