Fixing A Racing Heartbeat at Lexington Cardiology

We’re pleased to bring you a blog series called “Meet the Patients.” We share the stories of Lexington Medical Center patients whose experiences will educate and inspire readers about the outstanding care provided throughout our hospital network and the importance of modern medicine.

For years, Natalie Herndon felt her heartbeat racing extremely fast. Many doctors dismissed the University of South Carolina student’s symptoms as anxiety. But at Lexington Cardiology, a Lexington Medical Center physician practice, doctors discovered something wrong with Natalie’s heart – and knew just how to fix it. She shares her story below.

Natalie’s condition was called PSVT – paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia. That’s an abnormal heart rhythm where the electrical signal goes in a circle around the heart rather than in a straight line from top to bottom. It causes a rapid heart rate and can make people feel palpitations, or fluttering, of the heart. In Natalie’s case, she was born with an extra electrical connection in the heart that allows the signal to move faster than usual. She underwent a cardiac ablation that stopped the abnormal heart rhythm in its tracks.

Since her procedure in July, Natalie no longer suffers from PSVT episodes.

For information on Dr. Christopher Rowley and Lexington Cardiology, visit LexCardio.com.

Surprise!

By Lisa Baker

What come to mind when someone says surprise?  You probably think of many things depending on what’s going on in your life.

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Well right now for us, our surprise is Mom has a urinary tract infection (UTI).  With dementia patients, a UTI can come on so quick like a surprise.  It really knocks these patients for a loop. With Mom, she seems very unresponsive, eats basically nothing, and drinks nothing.  She can look very dazed almost like she isn’t aware of where she is.

Dad on the other hand gets more aggressive, mean, very agitated, and unreasonable. They are at opposite ends of the spectrum.

Right now, Mom is in the ER.  They are running the usual test and giving her IV antibiotics.  They also did a chest x-ray to rule out pneumonia.  It is possible that they may want to admit her for a few days until she shows some improvement.  My sister-in-law, Stefanie, is with her in the ER and depending on how Mom acts may stay with her if she is admitted tonight.  When Mom is like this, we very much have to play things by ear.

If it were Dad, we would probably leave him with the hospital staff.  I know you must be thinking we don’t love him; we do, but that just gives you an idea of how mean he can be.  We know that is not the real Dad we have grown to love. It’s very hard to sit there and take it all.  This is one of the times that you have to also take care of yourself.

No one has the right to tell caretakers of dementia patients that we are doing it wrong.  We are the only ones that can decide what is best for our parents and our family.

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Stop and read and reread that last sentence.  Now don’t be afraid to use it.

Everyone’s life and circumstances are different and even more so when dementia plays a role in a loved one’s life.  Only you know or can even try to decide what is best for you.

Please don’t forget that. If you forget everything else, don’t forget that.

For us, the next several hours to days will tell if treatment is effective enough for her to return to her facility.  If not, we could be back to square one looking for another place for her. Now we wait and keep checking on her and see what the doctor has to say.

Dad seems to be his usual self at his facility.  He still wants to go home.  He hangs on to the thought of going home.  In his mind, he can take care of himself.  I saw him Thursday of last week.  He was very hung up on the fact that my first husband and I had separated and divorced.  He was upset that I didn’t tell him about it.  I’ll tell you he helped me move out when we separated more than six years ago.

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He was also upset that I didn’t tell him that I was getting married to my current husband. Yes, he and Mom both were at our wedding four years ago, but all I could tell him was, “I’m sorry Dad; I thought you knew.”

My visits with him last no more than an hour most of the time. That’s about all he and I can take.  It’s even gotten to where I have to figure out a way to slip out unnoticed.  If I don’t, he thinks he is walking out the door with me.

I hope that all your surprises are the ones you can be excited about. I’ll let you know next time how things go with Mom and how Dad is doing.

As always, take time to make memories but also take care of yourself.

How many of you are caregivers out there? How many of you care for a loved one with dementia?  I would love to hear from you.

Don’t Make People Guess

by June Greenlaw 

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I’m sure many of you have been through the loss of a loved one who did not leave a will or express their wishes upon their death.  Maybe they died suddenly and far too young.  Those of you who have experienced this know the stress involved in trying to plan a service and decide whether to bury or cremate your loved one.  I encourage you not to put your family in that position.

I realize that it’s difficult to think about your own demise, but let’s face it, none of us will be here forever!  It’s worth taking the time to write down your preferences to avoid burdening those left behind with guesswork.  There are many things to consider and lots of resources available to help guide you.

