Tag Archives: karen centowski

STIFF-PERSON SYNDROME

When Laura was thirty years old, she began having episodes of muscle stiffness in the trunk of her body and in her limbs. During these episodes, she would also have severe and prolonged muscle spasms in her legs. As a result, she fell several times. She also suffered from anxiety and depression.

Laura made an appointment with her primary care physician. After ordering some initial testing, the doctor referred Laura to a neurologist. Laura also saw physicians in several other fields including allergy and immunology, rheumatology, and orthopedic surgery. Three years later, she was diagnosed with Stiff-Person Syndrome.

Stiff-Person Syndrome, originally called Stiff-Man Syndrome, is a rare disease which affects only one in a million people. The syndrome affects twice as many women as men. According to the Cleveland Clinic article “Stiff-Person Syndrome/Cleveland Clinic” at https://my.cleveland clinic.org/health articles, it is characterized by “muscle stiffness in the trunk and limbs and heightened sensitivity to noise, touch, and emotional distress, which can set off muscle spasms.” Patients may have abnormal posture, such as being hunched over. Muscle spasms and muscle rigidity may cause patients to fall.

Individuals usually start experiencing symptoms between ages thirty and sixty. Because the disease is so rare, getting a diagnosis can take years. According to the Cleveland Clinic article, “One commonly used tool is a blood test to detect the presence of glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) antibodies. About 60-80% of affected people have antibodies against GAD that can be detected on a blood test. Therefore, the absence of GAD antibodies does not rule out SPS, but the presence of high levels of GAD antibodies in people with symptoms of SPS strongly supports the diagnosis.”

Treatment of Stiff-Person Syndrome focuses on the specific symptoms present in each person. Doctors may prescribe benzodiazepines, diazepam, or baclofen to treat muscle stiffness and spasms. Pain medications and anti-seizure medications may also be effective for some patients. In addition, doctors may prescribe antidepressants to relieve the anxiety and depression associated with Stiff-Person Syndrome.

If you have a family member who suffers from Stiff-Person Syndrome 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

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

MUHAMMAD ALI’S FIGHT WITH PARKINSON’S

MUHAMMAD ALI AND WIFE LONNIE
WASHINGTON, DC
JUNE 11, 2001

In 1964, a twenty-two-year-old boxer known by his birth name, Cassius Clay, Jr. entered the ring for a match with Sonny Liston, who had been the world heavyweight boxing champion since 1962. Clay had spent the weeks prior to the match trash-talking Liston’s fighting abilities, trying to get inside his opponent’s head. Clay won the fight in a major upset. He then changed his name from Cassius Clay, Jr., which he called his “slave name,” to Muhammad Ali.

Ali described his fighting style as “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. The hands can’t hit what the eye can’t see.” He considered himself “The Greatest.”

In 1966, two years after winning the heavyweight title, he refused to be drafted into the United States military. He gave as reasons his religious beliefs and opposition to U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. He was arrested, found guilty of draft evasion, and stripped of his boxing titles. He was sentenced to five years in prison, fined $10,000, and banned from boxing for three years. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned his conviction in 1971.

Ali was provocative and outlandish and arrogant and fearsome. Before his famous “Rumble in the Jungle” match with George Foreman in 1974, Ali continued his pattern of verbal assault. “I wrestled with an alligator, I tussled with a whale, I handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder in jail. I’m a bad man. . . last week I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalized a brick. I’m so mean I make medicine sick.”

Ali retired from boxing in 1981 at age 39. In 1984 at the age of 42, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Some reports attributed his condition to boxing-related injuries, but both Ali and his physician disputed this.

In 1998, Ali began working with actor Michael J. Fox, who has Parkinson’s disease, to raise awareness and fund research for a cure for Parkinson’s disease. In 2002, they made joint appearances before Congress to push the case. Ali worked with the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s disease to raise awareness and encourage donations for research.

