Shock Trauma’s Violence Intervention Specialists Help Break the Cycle and Change Lives After Violent Injury

It’s heard in the news cycle pretty often in Baltimore – the victim of a gunshot wound or stabbing is taken to Shock Trauma, where they survive their injuries.

However, it’s NOT often you hear about what happens to these survivors. How are they recovering from their injuries, mentally and emotionally? What are our teams doing to help them get access to resources to avoid violent injury again?

That’s where Leonard Spain and David Ross come in.  They’re both Violence Intervention Case Managers at the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center.  Anytime someone suffers a violent injury and survives their injuries at Shock Trauma, they are seen by Spain and Ross.

Spain and Ross work to connect victims of violence with resources to get them on the path to success – including employment and schooling opportunities, mental health support, legal assistance and more.

Cut from the Same Cloth

Leonard Spain grew up in West Baltimore and, as a young man, was involved in the drug trade.

“The population that we serve – I was them. I sold drugs, I was a victim of gun violence and I spent time in prison,” Spain says.

That time in prison is what caused Spain to change his way of seeing things. When he arrived home, Spain realized the lack of resources available to help people like him get back on their feet.

He went to several career and job centers, attended job fairs and tried to do everything he could to stay out of trouble. After working a temp job for minimum wage for three years, Spain knew he wanted more for him and his daughter.

He enrolled at Sojourner Douglass College and received his Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services. He always knew he wanted to get into violence intervention and came to Shock Trauma after an internship with the Baltimore City Health Department.

When approaching patients at the beside, Spain focuses on building a relationship with patients as the first step of starting the case management process.

“I try to let them know I am just like them, just not out on the streets anymore,” Spain says. “Sometimes I gotta pull my shirt up and say ‘I got bullet holes just like you.’”

Poetry in Motion

Ross, also a Baltimore native, is a spoken word artist by trade.  He was discovered by the Shock Trauma team after performing at an anti-violence rally at Mondawmin Mall.

At first, Ross was a volunteer with the hospital with another friend.  By commission, he would come and talk with victims of violence and worked with the peer support group.  He then rose to his current position.

Now, when Ross learns of a new potential client, he will get background information on social media and online court records before meeting with them at the bedside.

“I’ll have that information in the back of my mind, but my next step is to speak and have a conversation with them and get their perspective,” Ross says.

Ross says he likes to ask the clients what they would like to gain from the situation and what they see as barriers.

“It’s not an easy thing to get them to trust you, and I understand that completely,” Ross says. “We’re usually asking them to change major aspects of their lives – and it definitely has to be broken down so we can work on one thing at a time.”

Usually, Ross starts with helping his clients get registered for health insurance so they can get their medication and get healthy. Next, they tackle employment. If it’s a criminal record holding the client back, they work to see if anything can be expunged. If it’s the lack of formal education, he works to get them in a GED class to receive a high school diploma at the least.

“I try to remove the obstacles to get them from point A to B,” Ross says. “Then, once we get them to point B, we see what other obstacles we can remove to get them to C.”

Spain and Ross both acknowledge that they are asking their clients to make massive life changes with not many resources, but overall, know it’s worth the trouble in the long run.

Spain is getting his Master’s in Conflict Resolution in University of Baltimore, and Ross is working towards his Master’s in Social Work at the University of Maryland, Baltimore.

Learn more about Shock Trauma Center’s for Injury Prevention and Policy.

Giving Back to The Hospital That Gave A Family So Much

Guest Blog By: Deb Montgomery, University of Maryland Children’s Hospital Parent

My daughter, Neriah, has had many varied health issues over the course of her childhood, including severe asthma, allergies, gastrointenstinal issues, and more. We have been blessed to have her under the care of several of the doctors in the Pediatric Specialty Clinic at the University of Maryland Childnre’s Hospital (UMCH). During the past several years, we’ve been through a multitude of appointments, testing, and hospitalizations.

As you can imagine, this has been really hard, and especially heartbreaking to see all that our little girl had to endure. Good care from doctors and nurses helped, but it was hard to keep positive and distract our sweet girl from all of the pain and discomfort. In some of the toughest medical tests and hospitalizations, we were introduced to the Child Life program.

