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You Are Not Alone

May 21st, 2020

Mental Health Awareness Month Focuses On Solutions.

Shortly after the coronavirus first began to spread across the United States, public health officials expressed concern that mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression would soon be on the rise as well.

Their concern was so great that in New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced plans to establish a free mental health service that allowed anyone needing counseling to speak to a medical professional about the stresses caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Two months later, the effects of a spike in cases of anxiety and depression caused by the coronavirus is still being felt, which is why the selection of May for Mental Health Awareness Month carries as much meaning now as it ever has.

As it is every year, the goal during Mental Health Awareness Month is to “fight stigma, provide support, educate the public, and advocate for policies that support people with mental illness and their families.”

Sponsored by the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI), the program also seeks to draw attention to suicide, and it does so through the “You Are Not Alone” campaign, which features real-life stories told by real-life sufferers of depression.

The NAMI website contains hundreds of personal stories that detail people’s trials and tribulations with depression. It also offers advice on how best to deal with anxiety and depression, which affects millions of people in the U.S. alone each year.

In 2018, for example, one of every five adults in the U.S. suffered from some form of mental illness and one of every 25 adults in the country suffered from some form of “serious” mental illness, according to a government study.

Another study showed that in 2016, nearly eight million youths between the ages of 6 and 17 experienced a mental health disorder, while another showed that more than nine million people struggled with both mental illness and substance abuse at the same time.

And like the coronavirus, mental illness does not discriminate. It affects people of all races and nationalities, with members of the gay, lesbian and bisexual community accounting for more than 37-percent of its sufferers.

Unlike the cold or flu, though, symptoms of mental illness are not always identifiable. What is typical behavior for one person may be a sign something is wrong with another, but the most common signs to look out for include:

  • Feeling excessively sad or low
  • Strong feelings of irritability or anger
  • Decreased desire to socialize with friends or family
  • A strong desire to sleep all day or not get up in the morning

The good news is that solutions for all these problems can easily be found. In fact, in accordance with Mental Health Awareness Month, Mental Health America has created the #4Mind4Body Challenge.

It’s designed to improve people’s overall health and well-being through small lifestyle changes that include eating better, sleeping longer and avoiding many of the habits and practices that can increase depression and anxiety.

For more on the #4Mind4Body Challenge, check out the MHA website at mhanational.org.

Nutrition’s Role In Fighting COVID-19

May 21st, 2020

Eating right can help you build a healthy immune system.

The coronavirus had only taken the lives of some 3,000 people worldwide when a claim suggesting that eating a Nigerian dish called Yoruba stew or simply consuming a diet rich in pepper could cure someone of the virus within 24 hours.

Within a matter of days, the “pepper soup theory” was determined to be a hoax.

Since then, a number of similar theories claiming that everything from garlic to warm lemon water can prevent or cure the coronavirus have emerged. Unfortunately, there is no evidence to suggest that any of these “miracle foods” work either.

Not even a boost in vitamin C, which may help shorten the duration and severity of common cold symptoms, has proven to be an effective remedy against the coronavirus. That’s not to say, though, that diet cannot be an ally in fighting off COVID-19.

While doctors and scientists have so far discovered that proper hygiene and physical or “social” distancing are the best way to avoid contracting the virus, they do not discount the role that eating a proper diet can play in that battle.

It has long been known that adequate amounts of iron, zinc and vitamins A, C, E, B6 and B12 can optimize a person’s immune system. It’s quite possible then that by eating a well-balanced diet, a person’s immunity to COVID-19 can be enhanced as well.

The reason is simple. As the World Health Organization points out, “people who eat a well-balanced diet tend to be healthier, have stronger immune systems and are at lower risk for developing chronic illnesses and infectious diseases.”

That goes for the coronavirus, too. After all, it is now known that older people and those with pre-existing health conditions or a compromised immune system are among those affected most severely by the coronavirus.

So now more than ever, it’s important to limit your intake of processed foods heavy in sugar, salty snacks and fat and increase your consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats and fish, nuts and whole grains.

It is in the latter category of foods where the vitamins, minerals, dietary fibers, proteins and antioxidants that the body needs to function best exist, and it is through that proper function that a person can increase their chances of combating disease.

On the other hand, people who suffer from deficiencies of proteins and micronutrients tend to have less energy as well as depressed immune systems and are therefore more susceptible to infection than those who eat a healthy diet.

And let’s not forget the critical role that water plays in this equation. Water is essential because it transports nutrients and compounds in blood, regulates body temperature, promotes waste removal and lubricates joints.

That’s why doctors recommend drinking between eight and 10 cups of water per day to remain properly hydrated. That may seem like a lot to some, but those eight to 10 cups of water can include a cup of tea or coffee as well as fruits that contain a lot of water.

Examples of such fruits include melons of most any kind, especially watermelon, grapefruit, oranges, raspberries strawberries and cranberries. Adding a little lemon juice to water can help you reach your daily water goals as well.

The overall goal, of course, is to avoid developing deficiencies of the vitamins and nutrients that allow us to maintain a healthy immune system, and that includes vitamin D, so simply eating right may not be enough to keep that immune system humming.

Because exposure to sunlight provides us with our best source of vitamin D, it’s important during this time to get outside as much as possible if that is not a normal part of your regular routine.

Granted, that could prove difficult for some. But that’s why the British Dietetic Association (BDA) recommends that people who are quarantined or are otherwise unable to get outside regularly add a daily supplement of 10 grams of vitamin D to their diet.

The addition of that supplement can further boost a person’s immune system, though the best way to those immune systems running strong is to eat properly. And sure, that can include a bowl of pepper soup or Yoruba stew if you’d like.

Just keep in mind that according to the latest scientific research, those and other so-called “super foods” alone will not help you ward off or recover from the coronavirus.

Cultivating Hope

Medical marijuana: a blessing for Alzheimer’s patient.

