Tag Archives: disease

DIAGNOSIS: RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS

Sandra was forty years old when she first noticed that the joints in her hands and toes were tender, warm, and swollen. In the mornings, the joints were stiff, and her body ached. She said she felt like she had been run over by a Mack Truck. She knew something was wrong so she made an appointment with her doctor.

The following week she met with her doctor. Sandra described her current symptoms (pain, stiffness, tenderness, warm and swollen joints). The doctor examined each joint, looking for tenderness, swelling, warmth, and painful or limited motion. He noted that the joints on both sides of her body were affected. (Rheumatoid arthritis tends to affect joints on both sides of the body.)

Next, the doctor ordered blood tests to measure inflammation levels. The blood tests also look for biomarkers such as antibodies (blood proteins) linked with rheumatoid arthritis.

Finally, he ordered a magnetic resonance imaging scan (MRI) to look for joint damage, such as loss of bone within the joint and narrowing of joint space. Note that the lack of joint damage does not rule out rheumatoid arthritis. It may mean that the disease is in an early stage and hasn’t yet damaged the joints.

While she waited for the results of the tests, Sandra researched osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis on her computer. She discovered that osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. According to https://www.everday health.com/rheumatoid-arthritis, it affects over 30 million adults in the United States. It is also known as degenerative arthritis, and it is also called wear-and-tear arthritis. Osteoarthritis typically occurs in older adults.

By contrast, rheumatoid arthritis is an auto-immune, inflammatory, systemic disease. The immune system attacks healthy cells in the body by mistake. This results in inflammation, pain, and swelling in affected body parts. Rheumatoid arthritis typically attacks several joints symmetrically. It may also affect organs such as the heart, lungs, and eyes.

The test results showed that Sandra did indeed have rheumatoid arthritis. What caused this? Doctors don’t know what causes rheumatoid arthritis. However, according to https://www.mayoclinic.org, the following risk factors have been identified:

  • Being female.
  • Your age. Rheumatoid arthritis most commonly begins between the ages of 40 to 60.
  • Family history. If a member of your family has rheumatoid arthritis, you may have an increased risk of getting the disease.
  • Smoking. Cigarette smoking increases your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Environmental exposure. Exposure to asbestos or silica may increase your risk for developing rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Obesity. People who are overweight or obese appear to be at somewhat higher risk of rheumatoid arthritis, especially women diagnosed with the disease when they were 55 or younger.

If you have a family member who has a serious illness and needs private duty nursing, call American Home Health at (630) 236-3501. The agency can provide round-the-clock nursing care by Registered Nurses (RNs), Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), and Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs). Our service area covers fifteen counties in Northern Illinois including Cook, Lake, McHenry, Boone, Winnebago, Ogle, Lee, DeKalb, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, LaSalle, Grundy, Will, and Kankakee. American Home Health is licensed by the State of Illinois and accredited by the Joint Commission. For further information, go to www.ahhc-1.com, or call (630) 236-3501.

—By Karen Centowski

A FORMIDABLE FOE: LEWY BODY DEMENTIA

Born at St. Luke’s Hospital in Chicago on July 21, 1951, Robin Williams was the son of Robert Fitzgerald Williams, a senior executive in Ford Motor Company’s Lincoln-Mercury Division. His mother, Laurie McLaurin, was a former model from Jackson, Mississippi. During a television interview on Inside the Actors Studio in 2001, Williams credited his mother as an important early influence on his humor. He said he tried to make her laugh to gain attention.

Williams attended public elementary school at Gorton Elementary School in Lake Forest and middle school at Deer Path Junior High School. When he was twelve, his father was transferred to Detroit. When he was sixteen, his father took early retirement and the family moved to California.

He began performing stand-up comedy in San Francisco and Los Angeles in the 1970’s. He also starred in numerous films including Good Morning, Vietnam (1987) and the box office hit Mrs. Doubtfire (1993).

On August 11, 2014, the world learned that Williams had committed suicide by hanging himself in his California home. He was sixty-three years old. The autopsy report showed no alcohol or illegal drugs were involved. Prescription drugs in his system were at “therapeutic” levels. The final autopsy report noted that Williams had been suffering “a recent increase in paranoia.” An examination of his brain tissue suggested Williams suffered from “diffuse Lewy body dementia.”

According to a Mayo Clinic article “Lewy body dementia” at https://www.mayoclinic.org., “Lewy body dementia, also known as dementia with Lewy bodies, is the second most common type of progressive dementia after Alzheimer’s disease dementia. Protein deposits, called Lewy bodies, develop in nerve cells in the brain regions involved in thinking, memory and movement (motor control).

“Lewy body dementia causes a progressive decline in mental abilities. People with Lewy body dementia may experience visual hallucinations, and change in alertness and attention. Other effects include Parkinson’s disease-like symptoms such as rigid muscles, slow movement and tremors.”

