All posts by Jason Glogau

Marina Atma

After suffering a pair of strokes, Marina Atma’s goal was to dance with her husband again.

At the age of 62, Marina Atma suffered a stroke. Today she is a stroke survivor living an active and good quality of life. Two years ago, in August, Marina suffered from a stroke while at work. She worked at a local community college and taught Professional Development courses.

Marina said, “While I was at work one afternoon, I was walking from my office to the front desk and the secretary told me I needed to go to the hospital. When I ask her why, she told me the left side of my face was droopy & drooling and my speech was slurred. I went to the emergency room, where I was diagnosed with Bell’s palsy, discharged and asked to follow up with my primary doctor. When I went to my doctor, I had a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain, which showed that I had had 2 strokes. My doctor sent me straight to the emergency room where the staff was waiting for me and I was admitted for treatment of my strokes.”

Marina went on to say, “Six weeks earlier, I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes mellitus and hypertension. These new diagnoses put me at a much higher risk for stroke along with high levels of stress.” She had no idea she was at such high risk for stroke.

She was referred to Rehabilitation Hospital of Southern New Mexico, which at the time “didn’t mean a lot to me,” said Marina. “Sam (the driver) was the first person I met when he came to pick me up,” she recalled. “I will never forget him, he is so nice!”

“I was scared and thought if they are all like this (Sam), it will be okay.”

When she arrived at Rehabilitation Hospital of Southern New Mexico (RHSNM), all the staff came in to meet her and told her what to expect. They put her anxiety and fears at ease. Marina said, “Dr. Kim (Encapera) was my doctor there at the rehab. She was so kind and caring and really helped me understand everything that was going on with me and my strokes. She answered my questions.”

The second day she was at Rehabilitation Hospital of Southern New Mexico her therapist, Linda, asked her what one of her goals were. Marina replied, “to dance with my husband when I get out.” That day, Linda (the therapist) put on some music and worked on dancing with her so she could achieve her goal.

During the course of her stay, Marina and her husband received a lot of education on how to better care for her and manage her diet, diabetes, hypertension, and exercises from all the staff. “They gave me a stroke book when I was there to take with me and use as a reference. I still have it and use it”, said Marina. “One of the most important things I learned was what F.A.S.T. stands for,” she said. F.A.S.T. is an acronym used to help people recognize the signs of a stroke.

The difference in Marina from arrival to discharge was more than just physical. It was emotional, as well. When she transferred and admitted to Rehabilitation Hospital of Southern New Mexico she was weak and scared from recent strokes.

“The day I left was awesome. I walked out using a walker and all the staff were lined up, clapping and cheering for me!”

Marina discharged home with her husband and went through outpatient therapy services at Rehabilitation Hospital of Southern New Mexico for about six weeks. She now uses a cane for steadying her walk and is living a full, active life with her husband and family. She made a lot of friends during her stay at Rehabilitation Hospital of Southern New Mexico and keeps in contact with them. Marina is active in community stroke support groups and is appreciative for the opportunity to recover from her stroke here.

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Florencio Luna

Mr. Luna suffered a traumatic brain injury when he was involved in a roll-over motor vehicle accident.

One late afternoon, Florencio Luna was traveling with his wife and uncle on their way home from Durango, Mexico. They were involved in a roll-over motor vehicle accident, which totaled the truck they were driving. The accident left Mr. Luna unconscious, and his wife could not wake him.

 
Fortunately, a passerby stopped to help. This good Samaritan took Mr. Luna, his wife and uncle to the nearest hospital in Chihuahua, Mexico. There, they were all treated. But Mr. Luna, was transferred to a level I trauma center in El Paso, Texas. The trauma center treated him for multiple injuries including a severe traumatic brain injury.
 
“He spent three weeks there,” said Mrs. Luna, “in ICU on the ventilator, then was moved to the neuro-floor once he came off the ventilator. Someone from [Rehabilitation Hospital of Southern New Mexico] came to see us. His name was Jesus. He talked to us about going to rehab and getting help in Las Cruces, and that the Rehabilitation Hospital of Southern New Mexico specialized in brain injury recovery.
 
Mr. Luna transferred and admitted to Rehabilitation Hospital of Southern New Mexico. “When I came here I could not talk or move my right side at all,” said Mr. Luna.
 
He remembered being in the gym close to a month after admission when he started to walk with help from therapy. Working with speech-language pathologists, his speech started to return, as well.
 