Since he retired from his position as a Lutheran pastor and moved from Missouri to Florida seven years ago, Steven* and his wife, Sharon*, have made the short drive from their home in Holly Hill to their daughter’s place in Ormond Beach hundreds of times.

It’s a route they know by heart, which is why Sharon became concerned a few years ago when Steven suddenly became confused and wondered out loud if he needed to make a right turn or left turn to get onto their daughter’s street.

“What concerned me most was that this was not the first sign of trouble I’d detected over the previous few months,” Sharon explains. “Before that, I also noticed that Steven had started losing his train of thought a lot, too.

“We’d be out to dinner with friends or at home talking with family and he’d be talking about something and suddenly stop, as if he was done making his point, when he hadn’t made it at all. He also started repeating the same questions a lot.”

With her concerns mounting, Sharon made an appointment for Steven to see his primary care physician. That resulted in a trip to a neurologist, who soon confirmed Sharon’s worst fears: Steven was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

Two years later, after 72-year-old Steven developed hand tremors that sometimes made it difficult for him to hold a newspaper or control a fork or spoon, the neurologist diagnosed the retired minister with Parkinson’s disease.

After two medications prescribed by the neurologist failed to alleviate the tremors, the couple’s daughter suggested Steven try medical cannabis and told them about Coastal Cannabis Clinics in Ormond Beach.

Remarkable Treatment Option

Coastal Cannabis Clinics is the practice of Joseph Rosado, MD. It is a private medical practice specializing in treatments using medical cannabis, which became legal in Florida in 2016.

Since then, it has been approved as a treatment for more than a dozen conditions, including Parkinson’s disease, Crohn’s disease and PTSD, which is just one of the reasons Dr. Rosado considers it a “remarkable” treatment option.

“Medical marijuana is remarkable because it has so many properties and works on so many different receptors in the body,” says Dr. Rosado, whose first order of business is to confirm a patient has a qualifying condition for medical marijuana.

Once that step is completed, Dr. Rosado can write an order for medical marijuana, which can be obtained only through a state-approved dispensary and distributed only in capsule or droplet form, as a topical preparation or an extract that can be vaporized.

The three marijuana compounds that have provided significant medical benefits are cannabidiol (CBD), tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and terpenes. There are also three chemovars, or strains, of cannabis: Sativa, Indica and Hybrid.

When recommending medical cannabis, Dr. Rosado and/or Kathryne Gunn, DO, typically recommend a combination of chemovars because each affects the body in different ways. That’s what he did in his effort to treat Steven’s tremors.

He started with a combination that had a ratio of five parts CBD to one part THC. The results were amazing, Dr. Rosado explains, because it did more than just help reduce the tremors.

“Like a couple of other patients that I’ve seen, Steven came to us hoping we could help him control his tremors,” Dr. Rosado says. “But the combination of CBD and THC that we recommended also helped alleviate some of the symptoms of his Alzheimer’s disease.

“In particular, it helped him with his cognition and recognition, and as I’ve said, he’s not the first person I’ve seen this result in. Others have been helped to the point where they can now fold laundry, match up a pair of socks or do other similar tasks.

“Now, some might read that and say, What’s the big deal? So what if they can fold laundry or match socks? But that’s something that Alzheimer’s patients have a difficult time doing because they have a challenge with their cognitive capabilities.”

Stress Reliever

Dr. Rosado, who has lectured extensively on the subject, says studies show that what medical marijuana can do is halt the development of Alzheimer’s disease, which affects approximately 6 million people in the United States.

“It can prevent the further worsening of the condition,” Dr. Rosado educates. “There have also been some studies on mice that show it has reversed the condition. But let’s focus for now on its ability to prevent the worsening of it.

“Alzheimer’s is characterized by large accumulations of a microscopic brain protein fragment called beta-amyloid and another protein called tau. Both of these cause neuroinflammation and oxidative stress to the brain.

“What cannabinoids, and in particular CBD does, is reduce the neuroinflammation. Cannabinoids are also an antioxidant, so they can block the oxidative stress that occurs in the brain and initiates a toxic inflammatory process that causes the demise of the cell.

“It stimulates the removal of the beta-amyloid, and what we’re finding in the patients who have come to us is that they begin to realize the benefits of that somewhere between 30 and 90 days after beginning treatment with medical cannabis.”

It was during such a time frame that Steven began to benefit from the effects of his medical marijuana treatment. In addition to a decrease in the degree and number of tremors, he also experienced “less brain fog,” according to Sharon.

“He’s not losing himself in conversations or repeating questions as often as he was,” Sharon says. “And he’s not having any more of those confused moments like he had in the car that day. I have to believe the medical marijuana is working.

“We know this is not a cure. Steven is going to be living with Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s for the rest of his life. But the medical marijuana is making living with Alzheimer’s disease easier, and you can’t ask for much more than that.

“Like Dr. Rosado says, it’s a remarkable treatment, and I’m so glad our daughter suggested we visit Coastal Cannabis Clinics and meet Dr. Rosado. I’m not sure we would have done that on our own, but just like my daughter, I recommend both to anyone.”

*Patients’ names withheld at their request.

The Road Back

Nonsurgical stem cell therapy alleviates spinal pain, neuropathy.

Ever since he was old enough to get behind the wheel, Joe Ocello has been a car guy. A master mechanic, he repairs cars, tinkers with them, even collected a few, including a 1951 Ford pickup he cherishes above all others.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Joe has become a fan of stem cell therapy.

“It’s only got 36,000 original miles on it, which is kind of neat,” Joe says of the classic pickup. “I also have a couple of motorcycles and some other stuff, so pretty much anything mechanical, I enjoy tinkering with.

“I’ve always been that way. I’ve worked on cars and stuff like that all my life, and I love my field of work. I’ve always been on the repair side of the business, but I’ve also owned gas stations, repair shops and towing businesses.