Through that, she was given some toys and crafts to keep her busy, and distract her a bit from what was going on. It was such a help to have someone else “on our side”, trying to make the whole hospital ordeal a more positive experience for our little girl! When she got home from different times in the hospital, she would show her sisters some crafts that she made, or little presents she got to keep. She never told stories about the hard stuff, but she focused on those fun, positive memories! We really appreciate the positive memories that she has of the hospital, through the Child Life program.

It’s because of that, that we would like to help more children in the hospital to go home with some positive memories! We know how much it means to get some help at some of the hardest times. Our little girl loves to read, and we are having a book drive to raise money to buy Usborne books and more for the Child Life program to give to kids at UMCH. Usborne books are really engaging and interactive, and would really help to bring some joy to a child in the hospital. Usborne will match your donation at 50%, so we’ll be able to get even more books to the children! Click through the link below to donate to the fundraiser, to take part in giving some wonderful books to children in the hospital at UMCH!
Click here to support Provide books to children in the hospital at UMCH

Celebrate Cataract Awareness Month by Looking After Your Eyes

By Maggie Gill, System Communications Intern

The month of June is dedicated to raising awareness for an eye condition that affects approximately 22 million Americans ages 40 and older: cataracts. A cataract is a clouding in the lens, the part of the eye that focuses light on the retina – much like a camera’s lens. We can think of a cataract, then, as a spot on the lens that causes the pictures we take to turn out faded and blurry. It can grow over time, due to the clumping of protein in the eye, and if allowed to progress, can lead to blindness.cataracts

The good news is that cataracts that interfere with daily activities are treatable with a safe and effective surgery; an ophthalmologist removes the clouded lens and replaces it with an artificial lens. As with all surgeries, this one is done on an individual basis, so ask your eye doctor if you think that you might be a candidate.

An individual’s chances for developing a cataract in one or both eyes increase naturally with age. Senile cataracts, the type related to aging, make up the majority of cases, but there are other types, which have additional risk factors. According to Bennie Jeng, MD, chair of the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, the single non-age-related cause of cataracts is the cumulative exposure to UV rays over a lifetime. He also cites the use of steroids or steroid-based eye drops, traumas to the eye and side of the head and directed radiation. Other factors associated with cataract development include smoking and diabetes.

In honor of Cataract Awareness Month, here are some steps that you can take to protect your eyes:

  • Wear a hat and sunglasses. Because long-term exposure to UVA and especially UVB radiation is known to damage the lens, Dr. Jeng advises the use of protective eyewear to minimize risk. Although radiation from the sun is present year-round, it’s particularly important to cover up in the summer months, when the days are longer and you are likely spending more time outdoors. Keep in mind, though, that not all sunglasses are made equal. When you’re purchasing a pair, be sure to check the label – they should block 99 percent of UVB rays and 95 percent of UVA rays.
  • Avoid tobacco. Research shows that pack-a-day smokers are at twice the risk for developing cataracts. If you smoke, it’s not too late to reduce your chances and improve your overall health by quitting.
  • Practice good nutrition. Studies on the impact of nutrition on cataract development remain inconclusive. Some suggest that xanthophylis compounds – pigments contained in leafy, dark green vegetables – help to promote eye health. In any case, these foods, as well as foods rich in antioxidants and vitamins C and E, are often good for you and taste good, too.

The National Eye Institute recommends that you have a comprehensive eye exam at least once every two years, whether or not you have cataract symptoms. If you don’t already have an eye doctor, you can click here to meet our physicians. Board-certified ophthalmologists, optometrists and vision scientists from University of Maryland School of Medicine and University of Maryland Faculty Physicians, Inc. (FPI) provide comprehensive evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of general and subspecialty eye disorders through a multidisciplinary approach. They offer innovative, advanced-treatment options for adults and children suffering from a wide range of eye disorders, and general eye care for those requiring corrective lenses. You can choose from four convenient locations, including the new state-of-the-art center at Waterloo Crossing in Columbia, Maryland.

To schedule an appointment or learn more about our ophthalmological services, please call 667-214-1111.

Although Cataract Awareness Month serves as a reminder to visit your eye doctor, it’s important not to lose sight of your good habits, and to look after your eyes all year long.

