Author Archive

Absolutely Natural

Advanced implant dentistry delivers perfect result.

At 82, Charlotte Pratt had all her natural teeth until one of her upper front incisors broke following a failed root canal. Her dentist at the time offered a solution for replacing the newly missing front tooth, but it was hardly ideal.

Charlotte Pratt treated for a failed root canal and broken front tooth through an implant and crown from Darshan Patel, DMD, at DeLand Implant Dentistry.

Charlotte is thrilled about her new implant and crown.

“He said that because it was my front tooth, he was going to have to grind down four or five of the surrounding teeth and make a bridge,” she recalls. “He told me that would be necessary because front teeth are very difficult to match.

“I had this gut feeling that said, Don’t do this! My other teeth were perfectly fine. Once they were ground down, they would be gone forever.”

Charlotte began looking for an alternative, including a dental implant. Her research, along with recommendations from a friend, led her to DeLand Implant Dentistry.

“I went for an appointment and my goodness, the office couldn’t have been nicer,” shares Charlotte. “It’s a wonderful office, where the father, son and mother all work. They all came in and introduced themselves to me and made me feel very welcomed.”

Charlotte is referring to board-certified dentist Rajiv Patel, BDS, who founded DeLand Implant Dentistry nearly 30 years ago; Rita Patel, patient treatment coordinator; and Darshan Patel, DMD, who followed in his father’s footsteps to become a dentist.

Under the primary care of Dr. Darshan, Charlotte started the treatment to replace her missing tooth with a dental implant.

Unique Challenges Conquered

Dental implants are the gold standard for replacing missing teeth, and at DeLand Implant Dentistry, advanced expertise and equipment make it possible for
Dr. Darshan and Dr. Rajiv to deliver outstanding results.

The dental implant process involves three steps: surgical placement of the implant, which serves as an artificial tooth root anchored in the jawbone; attachment of a post, called an abutment, once the implant is sufficiently healed; and restoration of the tooth with a crown held in place by the abutment.

Although many dentists outsource the implant surgery, Dr. Darshan and Dr. Rajiv are able to complete the entire process.

“We’re a one-stop shop in that we are able to do it all,” notes Dr. Darshan. “That has a lot of advantages because there can be some miscommunication when two practitioners are involved who have different goals, such as when a surgeon is placing the implant and a dentist is doing the restoration.”

Charlotte has an active social life, and she wanted the implant and finished crown to make her smile look exactly like it once did. She didn’t want anyone to notice a before-and-after difference.

Among the challenges was the unique shape of her teeth, along with a slight gum recession. The root of her intact front tooth was partially visible; the effect led to subtle shade variations within the tooth, which the new crown needed to match.

In his planning, Dr. Darshan had Charlotte bring in photographs from before her tooth broke. He also took new photographs that evaluated her lip movements.

“We have very advanced equipment, and we did a CT scan to visualize the anatomy beneath the gums. On the computer, I was able to design the tooth and then the computer system converted the design into a 3-D model of her teeth and mouth.”

Charlotte also has a narrow bone ridge in her underlying gum, which created another challenge. Thanks to special instruments at DeLand Implant Dentistry, Dr. Darshan was able to place the implant through a pinhole incision. The bone was compressed, not cut, a procedure called a ridge expansion.

Once the implant healed, Dr. Darshan went into overdrive to deliver a perfect new crown.

For many patients, Dr. Darshan and Dr. Rajiv make crowns on site in a single visit through a computerized 3-D printing system. Due to Charlotte’s tooth structure and shading, however, Dr. Darshan elected to have a special laboratory fabricate her new crown.

The first two fabrications were sent back before the crown was exactly like he wanted it.

“I’m a perfectionist, and I tell patients that it takes patience to get the best results,” he explains. “I probably get that through my father, who is the same way. If something’s not right to us, we make sure to follow through until it is right.”

Perfection Achieved!

The end result not only satisfied the perfectionist in Dr. Darshan, but also made Charlotte ecstatic.

“If she went into a dental office, I don’t think the assistants or the dentists would notice which tooth was the implant crown. They might think it was her natural tooth, until they take an x-ray” observes Dr. Darshan.

“He did a remarkable job,” raves Charlotte about Dr. Darshan’s work. “He certainly has a lot of education, and it shows. I am really, really delighted.”

Charlotte appreciates how Dr. Darshan made her feel comfortable throughout the entire procedure, especially during placement of the implant and post.

“I am very, very happy, and I recommend DeLand Implant Dentistry to everyone!!”

FHCN article by Susan Hemmingway. Photo by Jordan Pysz. mkb

Nonsurgical Treatment Heals Varicose Veins

Kate Tierney was standing at a sales counter when someone noticed her ankle was bleeding.

“This man said to me Do you know you’ve got blood all over your sock?” she recalls.

Kate Tierney treated for varicose veins through minimally invasive endovascular laser treatment (EVLT) at Vein Treatment Center of Palm Coast.

Kate has no problems showing off her “healthy looking” legs.

Looking back, Kate figures she bumped into something that opened a vein. Bulging, ropy veins affected her ankles and calves.

A hairdresser for 35 years, Kate spent many years standing, a risk factor for varicose veins. She also worked hanging wallpaper, another occupation that required time on her feet. Kate had a family history of varicose veins, too; both her mother and father had them.

After the bleeding episode, Kate sought medical help, but delayed treatment. Her legs grew worse.

“My legs started to become numb and I had restless leg syndrome that made them twitch at night. It was hard to sleep, and I had a lot of discomfort,” she shares.