“We are so grateful to all the staff here (Lisa, Molly, Sherri, Teresa and so many more) for all their help,” Mr. Luna said. “Everyone helped me real good and I am very happy.”
 
During this time, Mr. Luna’s adult son had become injured, as well. He also recovered at the hospital in El Paso and at Rehabilitation Hospital of Southern New Mexico. Both discharged home with good family support.
 
“When I left, I walked out and everyone was cheering and clapping,” Mr. Luna said of his discharge day. “I was surprised, my wife video taped it all.”
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What to Pack for a Hospital Stay

Whether you are a patient preparing for an inpatient hospital stay, or someone who’s loved one unexpectedly finds themselves in a hospital, having the right things for a hospital stay is important. Packing the right items will help make your stay less stressful and allow you to focus on your recovery.

Below you’ll find a summary of suggested items to pack for a hospital stay.

Clothing

  • 5-6 outfits of loose fitting pants and tops
  • Undergarments
  • Sweater or jacket
  • Supportive pair of athletic shoes with non-skid soles
  • Night clothes (gown, robe, pajamas)

Toiletries

  • Soap, if you prefer a certain brand
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash & dentures
  • Comb, brush, shaving supplies & cosmetics
  • Deodorant, lotion, perfume, & aftershave

Miscellaneous

  • Insurance cards & medical information
  • Eyeglasses & hearing aids
  • Incontinence pads (if needed)
  • Pillow, blanket
  • Family pictures
  • Laundry basket or bag

Click here to download a printable version of this checklist

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Understanding Influenza: 5 Facts to Know this Flu Season

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the 2017-2018 flu season was one of the worst. Understanding Influenza – how it’s spread, how to prevent it, and the symptoms of the flu – can help keep you, and your community healthy this winter. Below are five flu facts to know as we enter flu season.

Can a flu shot give me the flu?

The Influenza vaccine is safe and cannot give you the Flu. It takes 2 weeks to build up your immunity, so you can contract the flu before developing the antibodies.

How is the flu spread?

Influenza is a contagious respiratory virus that spreads when you are exposed to an infected person that coughs or sneezes. It can also be spread by touching your nose, mouth or eyes after touching a surface with the virus on it.

How can I prevent the flu?

There are several things you can do to keep yourself flu-free! The most important step you can take is to get a flu vaccine each year. You can also help prevent getting the flu by frequently using hand sanitizer or washing your hands. Try to avoid touching your nose, mouth or eyes. Avoid spreading the flu by covering your coughs/sneezes and by staying home if you are sick. Additionally, be sure to keep surfaces in your home clean.

What are the symptoms of the flu?

Symptoms usually start 1-4 days after exposure and usually come on suddenly. You are most contagious in the first 3-4 days after the illness starts. However, you can infect others before you are symptomatic and up to a week after becoming sick.

Flu symptoms can range from mild to severe. They can include fever, headache, fatigue, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, sore throat, cough and chills. Seek medical care for any worsening symptoms.

What is the treatment for the flu?

Rest, pain relievers and extra fluids will help to lessen your symptoms. While antibiotics are not effective for the flu, there are prescription antiviral medications that can help to lessen the symptoms and shorten the duration. But, they must be started within 48 hours after onset.

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Resources for Caregivers

There are only four kinds of people in the world. Those who have been caregivers. Those who are currently caregivers. Those who will be caregivers, and those who will need a caregiver.” – Rosalyn Carter

Caregivers often hide in plain sight. They make up a substantial portion of the United States population. In the US alone, there are over 40 million unpaid caregivers for adults over the age of 65. We tend not to realize the strain put on an individual who cares for a loved one. Instead, we see only the selflessness with which they provide care. Unfortunately, there’s often more going on than we recognize.

Caring for a loved one can be overwhelming, particularly when providing care for a spouse. It’s important to understand and utilize the resources available to you as a caregiver. Here are some great resources for caregivers:

VA Caregiver Support

If you provide care for a veteran, the Veterans Administration has a number of resources available to you. Services offered include mentoring, diagnosis-specific tips and guidance. Additionally, help is available to care for your loved one so that you have time to care for yourself. Many of these services are provided at no cost.

Diagnosis-specific Support Networks

Many organizations offer online support networks for patients and caregivers, focused on specific diagnoses. These support networks typically have segments dedicated to the unique needs of caregivers. Some of the organizations offering these support networks include:

Local Support Groups

Hospitals often host support groups on a variety of topics. Some are diagnosis-specific. Others focus directly on caregivers. It can be quite helpful to connect with individuals who have had similar experiences to yours. Contact your local hospital to find out what support groups they host and when they meet.