Sources:

http://umm.edu/health/medical/reports/articles/cataracts

https://nei.nih.gov/health/cataract/cataract_facts

 

Art Exhibit Showcases Talent of UMMC Staff

In 2013, the University of Maryland Medical Center’s C2X Healing Arts Team and the National Arts Program co-sponsored the hospital’s first employee art exhibition. In response to the overwhelmingly positive feedback, this year’s exhibit will remain open two weeks longer than the 2013 exhibition, giving patients, visitors and employees alike extra time to view these one-of-a-kind pieces. The art will remain mounted in the Weinberg Atrium through Nov. 5.

This year’s exhibition features 192 pieces of artwork by UMMC staff and their families, a significant increase in participants from the previous year. Hospital staff from nearly every service area contributed projects, including submissions from 34 artists who contributed to last year’s display.

 

The artists submitted a wide selection of works, including paintings, photography, crafts, sketches, mixed media and various forms of sculpture. A notable number of submissions carry a distinctive Baltimore theme. “These artists have immeasurable talent, and we are fortunate to showcase their work in our hallways,” said Rachel Hercenberg, supervisor of oncology operations for the Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center.

Baltimore artists Cinder Hypki, Will Williams and Robert McClintock returned from the previous year to judge the competition and presented awards to the winning artists at a ceremony on October 2. Hypki, a community artist and faculty member in the MFA Program in Community Arts at MICA, explores art and ritual as a means of overcoming loss or pain. She has assisted the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center in the cultivation of healing art for over five years. Williams is a MICA graduate with a background in fine arts, illustration and portrait painting. His award-winning work is featured in Massachusetts and Maryland galleries. McClintock is a self-taught visionary and combines photography and digital painting into iconic representations of Baltimore. He is a three-time finalist at MacWorld’s annual juried digital art competition.

The judges distributed $2,400 in National Arts Program awards to 21 winning artists from five categories: Youth, Teen, Adult Amateur, Adult Intermediate and Adult Professional. McClintock also presented a special Best in Show award to a 7-year-old recipient. Black-and-white photography and modern paintings featured prominently among the wining pieces. After the closing of the exhibit in November, the People’s Choice Award will be presented to the artist with the most votes from exhibition guests. UMMC employees and visitors can vote by placing their ballot in the box on the exhibit’s glass display case.

The award ceremony featured a guitar prelude by Matt Peroutka, a member of UMMC’s Integrative Care Team and C2X Healing Arts Team. Following the awards, guests enjoyed refreshments – hors d’oeuvres and piano-shaped cookies – while Baltimore jazz pianist Lieutenant Israel Cross gave the 100th performance on the hospital’s piano.

The C2X Healing Arts Team, led by Hercenberg, is composed of hospital employees who are dedicated to using art for healing and wholeness. Kerry Sobol, MBA, RN, director of patient experience and the Commitment to Excellence program for UMMC, and Marianne Rowan Braun, director and vice president of the Commitment to Excellence program and patient experience, oversee and mentor the group. The C2X Healing Arts Team sponsors the yearly Healing Arts Exhibit and coordinates musical performances in the Healing Garden.

The 2014 Healing Arts Exhibit award winners are:

Best in Show

  • Isabel Mena, 7 (Daughter of Christine Mena, RN, Nurse ROP Coordinator, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit): “Scary”

Youth (12 and Under)

  • First place: Ethan Luu, 9 (Son of Rosanna Dinh, RN, Nurse Medication Diversion Specialist, Pharmacy): “Happy Koi”
  • Second Place: Anna Eyler, 7 (Daughter of Kristin Eyler, MPT, Senior Physical Therapist, Rehabilitation Services): “Fireworks over the city”
  • Third Place: Braydon Barski, 9 (Son of Sharon Barski, AS, Student Nurse, Pediatric Hematology and Oncology): “Super Heroes”
  • Honorable Mention: Lara Therese Eugenio, 12 (Daughter of Lovella Eugenio, BSN, CNOR, Senior Clinical Nurse I, General Operating Room): “My Dog”

Teen (13-18)