Finally, Kate made an appointment to see Charles I. Stein, MD, of Vein Treatment Center of Palm Coast.

“I Had My Legs Fixed”

At Vein Treatment Center, Dr. Stein and his partner, N. John Collucci, DO, treat all types of vein conditions, from spider veins to serious venous disease.Kate Tierney treated for varicose veins through minimally invasive endovascular laser treatment (EVLT) at Vein Treatment Center of Palm Coast.

“We are dedicated exclusively to vein treatment, and have advanced techniques available to address these potentially serious health concerns,” notes Dr. Stein. “We’re able to provide dramatic success stories for our patients, both cosmetically and functionally.”

Kate’s varicose veins indicated venous reflux disease, the result of leaky valves in leg veins that allow blood to pool.

She was treated during a series of appointments with minimally invasive endovascular laser treatment (EVLT) and an adjunct treatment called ambulatory phlebectomy. Both are in-office procedures with quick recovery times.

For EVLT, a thin laser fiber is guided into the diseased leg vein, which is gently collapsed by laser energy and absorbed by the body. Ambulatory phlebectomy removes varicose veins on the leg’s surface through tiny incisions.

“Everyone in Dr. Stein’s and Dr. Collucci’s office made me feel real comfortable,” reports Kate. “I call his staff Charlie’s Angels. They’re priceless.”

The treatments were a dramatic success.

“I don’t have twenty-year-old legs but I certainly have very healthy looking legs,” she describes. “People who have known about my leg issues have said What did you do? I told them I had my legs fixed.”

And she doesn’t have restless legs, which Dr. Stein explained had been caused by poor circulation.

“I sleep through the night and don’t have that tingly awful feeling that used to wake me,” she emphasizes. “I’m really grateful.”

FHCN article by Susan Hemmingway. Photo by Jordan Pysz. Before and after images courtesy of Vein Treatment Center of Palm Coast. nj

A Weight Loss Plan That Really Works

Ideal Protein® combines nutrition and support for long-lasting results.

Keira Espada had been thin in high school, but when she stopped smoking, her weight began to climb.

Keira Espada loses weight through Ideal Protein®; Brian Hill treated for chronic back pain through DRX9000 spinal decompression.

Since her weight loss, Keira now wears a size four.

“I put on a good thirty to forty pounds over time,” she recalls. It was the start of a yo-yo pattern, a familiar ordeal for millions of Americans who endure repetitive cycles of shedding weight through dieting only to regain every ounce and more.

Keira tried all sorts of diets to get rid of the extra pounds, including Weight Watchers®, Nutrisystem®, Shakeology® and restricting carbohydrates. Even when she managed to lose weight, it all came back eventually.

By her early 30s, Keira was feeling desperate. At just over 5-feet-5-inches, she was nearly 50 pounds overweight. The excess fat wasn’t enough to qualify her for weight loss surgery – which she looked into – but it made her feel miserable. And she worried about how being overweight could affect her future health.

“I was so depressed about my weight. I didn’t feel good about myself, or even feel like me. I was losing my confidence,” she laments. “It got to the point where I didn’t want to go anywhere or do anything. I had nothing to wear, and I wasn’t comfortable in any outfit.”

Keira, who is 33, works as an administrative assistant for an investment firm and is the mom of young children. She is active in the DeLand Rotary Club, where during a meeting she finally found the turning point in her weight loss struggle. Jeremy M. Gordon, DC, of DeLand Chiropractic & Spinal Decompression, made a presentation about the Ideal Protein plan for losing weight. 

As she listened to Dr. Gordon, Keira realized the Ideal Protein plan was what she had been looking for: a healthy and simple-to-follow weight loss program that could give her long-lasting results. She wouldn’t have to attempt it on her own, either.
Dr. Gordon and his staff, including a dedicated diet coach, would provide the support she needed to ensure success.

Excited about finally resolving her dilemma with weight, Keira was eager to get started.

“The day Dr. Gordon made a presentation about Ideal Protein to the Rotary club, I called his office and got in to see him that same day,” she notes.

Lose Fat, Not Muscle

Unlike many weight loss systems, Ideal Protein is part of a comprehensive, personalized plan. It is based on more than 25 years of experience helping more than five million people lose weight in Europe and Canada, and now a large group of people in the United States.

“Ideal Protein is incorporated into a customized program for patients. On average, our patients lose twelve to fifteen pounds a month,” says Dr. Gordon, a chiropractic physician and clinic director at DeLand Chiropractic & Spinal Decompression.

Dr. Gordon and his staff have helped hundreds of people achieve healthy weights and lifestyles through Ideal Protein. Like Keira, most had already tried other weight loss programs without long-term success.

Ideal Protein helps limit the amount of sugars and dietary fats while providing high-quality protein that is easily absorbed. A key to its success is how it helps burn fat while preserving muscle mass, an advantage for maintaining a healthy metabolism.

“Ideal Protein helps limit the amount of sugars and dietary fats coming in while providing a high-quality form of protein that is easily absorbed,” notes Dr. Gordon. “Some plans merely restrict caloric intake so the body will burn fat. That will also burn some muscle, so people lose muscle mass while they’re on a lot of these diets. On the other hand, the Ideal Protein program focuses on helping people lose weight by burning stored fat while preserving lean muscle.”

There are four supplements that go along with actual food: a multivitamin, potassium supplement, fish oil supplement and calcium supplement.

“We have to supplement because we’re removing most of the dairy, grains and fruits from people’s regular diets while they’re on the program,” explains Dr. Gordon. “Those food groups have a lot of mineral content, so we need to make sure patients still get an adequate, balanced amount of minerals. Consequently, muscle cramps or spasms or things of that nature are avoided.

