Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Shoulder Surgery Rehab Presents Surprising Challanges

There are some things that are tough, if not impossible, in the weeks immediately after shoulder surgery.

The surgery itself was a breeze -- great surgeon and anesthesiologist ... kind nurses ... being unconscious during the tricky bits. All this was easy compared to trying to get the child-proof cap off the pain medicine a day later.

It's been over a week now. I have found one position in which I can set my computer and type while keeping my left arm immobile. Taking a shower is lengthy but doable. I can't drive yet, but since my sling makes me look helpless, my co-workers at Fauquier Health are willing to drive me around.

It's the little things I miss. One of my favorite snacks is an apple cut neatly into segments, slathered with peanut butter. There is no way I can work the apple cutter with one hand. Trust me. I've tried. Slather; yes; cutting, no.

After shoulder surgery, children can be both an advantage and a liability, depending on their age. If they are in elementary school or younger, most kids secretly think you are faking the whole thing. They do not associate their enthusiastic leap onto your lap with your subsequent scream of pain. You could be in a full-body cast; they'd still expect you to cut the crusts off their sandwiches. So unless you just need someone to fetch a blanket or hand you the remote, little ones are not much help.

By the time your kids reach middle school, if you are lucky they have developed a modicum of compassion and can be helpful. My daughter is at the perfect age. She is 14 -- old enough to scramble eggs, but young enough to still depend on me for shelter and Internet service. It's a nice balance.

Shoulder recovery requires six weeks of near immobility followed by serious rehabilitation overseen by a physical therapist. I look forward with eager anticipation to sleeping without a bag of frozen peas perched on my shoulder and being able to cut my own apples.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Try Out Fauquier Hospital's Mammogram Poncho

Who knew having a mammogram at Fauquier Hospital could be so much fun? This is a blog from a writer who lives in Fauquier County.

The Shannon mentioned by the writer was just awarded Employee of the Month at Fauquier Health. Obviously, a well-earned honor!

Monday, March 21, 2011

New Study Finds That Colonoscopies Can Help Prevent Cancer

In the April edition of Consumer Reports on Health, a new study is discussed regarding colorectal cancer -- the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the nation. The report refers to an Annals of Internal Medicine article about a study that compared 1,688 adults aged 50 or older who had been diagnosed with colorectal cancer with 1,932 cancer-free adults. The study, published in January, found that having had a colonoscopy in the previous 10 years cut the risk of developing colorectal cancer by 77 percent.

The German study also found that colonoscopies are effective at finding precancerous growths in the right colon, which is considered tougher to screen than the left.

It's good news, especially now that colonoscopies are covered more often under both Medicare and under private insurance, without co-payments or deductibles. It's one way that health care reform is emphasizing preventive care.

Once adults turn 50, Fauquier Health recommends that they receive a colonoscopy every ten years. Those who have had colon or rectal cancer before, or have a family history of the disease, may have to be tested earlier or more frequently.

Ask your doctor if it's time for you to get a colonoscopy. Fauquier Hospital's department of Outpatient Services and Special Procedures performs colonoscopies on an outpatient basis.

For more information about what is involved with a colonoscopy, click here to read advice from Dr. Paul Arnold, gastroenterologist.

Celebrate National Nutrition Month with a Medey of Colors

It's National Nutrition Month and the theme is Eat Right with Color. The American Dietetic Association wants you to make healthy choices by incorporating a colorful variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and dairy into your meals every day.

Stop by Fauquier Hospital's Bistro through Thursday, March 24 to win $25 Bistro gift cards by guessing how much fat, sugar and fiber are in certain foods.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Car Control Clinic Teaches Life-Saving Lessons

Fauquier Health will once again sponsor a Car Control Clinic for new drivers. A classroom session will be held in the Sycamore Room at Fauquier Hospital on Friday, April 1, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Participants will also get to choose a behind-the-wheel session, offered from 8 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. and from 1 to 5:15 p.m. on Saturday, April 2 and on Sunday, April 3. Behind-the-wheel classes will be held in the lower parking lot of the Lord Fairfax Community College, Warrenton campus.

The purpose of the clinic is to expose young drivers to emergency situations and give them the opportunity to learn and perform the correct response to each crisis. Each teen attends with a parent, so the parent can learn the techniques and reinforce the messages that are taught. Records show that attendees to the New Driver Control Clinic have 77 percent fewer crashes than their peers.

Teen participants must have a Learner’s Permit or a Driver’s License. The cost for each parent/teen pair is $179. Those interested in attending may visit or call 800-862-3277 to register.

I attended this class with my son, who was then preparing to take his driver's test. The sessions were fun and informative. The hands-on driving lessons put lessons into action and gave the young drivers a chance to try out their skills.