“My towing company towed cars for the police department for 35 years. My father did the same thing, and now my sons have taken over and they’re doing it. We’ve done that through three generations now, and you don’t see that too much these days.”

At 65, Joe considers himself only “semi-retired.” His passion for cars and for working on them is so great that he’d like to maintain that status for years to come. A recent procedure to correct a lingering back problem will help make that possible.

“I first started experiencing back problems when I was about 30,” Joe explains. “I was never a stand-behind-the-counter kind of guy, and because of that and my line of work, my back problems just got progressively worse over the years.

“It was all that wrenching and lifting and working in weird positions – hovering over cars or working under them – that took a toll. My lower back, down by the tailbone, is where most of the damage was done, and it really made life difficult.

“I would say that on most days, by 3 o’clock in the afternoon, I was totally wiped out from dealing with the pain. It was exhausting, and by the time I got home, all I wanted to do was sit down. And even then, I’d spend the night just moaning.

“Even walking was a problem, because if I had a day where I had to do a lot of walking, the next day would be terrible. I’d be in so much pain that I could barely move, and I always had this grinding-like feeling inside my back.”

Joe’s pain became virtually unbearable a few years ago. At that time, he briefly contemplated laser spine surgery, but doctors could not guarantee the surgery would provide a long-term solution, so he passed.

“It’s a great alternative to surgery. It regenerates the body instead of trying to fix it or cover up a problem with surgery.” – Dr. Steflik

A New Jersey resident who spends his winters in Florida, Joe began researching other options. One possibility he discovered was stem cell therapy, and he soon attended a seminar to learn whether it might provide some relief.

“I learned at the seminar that stem cell therapy was mostly being used to repair knees and shoulders,” Joe remembers. “They really weren’t touching the back yet because they had no statistics to prove it would do anything for the back.

“My wife has a cousin who is an orthopedic surgeon in Tennessee, and he’s been practicing with stem cells for the past 10 years, so I started to keep in touch with him to see where things were heading.

“I also kept an eye on things myself, and in 2019, I found this place called Coastal Integrative Healthcare and called them to see if they were doing stem cell therapy for the back yet. They told me they were, so I made an appointment to go see them.”

The Body’s Building Blocks

Coastal Integrative Healthcare is a medical center dedicated to serving its community and providing pain relief for patients through the use of advanced chiropractic equipment, technology and stem cell therapy.

Also known as regenerative medicine, stem cell therapy stimulates the body’s repair mechanisms. Stem cells are the basic foundation cells that grow body tissue. When stem cells are injected into damaged tissue, they support the natural healing process by regenerating that tissue.

Many in the medical community, including those at the National Institutes of Health and the Institute of Medicine, consider stem cell therapy the future of medicine.

“It’s definitely on the leading edge of medical technology,” states Timothy Steflik, DC, of Coastal Integrative Healthcare. “It’s a great alternative to surgery. It regenerates the body instead of trying to fix it or cover up a problem with surgery.

“The real beauty of it is that it is a one-and-done, in-office procedure that takes about 15 minutes to complete and needs no anesthesia. It’s a simple injection of the cells that are cryo-preserved right in our office.

“I could not walk for very long or very far without having a lot of pain the next day. Now, I can walk as far as I want and for as long as I want and not feel a thing.” – Joe

“For some patients, we do a color ultrasound to guide the injection because we need to be very specific where the cells are placed. Once the cells are injected, the patient needs time to heal. They can return to normal activities right away.”

Stem cell therapy can be used anywhere with arthritis or a muscle or tendon tear, Dr. Steflik educates. In addition to knees and shoulders, Coastal Integrative Healthcare providers have performed the procedure on hamstrings, ankles and wrists.

Not all patients are good candidates for stem cell therapy. For example, patients who have suffered a tear of more than 50 percent of the rotator cuff or with no cartilage remaining in the knee would be encouraged to first try other options.

Give Me Some Space

Joe’s first visit to Coastal Integrative Healthcare came in August 2019. During that visit, he was given a thorough examination and had x-rays of his back taken that showed damage in the lower back and a lack of proper spacing between discs in other areas of the spine.

The damage wasn’t so terrible, though, that it could not be alleviated through stem cell therapy. When Joe was told it could reduce his pain by as much as 50 percent, he opted for it. He received four injections of stem cells into his back and shortly after began a physical therapy regimen back home in New Jersey. The first test of the treatment came in November, when Joe and his wife visited Italy.

“I was already starting to feel better by then, but I knew I was going to be doing a lot of walking on that trip,” Joe says. “As it turns out, we probably walked about 10 miles a day, and they were tough miles. In Italy, you’re walking on a lot of cobblestone streets and sidewalks, you’re walking up and down hills, but I had no problems at all. In fact, it turns out, that was probably the best physical therapy I could have had.

“That’s what the doctors at Coastal Integrative Healthcare told me when I returned a few months later for my follow-up visit. They said all that walking was actually good for me, and I can’t disagree because I have absolutely no pain in my back now.

“It’s really incredible, because for so long I was very limited. I could not walk for very long or very far without having a lot of pain the next day. Now, I can walk as far as I want and for as long as I want and not feel a thing.”

Joe says the grinding-like feeling he used to get has disappeared, allowing him to resume the active lifestyle he prefers.

“I’m being smart about what I do,” Joe confirms. “I’m not running around doing things like I’m a bionic man or anything. But I can do all my normal daily activities and all the things I like to do without pain, and you can’t ask for much more than that.”

Selling Point

While Joe’s livelihood was repairing cars, Don Founds spent 50 years selling the parts that made such work possible.

“I started selling car parts for BorgWarner corporation back in 1971,” says Don, who spent a large part of his career working in Delaware. “After that, I worked for a number of different companies, selling both import and American car parts.”

Don wrapped up his career in 2016, after he and his wife moved to the Edgewater area. Not long before he went into retirement, he began paying a price for all those years behind a counter – particularly on his feet.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Stem cell therapy alleviated Don’s aggravating foot pain.