“None of the supplements are what you see with the different fad diets. There are no diet pills or stimulants in Ideal Protein,” he adds. “The Ideal Protein plan is focused on the body’s biochemistry and burning stored fat through eating properly and through proper nutrition. Ideal Protein teaches people to eat healthy.”

Moreover, another aspect that sets Ideal Protein apart from other programs is its one-on-one coaching and support. At DeLand Chiropractic & Spinal Decompression, the clinic’s Ideal Protein Coach, Tracee Gmitro, meets individually with Ideal Protein clients to guide them on their journey to better health and wellness.

“The meetings with Tracee are weekly, and they help to hold people accountable and monitor their weight loss as they go through the program,” assures Dr. Gordon. “If there is an issue that needs to be addressed, either myself or my associate, Dr. Munson, can come in and speak to them as well. We can also monitor things like blood work as far as cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar, blood pressure and common issues that people may be dealing with as well as being overweight.”

Renewed Confidence

The first week Keira started the Ideal Protein plan, she loved the way she felt. With other diets she tried, she had been bogged down by their complexity or stopped because they featured packaged food full of sodium that made her bloated.Keira Espada loses weight through Ideal Protein®; Brian Hill treated for chronic back pain through DRX9000 spinal decompression.

The Ideal Protein plan was easy for her to follow. And it made her feel great – right away.

“I like Ideal Protein because everything is all-natural,” she describes. “Starting in the first week, I felt good. I felt energetic. And when I did my first weigh-in after a week, I’d lost six pounds.”

Keira took advantage of all the support the program had to offer. She met with Tracee and attended the clinic’s cooking classes, where she learned how to create healthy meals and snacks.

“Having their support is very helpful because there are times when you’re stuck, such as not knowing whether you should eat a certain food,” says Keira. “I could shoot a text message to Tracee, and she’d get back to me right away. Dr. Gordon is also available by text, if I need help, and he reached out to me, too.

“They also have a Facebook page that offers all the support from other people using Ideal Protein, where you can get good ideas about recipes and what to do in certain situations,” she adds. “The cooking classes were very helpful, along with meetings where you can learn things like how to prepare yourself for the holidays.”

Keira was delighted at her weekly weigh-ins as she consistently logged weight loss. Over a period of about seven months, she lost 47 pounds. At the start of her journey, she was about to “graduate” to a larger size 12 in clothing. After successfully losing weight, she now wears a size four.

Besides being happy about the cosmetic appeal of her slimmer physique, Keira is also excited about improving her health. She likes that she has much better odds for avoiding health conditions like diabetes because she is no longer overweight.

“Keira went from originally having a body fat percentage of forty-five point five percent to thirty-one point one percent at her last weigh-in. That’s a significant body fat percentage loss and what we’re really trying to focus on,” observes Dr. Gordon. “On the body-mass-index chart, which gauges health risk according to height and weight, she is now in a healthy range. That’s what we like to see for our patients.”

After reaching her goal weight, Keira is now in Phase 4 of the Ideal Protein plan, its maintenance phase. It’s the phase that will help her lock in results and successfully avoid re-entering any yo-yo dieting cycle.

For a year, she will be able to check in for regular weigh-ins, attend classes and meet monthly with Tracee.

“During the last phase, a lot of it is accountability, when people are following a healthy eating lifestyle. They’re still following up with Tracee and checking in, which means we can address any issues that may arise and keep those issues from turning into problems or regained weight,” emphasizes Dr. Gordon.

Meanwhile, Keira can’t get over her good fortune from following the Ideal Protein plan.

“I’m a walking advertisement because everybody who sees me is like, Oh, my gosh! What did you do? How did you do it?” she comments. “I tell everybody about the program because it really works. It gave me energy, and I’m not sluggish anymore. I have so much energy now to run around with my kids.

“And then there’s the self-esteem and confidence it has given me. That’s a big one and important to me. I’ve got my social life back, and I feel good just being healthy.”

Revolutionary Solution for Sinus Woes

Linda Surdin, a retired Los Angeles law enforcement officer who now lives in Florida, attributed her frequent runny nose and eyes to unknown allergies. Her throat often felt irritated and she had difficulty swallowing.

Linda Surdin treated for sinus blockage through balloon sinus dilation by Devang Shah, MD, at Atlantic Ear, Nose & Throat.

Linda is ecstatic that her annoying symptoms are gone.

“I was always sneezing – it was the sneezing that really got to me,” she shares. “A lot of times, I was self-diagnosing and would tell myself it was a sinus infection. I would take an over-the-counter allergy medicine like Zyrtec®, but it didn’t help.”

Her family doctor referred Linda to Devang Shah, MD, a board-certified otolaryngologist at Atlantic Ear, Nose & Throat.

Tests confirmed allergies weren’t the cause of Linda’s sinus woes. She didn’t have any allergies, according to lab results.

Dr. Shah ordered a CT scan, which revealed the true reason behind her symptoms. Linda had significant blockages in her sinus cavities.

He recommended balloon sinus dilation, also called balloon sinuplasty. The in-office procedure is revolutionary in sinus treatment because it is much less invasive and easier on the patient, compared to traditional sinus surgery. It also has a much quicker recovery time.

Done in a Day

“Linda first presented with throat symptoms. She also had some allergy-type symptoms that we ultimately connected to her sinuses. A CT scan showed an obstruction in her sinuses on both sides of her nose,” notes Dr. Shah.