An empty lantern provides no light. Self-care is the fuel that allows your light to shine brightly.” – Unknown

As a caregiver, it’s important not to neglect yourself. The resources above offer support so that you can care for yourself, too. Additionally, you may speak with your healthcare provider for more resources. Remember, taking good care of yourself is part of providing care to another!

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How to Spot a Stroke

Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States suffers a stroke. Every four minutes, someone dies.

Stroke is the fifth-leading cause of death in the United States, responsible for about one out of every 20 deaths.

As many as 80% of strokes may be preventable. But if someone is suffering a stroke, one of the most important factors is time. Knowing the signs of stroke, and what to do in that situation, could save a person’s life.

All you need to remember is F-A-S-T.

F: Face Drooping

Look at the person’s face. Does one side droop? Do they feel numbness on one side of their face?
Action item: Ask the person to smile. Is their smile lopsided or uneven?

A: Arm Weakness

Does the person feel numbness or weakness in one arm?
Action item: Ask the person to raise both arms above their head. Are they able to lift both arms? Does one arm drift downward?

S: Speech Difficulty

Is the person making sense when they speak? Are their words slurred?
Action item: Ask the person to say a simple sentence, like “The sky is blue.” Can you understand what they say?

T: Time to Call 9-1-1

If any of these symptoms are present, call 9-1-1 immediately. Tell the operator you think someone is having a stroke. Do this even if these symptoms disappear. Time is critical, so it is important to get them to the hospital right away. Be sure to note the time when the symptoms appeared.
Action item: Call 9-1-1!

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3 Tips for Keeping Yourself Flu-Free

It’s that time of year again…flu season. With the constant risk of catching the virus, educating yourself can be the key to being flu-free.

The flu typically is spread when someone who has it coughs, sneezes, or talks. Droplets from his or her mouth spread to the mouths or noses of people nearby. Additionally, you can catch the flu from touching an object that has flu germs on it, and then touching your mouth or nose.

Once flu germs get inside the body, they go to the respiratory system. There, they attach to those cells, essentially turning them into more flu germs. That’s when your immune system begins to fight back. It does so by creating two different proteins that attack the virus – cytokines and chemokines. Cytokines multiply to help fight off the virus. Chemokines create white blood cells (called T cells) to help fight against the virus, as well.

Eventually, the fever that comes along with the flu is your body’s way of killing off the virus.

As it turns out, many symptoms you feel from the flu aren’t the virus itself. Rather, it is your immune system working to fight it off.

While it’s great that your body has the ability to fight the flu, the best defense is always prevention. To keep yourself flu-free, try these 3 tips:

  1. Get a flu shot. This vaccine is the number one way to keep the flu out of your body.
  2. You’ve heard it before, and you’ll hear it again: wash, wash, wash your hands. When you wash your hands, you wash flu (and other) germs away, limiting your risk of catching them.
  3. Last, keep the surfaces clean in your house to help remove any flu germs.
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Physical Therapy vs. Opioids

Who among us hasn’t suffered the nuisance of a minor pain now and then? Usually, we can find quick relief with over-the-counter medications. But for those with chronic pain, stronger painkillers like opioids may be prescribed.

Americans have increasingly been prescribed opioids – painkillers like Vicodin, OxyContin, Opana, and methadone, and combination drugs like Percocet. The use of these prescription drugs has quadrupled since 1999, although there hasn’t been an increase in the amount of pain Americans report.

In 2012, health care providers wrote 259 million opioid prescriptions. That’s enough for every adult in the United States to have a bottle of pills.

In response to this growing opioid epidemic, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released opioid prescription guidelines recognizing that opioids are appropriate in certain cases such as cancer treatment, palliative care, end-of-life care, and in certain acute care situations – if properly dosed. But for other pain management, the CDC recommends non-opioid alternatives such as physical therapy to cope with chronic pain.

Physical therapy is a safe and effective way to treat long-term pain. Physical therapists can provide evidence-based treatments that help not only treat the pain, but the underlying cause of the pain. They can provide exercises that focus on strength, flexibility, posture and body mechanics. Strengthening and stretching parts of the body that are affected by pain can decrease the pain, increase mobility, and improve overall mood.

So before agreeing to an opioid prescription for chronic pain, consult with your physician to discuss your options for a non-opioid treatment.

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