The chance to actually try out the techniques was invaluable. On his first day with his new license, my son was driving alone on a rainy night. He came around a corner to find an oversized truck tire in the middle of the narrow country road. He was able to keep control of the car and get home safely, and I give all the credit to the New Driver's Car Control Clinic. For our family, it was a lifesaver.

Junior Volunteer Applications Are Due April 8

Applications for this summer's Junior Volunteer program are on the Fauquier Health website. Middle and high schoolers work half days in the health system for 2- or 3-week sessions, and learn about how their local hospital works.

Completed applications are due April 8 and require a recommendation. Applicants will be called for an interview and after this process, accepted students will be assigned to a session and health system department.

Junior volunteers are also eligible to apply to attend Fauquier Hospital's annual Medical Day Camp, where they will get hands-on lessons in suturing, radiology, respiratory therapy and emergency medicine.

For any student with an interest in medicine or just in helping people, it's a great experience!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Stroke Recovery Requires Group Effort

“It’s been an exciting morning,” Eleanor Hazel greets her visitor at the door with kind eyes and characteristic understatement. It seems that earlier this afternoon, a pair of helicopters landed on
the Hazels’ lawn, causing more than a little speculation. Family and farmhands came running, imagining that Medivac had been summoned for an emergency.

“But it was a couple of friends, came by to say hello,” deadpans Bill Hazel. The last time the helicopters arrived, in autumn 2009, his friends and family were there, too, but the situation was a
matter of life and death.

“I was sitting in a chair in there,” Hazel recalls, using his strong right arm to indicate the living room. “My friend John Mayhugh was here with me. He said, ‘Hey, you’re having a stroke. Your speech is slurred.’ He told me to raise my left arm, and I couldn’t.”

Mayhugh placed two calls in quick succession. The first was to 911 emergency services, which arrived in minutes to airlift Hazel to an acute stroke center in Arlington. The other call was to
the eldest of the Hazels’ five children, William A. Hazel Jr., M.D., who serves as Virginia’s secretary of Health and Human Resources. “He was at the hospital almost before I was,” says Hazel.

“They Never Missed a Day Coming”
Hazel spent three months in a primary stroke center in Northern Virginia, finally returning home on Christmas Eve. Once back in Warrenton, the family knew that speech therapy, physical therapy and
treatment for a deep cut in his leg were all priorities. Hazel needed care around the clock, including both home health and outpatient rehabilitation.

Help was closer to home than they ever imagined. The first order of business was to heal the deep cut in his leg so he could begin physical therapy. Just weeks before Hazel suffered his stroke, Fauquier Health had opened a state-of-the-art Wound Healing Center. The center’s medical director, Robert Dart, M.D., examined the leg wound and worked out an effective treatment plan that did not
require further surgery.

“They did it all here,” Hazel says. “The wound in my leg had to be dressed every five or six days, so they came out and brought everything they needed with them. The snow was on the ground, but they never missed a day coming. The nurses that came were all from Fauquier Health Home Care
Services. The main thing I want to say is how well they treated me and how dependable they were.”

That dedication clearly means a lot, and not just to the Hazel family. Fauquier Health Home Care Services is the proud recipient of the Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval and in 2009 was ranked among the top 25 percent of home health care providers in the country by HomeCare Elite.

Hazel adds, “The other thing that’s been good has been the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. The
therapists fired me up and got me going. I see a lot of people in there who start worse off than I am, but when they leave they walk out on their own two feet.”

Essential Partners
A year after his stroke, Bill Hazel retains only a slight lag in his speech, a pause as he collects his strength between ideas. It’s a reminder of how much he and his family have been through this year and how far they’ve come together.

“They say pretty soon I’ll be walking by myself,” says Hazel. “This is a life changing event, big time, but I can talk and I can write, and I can think. I know what’s going on around me.”

One gets the impression that Bill Hazel approaches his rehabilitation in much the same way he built the largest total site development business in Northern Virginia: with a powerful work ethic, open communication, multidisciplinary teamwork and strong family values.

That emphasis on teamwork and communication is at the heart of Fauquier Health’s Planetree philosophy of patient-centered care, which views family and friends as essential partners during a
long recovery following a life-changing event like stroke. “My daughters are my ‘patient navigators,’” says Hazel. “They’ve done a good job of keeping my medicine and my appointments straight.” Daughter Jeannie Soltesz of Leesburg is a frequent companion during Hazel’s trips to Fauquier Hospital’s Outpatient Rehabilitation.

“I just want people to know how much I think of the system over here at Fauquier and how nice the people have been to me,” Hazel sums up. “They came every day, right on time, right on schedule and went straight to work.”

Just like any good family business.