  • First place: Taylor Motley, 18 (Daughter of Jennifer Motley, BSN, PCCN, Senior Clinical Nurse II, Multi Trauma Intermediate Care Unit): “Hay Stacks”
  • Second Place: Christopher Fieden, 17 (Son of Mary Fieden, RN, Clinical Nurse II, Bone Marrow Transplant Unit): “Easy Rider”
  • Third Place: Grant Zopp, 15 (Son of Joan Zopp, OTR/L, Advanced Occupational Therapist, Psychiatric Occupational Therapy, 12 West and Harbor City Unlimited): “Self Portrait”
  • Honorable Mention: Leena Singh, 13 (Daughter of Ila Mulasi, MD, Assistant Clinical Professor, Family and Community Medicine): “Teapot”

Adult Amateur

  • First place: Laura White (RN, OCN, Senior Clinical Nurse I, Stoler Pavilion, Marlene & Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center): “Chincoteague Wild”
  • Second Place: Sarah Connolly (Daughter of Mary Ellen Connolly, NP, Nurse Practitioner, Pediatrics): “Untitled”
  • Third Place: Yoav Bachrach (Husband of Christine Bachrach, MS, CHC-F, Chief Compliance Officer, Corporate Compliance): “Cedar Bowl – Imperfection Makes Beauty”
  • Honorable Mention: Matthew Smith (MLIS, Assistant Director of Prospect Research & Management, University of Maryland Medical System Foundation): “Jordanian Sunrise”

Adult Intermediate

  • First place: Adrian Rugas (Husband of Marianne Rugas, RN, Clinical Nurse II, Cardiac Surgery Stepdown ): “Gilded”
  • Second Place: Stephanie Heydt (MT (ASCP), Medical Laboratory Scientist, Blood Bank): “Sulking”
  • Third Place: Rupal Mehta (MD, Assistant Professor, Department of Pathology): “Man with Stool”
  • Honorable Mention: Nadia Gavrilova (MD, Resident, Family Medicine): “The Healing Garden: Orchids. Life finds a way to thrive”

Adult Professional

  • First Place: Deborah Kommalan (Mother of Martha Hoffman, RN, BSN, CNOR, Senior Clinical Nurse I, Perioperative Services ): “Make Lemonade”
  • Second Place: Linda Praley (Creative Director, Communications and Public Affairs): “Untitled 1”
  • Third Place: Annemarie DiCamillo (Daughter of Jennifer DiCamillo, Critical Care Pediatric Transport Clinical Nurse II, Maryland ExpressCare): “Tough Faith”
  • Honorable Mention: Karen Trimble (Wife of Kimball Cutler, LCSW-C, Program Coordinator, Program of Assertive Community Treatment ): “English Sky”

Therapeutic Music Program Helps Cancer Patients

By Sharon Boston

Media Relations Manager

Music and sound, such as a happy song on the radio or the frightening score of a scary movie, have the ability to change our moods. Many people have a physical and emotional connection to sound, and scientific research has shown that music can be beneficial in healing.

Now, through a grant from the Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation for Cancer Research, the University of Maryland Medical Center is offering live therapeutic music to patients receiving treatment at the Greenebaum Cancer Center.

Therapeutic musician Terri Fevang plays keyboard pieces tailored to each patient’s mood or emotions, so each visit is different. Some patients may be anxious while awaiting test results, while others may be tired after receiving chemotherapy or radiation.

“The music is peaceful and calming, and takes my mind off my pain and worries,” says Jessica Montgomery, a 29-year-old leukemia patient. “When Terri comes in, we turn the TV off and just listen to her play. My dad is usually there too, and he often falls asleep because it’s so relaxing.”

The live therapeutic music program is part of the Medical Center’s Integrative Care team, which offers treatments such as acupressure, guided imagery and yoga breathing to patients throughout the hospital, including the Shock Trauma Center.  The goal is to help patients relax, optimizing health and healing.

Terri playingThe Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation grant also allows researchers from the University of Maryland School of Medicine to study the potential benefits of live therapeutic music for these cancer patients. The grant will fund a pilot study to see if the therapy can affect patients’ anxiety, mood and quality of life as well as some physical indicators such as pulse oximetry, which measures the pulse and oxygen in the blood.

