Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Two Cochlear Implants, A Whole New World

Adele Millwood’s Story

For my first 32 years, I heard all the sounds of life, including my two sons’ first cries. But Christmas 1988 was the last time I heard normally. That winter, I suffered a major sinus infection which left me with mild hearing loss in the right ear. I got a hearing aid and things started sounding better; doctors assured me it wouldn’t get worse, but over the next 16 years, that proved to be quite untrue.

When my left ear starting fading also, I had numerous MRIs, but doctors could not figure it out. I vividly remember staying up all night with my husband, Randy, both of us crying. What was wrong with me? Why was I losing my hearing? We were both terrified I would wake up one morning completely deaf.

Even with the addition of a second hearing aid, it was getting dangerous for me to be in parking lots; I couldn’t hear cars speeding up behind me. I was terrified of being home alone when Randy traveled for work. My corgi adapted to my loss and helpfully barked to alert me to the phone or oven timer, but I was isolating myself socially. It was difficult to be involved in conversations with friends, and my adolescent sons were struggling to communicate with me, too. Frightened and frustrated, they lost patience when I was unable to understand.

In the spring of 2005, at my (dreaded) yearly hearing test, the audiologist asked, “How are you functioning?” In tears, knowing I had ‘failed’ once again, I responded that I was not. I was actually totally withdrawn from life. She said I might qualify for a cochlear implant (CI), and I cried even more at the hope of a solution. There were very few surgeons near our New Orleans home at the time who were doing CI surgery, but I was referred to one and confirmed as a candidate. On August 27, 2005, I got approval in the mail from my insurance company. The very next day, Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc on New Orleans and forced us to evacuate our home. I had that insurance letter in my hand on the way out the door!

My son Caleb’s wedding was scheduled to take place in New Orleans for the week after we evacuated, but luckily we relocated. Though it was a beautiful day, I could not hear the vows or the toasts. All the noise was muffled by my hearing aids. The same thing happened at my son Josh’s graduation. He was valedictorian, but even from the front row, I didn’t hear his speech. My surgery could not come soon enough; I had zero reservations about it.

My CI was scheduled for six weeks after Hurricane Katrina, and the hospital regained power just in time. They shaved the right half of my head and made an incision all the way behind my ear. Then, I waited six weeks for activation, anxious, nervous and excited. It seemed like forever. My hearing aid in my left ear wasn’t doing much and I depended on reading lips. Curiosity consumed me — what would it sound like? The first things I heard were beeps and buzzes. They were testing the electrodes to make sure everything was connecting and firing up. The next thing I knew, I heard Randy say he loved me, and we were both crying. He was the first one I wanted to hear.

One week after activation day was Thanksgiving, my first real holiday in a long time. The whole family gathered, and unlike years before, I was part of every conversation. Voices sounded crisp and clear, and I learned that my sons had developed a habit of talking about me behind my back, even when I was in the room! In those first few weeks, I relearned sounds. Even the sounds of the car blinker and the hum of the refrigerator were new. Some sounds were wonderful: waterfalls, birds chirping and waves crashing on the beach.

I celebrated five years of hearing in October 2011 by having my other ear implanted. I started out with two good ears and wanted that again. By now, we had moved home to Maryland and I was referred to Doctor Regina Presley and Doctor Scott London, who are both incredible. The surgery was way easier than the first one: the incision was much smaller, and they barely had to shave my head. I went home that day, thrilled with the results and motivated by my grandbabies to recover quickly. I got to hear my granddaughter Kaylee say her first word, my name, ‘Delly.’

I am forever grateful for finding the Cochlear Implant Center at GBMC. They took the time to know me as a person and understand my life and family. I’m not just a number here, like at other places. Dr. Presley goes above and beyond, even holding workshops for patients where we care for each other and learn together. Her passion for helping is amazing. She now helps me extend my wonderful experience with the Cochlear Implant Center into volunteerism by connecting me with new CI candidates. I answer questions from a patient perspective and offer support. It’s so much more than just a clinical setting here — it’s family.

For additional information on the services provided by GBMC’s Cochlear Implant Center, visit www.gbmc.org/cochlear or call 443-849-GBMC (4262). Read Adele’s family’s perspective of her hearing loss at www.gbmc.org/cochlearpatienttestimonials.