If you have a family member who suffers from Lewy body dementia and needs private duty nursing, call American Home Health at (630) 236-3501. The agency can provide round-the-clock nursing care by Registered Nurses (RNs), Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), and Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs), Our service area covers fifteen counties in Northern Illinois including Cook, Lake, McHenry, Boone, Winnebago, Ogle, Lee, DeKalb, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, LaSalle, Grundy, Will, and Kankakee. American Home Health is licensed by the State of Illinois and accredited by the Joint Commission. For further information, go to www.ahhc-1.com, or call (630) 236-3501.

—By Karen Centowski

LIVING WITH DIABETES

Checking Blood Sugar Levels

Sixty years ago, downtown Chicago was a destination for shopping, for the arts, and for business. It was a bustling town.

Marshall Field’s thirteen story building dominated the commercial area. Designed by Daniel Burnham and built in 1891-1892, it took up an entire city block bounded clockwise by State Street, Randolph Street, Wabash Avenue, and Washington Street. The interior featured a Louis Comfort Tiffany glass mosaic vaulted ceiling in the five-story balconied atrium in the southwest corner of the building.

At Christmas time, at the street level there were ornate decorated window displays including thirteen themed windows. Upstairs in the Walnut Room, a three-story decorated Christmas tree was the focal point of the room. Families would stand in long lines waiting to be seated at the tables under the tree.

Jean worked in an office in the Loop, not far from Marshall Field’s. Her job was to calculate tariffs for freight on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe lines. This was an important but difficult job because all the calculations were made using pencil and paper. Computers had not yet been universally adopted for business use.

During lunch hour, she would often go to Marshall Field’s just to browse. It was a way to get away from the office for a few minutes. She enjoyed looking at the store’s merchandise and feeling the excitement of the shoppers. Occasionally, she would buy a piece of costume jewelry for herself or a gift for a family member.

In 1957, Jean developed diabetes. For years, she continued to work. She managed her diabetes with diet and with injections of insulin. She died of kidney failure in 1986.

What is diabetes? According to the American Diabetic Association website, www.diabetes.org, “Diabetes is a disease that occurs in several different types, with the main factor the inability to produce enough insulin in the pancreas to handle the demands of the foods and sugars that enter the body.” There are three types of diabetes: Type 1, Type 2, and Gestational.

According to the American Diabetic Association website, www.diabetes.org, “Nearly 30 million battle diabetes and every 23 seconds someone new is diagnosed. Diabetes causes more deaths per year than breast cancer and AIDS combined.”

If you have a family member who needs private duty nursing, call American Home Health at (630) 236-3501. The agency can provide round-the-clock nursing care by Registered Nurses (RNs), Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), and Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs). Our service area covers fifteen counties in Northern Illinois including Cook, Lake, McHenry, Boone, Winnebago, Ogle, Lee, DeKalb, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, LaSalle, Grundy, Will, and Kankakee. American Home Health is licensed by the State of Illinois and accredited by the Joint Commission. For further information, go to www.ahhc-1.com. or call (630) 236-3501.

—By Karen Centowski

LIVING WITH CONGESTIVE HEART FAILURE

A hundred years ago, heart disease was America’s number one killer. People with heart disease were thought to require complete bed rest or they would face imminent death. “We were living in a time of almost unbelievable ignorance about heart disease,” said Paul Dudley White, one of six cardiologists who met on June 10, 1924 and founded the American Heart Association.

So much has happened since then. In 1957, the first pacemaker was implanted. In 1960, the first successful artificial heart valve replacement was performed. In 1961, American Heart Association funded research showed how CPR can save lives after cardiac arrest. In 2008, research funded by the American Heart Association showed that uninterrupted, high-quality chest compressions–without mouth-to-mouth respiration–can be used for adults needing CPR.

Still, so many challenges remain. One is congestive heart failure. Symptoms include shortness of breath, coughing, tiredness, swelling of legs and ankles, weight gain, and a need to urinate more often. There is no cure, but medications can help lower blood pressure, relax blood vessels, and make the heart beat stronger. Lifestyle changes—like not smoking—can help, too.

What causes congestive heart failure? The following list appears at https://www.webmd.com:

- Diabetes
- High blood pressure
- Heart valve disease
- Congenital heart defects
- Coronary heart disease
- Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation
- Thyroid disease
- HIV and AIDS
- Alcohol or drug abuse

The American Heart Association has funded more than $3.5 billion in heart disease and stroke research during the past sixty-five years. Current fundraising events include Heart Walks, Wear Red Days, and Heart Balls.

If you have a family member who needs private duty nursing, call American Home Health at (630) 236-3501. The agency can provide round-the-clock nursing care by Registered Nurses (RNs), Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), and Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs). Our service area covers fifteen counties in Northern Illinois including Cook, Lake, McHenry, Boone, Winnebago, Ogle, Lee, DeKalb, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, LaSalle, Grundy, Will, and Kankakee. American Home Health is licensed by the State of Illinois and accredited by the Joint Commission. For further information, go to www.ahhc-1.com, or call (630) 236-3501.