“We have received a great deal of positive feedback from patients about the music program. Now we want to see if the data supports this encouraging anecdotal evidence,” explains Chris D’Adamo, PhD, director of research at the University of Maryland Center for Integrative Medicine, which is part of the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

If the pilot program with 30 patients is successful, researchers hope to launch a larger study on the benefits of therapeutic music.

 Click here to see a WBAL-TV story about the live therapeutic music story.

 

Life Lessons for Independence Within a Community

By Anne Haddad

UMMC Publications Editor

A brass ensemble played “Pomp and Circumstance” as the 14 graduates proceeded up the aisle. Family and friends wiped away tears of joy. One graduate, Richard Turnage, 31, spotted his mother, Tangera Keene, and stopped just long enough for her to snap a picture.

The proud moment was the culmination of a unique community mental health program that Turnage and his fellow graduates completed – a nine-semester curriculum focused on the skills and experience they need to make the transition to independent living.

Bryan Baird, the student speaker at the graduation, reminded his fellow graduates of all they had done.

“We learned how to interview for a job,” he said. “We learned how to cook meals [and] how to open a bank account. We went to the library and took public transportation.”

“Most of these patients were very young at the onset of their illnesses, which include mood and cognitive disorders. That greatly interfered with daily life,” said Jill RachBeisel, MD, (pictured above, center) associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and director of community psychiatry at University of Maryland Medical Center.

“In their teen years, at a stage when most of us learn our social skills, they were just hanging on for dear life,” RachBeisel said. “We wanted to develop a holistic, structured program to teach these skills that the majority of adults take for granted.”

Reaching Stability, then Gaining Skills

Before members of the academy progressed to residential rehabilitation, mental health treatment had allowed them to achieve stability. But even with this stability, the patients still had gaps in their experience and knowledge that might thwart their attempts to land a job, rent an apartment, get along with their neighbors and bosses or even to emotionally navigate a large family get-together.

Keene said she sees a big improvement in her oldest son, Richard Turnage, who was in the academy’s first graduation class this year.

“He is much better with his cousins, nieces and nephews when we all get together now,” Keene said. “There’s a big difference.”

“I’ve learned to manage my anger,” Turnage said.

RachBeisel developed the Academy of Independent Living three years ago. The learning and living both happen within each of the 19 single-family homes UMMC owns or rents in West Baltimore neighborhoods. The homes are run by UMMC Community Psychiatry’s residential rehabilitation program, Harbor City Unlimited.

Presentations are made in a classroom setting, and students then go out into the community to practice what they have been taught, and in some cases, even rehearsed, such as ordering food in a restaurant.

A Real Graduation

In some respects, the first-ever commencement ceremony of the Academy of Independent Living felt like that of any school, which is what the graduates wanted. Most had never had the opportunity to wear a cap and gown. In their teen years, when they might have gone to the prom and finished high school, the struggle with severe psychiatric disorders consumed their emotional and physical energy.

Their keynote speaker, scholar Kay Redfield Jamison, PhD, (above, left) professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University, is internationally known for her writings on managing life with severe mental illness.

The graduates wanted as much of the pomp and circumstance as they could get, starting with a formal dance a month before the graduation at the University of Maryland, Baltimore.

AIL Formal Dance

Stella’s Bridal Fashions and Value Village donated elegant gowns that retail for hundreds of dollars and Horton’s House of Tuxedos donated rental tuxedos or suits for the men. Elegant catered appetizers, cheeses, fruits and desserts were set on lovely tables. Everyone danced and celebrated. Staff noticed the students, in their formal attire, were standing taller and more poised than ever.

“Most programs have bits and pieces of this. But none that I know of is as comprehensive and organized as ours,” RachBeisel said. “Everyone would agree with the concept, but it is having the skill sets available in the staff to execute all of it. Our use of occupational therapists in the program has brought a skill set that can help train the existing staff to carry out this program moving forward.”

“Her collaborations with all staff have made it possible for members to participate in transformational opportunities for a population that is so frequently left in the shadows,” said Lila Nappi, OTR/L, director of occupational therapy in the Psychiatry Department.