Supporting Our Elders with Home Healthcare

Accessing quality healthcare can be a complicated dilemma for elderly patients with mobility impairments. Transportation to doctors’ offices is not only a challenging burden for patients themselves; it can also create stress for loved ones who don’t have the physical ability or flexibility in their schedules to facilitate the visits. Because of the difficulty of attending appointments, many seniors end up in the emergency room for ailments that could have been treated in a simpler fashion if addressed earlier. Worse, some elderly patients find themselves having to choose an ambulance ride to the emergency room over a regular visit to a primary care provider or specialist because the latter is not as financially or physically practical for them.

When unnecessary emergency department visits started to become too frequent for elders, GBMC HealthCare took notice and developed the Support Our Elders Program. “As a society, we have challenges as to how we can afford to care for elders in the manner we would want, particularly at home,” says W. Anthony Riley, MD, geriatrician and Chief Medical Officer of Gilchrist Services. “The Support Our Elders Program was born out of the recognition of the need to go where the patients are.”

The program provides home healthcare medical management and coordination of care for patients age 75 and older who meet a set of eligibility criteria. Many patients have multiple chronic conditions and are increasingly limited in their ability to independently perform the personal activities of daily living. Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner Beverly Ruiz leads the program and provides patients with physical and cognitive assessments, medication and symptom management and advanced care planning. “We want patients and families to feel supported and confident in any transitions they need to make,” she says. “I work with people on their level and carefully explain the next steps of treatment.”

Linda Henderson, BSN, RN-BC, the Clinical Care Manager for the Support Our Elders program, has seen firsthand how this comprehensive in-home healthcare has improved the quality of life for older patients and their families. “We don’t just treat a symptom; we are addressing the whole patient, developing a care plan and treating the caregivers’ needs, too,” she says. “We have communication, connection and continuity.”

Estelle Langstrom is a Support Our Elders patient who came to the program after getting sick with pneumonia and failing to find a doctor who could come to her. She had no way to access care without the help of an ambulance; now Beverly provides the services she needs in the comfort of her own home. “Someone is always there for me,” Estelle says. “No matter what time of day, I get my questions answered.”

If you or a loved one is in need of home healthcare, call the Support Our Elders Program at 443-849-6257 or visit their website at www.gilchristservices.org/soe for the full list of eligibility criteria and program benefits. To see a video with more of Estelle Langstrom’s story and to learn more about the program, visit http://bit.ly/1R7pORw.

Lentil Soup


2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium carrots, diced
2 medium stalks celery, chopped
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups dry lentils
1 can (14 ½ ounces) crushed tomatoes
2 cups vegetable broth
6 ½ cups water


In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add carrots, celery, and onions; cook and stir until the onion is tender.

Stir in garlic, oregano, basil, and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes.

Stir in lentils and tomatoes, then add the vegetable broth and water. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for at least 1 hour or until lentils are tender.

Store leftovers in the refrigerator and reheat on the stove or in the microwave. The soup will taste better the next day!

Nutrition Information

Yield: 11 servings
Serving Size: 1 cup
Calories: 151
Total Fat: 3 g
Saturated Fat: 0 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 248 mg
Total Fiber: 7 g
Protein: 9 g
Carbohydrates: 24 g
Potassium: 503 mg

Recipe retrieved from http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/wecan/eat-right/lentil-soup.htm provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Better health. Better care.

MyChart at GBMC is coming on October 1! At GBMC HealthCare, we’re working to deliver well-coordinated care for you and your family. It doesn’t matter if you're at work, on the road, or at home. With MyChart at GBMC, you will have secure, 24-hour access to your health information.

Through MyChart at GBMC, you can confidentially and safely:
  • View your health record
  • Schedule an appointment
  • Request prescription refills
  • Access your test results
  • Communicate with your doctor or other members of your care team
  • Pay bills online and more!
Ready to get started on the road to better health and better care? Ask your physician or other members of your care team about MyChart at GBMC today!

Fight the Flu

Influenza, more generally known as "the flu" is a viral infection that might feel like a common cold at first. The sneezing, coughing, sore throat and runny nose will likely seem familiar, but if you start experiencing a high fever (over 100 degrees Fahrenheit), chills and/or sweats and aching muscles, it may be the flu. One of the most effective ways to prevent influenza is to get an injectable flu vaccine. Though the flu tends to target young children and older adults, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone six months and older get an annual flu vaccination, with rare exception. Here are answers to some common questions about the flu:

Q: Why is a flu vaccine important?

A: Influenza is a serious disease that even healthy people can get very sick from and spread to others, often unknowingly. An untreated flu can lead to hospitalization or even death. When more people get vaccinated against the flu, it has less chance of spreading throughout our community.