One such resource is called Everplans.  This service will guide you through planning your service including choosing music, naming those you’d like to speak, noting scripture you’d like to have read, etc.  You can also upload and store important documents.  The service is free for 30 days which would allow you to think through things and print out plans if you don’t want to subscribe.  If you choose to store documents, the fee is $75 per year: a small price to pay to allow your family to know your wishes and have all necessary paperwork in one place.

If the thought of uploading sensitive documents has your skin crawling, consider buying a fireproof safe to store these precious items. You should also make a list of bank accounts with logins and passwords, gather insurance paperwork, and note where you have small policies that are offered for free at places like banks.  Write down things loved ones should know about insurance that you may have through your employer and beneficiary information.  Consider storing a copy of each of your monthly bills so that things such as cell phones or car insurance can be canceled easily.

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The suggestion of writing your own obituary might have you feeling like you’d seem self-absorbed, but you can ask family and friends for help.  Consider posting something on social media asking people to write 3-5 sentences that describe what they think of you as a person or what they think are your most impressive traits.  Maybe ask folks to share their favorite memories of time spent with you.  It will not only be a gift to your loved ones when they don’t have to do this, but it may even be an eye-opening ego boost!

If you have the ability to prepay for your service, please do it.  If you have not already done this, think about starting a separate account that you put a small amount in each month to be used for this purpose.  It’s sort of like a Christmas Club, but for end of life costs.  The average cost of a funeral is about $7000, so divide that among the years you think you have left and put that amount in this account each year.  The amount of stress this will relieve will be priceless!

Name an executor to carry out your wishes.  This should be a person you trust to make sure that what you want to have done IS DONE regardless of what others think about it.  Write letters to the important people in your life.  These words will bring comfort to them as they go through the grieving process.

Personally, I have used Legal Zoom to create a will, and I thought the price was reasonable and the process was very easy.  If you believe there is a need to spell out who you want your belongings and assets passed onto, you’ll need a will to avoid making a bad situation worse.  I implore you to consider doing these things sooner rather than later as none of us are promised tomorrow.

 

The Whitman Sampler and Love Memories

By Rhonda Woods

Hello Everyone!

Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching, and memories come to mind.  My20190210_083132 sweet husband’s traditional Valentine’s gifts were usually and quietly placed on the placemat at my dining table seat before he left for work.  A thoughtful card and my Whitman Sampler!  Sometimes I would get to leave my Valentine for him, a heart-shaped tin filled with miniature Reese Peanut Butter Cups and a hand-picked card, simply signed “Your Bride,” the night before he left mine.  The empty boxes were saved and occasionally used to store small keepsakes.  Over the past year, I have found some of those boxes that he used to tuck away cards, photos, bumper stickers, and old Clemson Bowl Game tickets that we attended.

Valentine’s Day was not the only time we shared our thoughts and love for each other.  Often a heart and little note was written on a napkin under a coffee cup. The anticipation for that annual yellow box with the “candy map” in the top for almost forty years was just perfectly him.

ValentineLike most couples we had our song, “Unchained Melody” by one of his favorites, The Righteous Brothers.  I long to slow dance to that song with him.  Dancing with a special step he added while singing along… I just miss it… I miss him.  While watching America’s Got Talent a couple of weeks ago, I was caught off guard when a group called the Texas Tenors sang the soulful song. Coincidence? I think not! Listen to this awesome performance at @TheTexasTenors#AGTChampions.  What is your “Our Song?”  Does it describe your love for your husband, wife, or significant other like ours did?

I have had and will continue to have a pretty full schedule of faculty/staff lunches, catering functions, starting a new class for the spring semester, and diving into the baking and pastry chapter with my second-year students. I will take time to bake and decorate heart-shaped chocolate chip cookie cakes with all of my students. Taking that time to share a little something special with them will make my heart smile as they proudly leave the kitchen with their personal, tasty Valentine creation.

There are a few recipes we make that I say are “date night” recipes. One of them is chicken cordon bleu. Don’t let the name intimidate you.  It is a simple “roulade,” meaning rolling layers of ingredients into a jelly roll style. After baking and cutting into the roulade, the ingredients should have a pinwheel look or swirl. Alfredo sauce tossed with fettuccine is another “fancy” recipe using grated Parmesan cheese and heavy whipping cream.  You can also finish up your special meal with cheesecake: a full batch baked in a 9-10″ spring form pan or smaller ones baked in mini, standard, or jumbo muffin pans lined with paper liners. Then there is another decant dessert, crème brule. It is a little time consuming, but well worth the rich “mouth feel” of silky cold custard with caramelized sugar on top. Whatever you decide to make to celebrate the “day of love,” do it from your heart and start your own special Valentine’s Day tradition.