In addition to teaching skills, the program allows the residents to develop relationships with neighbors and supports their transition back into the community. The academy embraces the mission of “recovery in mental health treatment,” RachBeisel said. Individuals learn to manage their illnesses so they can recover their lives.

Nappi and other occupational therapists such as Mark Karolkowski, OTR/L, and Chris Greseth, MS, OTR/L, (pictured below, on either side of Nappi) were among the staff who celebrated at the formal and at graduation. They were central to the development of the curriculum and training other staff to teach the students life skills to be able to live on their own, get and keep a job, and interact with coworkers and others. Read a letter Nappi wrote to her colleagues about the joy she felt watching the students graduate.

Maintaining Your Waistline When You Travel

By Ellen Loreck, MS, RD, LDN
Director, Clinical Nutrition Services

How do you eat healthy and maintain your weight when you have long flights ahead and eat out almost every night? Due to the limited variety of food on flights, many of us indulge in numerous fast foods before boarding. Also, we may choose beverages that can be dehydrating. Prior to getting on a plane, it is important to remember these tips.

Hydrate!

Dehydration is a concern when you are flying. Since there is a lower level of oxygen available, you breathe faster and increase your water loss. It is best to try to drink 8-16 ounces of water prior to flight departure and aim for at least 8 ounces for every hour on the flight. You may want to consider limiting alcoholic or caffeinated beverages that may contribute to dehydration. Remember that you cannot take any liquid beverages through security so hydrating is important prior to getting to the airport.

Pack Snacks!

Most airlines have cut back on serving food on planes. Packing healthy snacks from home helps you stay on track with your healthy eating and are friendly to your wallet. Here are suggestions of ideas to bring in your carry-on that are high protein, low fat, lower in sugar and contain fiber:

  • Nuts
  • Small package of water-packed tuna with whole grain crackers
  • Rice cakes and low fat cheese
  • Fat-free pudding
  • Protein bar
  • Low fat granola with at least 3 g fiber
  • ½ peanut butter sandwich
  • Raw veggies and small container of hummus

If choosing fast food at the airport, remember:

1. Aim for filling half your plate with vegetables or fruit by looking for salads and broth-based soups.

2. Limit high-calorie condiments, such as cream in coffee, mayo or full-calorie salad dressing.

3. Select grilled, steamed, stir-fried or poached menu items.

4. Be careful with smoothies and coffee drinks since many of these items contain more calories than a meal.

5. Limit fried foods, cream-based sauces and foods covered with cheese.

6. Many fast food restaurants have nutrition facts for their menu items so that you keep track of your calorie intake.

7. Check out the map of the airport before your flight for healthy food options near your gate.

Indulge Wisely!

1. Remember not to confuse hunger with boredom or anxiety.

2. Enjoy local foods and cuisine while on vacation.

3. Forgive yourself if you overindulge one day.

4. Make sure to sit down and really savor foods versus eat them just because you are hungry.

 

Blue Holiday Service Acknowledges Darkness While Seeking Growth and Hope

By Susan Roy, DMin, BCC
Pastoral Care Director

As hospital chaplains working with patients, families and our fellow staff members, we know that the stream of cheerful holiday messages and images might only make it harder for individuals experiencing grief or loss. Each year, we offer a series of services for people who seek a more reflective way of coping with the holidays.

I am just finishing the program for our Blue Holiday services later today (12:45 p.m.; 5 p.m.; and 6:15 p.m. to 8:15 p.m.) and hope that it will be meaningful for anyone who is feeling a bit blue this holiday season. Around the country, similar services might also be called a Longest Night service because it occurs on the winter solstice — Dec. 22, the day of the year that has the fewest hours of sunlight. Regardless of the name used, these programs acknowledge the darkness that may also be part of our holiday season.

Arranged in four parts, the service is reflective – not depressing – and moves from darkness to light while keeping a balance between the two. The four parts are loneliness, death, growth and hope. Each of the four parts includes lighting a candle, a reading, and a musical selection. During each of the four parts of the service, participants will be invited to come forward to place flowers in a wreath to represent those whom they remember.

For example: during the first music segment – about loneliness — I might place a flower for my frustration at work; during the second, I might place four flowers to remember three people who have died and a friend who is estranged from me; during the third, I might place a flower for the way I am growing in my faith; during the fourth, I might place two flowers, one for world peace and another for hope.