Q: When is "flu season"?

A: Flu season in the United States can begin as early as October and last as late as May. This is when flu viruses are circulating at higher levels than other months.

Q: How does the flu spread?

A: Mainly, flu viruses are spread when people with the flu cough, sneeze or talk. This produces droplets that can land in others' mouths or noses. Less often, the flu virus can be transmitted by a surface or object that someone with flu has touched.

Q: What are the best ways to avoid the flu?

A: Get a flu shot! Wash your hands often with soap and water. Do not share linens, eating utensils or dishes with those who are sick. Disinfect frequently-touched surfaces often, especially if someone around you has been ill. Avoid touching your own mouth or nose if you haven't washed your hands first.

Q: When is the flu considered contagious?

A: It's possible for healthy adults to be contagious and infect other people beginning one day before symptoms develop and for up to five to seven days after becoming sick. Children may be able to infect others for longer than seven days. It is possible to "feel fine" but still spread the flu virus to others. If you or your child is sick, stay home until your doctor tells you it is OK to return to work or school.

Q: How quickly will a flu vaccine be effective?

A: It doesn't work right away. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body to protect against influenza. This is why it is best to get vaccinated early in the fall, before flu season is in full swing.

Talk to your primary care physician about getting seasonal flu vaccinations for you and everyone in your family who is older than six months of age. If you do not have a primary care physician, visit www.mygbmcdoctor.com to find one who is right for you.

4 cups light (no sugar added) fat-free vanilla yogurt
2 large bananas (about 2 cups), sliced
2 cups fresh strawberries, sliced
2 cups graham crackers, crumbled
½ cup fat-free whipped topping (optional)


To make the parfait, spoon 1 tablespoon of yogurt into the bottom of an 8-ounce glass. Top the yogurt with 1 tablespoon sliced bananas, 1 tablespoon sliced strawberries and ¼ cup graham crackers.

Repeat the yogurt, banana, strawberry and graham cracker layers.

Top with a tablespoon of fat-free whipped topping, if desired.

Serve the parfait immediately, or cover each glass with plastic wrap and chill for up to 2 hours before serving.

Nutrition Information

Servings: 8
Calories: 179
Fat: 2g
Saturated Fat: 1g
Cholesterol: 3mg
Sodium: 190 mg
Fiber: 2g
Protein: 6g
Carbohydrates: 36g

Recipe retrieved from http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/wecan/eat-right/yogurt-parfait.htm, provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Chasing the Record at Legacy Chase!

The Greater Baltimore community has trusted GBMC HealthCare with providing the highest level of compassionate care for more than 50 years. With advanced treatment options available from some of the region’s leading physicians, the Sandra & Malcolm Berman Cancer Institute is no exception. Statistics show that one in three people has been touched by cancer in some way. Whether a loved one has battled cancer or you personally have been diagnosed, the reality is that cancer affects us all.

Join us Saturday, September 24, 2016 for the 16th annual Legacy Chase at Shawan Downs. Set in in Maryland’s picturesque horse country, Legacy Chase is GBMC’s signature event benefiting its oncology services and patient support programs. Fill up your car with family and friends, pack a cooler and picnic and spend a day in the warm September sun for this homecoming of the GBMC community. With family-friendly activities, steeplechase horse racing, food trucks and a Vendor Village, Legacy Chase offers something for everyone.

To add to the fun, this year, we’re attempting to break the Guinness World Record for the world’s longest awareness ribbon – right in the infield of Shawan Downs! Stretching a mile and a half long, the lavender ribbon is a symbol of GBMC’s commitment to the fight against all cancers. Join us for this momentous occasion as we “chase the record!”

Legacy Chase Lowdown

A Farmer’s Field parking pass starts as low as $35 per car load with additional premiere seating available. Find the best admission option for you at www.legacychase.org.

Gates open at 10:00am and Guinness World Record Judging begins at 11:30am.

The Kids’ Korner offers games and activities for children of all ages, including face painting, visits from your favorite princesses and superheroes, stick pony races and more!

Cancer survivors and their loved ones are welcome to join us at the Cancer Survivorship tent for refreshments. RSVP online at www.legacychase.org to receive a free parking pass.

Graduates of GBMC’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and their families are welcome to participate in a reunion with other NICU families and members of the NICU team.

Volunteers are needed! Sign up at https://gbmc.formstack.com/forms/ribbonvolunteer.