A three-time, 30-year breast cancer survivor, Deborah Portzer has been through a lot. But her third journey with cancer would be different than the first two. This time, it was stage 4 cancer, having spread to Deborah’s hip and leg. As a result of the cancer, Deborah broke her femur.
After an initial stay at Scottsdale Shea, Deborah came to Mountain Valley Regional Rehabilitation Hospital. “I really love that place,” Deborah said of MVRRH.
Deborah’s two-week inpatient stay at MVRRH was like nothing she’s experienced during her 30-year battle with cancer. “They helped me in my healing of body, soul, and spirit. Just emotional, physical healing,” she noted. “When I got there from the hospital, they treated me like a queen. I couldn’t believe it. I mean every time I’ve been in a hospital they’ve never treated me like that!”
Upon completion of inpatient stay, Deborah had two choices for continuing her recovery: home health or outpatient physical therapy. She chose to continue her care at MVRRH. Deborah still had a lot of work left, and she trusted the team at Mountain Valley.
“I was there seven months to learn to walk again,” Deborah reflected. “I could only wiggle my toes, and I wanted to get better. I wanted to heal. They were wonderful. The therapists reallyjust took care of my needs–as they did for all of their patients–and I really liked that.”
Learning to walk again can be frightening. Falls always pose the threat of injury, but especially so when your health is impaired, as Deborah’s was from cancer. “I was kind of afraid because I couldn’t walk,” Deborah recalled. “I didn’t know if they were going to say ‘You have to get up. You have to walk. You have to do this.’ But they did it in a gentle way. They did it in a way that gave me the courage that I needed. The determination and the will to not only live but to get better — even with stage 4 cancer.”
As a result, Deborah has made great progress. “I’m walking now,” she noted. “I had to have a hip replacement and they replaced my femur bone with a rod, but that didn’t stop me from learning to walk.”
“My goal was to hop in my Jeep, and to go to church, and I’m doing both.”
However, Deborah wanted to continue to improve the strength in her leg and her overall safety. She read in the newspaper that there was a FallProof program at MVRRH. Though she knew nothing about it, she called the facilitator, Karen Russell. Karen, a physical therapist assistant at the hospital, came to Deborah’s house. After performing a pre-assessment test, Karen gave Deborah the wonderful news that she was a candidate for the program.
“I was so happy,” Deborah said. “Just that made me happy because, again, I could get better.”
The program lasted eight weeks, and Deborah did, again, get better. “I loved it because [Karen] was just so happy, so bubbly. Such a wonderful facilitator to our needs,” Deborah said, adding, “she cared for us in a special way.” The small class size allows Karen to give the participants her full attention. And the results were continued progress, both physically and mentally.
“In that class, not only did my get better, but I learned to have more confidence,” Deborah noted. “I was afraid that I would fall. I didn’t want to break my hip again. Today, I’m doing things that I didn’t think I could do, like get on a plane by myself. Or go up-and-down the stairs at the courthouse square.”
“All I have to say is ‘Thank you!'” Deborah added. “Thank you to Karen. Thank you to Mountain Valley. Thank you to everybody that has helped me on this journey!”
Judy Baum, CEO, accepts the IRF Quality Award from Jake Socha, Division President and Chris Bergh, SVP of Operations
Mountain Valley Regional Rehabilitation Hospital has been announced as the 2018 winner of the “IRF Quality Award.” The award is presented annually to the top performing inpatient rehabilitation hospital in the Ernest Health system.
“I am thrilled to receive this Quality Award on behalf of the entire team at Mountain Valley who work hard to achieve a great experience for our patients and provide them with the best medical care and rehabilitation!” said Judy Baum, Chief Executive Officer at Mountain Valley Regional Rehabilitation Hospital.
“It takes dedicated teamwork and a lot of passion to achieve the exceptional patient outcomes score we did in 2018,” added Baum. “I think of it as ‘Compassion in Action!’ Kudos to every staff member and our physicians.”
“It was the night before the Super Bowl, and I took a nasty fall. Hip fractured on both sides, pelvis fractured twice, and a cracked coccyx. So they took me to Yavapai Regional Medical Center. I was there for four or five days, and then they transferred me here to Mountain Valley. When I got here on the sixth of February, I was an unholy mess. I could hardly move for the pain. Here we are on the 22nd. I’m ready to go home.
The therapists here are nothing short of miracle workers.
They have a vocation much the same as a priest or a nun. Theirs is to help, and help they do. They get up at some ungodly hour in the morning, every single morning, to come in and help us. We’re the ones who benefit from this. In order to work with them, you show them that you want to go home. Your goal is to be able to do things here that you need to be able to do at home.
Now, I hope none of you ever winds up here, but if you ever do you need to understand that you are in the best of hands. These folks are nothing short, as I said, of miraculous. They don’t harangue you, they don’t tell you you’re not working hard, none of that. They’re the most pleasant people in the world, the most patient – talk about deep wells of patience my goodness every single one of them! I can’t say enough for the administration, for everybody here. Dr. Nambiar is a fine doctor, the nurses are all wonderful.