“Anatomically, her sinus cavities were narrow to begin with and over time, there might have been some scarring from infections. This can cause the narrowing to increase,” he adds.

The goal of balloon sinus dilation is to gently restore the natural drainage pathway of the sinuses. Studies have shown the FDA-approved procedure is just as effective as the traditional, surgical approach.

“The traditional approach to chronic sinus problems is to aggressively remove tissue to open up the sinuses,” educates Dr. Shah. “Typically, it is done under general anesthesia.

“In contrast, balloon dilation is done using a catheter to very gently dilate the openings of the sinuses without having to remove tissue.”

The outpatient procedure is completed right in Dr. Shah’s office. With the patient under mild sedation, a balloon catheter is inserted into the affected sinus. Once in place, the balloon is inflated and expands the sinus opening, which is then flushed with saline. The balloon is then deflated, the catheter is removed and the sinus remains open.

Most patients are able to go back to their normal activities the very next day, so very little downtime is required.

“It’s Just Phenomenal”

“I felt absolutely nothing,” recalls Linda about having the procedure. “Dr. Shah put a cover over my eyes and asked me what kind of music I liked. I told him Frank Sinatra and it seemed like twenty minutes later, I was on my way home.

“The next day, I felt great. No sneezing. No watery eyes. No runny nose. The procedure took care of everything immediately.”

Linda appreciates how Dr. Shah kept her informed at every appointment.

“Dr. Shah answers all of my questions and when I leave his office, there’s no doubt in my mind what’s going on,” she reports. “His office staff is incredibly efficient. I was absolutely blown away by how helpful everyone is.

“I’m so, so happy that the trouble I was having wasn’t because I was allergic to ragweed or grass or my dog,” adds Linda. “Whatever was going on with my sinuses is gone. It’s just phenomenal.”

FHCN article by Susan Hemmingway. Photo by Jordan Pysz. mkb

Revolutionary Hearing Aids Open Up World

Dave Rohee was about to fulfill his childhood dream of becoming an airline captain when his aviation career was sidelined by a surprise diagnosis.

Dave Rohee treated for hearing loss with Oticon Opn™ hearing aids at Better Hearing Care.

Dave can hear every detail of a conversation with Denise.

He had worked as a pilot in South America sometimes flying older planes, where roaring engine noise engulfed the cockpit.

Eventually, he immigrated to Canada to join a major airline. To sign on with the company, Dave had to pass a physical exam. He met all the criteria, except one.

“The airline’s doctor told me, I’m sorry, but your hearing is below our standards, and we can’t offer you a position,” shares Dave. “This was so unexpected that I was at a loss for words.”

Dave transitioned into selling corporate planes, but his hearing loss continued to be a hindrance.

“I was dealing with corporate CEOs and saying, Excuse me, would you say that again? It was very, very embarrassing,” explains Dave.

Over the years, he tried three different types of hearing aids, none of which were entirely effective. His hearing only grew worse.

Dave, now age 72 and living in South Florida, works as a limo driver and noticed it was difficult to hear backseat passengers. At home, his girlfriend, Katy, pointed out he didn’t hear her if she talked from another room.

Dave began looking for a new hearing care provider. His research led him to Denise Gold, HAS, at Better Hearing Care.

Life-Changing Results

During Dave’s first visit, Denise thoroughly evaluated his hearing. Based on his lifestyle and hearing needs, she recommended Oticon Opn™ hearing aids. The devices, introduced in 2016, are revolutionary in how they process sound.Dave Rohee treated for hearing loss with Oticon Opn™ hearing aids at Better Hearing Care.

Opn hearing aids feature OpenSound Navigator™ technology that brings in voices from all directions without being overwhelming. The technology is based on how the brain deciphers sound.

“Our patients’ responses to Opn hearing aids have exceeded our expectations,” notes Denise. “We’ve had amazing, outstanding results.”

For Dave, the new devices have been life-changing.

“The difference in my hearing is simply indescribable. It’s like a new beginning for me. I can hear sounds that I didn’t before – like the wind in the trees or birds chirping,” he enthuses.

His Opn hearing aids allow him to easily hear a passenger speaking to him from the backseat. At noisy restaurants, he can carry on conversations. He is able to keep the television volume so low that Katy sometimes asks if he can hear it.

Dave also appreciates the sophisticated features of Opn hearing aids. When he needs directions on the road, for instance, he is able to stream the voice of Google Maps™ directly into his hearing aids.

He’s grateful for Denise’s care and the entire Better Hearing Care staff.

“I’ve never been treated so nicely by any medical provider. They’re all so friendly, and Denise is very knowledgeable,” he reports. “From the very first few minutes of wearing my new hearing aids, I experienced a world of sound that I had been missing for years.”

FHCN article by Susan Hemmingway. Photo by Jordan Pysz. mkb

GENIUS™ 2.0 Hearing Aids Restore Sound

Paul and Elaine Huber, husband and wife for 41 years, realized they weren’t hearing as well as they once did. They noticed that hearing loss hampered how they communicated with each other and interfered with activities they enjoyed.Paul & Elaine Huber treated for hearing loss by Melanee Bryans, LHAS, with GENIUS™ 2.0 hearing aids at Miracle-Ear.

“We couldn’t hear a thing,” shares Paul. “When one of us would turn their back, it was impossible to hear what was being said. At the movies, it was hard to hear.”

Paul, who is 71 and a retired telecommunications company plant engineer, figures the change came on gradually for him. “I think it’s just an age thing,” he observes.

Elaine, 72, had a career in billing for a trucking company before retiring. Years ago, she developed otosclerosis, a condition that causes abnormal growth of bone near the middle ear. It led to a decline in her hearing.