“It started a few years ago. I had this burning and tingling in my feet, and there were other times when my feet just hurt,” Don reports. “It would start about an hour or two after I started working each day, and it was very uncomfortable.

“I guess it was from being on those hard, concrete floors, because the pain would increase as the day went on. For a while, I tried changing shoes, because the shoes I was wearing weren’t comfortable anymore, but that really didn’t do much.

“The only relief I got was when I went home at night, sat down in my recliner and put my feet up. Once I was able to do that, the pain started to go away, but I knew I had to have this looked at.”

Don’s foot pain was caused by a condition known as neuropathy. Diabetes is a common cause of neuropathy, but it can result from anything that compromises the normal flow of blood, oxygen and nutrients to the nerves.

Despite his discomfort, Don did not immediately seek help from a podiatrist or even a primary care physician. Instead, he acted on recommendations from friends who gained relief from the issue through stem cell therapy.

Shortly after looking into it, Don received a brochure in the mail announcing a seminar on stem cell therapy sponsored by Coastal Integrative Healthcare.

“They told us all about stem cell therapy and how it works, and showed a video on it. Afterward, they asked if anyone was interested in looking into it further,” Don remembers. “I raised my hand and said, Yes, I would, and that’s how we got together.”

Regenerate and Restore

Neuropathy of the foot is typically treated with pain relievers, topical treatments or anti-seizure medications that also relieve nerve pain; surgery to decompress the nerves is another option.

However, those approaches only mask the symptoms of neuropathy, while the all-natural regenerative therapies that Coastal Integrative Healthcare specializes in can resolve the underlying problems.

Coastal Integrative Healthcare’s leading-edge stem cell treatments, administered in the office in minutes through a series of simple injections, are designed to regenerate and restore damaged tissue.

About a week after visiting the practice for his consultation and exam, Don received injections at the base of his toes in each foot. His pain began to subside a month later and disappeared after about three months, the result of the regeneration of damaged tissue in his feet. It was aided by cold laser treatments that are designed to stimulate blood circulation in the affected areas.

“I also did some physical therapy, mostly balancing exercises, and they gave me a laser device so I could do the laser treatments at home,” Don says. “After a while, I was feeling like normal again, and I haven’t had a problem since.

“I have been very pleased with the results of the stem cell therapy. It did exactly what I hoped it would. It took care of my foot problem. I was also very pleased with all the folks at Coastal Integrative Healthcare.

“They’re very courteous, very helpful and you can tell they’re interested in your well-being. Just as friends did in suggesting I try stem cell therapy for my neuropathy, I definitely recommend Coastal Integrative Healthcare.”

“It did exactly what I hoped it would. It took care of my foot problem.” – Don

Like Don, Joe is not just a fan of stem cell therapy, he’s also become a fan of Dr. Steflik and the staff at Coastal Integrative Healthcare. He lauds them for their thoroughness and professionalism.

“They’re great people,” Joe expounds. “You go in there and they discuss everything with you and answer all your questions. They tell you all the pros and cons of the therapy, so you have all the information you need to make an informed decision.

“I really like that they’re very realistic about the therapy. They don’t give you any false hopes or anything like that. They tell you this should work really well for you, but they allow you to make the decision based on the information you receive.

“Because of all that, I’ve already recommended other people to them. My son-in-law is a young guy in his 40s and he has a lot of damage from different things, and just like I’ve told others, I told him, Just go see them. What have you got to lose?”

Loud and Clear

Hearing aid upgrade vastly improves quality of life.

The war in Vietnam and Southeast Asia was just beginning to heat up when Jim Knowles graduated from dental school at the University of Michigan 50-some years ago, so to avoid being drafted into the Army, Jim joined the Air Force instead.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

New hearing aids have corrected Jim’s high-pitch hearing loss.

What followed was a 30-year career of service to his country as a member of the Air Force Dental Corps for which he twice provided dental care to soldiers overseas – first in Turkey in the 1970s and again in England in the 1980s.

“I practiced dentistry just like any civilian dentist would have,” Jim says. “My first year in the Air Force was actually spent doing a dental internship, and after that I practiced general dentistry.”

Jim moved 11 times during his military career. He eventually settled in Florida, where he and his wife have become active in their local church, and Jim plays golf as often as he can.

For the past several years, though, Jim’s ability to fully engage in some activities has been hampered by a medical issue that, in part, is a byproduct of the 75-year-old’s tenure practicing dentistry in the military.

“I have a high-pitch hearing loss,” Jim reveals. “I can’t hear anything in the higher ranges like the doorbell or the phone ringing. I think some of it might come from the fact that early on we didn’t wear ear plugs or anything like that when we were working.

“As a dentist, I was constantly exposed to the sound of that high-speed drill we used, so I think that might have something to do with it. I’m sure old age has something to do with it, too, but either way, I’ve been wearing hearing aids for about five or six years now.”

Active Couple

For as long as he’s been wearing hearing aids, Jim has been under the care of Melanee Bryans, LHAS, at Miracle-Ear®, which has offices in Ormond Beach, Daytona Beach, New Smyrna Beach, Orange City and Palm Coast.

“Jim is very active,” Melanee states. “He and his wife are not the kind of people who just sit around at home all day. They’re very busy, and we have had to take that into consideration when fitting Jim with hearing aids.

“The other issue we need to take into consideration is his difficulty hearing anything in the higher frequencies. That can be dangerous because those people tend to have difficulty hearing more than just the doorbell, the phone or the ding on the microwave oven.

“When you have a hearing loss in the higher frequencies, you can be driving and not hear the siren of an emergency vehicle coming up behind you. You may also have difficulty hearing women and children because their voices tend to fall in that range. And that difficulty hearing women and children can be greatly accentuated in a noisy environment such as a restaurant or at a group or family gathering, because all that noise around you just smothers those higher frequencies.”