May God bless you and your family as He continues to bless ours,

Chef Woods

Chicken Cordon Bleu

4 Servings

Tools and utensils

  • Plastic wrap
  • Solid spoon or meat mallet
  • Measuring spoons
  • 3 Small plastic container
  • Fork
  • Measuring cups
  • Toothpicks
  • ½ sized hotel pan (9”x13” pan)

Ingredients

  • Pan spray
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • ¼- ½  t. salt
  • 1/8 – ¼  t. pepper
  • 4 Swiss cheese slices
  • 8 cooked ham, thinly sliced
  • ½ – ¾ c. flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 T. water
  • ½ – ¾ c. seasoned bread crumbs

Procedure

  1. Preheat convection oven to 325ºF
  2. Spray ½ hotel pan.
  3. Pound chicken breasts between plastic wrap to ¼” thick (aim for a rectangle).
  4. Sprinkle each side of the chicken breasts with salt and pepper.
  5. Place 1 slice of cheese and 2 slices of ham on top of each chicken breast, tucking the ends.
  6. Roll up each breast and wrap securely in plastic wrap.
  7. Refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight.
  8. Place the flour in one plastic container.
  9. In one of the small containers, make an egg wash by beating the egg with water.
  10. Place the bread crumbs in the other container.
  11. Coat the chicken rolls in flour, dip in egg wash, and then roll in bread crumbs.
  12. It may be necessary to secure the rolls with a toothpick.
  13. Place rolls in the prepared pan and bake 30-35 minutes or until internal temperature of 165 ºF is reached.
  14. Remove toothpicks and serve.

Alfredo Sauce

8 Servings

Tools and utensils

  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Measuring spoons
  • Straight sided sauté pan or large skillet
  • Whisk

Ingredients 

  • ½ c. butter
  • 2 t. garlic powder
  • 1 ½ c. heavy cream
  • 1 ½ c. grated Parmesan Cheese
  • ½ t. white pepper
  • Dash of salt
  • 1 c. heavy cream

Procedure 

  1. In a straight-sided sauté pan or large skillet, melt butter and garlic powder, sautéing for 1 minute.
  2. Stir in 1 ½ c. heavy cream.
  3. Heat to simmer, stirring constantly with a whisk to prevent scorching.
  4. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and 1 cup heavy cream.
  6. Toss sauce with cooked pasta.
  7. Serve immediately 

NY Style Baked Cheesecake & Variations

Ingredients 

  • 1 ¼ c. graham cracker crumbs 
  • ¼ c sugar
  • 1/3 c butter or margarine, melted
  • 2 lbs. (4-8 oz. pkg.) cream cheese, softened
  • 1- 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 T. flour
  • ¼ c. lemon juice
  • 4 eggs
  • CHEESECAKE VARIATIONS:
    • Chocolate Cheesecake: 4 blocks chocolate candy coating, 2 T. melted Cocoa powder
    • Peanut Butter Cheesecake: ¾ c. creamy or chunky peanut butter
    • Pumpkin Cheesecake: 1 c. solid packed pumpkin, 2 t. pumpkin pie spice
    • Fruit Swirled Cheesecake: ¼ c.-3/4 c. prepared fruit glaze such as blueberry, strawberry or peach
    • Red Velvet Cheesecake: 1 t.butter flavoring, 3 T. cocoa powder, 4 T. red food coloring

Procedure 

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F.
  2. Combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted margarine in a medium bowl until well moistened.
  3. Press the crumb mixture evenly on the bottom of a 9” or 10” spring-form pan.
  4. In a mixer bowl with a paddle attachment, beat cream cheese on medium speed until smooth.
  5. Add sweetened condensed milk and blend well.
  6. Add flour and lemon juice.
  7. Add any variation ingredients, if desired.
  8. Add eggs, one at a time, on low speed, just until the last one is blended in.
  9. Pour batter over the crust.
  10. Bake 30-45 minutes, or until the outside edge is firm.  The middle may still be a little “jiggley.”
  11. Remove cake from oven and run a thin blade knife around the edge of the pan to prevent the cake from cracking as it cools.
  12. Cool completely, then cover and refrigerate several hours or overnight before cutting.

Tips:  Do not beat on high speed or you will incorporate too much air and the texture will not be dense.  Do not over-bake; the center of the cake will continue to cook after it is removed from the oven. To prevent cracks in the cheesecake, run a thin blade knife around the edge of the pan before cooling, otherwise the cake will stick to the side of the pan and crack in the middle as it cools.  If the cheesecake cracks, simply add a topping to over it up!