As his condition worsened, he made limited public appearances. He was cared for at his home by members of his family. Muhammed Ali died June 3, 2016 at age 74 after a 32-year battle with Parkinson’s disease.

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

WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM CNAs

Fifty years ago, subdivisions were sprouting in the cornfields and bean fields in Illinois. The 1960’s and 1970’s were a time of rapid growth in the housing stock at the edges of major metropolitan areas such as Aurora, Rockford, and Bloomington-Normal.

Ranch houses, tri-levels, and two-story homes were popular styles. Most had attached garages, and the backyards were often enclosed with chain link fences. The homeowners planted shade trees on the boulevard and in the backyard. They spent time and money mowing, watering, and fertilizing the grass. They took pride in ownership of a beautiful new home.

Margaret, her husband, and their four children lived in one of these new houses. She was a stay-at-home mom, and her children were allowed to be free range children. That meant they roller skated on the sidewalks, shot basketballs into hoops mounted on rooftops above the garages, and played baseball on the diamond at the elementary school. The boys on the street made a go-cart out of wood and an old lawnmower chassis and gave rides to the younger boys.

AND THERE WERE THE DIRT HILLS. Since this was a new subdivision, the last row of houses backed up to a large piece of vacant land. The builder had dug a retention pond, installed concrete sewer pipes, and piled up a huge mound of dirt next to the retention pond. Many a young boy rode his dirt bike down from the top of the mound of dirt. In fact, some became so skilled that they could ride at full speed down the dirt hill and land on a raft in the lake.

The children grew up, got married, and moved away. Margaret and her husband continued to live in the house. When Margaret was in her late seventies, her health began to fail. She could no longer climb the steps into the house so her husband built a ramp in the garage.

As Margaret’s illness progressed, she needed 24/7 care from CNAs who came to her home. This was a tremendous help to Margaret and to her husband. It allowed her to continue to stay in her own home for a period of time. Later, she was admitted to a hospital and died there at age eighty-one.

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 and (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.

To hear the Beatles, the English rock band, sing “With A Little Help From My Friends” from their 1967 album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, go to With A Little Help From My Friends—You Tube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0C58ttB2-Qg.

—By Karen Centowski

KNEE REPLACEMENT SURGERY

Looking down the long hall from her office to the conference room, Elaine must have thought about the number of steps required to get there. Fifty? A hundred? Five hundred? A thousand? Even using the cane only helped a little. At least there were no stairs to climb.

And then there were the problems at home. How much longer would she be able to take her dog, Patrick, for a walk past the school playground where the children were playing hopscotch? Who would pull the weeds out of the flower garden in the front yard? How much longer could she make the beds or wash the dishes? So much of life depends on the ability to stand and walk.

Elaine’s primary care doctor referred her to an orthopedic surgeon. He recommended knee replacement surgery. He explained that nearly one million Americans undergo hip or knee replacement surgeries each year. He said the majority of these procedures were performed on patients over the age of 65. According to https://www.webmd.com/osteoarthritis/guide/knee, “Osteoarthritis is the main reason why people go for knee replacement surgery. The age-related condition is very common and occurs when cartilage—the cushion between the knee and bone joints—breaks down.” Elaine fit into those demographics.

The doctor explained that patients having knee replacements are normally discharged from the hospital three days after surgery. Elaine would need to be able to use a walker before she could be discharged. Then someone would need to be with her at home 24/7 during her recovery.

The doctor told Elaine that the initial short-term recovery stage lasts four to six weeks for most patients. Nurses would need to be with her to tend to her medical needs. Therapists would come to her home to provide physical therapy. The final phase, long-term recovery, could take as long as six months.

Patients need the encouragement of family and friends throughout the whole process of knee replacement surgery. It would be easy to feel alone and to get discouraged. If someone you know is having knee replacement surgery, send a card. Call your friend or family member. Make a gift basket and deliver it. Do something to let them know you care.

If you have a friend or family member who is having knee replacement surgery 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 (RNs), 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 our Web site, 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