Not too long ago, Paul and Elaine decided they’d had enough of being unable to hear clearly. They decided to take the plunge and explore hearing aids.

“Hearing loss sneaks up on you. It’s like a lot of things – every day, you probably lose a little bit more, and your body adjusts,” explains Paul. “But it finally got to be too much. It’s like somebody hits you on the head and says, Wake up!”

With a background in technology, Paul was determined to find a hearing care company that was time-tested and trustworthy. His research led him to choose Miracle-Ear®, in business since its founding in 1948.

He and Elaine made an appointment for hearing evaluations at Miracle-Ear’s Palm Coast office. There are hearing care providers closer to their St. Augustine home, but Miracle-Ear’s longstanding reputation for quality in hearing aid technology made it worth the drive.

Superior Sound Quality

At Miracle-Ear, Paul and Elaine met with Melanee Bryans, LHAS, who tested their hearing and made a thorough assessment of their hearing needs. She sought information about where the couple had trouble hearing, such as in a noisy restaurant, and what they wanted to achieve.

The evaluation allowed her to make recommendations about what technology would be best suited for their lifestyle.

“Paul and Elaine are a pretty active couple. They go out to restaurants and are around groups of people when they socialize,” notes Melanee.

“Hearing tests showed they both had a high-frequency hearing loss, which can make conversations difficult. It’s a common form of hearing loss and affects how clearly you can hear speech because you miss parts of words or misinterpret what is being said.”

Due to the couple’s active lifestyle, Melanee recommended a top-of-the-line digital model called GENIUS 2.0. Utilizing state-of-the-art technology developed specifically for the hearing aid industry, GENIUS 2.0 offers superior sound quality, personalization and audibility.

“GENIUS 2.0 hearing aids are able to provide a much clearer understanding of what is being said, especially where it is noisy. They can determine what is background noise and what is conversation,” observes Melanee. “They are programmed to recognize incoming sound characteristics and automatically adapt. Background noise is recognized as more of a mechanical sound that can be filtered out so speech patterns come through clearly.”

What’s more, the technology of GENIUS 2.0 hearing aids was developed to allow sound to be processed much like the brain does naturally. When worn in both ears, the devices communicate with each other as they pick up audio signals. The ability to clearly understand speech expands through a virtual network of digital sound. For instance, when someone is speaking on the listener’s right side, both hearing aids will pick up the sound.

Another advantage is the technology’s VoiceTarget 360, which allows users to hear conversations to the front, side or evenbehind them with precision. The technology is able to detect where sound is coming from and automatically change directional focus.

There is also a Wireless Windscreen feature that can make all the difference for active people who enjoy outdoor activities but don’t like to hear wind noise. Conversations come through clearly in windy environments, like when walking outside, riding a bike or playing golf.

Professional Care

Paul and Elaine each got a pair of GENIUS 2.0 hearing aids on the same day. The change in their ability to hear was immediate and dramatic.

Paul & Elaine Huber treated for hearing loss by Melanee Bryans, LHAS, with GENIUS™ 2.0 hearing aids at Miracle-Ear.

Paul and Elaine enjoy hearing nature sounds on their patio.

“The difference was so huge that I almost can’t describe it,” reports Paul. “For instance, we were in a store parking lot and a black bird passed by us. I could hear its wings beating in the air.”

“We’ve gone to a noisy restaurant and had a normal conversation,” relates Elaine, who adds they also hear easily at parties where there is a lot of background noise.

The technology of GENIUS 2.0 hearing devices can be controlled by their smartphones. In a noisy environment, they can zero in on the person they want to hear by pressing a button that diminishes background noise.

“Just that person comes through,” notes Paul. Paul noticed that not only is his hearing remarkably better, thanks to his GENIUS 2.0 hearing aids, it’s also much richer.

“When I take out my hearing aids, if I’m watching TV, all the sounds coming from the television go flat,” he shares.

Both Paul and Elaine appreciate the professional care that Melanee delivered.

“Melanee is phenomenal,” raves Paul. “She’s very knowledgeable.”

Elaine liked how Melanee explained everything about how hearing loss affected them, and how hearing aids could help, and then encouraged the couple to make their own decisions.

“She wasn’t pushy. She let us decide what we wanted to do,” explains Elaine.

Choosing Miracle-Ear based on the company’s longevity and solid reputation gave Paul what he was looking for. Not only have GENIUS 2.0 hearing aids restored the couple’s quality of life, he and Elaine can count on Miracle-Ear.

“There are probably a lot of other hearing aid companies in business, and maybe they provide a product that is more or less than what we have,” he notes. “But for me, it’s the peace of mind that matters.”

FHCN article by Susan Hemmingway. Photos by Jordan Pysz. Graphic courtesy of Miracle-Ear. mkb

Physical Therapy Optimizes Healing After Shoulder Surgery

When Lenny Marsh moved into a condo, he had to adapt to a new way of hauling groceries from his car into his kitchen.

Lenny Marsh undergoes rehab at Barr & Associates Physical Therapy with Jacob Barr, DPT, after rotator cuff repair surgery.

After physical therapy, Lenny can lift his arm with no problem.

His previous residence had been a house, where it didn’t take many steps to carry in groceries once he was home from the store.

In contrast, Lenny needed to carry heavy bags from a four-level parking garage at the condo. He laughs when explaining why he shunned getting a folding shopping cart that would have made the job easier.

“I didn’t want to get a shopping wagon because I didn’t want to look old. So I said, I’m going to carry everything myself,” recalls Lenny, who is 67.