Crème Brule

5-4 oz. servings

Tools and Utensils

  • 2 medium mixing bowls
  • Fine mesh strainer
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Whisk
  • Small saucepan
  • 4-oz. ladle
  • 5-8 oz. ramekins or baking cups
  • ½ sized hotel pan
  • Propane torch 

Ingredients

  • 12 egg yolks
  • ¼ c. sugar
  • 1 t. choice of flavoring or dry spice
  • 16 oz. heavy cream
  • 5 T. Sugar 
  • Garnishes as desired such as whipped cream, shaved chocolate cocoa powder or dry spices

Procedure

  1. Preheat convection oven to 350°.
  2. Beat yolks with ¼ c. sugar and choice of flavoring or dry spice until light and slightly thickened.
  3. Scald heavy cream.
  4. Temper beaten yolks with scalded cream.
  5. Strain.
  6. Skim and remove all foam.
  7. Ladle mixture into ramekins or baking cups.
  8. Place filled ramekins in ½ sized hotel pans.
  9. Place pan on the oven rack and fill with water until ½ way up the ramekins.
  10. Bake 20-25 minutes or until custard is firm to the touch.
  11. Carefully remove hotel pan from oven.
  12. Cool ramekins completely in the refrigerator.
  13. Cover with plastic wrap until ready to serve.
  14. Before serving, evenly sprinkle 1 T. sugar on top of each custard.
  15. Caramelize sugar with propane torch.
  16. Garnish as desired and serve.
  17. Refrigerate any leftovers.   

Finding Joy Through the Pain – Back Surgery is NOT for Sissies!

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By Janet Prince 

Finding joy in the little things is a big accomplishment for me right now.  For example, today I drove myself to the grocery store…alone.  What an amazing feeling of freedom!  I am currently at the seven month point of an 18-month recovery from major back surgery I had on July 2 and July 3, so the feeling of freedom was exhilarating!

I have had chronic back pain for as long as I can remember.  I had tried the steroid shots that lasted a long time at first, and as the years went on, they would only last a few weeks.  Then I tried the nerve block in December 2017 that should have lasted several months, but only gave me about three weeks of relief.  We decided to see if Southeastern Spine in Mt. Pleasant could help me.

Gary and I went down thinking the issue with my back were disc issues.  Boy we were wrong.  The issue I had was worse than either of us thought.  My scoliosis that I was diagnosed with when I was 12-years-old and never had issues with because it was so minor turned into a major problem as I have aged.  My spine had spiraled in the middle, and this was causing my right rib cage to collapse onto my pelvic bone.  Thankfully it had not grown together!  Gary and I spent the rest of the day talking about how to best fix the problem with a scoliosis specialist on staff.

doctor-840127_1920I needed a two-day surgery to get my back corrected.  On the first day, they went in laparoscopic and inserted spacers between my vertebra from top to bottom and corrected the disc issues.  The second day they cut me in 21 different places to make my spine get back to where it should be, fused 10 vertebrae, put in five screws, and did a bone graft.  Basically, I have been told it was seven surgeries in one.

I don’t remember much about the first few days following the surgery, but I do remember the agonizing pain.  Back surgery is not for sissies.  I was in the hospital for 7 days and then spent a week and a half at Health South in Charleston.  I do remember those days as being some of the hardest days of my life.  Once I was there, I had to physically pull myself up in the bed, learn to get in and out of the bed, and to walk again using a walker.  Those were dark days for me; they were so dark that I quit answering my cell phone or any text.  This made my best friend so worried that one day when I woke up from napping she was standing at the foot of my bed.  I was so happy to see her!  Gary drove down every day when he got off work and stayed with me until after I had my dinner.  I know that was hard on him, but he didn’t want me to be alone.

Once I returned home, the work to heal really started.  I spent the next eight weeks wearing a back brace, laying on my back, and watching summer turn to fall.  Thank goodness for the Hallmark Channel!

I was able to start physical therapy in October, and it made all the difference in the world.  I would go two to three times a week for an hour and half pushing myself to work harder and go farther than I did the day before.  I had a goal of wanting to walk straight down the aisle at our daughters’ wedding on January 4th.  All during this time I was not allowed to drive myself so Gary or Ashlan would drive me each day.  Not being able to drive and go when and where I wanted was very hard.  I felt I had lost my freedom and independence, but I was not going to let the pain and hard work beat me.

