All posts by Jason Glogau

Carmelita Byrd

“Hello, I’m Carmelita Byrd, school counselor at McCarthy Teszler School, and I just want to share with you my experience of–let’s say, a health challenge–that I had a few years ago.

Let’s begin with the symptoms that I began to have in 2016. It was prior to December 2016 that I had some of these symptoms. They included weakness in my left arm, loss of strength in my left arm, slight tremors in my hand, and stiffness in my left arm as if my arm were frozen, and I could try everything to move it, but it just would not move. It was difficult for me to button my blouse, and when I began to feel a little soreness in my fingers, that’s when I decided, in December 2016, that I needed to go to the doctor. So I went to a neurologist here in Spartanburg. Based on my visible symptoms, my neurologist said it appeared to be dystonia, which is a movement disorder. However, he could not give a formal diagnosis until we did further tests. He went over those results with me:

  • Nerve ending tests: nothing glaring.
  • Blood work test: nothing glaring.
  • Spinal MRI: nothing at all.

But for the brain MRI, he did say that he needed to talk with me in another room. So with that said I was like, “uh oh, what is this?” He began to pull up on the computer screen a picture of my brain MRI, and that’s when he showed me that I had a brain tumor.

So my surgery was scheduled for June 23rd, 2017 at Emory Hospital in Atlanta. I was in the hospital at Emory for one week and I began seeing physical therapists, occupational therapists–everybody, I guess, with an “ist” at the end of their name came to see me during that week–and it was determined that I needed to be transferred somewhere for inpatient surgery.

So, I went to Spartanburg Rehabilitation Institute, and my mom was there with me in the beginning. And so she met many of my therapists, occupational, physical therapists, and they just did a great job with me.

I think what helped though, is, I went there with certain things on my list about what I wanted to do and what I wanted to accomplish. At SRI, you need to have your own goals, what you want to accomplish, and the therapists help you to reach your own goals. It’s not goals that the therapists have, it’s goals that you set for yourself.

Also, I remember being in the kitchen at SRI where an assignment given to me was to follow instructions on the brownie box so that I could bake brownies. I actually baked brownies. Here at SRI, there is a facility that was a real kitchen. So that was really real life because that’s what I would have been doing at home. So they could see if I had certain skills that I still needed to learn and work on, or if I had mastered those skills. That’s the kind of work that they do here at SRI.

Lidia was the therapist who found a day that I could do some pool therapy. She actually got in the pool with me, and I was grateful for that because I felt that I could move a lot better just without a lot of effort. It just seemed like the water helped to guide me, so I loved being in the water.

Everybody here at SRI can help you meet your goals, but you have to determine what those goals are first. Basically, you are your car, and they are just the navigation system to help you to get where you need to go.

If you are not already familiar with SRI, I would encourage you to check them out because good things can happen to you from the good folks that are there.”

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Brian McDonald

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After suffering a stroke, Brian turned to SRI to help him regain his independence.

Brian McDonald, 55, was used to being a busy man. He worked full-time at Michelin as a mold assembly operator and owned a consignment shop. During his spare time, Brian enjoyed golf and seeking unique items for his store. But one November day, Brian’s world turned upside-down.

Visiting his mother, Brian noticed the right side of his body felt numb. “It was like it went to sleep,” he described of the sensation. Brian’s daughter, who works in the healthcare industry, recommended a visit to an urgent care facility. “From there, I was sent to Charlotte, NC, where I was diagnosed with an intraparenchymal hematoma.” This is when blood pools in the brain. Brian’s condition required a craniotomy.

“After surgery, I realized there were things I couldn’t do,” Brian recalled. “I never thought at 55 I would be in a situation where I couldn’t feed myself, bathe or go to the bathroom alone.”

For someone who lived such an active life, the sudden lack of independence proved challenging. But Brian wouldn’t allow this to be his new normal.

“After 30 days in the hospital, I was stable and ready for the next step,” Brian noted. The hospital recommended acute rehabilitation. “I knew about Spartanburg Rehabilitation Institute from a family member,” said Brian. “The hospital was highly rated from friends and family, so it was an easy decision.”

Brian considers this to be a critical point in his road to recovery.

“Never did I expect what a good decision it was! Everyone from the front desk staff, dietary, nursing, therapy, and the guys that clean the floors were wonderful. There are people I remember from all areas of the hospital. They worked hard for me every day and I didn’t want to let them down.”

Brian certainly didn’t let anyone down. His hard work allowed him to discharge from inpatient rehab and return home.

But his work wasn’t done. Brian still had goals he wanted to achieve. “After I was released from the inpatient side they continued therapy on an outpatient basis,” Brian said. “I continued to get better and went back to work part-time 5 months later. Not only was I working, but doing normal activities again like cutting the grass and driving.”

“This experience reaffirmed my faith in God and people,” he continued. “Everyone at SRI contributed to my success and I am proud to share my experience.”

With Brian’s stroke in the rear-view mirror, he looks forward to living a healthier life. “In the future, I want to be more educated on my health and be proactive to stay healthy,” he said. “This was a wake-up call and I have reprioritized things in my life.”

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Ruby Meadows

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“Success for me was getting back to my home.”

Ruby Meadows is a retired, independent lady. She is a proud mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother to two little boys. Ruby was enjoying her family and loving life.

One night, coming home from Wednesday night supper at church, Ruby tripped and fell on her concrete steps. She sustained a scalp laceration and head injury. Although bleeding from her head, Ruby managed to find her keys and make it inside to call 9-1-1. Ruby spent nine days in the hospital, part of that time in ICU.

After Ruby was stabilized she transferred to Spartanburg Rehabilitation Institute. On admission to SRI, Ruby needed help with eating, toileting, and dressing. Her balance was impaired and she needed maximum assistance with walking. Ruby spent two weeks in rehab.

Ruby and her son knew that SRI was the right choice for her rehab. Her husband had been a previous patient a few years prior.

From the day of admission, Ruby knew she wanted to do whatever it took to return to a “normal life.” She stated, “I could do everything before.”

There was no shortage of motivation for Ruby. “If they can do it, I can do it,” Ruby recalled thinking as she watched other patients in therapy. “The other patients motivated me. We were like family. The nurses and therapists were dedicated to my recovery, and in return, I wanted to do good for them.”

“I enjoyed everyone from the lady that helped me bathe the first day I arrived, to the friendly faces that served my food,” she added.

Ruby made great progress each day, culminating in her discharge home.

“The hospital staff lined up at the door and clapped the day I was discharged,” she remembered. “It made me feel special. The whole experience was wonderful!”

“The program was successful,” Ruby reflected on her time at SRI. “Success for me was getting back to my home. I live alone and wanted to be able to care for myself again. My plans for the future are spending quality time with my family. They are the most precious to me.”

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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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