Lenny figures that insistence is what led to his injury. He had trouble lifting his right arm, and his shoulder hurt. An MRI revealed a tear in his rotator cuff, the set of small muscles and tendons that gives the shoulder joint its wide range of motion.

The tear was large enough to require surgery, which Lenny scheduled. His goal was to return to his job within two months after the operation. He works in the shoe department of a large department store, which requires a fully functioning shoulder to reach for shoeboxes and help customers. 

For the best chance of optimal healing, Lenny scheduled post-surgery therapy with Jacob Barr, DPT, at Barr & Associates Physical Therapy. One of Lenny’s close friends had been a client of Dr. Barr’s and strongly recommended him.

“In Good Hands”

“After a rotator cuff repair, there are stages that patients need to go through as far as healing,” explains Dr. Barr. “Early on, especially the first four to six weeks, the patient should not be lifting the injured arm because they don’t want to disrupt the healing process.

“That’s where physical therapy really comes into play. The therapist is manipulating the patient’s arm to increase the range of motion. This keeps the arm and tissues moving and prevents adhesions and scar tissue from developing,” he adds. “Otherwise, there is a risk of developing a frozen shoulder or other complications.”

Dr. Barr was Lenny’s therapist at every session, which Lenny appreciated. He had confidence in Dr. Barr’s expertise and was comfortable under his care.

“Trust is important when you’re working with a physical therapist,” explains Lenny. “You have to trust how the therapist is stretching you out. I felt that I was in good hands.”

Another plus for Lenny was the clinic’s ultra-cleanliness.

“Dr. Barr keeps his facility spotless,” says Lenny. “Whenever we were done with a piece of equipment, he sprayed it down. He changed pillowcases every time I used one.”

Lenny’s first physical therapy sessions were restricted to massaging motions by Dr. Barr. He graduated to stretching and strengthening exercises and was given exercises to complete at home.

“There was no guessing about what I had to do at home because everything was spelled out,” shares Lenny. “But if I had any questions or thought I wasn’t doing it right, I could ask Dr. Barr.”

Lenny completed 18 sessions of physical therapy. He met his target for returning to work, and his shoulder is fully functional, with minimal to no pain.

“My arm is good! I’m having no problem with it,” he reports. “Dr. Barr is a real professional.”

FHCN article by Susan Hemmingway. Photo by Jordan Pysz. nj

Make Eye Floaters Disappear

Laser gently vaporizes floaters to restore clear sight.

After cataract surgery, John Taggart’s vision was crisp and clear at 20/20. A decade later, he noticed changes.John Taggart has laser treatment for eye floaters by Stephen M. Weinstock, MD, at The Eye Institute of West Florida.8AS

“At my annual eye exam, they asked me how I was seeing, and I said, Not as good as I used to,” recalls John.

John lives in Orlando, but relies on The Eye Institute of West Florida in Largo for eye care. The excellent results he received from Stephen M. Weinstock, MD, who performed John’s cataract surgery, keep him coming back for annual check-ups.

“John’s vision dropped down to 20/30,” notes Dr. Weinstock. “We needed to find out why.

“I checked to see whether anything had changed in John’s eyes. Was his macula okay? Was his cornea okay? Was his optic nerve okay? And everything checked out perfectly,” continues the skilled ophthalmologist.

“I then asked John, if he looked in a certain direction, whether he saw something like a veil come across his vision, and he said yes.”

Dr. Weinstock did another examination that not many ophthalmologists include in their evaluations. He closely examined the vitreous of John’s eye, the gel-like substance that fills the eye’s interior and gives the eye its round shape.

“I looked to see if there was anything in the main body of his vitreous that could be blocking his vision,” explains Dr. Weinstock.

The examination revealed several veil-like floaters within the vitreous. Floaters are common and nearly everyone gets them, especially as they grow older. They occur as the vitreous gel breaks down and fibrous tissue sticks together. Often, people will notice floaters; they appear in and out of the field of vision as tiny specks, spots or cobwebs.

At 70, John was at the age where floaters are common. The veil-like clumps of floaters within his eyes had an effect similar to looking through a piece of cellophane. He could see, but not as clearly.

At one time, doctors had to tell patients that even when floaters are annoying, the best approach is to do nothing and learn to live with them. Surgery became an option to remove floaters when they severely impair vision.

A recent advancement in laser technology is now offering a nonsurgical solution for people like John. It’s called vitreolysis, which is a painless, in-office laser procedure designed to vaporize floaters. The process takes only minutes and doesn’t require post-procedure eye drops.

Eager to regain keener eyesight, John decided to have the procedure.

Opening the Veil

In some cases, the sudden appearance of floaters can indicate a medical emergency, advises Dr. Weinstock. They may indicate a tear in the retina, which can progress to retinal detachment without treatment. Retinal detachment occurs when the retina is lifted or pulled away from the back of the eye and has the potential for permanent vision loss.

“Patients will call and say, I’m experiencing what looks like flashing lights and floaters and There’s a spot in front of my eye,” continues Dr. Weinstock. “When this suddenly happens, it’s what is called posterior vitreous detachment. We bring them in immediately to be checked. If there is a tear, we need to seal it to prevent retinal detachment.”

Most of the time, however, floaters are more annoying than threatening. A few weeks after their first appearance, the brain adjusts to their presence, and the floaters become less noticeable.

“People may not always notice floaters, but everyone gets them sooner or later,” explains Dr. Weinstock. “If they happen to be in your line of sight, however, where they interfere with you seeing clearly, they will affect your vision significantly.”John Taggart has laser treatment for eye floaters by Stephen M. Weinstock, MD, at The Eye Institute of West Florida.8AS

Dr. Weinstock calls veil-like floaters – the kind that John was experiencing – anterior vitreous clouding syndrome, or AVCS.