There isn’t one person working here who isn’t working for me and for every other patient here to get us out of here, home and on our own. We had a home visit just the other day with one of the occupational techs. Everything was found fine. I was able to do everything I need to do at home. I flopped myself into bed, I worked in the kitchen, I did everything I needed to do and it all worked out well.
I’m here probably two more days, after which I’ll be on my own once again and one happy, independent soul. I will have outpatient home healthcare. I’ll be going through their agency for that, why would I want to switch horses in the midst of a stream?
There are no superlatives of which I can think–and I love this English language of ours I’ve always loved it–but I can’t think of a superlative that really fits. These people are that good. I wish you, as I said, never have to come here. But if you do, know you’re going to get well.”
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.
5-6 outfits of loose fitting pants and tops
Sweater or jacket
Supportive pair of athletic shoes with non-skid soles
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.
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:
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:
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!
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!
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:
Get a flu shot. This vaccine is the number one way to keep the flu out of your body.
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.
Last, keep the surfaces clean in your house to help remove any flu germs.
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.
We’ve heard it all before – wash your hands often, especially during flu season. But does hand-washing really keep you from getting sick?
The short answer is, yes!
Washing your hands with soap can kill bacteria and viruses that are spread through individuals or objects such as door knobs. When you don’t wash your hands, little actions, such as touching your mouth, nose, or eyes, can put you at risk almost immediately for an illness, providing the germs access to enter your body.
What is interesting to note, however, is that washing your hands with warm water doesn’t kill any more germs than washing with cold water.
In fact, recent studies have shown that the temperature of hand-washing water doesn’t affect the amount of germs being washed away. The only time that a certain water temperature would kill more germs is if the water was boiling (212 ℉), in which case, it would burn and damage your hands.
So what’s the most effective way to wash your hands?
Wet your hands with water.
Pump soap to a cupped hand.
Lather and rub your hands vigorously for about 20 seconds. Be sure to get in between fingers.
Rinse all soap off of hands.
Dry your hands well with a towel. Germs can be more easily transferred to and from wet hands.
With falls being the leading cause of injuries in older adults, it’s important to understand how to prevent the common causes.
To help prevent falls at home, consider the following home modification tips:
Keep rooms free from clutter
Install handrails, raised toilet seats, grab bars and shower mats
Light up dark areas of the home
Remove or tape down any loose carpets or electrical wires
Ensure telephones can be easily reached from the floor
Replace chairs that are too low to the ground or difficult to get out of
Install night lights throughout the home, especially in bathrooms and stairwells
In addition to home modifications, a change in wardrobe also can help in preventing falls. Wear sensible, non-slip footwear and avoid wearing loose clothing. Make sure to also talk with your family and care providers about your falling risks.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease of the central nervous system that triggers the body’s immune system to attack the brain and spinal cord.
Living with MS can be difficult, especially when some symptoms get in the way of getting a good night’s sleep. Researchers have found that the symptoms of MS, such as stress and muscular stiffness or spasms, can cause lost sleep.
Here are 5 tips to get a better night of rest:
Create a Bedtime Ritual
Brush your teeth, put on pajamas, read a book or listen to calm music. Creating a bedtime ritual signals the body and mind to slow down.
Hit The Hay At The Same Time Every Night
Creating a routine helps to set the body’s internal clock.
Exercise In The Morning
Exercise is a stimulant. If you exercise close to your bedtime, it’ll be harder to fall asleep.
Drink Less Fluids Around Bedtime
Limit fluids before bedtime to lessen the need to “go.” Also, don’t drink caffeine or alcohol.
Keep Your Bedroom Cool, Quiet and Dark
Set the tone every night for a comfortable sleep environment.
Contrary to popular belief, immunization is more than getting a shot from the doctor’s office. So, how does the process of immunization affect your immune system?
In your body, there are white blood cells. These cells have the job of protecting your body from viral infections. When necessary, these white blood cells become a giant army to ward off any unwanted viruses or diseases.
Once a virus has been defeated, some types of white blood cells “remember” the virus, and how to defeat it when it enters the body again.
To create vaccines to a certain disease, scientists use dead or weak strains of the disease. The vaccination gives a body’s white blood cells a “taste” of that specific virus, so they know how to fight it off if that virus ever enters the body.
The vaccine itself does not cause the virus, but it can strongly affect your immune system, because it helps the body fight off certain diseases.
Additionally, by getting vaccinations and living in a community where others get vaccinations, it causes “herd immunity.” This means that members of the community who are too young or too weak to receive that vaccine also receive protection from the disease because it’s unlikely to spread through a group of people who have immunity to the infection.
So immunization isn’t just important for you, but also for the people around you!