During this time of healing, I have gone from “I can do this” to total depression and back to “I’ve got this.”  As fall moved to winter, the days were getting shorter and the gloomy weather set in causing more depression.  Depression is hard to come back from, but I recognized the signs and contacted my doctor for help.  I’m not ashamed of the depression, and I believe it was normal for what I was going through with my body.  The pain that is there each day, not being able to go where I wanted when I wanted, and just the act of walking have all been challenging.  When Gary and I went for my check up in January, they reminded me again that I was just six months in to my recovery, and that I was really doing well.

I must look for joy in my days, but I don’t have to look too far…. when I look at my girlsadult-affection-aged-1449049 that brings me joy and pride.  They are two remarkable young ladies and show their love for me every day.  Plus, I have the best husband. In our 23 years of marriage, he has spent the last 16 helping me with every health issue from my diagnosis with breast cancer in 2003 and all the surgeries that came with that and now my back.  He has been a real trooper always encouraging me and reminding me how good he thinks I am doing.  I feel safe and know that I’m going to make it through the next 11 months pushing and fighting to get back to my life with Gary by my side.

When you find joy in the simplest things in life like going to the grocery store by yourself, you must keep in perspective knowing there is an end to this chapter although it’s not today.  For now, I must remember Romans 8:10,The pain that you’ve been feeling, can’t compare to the Joy that’s coming.” I must believe my joy that is coming has to be amazing!

Superfood of the Month: Cauliflower

Cauliflower is considered one of the healthiest foods on Earth and with good reason. It has a rich supply of health-promoting phytochemicals, a high level of anti-inflammatory compounds, and the ability to ward off cancer, heart disease, brain disease and weight gain. There isn’t much cauliflower can’t do.

Top Health Benefits of Cauliflower
•Helps reduce cancer risk
•Fights inflammation
•Decreases risk for heart disease and brain disorders
•Provides high levels of vitamins and minerals (especially vitamins C and K)
•Improves digestion and detoxification
•Aids in weight loss
•Helps balance hormones
•Preserves eye health

The best ways to cook cauliflower are to gently sauté or stir fry to maintain nutritional value. Cauliflower can also be consumed raw. It’s best to use it within three to seven days of purchase.

Recipe
Grilled and Marinated Flank Steak with Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower

Yield: 5 servings
Total Time: 36 to 46 minutes (marinate 8 to 24 hours)
Prep Time: 20 minutes (marinate 8 to 24 hours)
Cook Time: 11 minutes (rest 5 to 15 minutes)

INGREDIENTS
• 2 to 3 lb flank steak or London Broil
• 2 T balsamic vinegar
• 2 T fresh lemon juice
• 1 T Dijon mustard
• 1 T Worcestershire sauce
• 1 T finely minced fresh garlic
• 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
• 1/2 tsp. dried basil
• 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
• 1 tsp. smoked paprika or paprika
• 1/4 cup olive oil

DIRECTIONS
1. Combine balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, Dijon, Worcestershire sauce, garlic and spices.
2. Whisk in olive oil.
3. Trim flank steak of visible fat. Make small scores about ¼-inch deep and ¼-inch apart on both sides of the meat.
4. Place meat in a small Ziploc® bag.
5. Pour marinade mixture over meat.
6. Marinate in refrigerator for 8 to 24 hours.
7. Take meat out of the refrigerator, drain out marinade, and let it come to room temperature while preheating a grill to high heat.
8. Turn grill to medium-high or let coals cool before grilling the meat.
9. Using a meat thermometer, cook to 130°F.
10. The meat will continue to cook as it rests, so remove it from the grill when it’s underdone rather than overdone.
11. When the meat reaches temperature, remove it from the grill.
12. Let rest 5 to 10 minutes for smaller pieces or 10 to 15 minutes for larger pieces.
13. Cut meat into thin slices across the grain, and serve immediately.

Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower
Yield: 2 servings
Total Time: 55 minutes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients
8 oz cauliflower florets horizontally sliced
2 T melted butter
1 T olive oil
½ cup Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. chopped parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Toss sliced cauliflower with butter and olive oil. Season with salt and black pepper.
3. Transfer the cauliflower to a baking sheet. In single layer, roast until almost tender about 20 to 30 minutes.
4. Remove from the oven and sprinkle cauliflower with grated Parmesan and chopped parsley. Roast until the cheese melts and is slightly crusty, about 5 minutes.
5. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

Wear Red Day 2019

Today begins American Heart Month. It’s also National Wear Red Day. Hospital employees gathered to take a special photo to show support for the awareness of heart disease.

Lexington Medical Center wants you to “Just Say Know” to heart disease. Visit LexMed.com/Know to take a quiz about high blood pressure, heart disease or heart attacks.