“We can use the laser to open up these veils and vaporize some of the floaters to make vision clearer. The laser can also shrink larger floaters that are obstructing vision into many small floaters and then vaporize them,” he educates. “There is no heat associated with the laser procedure, or any trauma.”

The treatment has proved effective for Dr. Weinstock’s patients.

“Using the new laser to treat floaters, we’ve seen an eighty to ninety percent improvement for most patients,” he notes.

Everything Is Brighter

“I had the procedure in Dr. Weinstock’s office,” shares John. “It was painless, and I didn’t feel a thing. It didn’t take a long time – it seemed to me about ten minutes.”

After Dr. Weinstock targeted the floaters within John’s eyes, the laser vaporized them in gentle, split-second bursts. John could see them dissolve.John Taggart has laser treatment for eye floaters by Stephen M. Weinstock, MD, at The Eye Institute of West Florida.8AS

“I would see the floater and then after Dr. Weinstock used the laser, the floater would disappear,” remarks John. “It’s pretty amazing what they can do now.”

The result was similar to what John experienced after cataract surgery. Colors were brighter and his eyesight was clearer.

“When I called John the next day to check on him, he was ecstatic,” remarks Dr. Weinstock. “The laser had eliminated the cloudiness caused by the floaters and allowed his sight to be restored.”

John appreciates Dr. Weinstock’s dedication to making advancements in ophthalmology available to patients and how it led to John’s better eyesight.

“Dr. Weinstock’s care is excellent,” he enthuses.

Adding a new treatment for floaters is in keeping with The Eye Institute of West Florida’s mission to provide the most advanced technology and innovations in patient care.

“No one has to live with troublesome floaters anymore,” assures Dr. Weinstock. “There now is a painless, uncomplicated procedure that can reduce or eliminate them.”

FHCN article by Susan Hemmingway. Photo courtesy of John Taggart. Graphic courtesy of Graphic from mkb

Giving Up Isn’t an Option

In 2014, Sam Ritrovato lost most of his right leg to an above-the-knee amputation. The operation was necessary because of a raging infection that started in his knee. It was one of many complications that occurred after he was diagnosed with a disorder that affected his joints and the health of his bones.

Sam Ritrovato, patient of David S. Goris, CPO, at Sonlife Prosthetics and Orthotics, is fitted with new above-the-knee socket.

Thanks to a better fit in his
prosthesis, Sam is able to walk easily.


“My doctor tried to do everything to save my leg. If I hadn’t had the amputation when I did, I might have lost my entire leg and couldn’t have worn a prosthetic,” shares Sam, who is 53.

After the surgery, Sam was thankful that he could walk with the assistance of an artificial leg. His new leg included two artificial joints – an ankle and knee – and a socket that fit over his residual limb.

But the socket never fit well. Sam spent more time in an electric wheelchair than he did upright.

“I couldn’t walk much because it hurt. The socket on my prosthesis was hitting on a bone and constantly hitting my stump,” recounts Sam. “I was putting the leg on for a couple of hours, taking it off and putting it back on. It was excruciating.”

Sam, who lives in Citrus County, had his surgery at a major teaching hospital more than three hours round trip from his home. Afterward, he relied on a prosthesis maker located near the hospital.

When Sam was still having trouble with the fit of his prosthesis more than two years later, his doctor recommended another prosthetics clinic: Sonlife Prosthetics and Orthotics, which has offices in Spring Hill, Inverness and Bushnell.

No More Pain

At Sonlife Prosthetics and Orthotics, Sam consulted with David Goris, CPO, and knew in an instant he was in a place where patient care is the first priority.

“Mr. Goris works with you one-on-one. It’s not a big place where they rush you through the process,” notes Sam.

David asked Sam about his lifestyle and the activity level he wanted to pursue. He then set out to fabricate a socket for Sam that would fit perfectly.

“Everything is custom made, and we make sure that the fit is good and there are no pressure areas over bony prominences,” explains David. “We want to make the prosthesis so that it becomes part of him when he moves.”

David made a new socket, but the fit was too tight. A second new socket was tight, too. He told Sam not to worry. Eventually, the fit would be right.

“He assured me that he was going to work with me,” says Sam. “He told me that he was going to make it work, even if he had to make ten new sockets. He said, I’m going to make sure that you’re not going to be in that kind of pain any more.

The third socket for Sam was more than just right. It was perfect.

“Words can’t describe the difference,” stresses Sam. “It changed my life forever. I can walk the whole day without hurting. I have no pain at all, from the moment I put my leg on in the morning until I take it off for bed.”

Being able to walk again expanded Sam’s world. He went to a Yankees game in St. Petersburg, where he walked over a mile. He’s been able to travel to Texas to celebrate the birthdays of his grandchildren.

He is grateful for David’s determination to make a prosthesis that fits perfectly.

“Mr. Goris is a man who really cares and wants to make sure that he does the best he can to help you,” assures Sam. “That’s what he did for me. He assured me it was going to work, and he was right. I’m so overwhelmed that I can walk again.”

FHCN article by Susan Hemmingway. Photo by Jordan Pysz. mkb

Overcoming the Odds

Latest advancements in colorectal cancer treatment offer hope

In March 2016, Stephanie Allen was doubled over from stomach pain and severe constipation. She waited to see if the pain would go away, but within days, it grew worse. Finally, she asked a neighbor to take her to the emergency room.