The ability to clearly hear his wife speak was one of the difficulties that sent Jim in search of hearing aids in the first place. To address that problem, Melanee initially fit him with a pair of hearing aids designed to improve his hearing clarity.

As time has passed, however, Jim’s hearing difficulties increased and his needs changed. As a result, Melanee recently recommended a change of hearing aids, suggesting Jim move into a state-of-the-art model offering the latest technology.

Jim accepted Melanee’s recommendation and is now wearing a pair of ME 5500 series hearing aids, which feature a series of advancements that provide him with vastly improved hearing in all types of environments.

Direct Streaming

Those advancements include stronger noise reduction and speech recognition as well as a direct streaming feature that allows sounds generated by an external electronic source such as a TV, radio or telephone to be heard directly through the hearing device.

“With direct streaming, you’re not losing any of the sounds you’re trying to focus on because of the ambient noise that’s around you,” Melanee describes. “That’s a feature that is proving to be very popular, especially with people who watch a lot of TV.

“If you’re sitting at home watching television with your spouse, for example, you can stream the TV directly into the hearing aid. That allows you to hear the TV clearly while your spouse can enjoy it as well, but at a level that is comfortable for him or her.

“You can carry on conversations with others while streaming as well, and it allows the wearer to be hands free whenever he or she is on the telephone. That’s a big advantage because people don’t need to have the phone in their hand to have a conversation on it.”

The ease with which Jim can now carry on a phone conversation or hear the TV are two of the technological improvements he appreciates most about the ME 5500.

“Melanee ran through all the improvements that have been made in these hearing aids, and it just made good sense for me to get them,” Jim says. “She didn’t push me into them at all. It was simply a suggestion, and I’m really glad she made it.

“These hearing aids have definitely improved my quality of life, because I’m hearing everything much clearer and crisper now. For example, I used to not be able to hear the turn signal in my car when I turned it on, but now I can hear it loud and clear.

“What I really like, though, is that I can stream the TV into my hearing aids. That means I can still watch and listen to the TV while my wife is reading a book or something because the sound on the TV can actually be turned down or off, yet I can still hear it.

“That’s a nice thing to be able to do, so I’m really thankful that Melanee suggested I get these hearing aids. She’s so knowledgeable, professional and easy to talk to. She’s a great person, and I really like that it’s not totally business with her.

“She treats you like a friend, which is why I definitely recommend her and Miracle-Ear to anybody.”

Endless Love

Senior living community proves perfect fit for struggling loved one.

Even after they divorced in 1974, James Small and his ex-wife, Helen Bennett, have always remained close. For the sake of their son, they regularly spend holidays together and continue to care for each other in times of poor health.

Photo courtesy of Savannah Court of Orange City.

James Small

Such a time arose late last year. After doctors determined that James, who had previously been diagnosed with dementia, could no longer live on his own, Helen stepped up and offered to take care of him.

Shortly before Christmas, she moved James into a small apartment connected to her home. There she hoped to help James continue his recovery from a recent urinary tract infection. She soon realized, however, that she’d taken on too great of a challenge.

“It was terrifying because I’d go over to the apartment to bring him his breakfast in the morning and he’d be gone,” Helen says. “I would eventually find him at the neighbor’s house or somewhere else, so it was very hard.”

The need to twice rush James to the emergency room for medical care made the situation more difficult. That is what prompted Helen and her son to make the decision to move James to an assisted living community.

Their choice was Savannah Court of Orange City, a senior living community nestled 20 minutes between metro Orlando and Daytona Beach that offers a cozy, small-town ambiance and the amenities necessary for residents to maintain an active lifestyle.

Provided by an experienced staff specializing in personalized care and hospitality, these amenities include assisted living services in private apartments, senior day care services for caregivers needing a day for themselves, and respite care for seniors recovering from illness or surgery.

“We provide the kind of support residents can’t get at home or at a lot of other places,” says Todd Brown, marketing relations director at Savanah Court of Orange City. “We’re a smaller, more intimate community, and that has many advantages.

“Because we’re smaller, we have a direct hands-on approach with our residents. That allows us to make sure they are cared for in the best way possible and are as independent and active as they want to be in the various programs we offer.”

Helen and her son realized during their first tour of Savannah Court that the care James would get would be exceptional. They agreed shortly thereafter to make Savannah Court James’ new home, and they’re certain they could not have made a better choice.

“I never thought we would find a place as nice as Savannah Court for James, so I feel very fortunate that he’s there,” Helen says. “Everyone is so kind and compassionate, and he’s doing much better now than he was before.”

“It has worked out a great deal better for him, and I’m more at ease now knowing he’s getting the proper care and attention, and that he’s no longer alone. The adjustment to Savannah Court has gone very well for him.”

Todd concurs. He says James has quickly integrated himself into the community and become an active member. He adds that the support James receives from Helen and his son is exemplary, noting that, “It’s a beautiful thing to watch.”

“I go over and visit with James as often as I can, so I know he’s being fed well and getting good food, because the food there is great.” Helen says. “And I know that he’s making friends and feeling more and more comfortable there every day.

“It’s not just me who feels good about where he is. My son feels so much better, too. He was constantly worried about his dad, but placing him at Savannah Court has provided him with the greatest relief he could have asked for.”

Drops Over Shots

Sublingual immunotherapy: another option in allergy treatments.

When James Raynor moved from the Arizona desert to a place at the foot of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains 18 years ago, he had no reason to believe his general health would take a turn for the worse.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

It’s been almost a year since James needed a pill to ward off his allergies

But shortly after adopting two cats from the humane society, James found that living among Colorado’s Ponderosa pines and blue columbine flowers wasn’t as idyllic as he hoped.

“I noticed after being there for a little while that I was always getting bronchitis and sinus infections,” James remembers. “When I finally asked my primary care doctor about it, he told me I probably had allergies.