—By Karen Centowski

SEARCHING FOR A CURE

Michael J. Fox

Do you remember a television show called “Family Ties” starring Michael J. Fox as Alex P. Keaton? The show ran from 1982—1989 for a total of 176 episodes. During his seven years on “Family Ties,” he earned three Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe. Michael J. Fox also had the lead role of Mike Flaherty in the series “Spin City,” which ran from 1996-2001 for a total of 103 episodes. For a young actor, Fox was leading a charmed life.

What the world did not know is that Michael J. Fox, who was born in Canada in 1961, had been diagnosed with young-onset Parkinson’s Disease at the age of 29. He did not disclose his condition to the public for another seven years. Then, in January of 2000, he announced his retirement from “Spin City,” and he launched the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.

Since 2000, the Michael J. Fox Foundation has raised $750 million to fund Parkinson’s Disease Research. The money comes from individual contributions, galas, and activities of Team Fox. One headline read, “ ‘Funny Thing’ # Fox Gala raised $5.2 million and Brings Down the House with Music and Comedy.”

Ordinary individuals throughout the world have raised money for the foundation. Team Fox members have held pancake breakfasts, fashion shows, dance parties, comedy shows, the New York City Marathon, art auctions, and more. More than $70 million has been raised in this way.

It is estimated that 600,000 to one million people in the United States alone have Parkinson’s Disease. It is thought to be caused by genetic factors, environmental factors, and by head injury. The Michael J. Fox Foundation is dedicated to finding a cure.

If a member of your family has Parkinson’s Disease and requires private duty nursing, call American Home Health at (630) 236-3501. The agency can provide round-the-clock nursing care by Registered Nurses (RNs), Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), and Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs). Our service area covers fifteen counties in Northern Illinois including Cook, Lake, McHenry, Boone, Winnebago, Ogle, Lee, DeKalb, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, LaSalle, Grundy, Will, and Kankakee. American Home Health is licensed by the State of Illinois and accredited by the Joint Commission. For further information, go to www.ahhc-1.com.

—By Karen Centowski


To see a video Michael J. Fox Life—Love + Parkinson’s Interview 2012 [HD] 7 – You Tube, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZQhp3yEgYM.

AT HOME WITH MOM

 

Mom always had a huge garden on the farm. She grew potatoes, tomatoes, lettuce, peas, onions, green beans, sweet corn, pickles, cucumbers, strawberries, gooseberries, raspberries, and blackberries. There was a bed of asparagus along the fence, and rhubarb plants in another area. A peach tree and an apricot tree grew along the path to the chicken house. We used to say that if we couldn’t grow it, we didn’t eat it.

When Dad retired from farming in 1968, he and Mom moved to a house in Decatur. The house was on a quiet street, not far from a small shopping center. The property backed up to the baseball fields of a high school. The backyard was perfect for a garden. Dad trucked in a load of good, black dirt.

Mom and Dad lived in that house for many years. Then Mom’s mind began to fail. It was as if a computer in her brain had a short in it. Once she tried defrosting a frozen chicken by putting it in the bedroom closet instead of in the refrigerator. She was storing the object in an inappropriate place, an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease.

Another time, Dad had driven Mom to the beauty shop just a few blocks away. He told her to call him when she was finished at the beauty shop, and he would pick her up. He was sitting in his big Lazy Boy chair next to the front window when he saw Mom walking past on the sidewalk. By the time he got up to go outside to get her, she had disappeared. Vanished. Dad called the police, and they came to help search for Mom. They found her around the corner about half a block. She was sitting in a Burger King! Getting lost in familiar places is another early sign of Alzheimer’s disease.

Sometimes when they left the house to visit relatives, she would become frantic at dusk. She thought they needed to get home to put the screen in the door of the chicken house so the foxes would not eat the chickens. That was the routine we had when we lived on the farm, but that was years ago. This was another sign of Alzheimer’s disease.

Mom could still dress herself. She could still cook. Since Dad was in good health and living in the house with her, Mom was able to continue living in their house. Without Dad, she would have needed in-home care or an assisted living facility. She died suddenly at age eighty-one.

If you have a family member who needs in-home services, call American Home Health at (630) 236-3501. The agency can provide round-the clock nursing care by Registered Nurses (RNs), Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), and Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs). Our service area covers fifteen counties in Northern Illinois including Cook, Lake, McHenry, Boone, Winnebago, Ogle, Lee, DeKalb, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, LaSalle, Grundy, Will, and Kankakee. American Home Health is licensed by the State of Illinois and accredited by the Joint Commission.

For further information, go to www.ahhc-1.com, or call (630) 236-3501.

—By Karen Centowski