Recently, researchers have found that insomnia may be a long-term effect of a stroke. But what does that mean for those who have had a stroke in the past?
Well, simply put, it means that the road to recovery may take a bit longer than expected.
After a stroke, there are many physical, emotional, and cognitive changes in a person. It all depends on what part of the brain was damaged, but frequent physical changes may include dysphagia (difficulty swallowing) or hemiparesis (muscle weakness on one side of the body).
If a stroke survivor develops insomnia, the rebuilding and healing of muscles can’t occur, which can lead to a slower recovery. Additionally, without this needed sleep, individuals may notice more emotional changes (such as crankiness) and cognitive struggles (such as difficulty concentrating).
If you’ve had a stroke and now experience insomnia, there may be options out there for you to get better sleep. These options include meditation and breathing exercises, trying to follow a stricter bed-time schedule (going to bed and waking up at the same time each day), and making sure to keep your bedroom dark and comfortable. Be sure to discuss any concerns with your physician.
After a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, an individual may feel frightened about what the future holds. Knowing that he or she has a friend or family member to lean on may help make things a bit more comfortable in their changing world. Here are 5 easy ways to help:
Talk About Changes Your Friend or Family Member is Experiencing For someone with Parkinson’s disease, it can be scary to realize that tasks that were once easy are now difficult. Just being there for your loved one and talking things through can help provide more comfort with the new symptoms or thoughts he or she may be experiencing.
Offer to Attend Doctor Visits If your loved one is okay with you coming along to his or her doctor visits, you can help by remembering specific instructions from the doctor. You also can help your loved one remember any important information he or she wants to share.
Educate Yourself on Parkinson’s disease Educating yourself about Parkinson’s disease can show your loved one that you care about what he or she is going through. In addition, it can help you learn how to adjust to your friend or family member’s physical and emotional changes.
Help Make Safety Changes to Your Loved One’s Home For someone with Parkinson’s disease, physical changes to his or her body may include loss of balance and dizziness more frequently. You can help make safety adjustments to his or her home, such as safety rails and chairs in the shower or tub, removing tripping hazards, and tacking rugs to the floor.
Encourage Your Loved One to Start Exercise or Physical Therapy Early An important way to help your loved one adjust to Parkinson’s disease is by encouraging him or her to exercise. Certain activities, such as yoga, stretching, and walking, can improve movement and balance. Activities that require memorization of movement can even help improve cognitive development.
A healthy diet is key to recovery after a stroke. But according to the National Stroke Association, 8-34 percent of stroke survivors suffer from malnutrition.
Not eating healthy to begin with has its negative effects. Not eating healthy after a stroke, however, slows down the recovery process and increases the chances of having another stroke.
So, how do stroke survivors eat healthy while trying to manage everything else in their lives? Simply put…eat the rainbow.
Look for foods that are divers in color. You want to try and have a “rainbow” on your plate during every meal: such as fruit, vegetables, grains, meat/poultry/fish, and dairy.
Beyond the rainbow, here are some additional healthy-eating tips:
Never skip breakfast – Breakfast gives you the energy you need to start your day. Plus, you’ll feel fuller throughout the day which means you’ll snack a lot less.
Say “Bye, bye, bye” to your salt shaker – Don’t add unnecessary salt to your foods. Replace salt with herbs and spices like basil or oregano.
High-five high-fiber – Eating high-fiber foods such as beans, peas, nuts, salmon, and grains helps to reduce your cholesterol.
Trick your brain – Have you ever seen an optical illusion that confused you of what you were seeing? Well, that’s essentially what you can do. Start using smaller bowls and plates for your meals to help control portion sizes. Your brain will see that the plate is full, helping to convince it that you are full once you’ve finished eating.
We’ve all had times when our memory has escaped us, and we know how frustrating that can be. Here are some easy tips and tricks to help improve your memory:
Tag, You’re It! – Attach new information with what you already know. It’s easier to remember something if you can tag it to something already stored in your memory. For example, you meet a man named Jesse. Attach the Jesse you met with the iconic “Jesse James” since Jesse James is already stored in your memory.
Picture Perfect – Picture in your mind what it is you want to remember AND BE DRAMATIC ABOUT IT! For example, your spouse asks you to pick up a loaf of bread after work. Visualize yourself at the grocery store with a gigantic loaf of bread 100 feet long.
Repeat, Repeat, Repeat – Go over again and again what it is you want to remember. And repeat it throughout the day.
Write it Down– Write things down. Start small by making a grocery list. Summarize important meetings. Keep a journal. Make it a habit.
Spend Time with Loved Ones – Being around those you love improves brain function, which can boost your memory, and your mood. It’s a win-win!
Make Life a Sing-a-Long – Just like High School Musical, start busting out into song randomly throughout the day. Studies show that singing your favorite songs can actually help improve your memory. Think of it like a “running-start” your brain needs to get going.