“Even after hearing that, I never really did anything about it, at least not for a while. Then after about two years, my wife and I moved to Florida. I noticed the problem was worse every year.

“I eventually started buying over-the-counter allergy pills and nasal inhalers. I was taking everything I could find to try and control these allergies, which were especially bad in the spring. I did that for years, and after a while I wasn’t getting the infections anymore. But it was a constant expense and annoyance that I really wanted to get rid of if I could.”

James found the fix he was seeking after his mother, an allergy sufferer herself, recommended he visit Devang M. Shah, MD, at Atlantic Ear, Nose & Throat and ask about an allergy treatment called sublingual immunotherapy, or SLIT.

SLIT is quickly becoming the preferred method of treatment for allergies because, unlike shots, it can be taken at home, where it’s administered through the use of a small pump that distributes liquid drops of allergen beneath the tongue.

Over time, the proper use of these drops results in the patient developing a greater allergen tolerance. That leads to a dramatic decrease in the symptoms James wrestled with prior to visiting the practice last spring.

At Atlantic Ear, Nose & Throat, the SLIT process begins with an allergy skin test to determine how the patient reacts to any of 38 allergens specific to Central Florida.

James’ test revealed that he was allergic to everything from cockroaches to cats and most every tree that grows naturally across the state. He began sublingual immunotherapy immediately thereafter. Since then, his symptoms have disappeared.

“I’m breathing free and clear and have not taken an allergy pill in more than nine months,” James exudes. “I’m no longer experiencing any of the symptoms I used to get – no stuffy nose, no sneezing, nothing.

“These drops are not like other allergy treatments that just treat your symptoms. These drops treat the underlying cause of your allergies, and they really work. I highly recommend them to anyone suffering from allergies, and I recommend Atlantic Ear, Nose & Throat.”

 

One-Hip Wonder

Same-day, outpatient replacement surgery ensures rapid recovery.

The four horses that prance around Joan Hoff’s property in Punta Gorda are about as close to “ideal” as you’re going to find for their breeds. Getting them there and keeping them that way were once a big part of Joan’s life.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Feeling like a filly again, Joan is walking pain-free following her hip replacement surgery.

“I used to do halter,” Joan says of the discipline that emphasizes a horse’s bone structure, musculature and body proportions. “It’s kind of like a dog show, but instead of showing a dog, you walk your horse out and it has to stand perfectly so it can be judged.

“I started getting away from it about five years ago. I got too busy with work, managing my husband’s and son’s construction company. We still have the horses, though. We have two quarter horses, a paint and a shire, which is like a Clydesdale.”

As time wore on, showing her horses wasn’t the only activity Joan got away from. She also got away from a regular exercise routine that included an almost daily run. Unfortunately, it wasn’t work that forced her away from her routine. It was hip pain.

“The first time I experienced that hip pain was about three years ago,” Joan relates. “It was in my right hip, and at first it wasn’t that bad. I was still able to walk and run, so I fought through it, thinking it would eventually go away.

“I thought it might be sciatica or something like that, but it just kept getting worse and worse. Eventually, I reached a point where I couldn’t even walk anymore without limping. But that wasn’t the only problem. When I stood up after sitting for a while, I needed to stand there for a second or two before I started walking because the pain was so intense. Then I had to bear the pain for a minute while I was walking, but I was still walking with a limp.”

Joan’s pain even disrupted her sleep. She says that for months she tossed and turned most nights, unable to find a sleeping position that didn’t cause her hip to ache. After about six months of sleepless nights, she finally sought medical help for the problem.

Specialized Care

On the advice of a dentist that she once worked for, she sought that medical help from Advanced Orthopedic Center. During her first visit to the practice, she was examined by Dale A. Greenberg, MD, who broke some bad news to her.

“He told me I had arthritis and that I was eventually going to need a hip replacement,” Joan reports. “He said I could probably get by with cortisone shots for a while but that, in time, the pain would start to interfere with my life again and I’d need to get the surgery.”

Joan agreed to try a cortisone shot, which alleviated her pain for a couple of months. She then received a second cortisone shot. When the effects of the second shot wore off, she returned to Advanced Orthopedic Center, where she decided to have hip replacement surgery.

That surgery was performed by Jason E. Reiss, DO, a specialist in total joint reconstruction and a minimally invasive form of hip replacement surgery known as anterior direct hip replacement, which is often performed on an outpatient basis.

“For our patients who are otherwise healthy, have good home support and are eager to get home, we can do this operation in an outpatient surgery center,”
Dr. Reiss confirms. “That way, the patient is not required to stay in a hospital at all.”

Joan met all the criteria for having her hip surgery done on an outpatient basis, which involves a unique protocol where the surgeon works through a three- to four-inch incision in the front of the hip area.

“The surgery went great, and I couldn’t be happier with the outcome.” – Joan

“The key here is not the size of the incision, it’s what we do through that incision, under the skin,” Dr. Reiss educates. “You can work through a small incision but still do a lot of damage if you’re degrading or cutting up muscle and tissue.

“What we do in this procedure that we did with Joan is go in without cutting or detaching any muscle. All we do is retract between two specific muscle groups, so in the end it’s just bone work that’s performed.

“That’s good for the patient because by not cutting muscle and tendons, the patient can get up and about quicker following surgery. They are immediately more mobile and with fewer precautions than patients undergoing traditional hip replacement surgeries.”

Back to Normal

Another thing that aids the patient in this procedure is the artificial joint that is implanted. It’s a smaller implant that has a bit more curve to it. The size and shape makes it easier to slip beneath the muscle without doing any damage.

As is typical with patients having this surgery on an outpatient basis, Joan went home within a few hours of the surgery being completed. Within days, Joan was walking pain-free without a limp and sleeping quietly through the night.

“I was in pain for so long that at first I couldn’t even comprehend what it might be like to walk without pain or a limp,” Joan says. “But now I’m walking normally again, and I’m excited about my life ahead and the fact that I can do anything I want.

