Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Unhappy Holidays

"The holidays remind me that I'm alone."
"I can't afford to give people the kinds of gifts they expect."
"My family will always consider me a failure compared to my sister."
"I'm in too much pain to act like I'm enjoying myself."

These are just a few of the reasons why many people find the holiday season to be an unpleasant time of year. Depression can be caused by a number of different things – certain chronic illnesses, grief, medications, hormones, substance abuse – and it can also be brought about or amplified by stressful experiences.

Not only can depression result in uncomfortable physical symptoms like headaches, gastrointestinal disturbances, sleeplessness and fatigue, it can also worsen a chronic illness such as diabetes or high blood pressure. This is especially dangerous for those who have a chronic condition that has not yet been diagnosed. Unfortunately, when people suffer from a combination of chronic illness and depression, they are even more likely to avoid family, friends and activities they once enjoyed. That isolation may intensify the depression.

The most frequently cited “triggers” for depression during the holidays are: family gatherings or being away from family and friends; concerns about money and spending; high or unrealistic expectations; fatigue; over-committing and over-commercialization.

To cope with these triggers, consider trying some of the following actions:
  • plan daily “me” time to focus on your own needs
  • practice saying "no" to avoid over-committing yourself
  • donate to a charity instead of buying commercial gifts
  • prepare a budget for reasonable spending
  • ask for help when you need it
  • set time limits for various tasks or events to prevent rushing from place to place
Deep breathing can also be a helpful tool to calm yourself when you feel frustrated or anxious.

Don’t wait for a crisis or suffer in silence. There are multiple ways to address depression and people do get better. Regardless of whether you or a loved one suffer from major (clinical) or seasonal depression, it’s important to speak with your primary care physician about the symptoms. He or she will be able to assess your needs, determine whether a chronic condition is present and discuss possible treatment options.

GBMC has 10 primary care practices throughout the Baltimore area. If you do not have a primary care physician, visit www.mygbmcdoctor.com to find one who is right for you. Or, click here to complete an appointment request form.

Survivorship Begins with Diagnosis

Joyce Myrick was diagnosed with fallopian tube cancer in the summer of 2014, and her journey to recovery had a difficult beginning. She was referred to a local hospital for chemotherapy, but her calls to schedule appointments went unanswered. “I asked my daughter, who’s a lawyer, to get involved so my treatment could begin,” she says. Losing her hair took an emotional toll also, prompting her daughter to suggest attending the American Cancer Society’s “Look Good Feel Better” lecture series. The series, which is held at GBMC, offers support and teaches cancer patients and their families about beauty techniques.

“At the lecture, I was listening to another attendee talk about her positive experiences in GBMC’s Infusion Center and was just baffled,” Mrs. Myrick says. “I thought that all cancer treatments were the same, that everyone had a hard time feeling cared for or getting the information they needed.” After the lecture, Mrs. Myrick spoke to Paul Celano, MD, a GBMC oncologist, about her treatment and immediately transitioned to GBMC. “It was an excellent experience from start to finish.”

Now cancer-free, one of Mrs. Myrick’s favorite aspects of care at GBMC is the Survivorship Program, which is designed to help cancer patients and their families navigate the changes and challenges that come with a diagnosis of and treatment for cancer. “The current accepted definition of survivorship is the process of living with, through and beyond cancer,” says Felicity Kirby, Oncology Nurse Coordinator for Oncology Support Services at GBMC. “Cancer survivorship begins at diagnosis and includes people who continue to have treatment to either reduce risk of recurrence or to manage chronic disease. It also includes their families.”

According to the American Cancer Society, the number of people with a history of cancer in the United States has increased dramatically, from 3 million in 1971 to about 13.7 million in 2014. GBMC works to aid that population by providing supportive services such as rehabilitation, nutrition, counseling, palliation of symptoms and care coordination, among others. By using a Resource Guide provided at diagnosis, patients can organize all of the information they receive throughout their care, including education materials, treatments, medications, pain management, test result logs and support resource listings. Patients who complete treatment and transition to follow-up care are eligible to meet with Ms. Kirby to receive a customized treatment summary and care plan. Surveillance, screening, prevention of recurrence and new cancers, follow-up guidelines, risk reducing strategies, how recovery is going and more are reviewed during this visit.