Stephanie Allen treated for Stage IV colon cancer by Shilen Patel, MD, at Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute.

Stephanie takes the time to enjoy her garden.

“I had a friend take me because I was too doubled over to drive,” recalls Stephanie. “The pain was similar to when I had a gallbladder attack. I thought that maybe I had a blockage of some sort.

“At the hospital, they ran a bunch of tests – a lot of lab work, x-rays and then a CT scan – and came back and told me they were going to admit me. They weren’t positive what was going on.”

Stephanie was given a strong IV pain medication to relieve her discomfort and help her rest. “It pretty much knocked me out,” she remembers.

The next morning, she met Shilen Patel, MD, whom the hospital had called in. Holding a box of tissues, in case Stephanie would need one, he sat at the end of her hospital bed and explained what the diagnostic tests had revealed.

“He proceeded to tell me what was going on,” she relates. Dr. Patel explained to Stephanie that she had advanced colorectal cancer. A large mass was in her colon, and the cancer appeared to have spread to her liver and lungs.

“I think my comment to Dr. Patel was, Did somebody just suck the air out of the room? I couldn’t breathe for a couple of seconds. It was terrible,” she shares. “Dr. Patel was very compassionate when he talked to me. I felt good about him from that moment on.”

A board-certified oncologist, Dr. Patel specializes in the treatment of colorectal cancer at Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute’s Spring Hill office in Hernando County.

For Stephanie, he became a guardian angel and ally as she entered the toughest challenge of her life.

Treatment Advances

When her cancer was discovered, Stephanie was working as an IT technician and commuting to a job in Tampa from Brooksville. She is 58 and lived in Colorado before moving to Florida to help care for her elderly mother.

Two days after being released from the hospital, Stephanie went to Dr. Patel’s office in Spring Hill. He explained her options for treatment. Although she had advanced cancer, strides in treatment offered her hope. They range from newer surgical techniques to medications that are changing treatment protocols.

The latest advancement arrived in May 2017 when the Food and Drug Administration approved an immunotherapy drug for treating colorectal cancer that has a specific genetic feature. The drug enlists the body’s own immune system to fight the cancer by interfering with how cancer cells mask their presence.

“It’s been a fairly long time since we’ve seen any major changes to the therapies we utilize in colorectal cancer, until just recently,” notes Dr. Patel. “Now, we’re seeing the pace of these breakthroughs really accelerating.”

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society. Symptoms range from bleeding to changes in bowel habits, but colon cancer can spread without being noticed. It’s why colonoscopy screenings are recommended for people over age 50.

Stephanie doesn’t recall any symptoms other than constipation that eventually became severe. Dr. Patel estimates her tumor had grown for about a year before it was discovered.

“The symptoms of colon cancer are very nonspecific, and that’s why it’s hard to diagnose early without preventive screening,” educates Dr. Patel.

“Colorectal cancers aren’t the fastest-growing tumors, but they’re certainly not the slowest either,” he adds. “It’s hard to estimate exactly how long a tumor has been growing. For Stephanie, it probably happened within the last nine to twelve months, although she only had symptoms for two months at most.”

Stephanie had to stop working as she underwent cancer treatment. She first began a round of chemotherapy to shrink her cancer. It was a rough road, but she eventually stabilized. The drug Avastin®, known as a targeted therapy, was added to boost the effectiveness of her treatment.

“They are waiting for the tumor to shrink before they can do surgery to remove it,” states Stephanie.

A challenge arose when she began having uncontrollable headaches and high blood pressure. An imaging study revealed a single lesion of the cancer had spread to her brain, where colon cancer rarely metastasizes.

Stephanie was airlifted to a hospital to have the tumor removed. She then received advanced radiation therapy called CyberKnife® at the Florida Cancer Specialists office in Brooksville.

“Treating her brain in a very precise way was quite successful. It led to a remission of the cancer in her brain,” describes Dr. Patel. “She’s currently still on chemotherapy to keep her cancer stable and is doing well. She has had a significant reduction in all sites of her cancer.”

Dr. Patel will continue to guide her therapy according to how her symptoms change and whether the cancer progresses or remains stable.

Testing of her cancer cells shows she could benefit from another target therapy medication, if needed in the future. Tests also determined her cancer has the genetic feature that makes her a candidate for immunotherapy, another future option.

In addition, doctors at Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute participate in clinical trials, which give patients further access to leading-edge therapies. If needed, that could be another treatment avenue for Stephanie, says Dr. Patel.

Caring for the Whole Person

Stephanie has returned to life-affirming personal routines. She likes to putter in her garden and take her dogs to the dog park.

A large part of her recovery has been the quality of care she has received from Dr. Patel and the staff at Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute. Not only did they take care of her physical symptoms, they took care of her as a whole person, she says.

Stephanie has nothing but praise for the entire staff, from those at the front desk to nurses in the infusion room.

“You really feel like you’re part of an extended family,” she observes. “Everyone there is equally wonderful. They’re all compassionate. They’re honest. They’re caring. They are there for you for whatever you need. If they don’t have the answer, they’ll find out for you.

“Dr. Patel is the same way. He’s a wonderful man. I was blessed when he came into my life. Dr. Patel has been there for me; everybody’s been there for me.”

In the future, Stephanie hopes to return to work. She already has a job prospect in sight.

“I try to keep my life as normal as possible,” she says. “I feel good. I have my days when I’m tired, and I just rest. But I tell you – you might not think you have courage or strength when facing a situation like this, but you can find it and work with it.”

FHCN article by Susan Hemmingway. Photo by Jordan Pysz . mkb
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