“I feel wonderful, and I’m ecstatic about it. The surgery went great, and I couldn’t be happier with the outcome. That’s why I so highly recommend
Dr. Reiss and Advanced Orthopedic Center. They’re all great.

“Dr. Reiss and everyone there is so comforting, and I really liked that they let it be my decision as to when I would have the surgery. They told me the first time I saw them that I’d know exactly when the time was right for me to have it, and they were right.”

It’s All in the Details

New digital scanner delivers greater accuracy for a perfect fit.

The art class that Carmine Forte taught at Red Bank Regional High School in Little Silver, New Jersey, for so many years was slightly different than a lot of traditional art classes in that it didn’t offer students a chance to learn how to draw, paint or sculpt.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Carmine Forte

“I taught crafts like ceramics, enameling and jewelry design,” Carmine explains. “I also taught students how to cut and shape stones, and how to solder and cast in metals. Except, we didn’t cast in gold and silver. They’re too expensive. So we cast in pewter instead.”

Carmine might not have taught casting in gold and silver during his classes, but that didn’t keep him from casting in those metals himself. In fact, he once cast a gold crown that his dentist later placed on a lower bicuspid.

“The dentist I had back then and I became very close friends,” the 69-year-old explains. “So when I needed a crown for that one particular tooth, I asked him if he would make a second impression for me and give me a chance to make the crown myself, which I did.”

Carmine, who retired from his job as an educator at age 55 and moved to Florida in 2005, is still wearing that crown. Unfortunately, some other crowns, including one capping a right upper molar, haven’t held up as well.

“For a while, whenever I chewed something, especially gum, I could feel a little movement in this four-tooth bridge that I had on that side,” Carmine reports. “So the last time I was in for a cleaning, I asked the dentist to take a look at it.”

Carmine’s dentist is Joseph H. Farag, DMD, of Port Charlotte Dental Care. Carmine has been seeing him for a couple years now, and he still considers the day that he discovered Dr. Farag to be one of his “lucky days.”

“I had a regular dentist here for several years, but he wasn’t available when an abscess developed in one of my teeth,” Carmine says. “When I called my insurance company and asked about a new dentist, they sent me to Dr. Farag.

“I say that I was lucky because Dr. Farag is top-notch. He really knows his stuff. I’ve been seeing him for a couple of years now, and when I brought this problem with the bridge up to him, he looked at it and said, Yep, there’s a problem there.

Increased Comfort

The problem was that the bridge was only being held on by two teeth. For better support, Dr. Farag suggested creating a new bridge that would be supported by three teeth. One of those teeth needed a new crown.

In creating the new crown and bridge, Dr. Farag earned even more appreciation from Carmine, because he used the new CEREC Primescan, a digital intraoral scanner that offers dental professionals the most detailed scans yet.

The CEREC Primescan also increases comfort for patients, because it completely eliminates the need to create impressions out of silicone or alginate, which can be sloppy and cause some people to gag.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Carmine’s new bridge immediately passed
the bubble gum test.

“We still have the silicon in our office, but for the vast majority of cases now, we’re using the new scanner because everything about it is so far superior to anything that we’ve been able to use before,” Dr. Farag explains.

“This scanner is really amazing. The field of view that it offers is much larger, so we don’t need to be in the mouth moving around as much as we did with older scanners when we’re creating the impressions, and the resolution is much higher.

“It can pick up the surface of the tooth through any saliva or moisture that’s on the tooth, which provides much greater accuracy in the creation of crowns and bridges, and that, of course, leads to a much better fit for the patient.

“Also, the processing power of this scanner is up to date, so crowns and bridges are created much quicker. For example, if we’re creating anything from a crown to a three-unit bridge in-house, we can complete that patient’s restorations in a single visit.

“And we’re finding that the fit on the crowns and bridges that we’re making from this scanner is exceptional. That’s a very important aspect that cannot be overlooked, because the fit and the marginal seal are absolutely imperative.

“When you cast something from a mold, there are imperfections and irregularities because the end of the tooth may not be where the technician believes it to be from looking at the mold. That’s how you end up with open margins. Dentists see that all the time, where a patient comes in and the margins on a crown aren’t lined up properly. If you don’t have a good marginal seal or a good fit on that crown, it can cut short the life of the restoration.

“We don’t get that problem with this digital scanner, because it’s scanned in color. You can see the tooth is white and the tissue is pink, and the lab technician knows exactly where the margins should be. There is no guessing.”

Passing the Test

For anything larger than a three-unit bridge, Dr. Farag uses the Primescan to create the impression, which is sent electronically to a lab. The prosthetic is developed at the lab and recreated using a 3D printer in the dentist’s office.

That’s the process Dr. Farag followed in creating the four-unit bridge for Carmine, who had the crown made in Dr. Farag’s office and was fascinated by the technology that allowed the restoration to be completed in one visit.

“This process is so much better than what they used to do, where they would put that goop in your mouth and you had to bite down on it,” Carmine says. “That stuff always tasted terrible, and you had to fight that gag reflex. It was no fun at all.

“Dr. Farag did an excellent job. He’s very precise about his work and takes his time to do everything right. – Carmine

“But with this digital scanner, they scan your teeth with this wand that’s about the size of an electric tooth brush. There’s a camera at the end of the wand that takes thousands of images that pop up on a screen right in front of you.

“Once they’re done with that, they fine tune the images, and you wait for about an hour. While you’re waiting, they make the crown and color it to match your other teeth perfectly, and they ‘pop’ it in, cement it in place and you’re done.”

Carmine said a similar process was followed for his four-unit bridge. The only difference was that the bridge was created in a lab. He returned for a second visit to have it secured to the anchor teeth. As it was with the crown, the result was exceptional, Carmine raves.

“I wanted to put that bridge to the test right away, because I was dying for an apple,” he says. “So right off the bat I had an apple, and the bridge passed the apple test. Then I had a steak and eventually chewed some bubble gum. The bridge never moved.