“During my first appointment at GBMC, everything was handled for me,” Mrs. Myrick says. “I kept the packet they gave me when I started my treatment, and still use it to store my test results and information. Everyone is so kind and always there to answer my questions. The funny thing is that I rarely have problems because Felicity anticipates my needs before a problem can come up.

For more information on the Survivorship Program at GBMC, visit www.gbmc.org/oncologysupportservices or call 443-849-2961.

Meet Your Friendly GBMC at Owings Mills Primary Care Practice

In primary care, offering preventive medicine and helping patients treat their chronic conditions is paramount. Patient-centered medical homes (PCMHs) help primary care providers do just that using a model of care that emphasizes coordination and effective patient-practitioner communication. PCMHs keep their focus on providing better healthcare at a lower cost to patients by delivering evidence-based care, promoting preventive medicine, managing chronic illnesses and engaging in proactive monitoring of patient health.

GBMC HealthCare boasts nine PCMHs serving the Greater Baltimore community, one of which is GBMC at Owings Mills. This practice’s care team is made up of four physicians, a physician’s assistant, a certified adult nurse practitioner and several other support staff members, all of whom are passionate about promoting and advocating for patients’ health and wellness.

Maria V. Borodatcheva, MD, specializes in internal medicine for adults 18 years or older and enjoys aiding patients from all walks of life with a full spectrum of health conditions. Elena Ghiaur, MD, is also an internal medicine specialist, who believes the best way to promote preventive medicine is to get patients involved with monitoring and managing their own health. Kevin Ferentz, MD, lead physician for GBMC at Owings Mills, practices family medicine, meaning that he delivers care to both pediatric patients and adults. He believes that family physicians “cure rarely, treat often and comfort always.” Family medicine physician Kevin Carter, MD, the newest addition to the practice, has a passion for treating each patient with care and compassion. Drs. Ferentz and Carter are board-certified in family medicine and Drs. Ghiaur and Borodatcheva are board-certified in internal medicine. Also practicing at GBMC at Owings Mills are Elena Volkov, PA-C, an internal medicine physician’s assistant, and Marilyn Andrews, MS-CRNP, a certified adult nurse practitioner.

GBMC at Owings Mills is easily accessible from Painters Mill Road and Red Run Boulevard. With convenient extended hours on Monday through Friday as well as Saturday and Sunday morning hours available for sick visits, GBMC at Owings Mills offers phlebotomy, obstetrics/ gynecology, gynecologic well women’s services, gastroenterology and neurological services. Medical services can be offered in a variety of languages including English, Russian, Romanian and Polish.

Patients of all GBMC HealthCare PCMH offices, including the GBMC at Owings Mills practice, are able to securely access their electronic health records using the Web-based tool, myGBMC. Through myGBMC, patients have round-the-clock access to their medication lists, test results as well as past and current billing statements. Patients are also able to request prescription refills and specialist referrals, send messages to their primary care physicians for answers to questions and more. With myGBMC, patients can better participate in their own healthcare monitoring and planning.

GBMC at Owings Mills is currently accepting new patients. For more information about the practice’s hours, location, practitioners and insurance accepted, visit www.mygbmcdoctor.com/owingsmills or call 443-849-GBMC (4262).

Mini Crab Balls

Announcing the winner of GBMC’s 1st Annual Healthy Holiday Recipe Contest! Amanda Boles submitted her recipe for Mini Crab Balls - a great appetizer or side dish for the holidays! Here’s the recipe.

Serves 12

1/2 pound real jumbo lump crab meat
1/8 cup diced onions
2 teaspoons diced red pepper
2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
2 teaspoons low-fat mayonnaise with olive oil
1/2 cup whole wheat crackers, crumbled
1 large egg
2 pinches of Old Bay Seasoning

Preheat oven to "Broil" setting
Lightly mix all ingredients in large bowl
Roll the mixture into individual bite-size balls
Place crab balls on a baking pan, about 1 inch apart
Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown
Garnish with parsley.
Serve and enjoy!

Nutrition Information
Calories: 120
Fat: 1/2 g
Sodium: 101 mg
Protein: 4.7 g
Carbohydrates: 2.9 g
Cholesterol: 40 g