The service acknowledges the darkest night of the year and symbolically allows us to acknowledge the darker parts of the human condition and our own lives. In the midst of darkness, we still experience moments of light and hints of hope.

In addition to the spiritual help needed, here are some practical tips from two physicians at UMMC.

Mitral Valve Repair Lets Marathon Runner Boogie at Son’s Wedding

By Nick Papas

I had just completed the 2011 Pittsburgh Marathon. It was not my best time. There was no personal record that day. It was a day marked by a continued struggle with a chronic heel injury.  But there was something more serious brewing in my body that day. It was a particularly strong flare-up of my mitral valve pain. I was so familiar with the pain. It had been diagnosed and studied throughout my life. I had mitral valve prolapse. 

 So, I brushed off the chest pain as I slogged through the marathon and finished.

Then a couple hours later, as the marathon and half-marathon runners of our family celebrated with extended family and supportive friends, I shared my personal marathon experience with my soon-to-be daughter-in-law, Beth Ann. My tale included the throw-away detail about my old familiar chest pains. No big deal. Or so I thought.

 Beth Ann, a medical student, was not as flippant as I was about the little detail of chest pain.  She pulled out her stethoscope and diagnosed me on the spot as having mitral valve regurgitation. She strongly suggested that I see my PCP. I was stubborn and a bit incredulous. I didn’t rush.

 Eventually my heart acted up in such new and painful ways that I was compelled to go to my doctor. This set into motion the chain of events that lead me to Dr. James Gammie at UMMC.

An initial link in this chain was me doing my homework. I read the scientific papers. I consulted with knowledgeable, trusted people and friends.

 I had to make my decision: Was I, a man who loves to be active by running and biking, going to be happy taking drugs? Would I be satisfied watching my body get weaker and weaker while my heart became more and more sick?

 Ultimately, the decision was a no-brainer.

 I took action right away, partially because I concluded that it was the right thing to do and partially because my son’s wedding was just around the corner. I wanted to be healed enough to dance at my son’s wedding.

My surgery was performed at UMMC on September 6, 2011. Noah and Beth Ann were married October 8, 2011! I am happy to say I danced! I danced quite a bit! My wife, Patty (in the photo with me), and I had a great time.

 I am grateful not only to be alive but to be living. I am optimistic that with my newly repaired, healthy heart I will be able to enjoy the coming years with my family and to live these years actively. 

In the future, look for me in the 2012 Baltimore Half or Full Marathon. I’m the self-proclaimed, 52-year old, poster “child” of UMMC Mitral Valve Repairs!

 

 

In the Pink: UMMC’s Gina Muldrow Wins a Night Out

Gina Muldrow, left, and her sister, Karen Mohammad, stop by the UMMC main entrance during their night out in a pink limousine. Gina is a stem cell donor navigator in the Blood and Bone Marrow Transplant Unit at UMMC. She won the night out as a door prize when she participated in after-hours events reserved for staff to schedule their own screening mammograms.

 By Gina Muldrow

The Pink Limo was awesome, a real treat and an eye catcher. It has the biggest, prettiest lashes on the headlights — it’s definitely a girly car. And my sister, Karen Mohammad, and I both felt like pretty pink princesses.

The driver was funny, friendly and courteous. Karen and I felt like a tourists while he drove us around Baltimore. It really is a beautiful city at night.

We had dinner at the Black Olive Restaurant. It’s such a lovely, quaint little place in the heart of Fells Point, sitting back on a cobblestone street. Incidentally, the dim lighting would make for an elegant, romantic evening if you’re with your sweetheart. But even if you’re with a sister or a good friend, it’s a beautiful place to have dinner.

The service was very fast and professional, and the food …. OMG! It was awesome. 🙂 Delicious to the last bite. I’m sure they have the best chef in town.

Before we ordered, our waitress gave us a tour of the Black Olive’s seafood display. She educated us about the types of fish they offered and where they came from. In the end, we chose a fish entrée and a lamb entree.

All in all, it was a fantastic evening and I’m so lucky and appreciative of the experience.
Thank you all in the Breast Center for all you do.

Save the Ta-Tas!