“I haven’t had a problem with that bridge. Dr. Farag did an excellent job. He’s very precise about his work and takes his time to do everything right.
He’s very professional.

“In fact, Dr. Farag’s entire staff is very professional and also very cordial. You don’t get that at some of those franchise dental places that they have around the state, so I happily recommend him to anyone. You won’t go wrong going to see Dr. Farag.”

Safe Haven

Compassionate, personalized care saves refugee’s ravaged smile.

Since a civil war erupted in Syria nine years ago, more than 5 million inhabitants have fled their ravaged homeland to escape the violence.

Photo courtesy of Rukaieh Naileh

Rukaieh Naileh

Rukaieh Naileh is among those who found refuge elsewhere.

Along with her husband, who owned an appliance store in the capital city of Damascus, and three children, Rukaieh first went to neighboring Jordan in 2015. From there she made her way to the United States.

The family eventually settled in Boynton Beach, where adjusting to life in America became more difficult for Rukaieh when a raging toothache made finding a good dentist one of her first priorities. That search proved to be as painful as the toothache.

Because she was new to the country and spoke virtually no English, Rukaieh struggled for months to find a dentist who accepted her insurance. When she finally did, his treatment plan horrified her.

Due to the inordinate number of broken and badly decayed teeth he found, the dentist recommended removing several teeth. Frightened by that prospect, Rukaieh opted instead to endure the pain until she could find a dentist who could save her teeth.

She eventually found that dentist through her husband, who found work as a handyman and made some repairs for Naved Fatmi, DMD, at Town Square Dentistry. Though his practice did not accept Rukaieh’s insurance, Dr. Fatmi urged her to visit nonetheless.

“We want to take care of your infection today so that it doesn’t lead to overall systemic health,” says Dr. Fatmi, whose practice offers patients a number of payment options. “When necessary, payments can be extended.”

Allaying Fears

“Rukaieh came to us last July, and she was very nervous about having any work done at all, which was unfortunate, because she needed a lot of work,” says Dr. Fatmi’s associate, Christiane Murillo, DMD.

“The most pressing issue was a left lateral incisor not right in front but just to the side. That was what she came in for, but all of her teeth were in bad shape. She had several broken teeth and a great deal of decay and gum infection all throughout.

“Because of her fears, which included being terrified of needles, we knew we were going to need to take baby steps with her. We eventually convinced her of what needed to be done to save her teeth, and she agreed to let us do it.”

The work began with a repair of that left lateral incisor, which had become dark and sensitive to cold. To correct that problem, Dr. Murillo needed to place a filling, because the cavity causing Rukaieh’s pain had not yet reached the nerve.

The next step was to perform a deep cleaning of Rukaieh’s gums to prevent the spread of infection. At the same time, Rukaieh was educated on the basics of maintaining good oral hygiene, including how to properly floss and brush.

“I don’t believe she had ever been properly instructed on how to do some of those things,” Dr. Murillo says. “I’m not sure the importance of maintaining good oral hygiene is something that was ever stressed to her.

“We gave her an introduction to home care and general dentistry. We also spent a lot of time listening to her so that we could better understand her fears and concerns. We know, for example, that she likes to have a box of tissues by her, so we made sure she had that. By doing those little things and explaining everything we did and why, we eventually developed a trust, and she became more comfortable in the chair.”

With Rukaieh’s greatest fears eased and her most pressing dental issues corrected, Dr. Murillo took on the task of repairing the other problems found during the initial examination.
“We started by repairing the worst cavities first; and again, one of our primary goals was to go very slowly with her and keep her comfortable so that she would continue to come in and get the work done,” Dr. Murillo explains.

“We really emphasized talking her through each visit. We’d tell her, We’re putting a topical anesthetic on now, and she would sit there for a while and close her eyes. That helped put her at ease and allowed us to do our work.”

Miraculous Transformation

That work has included “a little bit of everything,” Dr. Murillo notes.

Fillings were placed where needed. Dr. Murillo also crowned a few failing or broken teeth, performed one root canal and completed a second deep cleaning.

The result is a transformation that can be described as miraculous. When Rukaieh came to America, she was in danger of losing virtually every tooth. Now, she has a healthy, lovely smile that she’s proud to show off.

Since they fixed my teeth, I’ve been happy to smile. One time after Dr. Murillo fixed my tooth, I was so happy that I cried.” – Rukaieh

“Before, I was very shy to smile or talk to someone because my mouth looked so bad,” Rukaieh says. “But, since they fixed my teeth, I’ve been happy to smile. One time after Dr. Murillo fixed my tooth, I was so happy that I cried.”

The repair that brought those tears was a bonding procedure to even out some chips in Rukaieh’s front teeth. Her response was so heartfelt and genuine that it even brought Dr. Murillo and her staff to tears.

“Yes, I cried, and my assistant cried that day,” Dr. Murillo confirms. “But that’s kind of what it’s all about here. My goal with patients is to put a bright, beautiful, healthy smile on their face and to help them keep it. That’s why we spent so much time educating Rukaieh on the importance of good home care and oral hygiene and why we tried to make her comfortable. That bright, beautiful, healthy smile was our goal, and she has that now.

“In terms of her oral health, it’s turned around 180 degrees, because she’s doing what she needs to do at home and coming in regularly for her hygiene appointments. And she’s no longer nervous when she comes in. In fact, I think she actually likes coming in.”

She does.

“Everyone there is so nice to me that, yes, it makes me happy just to go see them,” Rukaieh acknowledges. “They are all so good to me; I cannot believe it. That’s why I am so happy to have found Dr. Fatmi and Dr. Murillo.

“They have helped me so much, I cannot thank them enough. They are so good to me, and Dr. Fatmi, he is a sweetheart. He is like a brother to me. He and Dr. Murillo are the best doctors I know. I love them and all the people who work with them.”

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