When I first heard Tim Engberg describe the feeling of intense loneliness and separation from humanity he felt as he was being wheeled on a gurney into surgery, I immediately pictured myself in a hospital bed staring at the ceiling, desperate for the touch of a familiar hand, afraid. When you’re well, you forget so quickly how lonely and scary it is to be sick, and in Engberg’s case, with enormous pain in his neck, an infection threatening to render him paralyzed, and the enormity of the looming surgery, the sense of aloneness was overwhelming.
Engberg just so happens to be the vice president of Stanford Health Care’s Ambulatory Care. Most of his days he spends as an executive of a hospital, thinking about how to ensure that patients are being taken care of in the best possible way. Like many of us, it took being a patient himself to fully understand what a difference our nurses and doctors make and how they can pull someone back from the brink of despair to full recovery, or as Engberg puts it, “back into the human race.”
To watch and wait, or operate? There’s quite a bit of confusion, and a variety of differing opinions from the medical community, regarding prostate cancer treatment – so it’s no wonder that some men question whether the treatment path they’ve chosen is the right one. A new technology at Stanford, though, is hoping to alleviate some of the confusion and help with the decision-making process.
By using a combination of ultrasound and MRI imaging, Stanford physicians can use the resulting 3D images to get a far more detailed look at the level of cancer and its aggressiveness than they were able to in the past. Patients, in turn, will be empowered with the knowledge to make more confident decisions about how, and whether, to proceed with treatment. ABC7 News recently aired a story on the new technology.
In May 1984, Stanford Life Flight’s first helicopter transport lifted a 70-year-old woman, critically injured in a car accident, over the Santa Cruz Mountains to Stanford Hospital. With that flight, Stanford became the first medical center in the Bay Area to have its own helicopter and air medical transport team. In its 30 year history, the air ambulance medical service has transported more than 15,000 patients going as far as 250 miles to California’s Northern and Central coasts, Central Valley and to Reno, Nev.
Priding themselves on their flight nurses’ extensive training and experience in caring for critically ill or injured patients, and on their accident-free flight track record, the men and women of Life Flight are an example of how combining compassionate care with advanced care capabilities saves lives. We celebrate their work in the hospital video above.
Today isn’t just May 6, it’s also World Moyamoya Day. Well, not officially – but one patient is trying to change that.
Moyamoya, a rare cerebrovascular disease is often overlooked by neurologists, and its symptoms confused with those of chronic migraines. Tara MacInnes spent most of her childhood suffering from excruciatingly painful headaches and bouts of numbness and tingling in her hands, face and legs. Like many others with moyamoya disease, these episodes were overlooked by her pediatric neurologists. By age 16, when an especially bad episode led to an MRI and eventually a correct diagnosis, both sides of her brain had already suffered damage from strokes.
But MacInnes was lucky: She happened to live close to Stanford, where Gary Steinberg, MD, PhD, one of the world’s leading experts on moyamoya treatment, practiced. And like many patients, what MacInnes needed was more than just surgery – she needed a sense of belonging and the ability to interact with others who had gone through a similar experience.
Shortly after her surgery here MacInnes began volunteering at the Stanford Moyamoya Center, talking with patients and their families. The more she met with people, the quicker she realized it wasn’t just the general public that didn’t know much about the disease, but that many medical professionals had never heard of it. Now, 10 years after her successful surgery, MacInnes has become a devoted advocate and is determined to raise awareness about the disease; you can sign her petition to help spread the word and make World Moyamoya Day official.
Summer is almost here, and we’ve all heard how important it is to wear hats and sunscreen to protect our skin from the sun’s harmful rays – but few of us follow a regular regiment. Such was the case for David Duckworth, who watched his wife take sun protection seriously for years, but never thought he needed to, despite having fair skin.
When David’s employer offered a free skin cancer screening with Stanford dermatologists, he decided to take up the offer and get the freckles and dark spots on his face and arms checked out. The screening may very well have saved David’s life, as it caught a spot on his left collarbone that he hadn’t thought was abnormal. David’s diagnosis of basal cell carcinoma (the country’s most common form of cancer) has changed his every day behavior and made him an advocate of proper sun protection.
When I recently learned that my cholesterol was a bit high, I was told that a regular exercise routine and a couple of oatmeal breakfasts per week should do the trick to bring the numbers back to a normal range. But for Brenda Gundell, a genetic disease called Familial Hypercholesterolemia, or FH, means that simple lifestyle changes won’t make for a quick fix.
FH affects cholesterol processing from birth, and while the condition is common – affecting more than 600,000 people in the U.S. – it is diagnosed in less than 10 percent of those who have it. Gundell was only 15 when she first heard about FH; her father, just 39 at the time, had such extreme levels of total cholesterol that they led to a fatal heart attack. Fortunately for Gundell, while the disease can be destructive, it is, in fact, treatable. And, with the help of FH specialists at Stanford’s Preventive Cardiology Clinic, Gundell has kept her cholesterol in check for the last 17 years and is looking forward to a long life.
Grundell’s story is detailed in the Stanford Hospital video above.
Marjorie McFadden is not your typical 90-year-old. McFadden retired from her public-school job at the age of 85 and remained very social afterwards, regularly attending social gatherings and playing bingo and pinochle with friends. A condition called achalasia, an unusual tightening of the muscles at the lower end of the esophagus, changed all of that, and McFadden found herself unable to swallow food or water and losing a pound of weight a day. But an innovative procedure at Stanford – the per oral endoscopic myotomy, or POEM – now means McFadden is back to enjoying social gatherings again. Her story is captured in the Stanford Hospital video above.
Effective today, radiologists across California will be required by law to notify women when their mammography screening shows they have dense breast tissue. Approximately 50 percent of women have dense breast tissue – more fibrograndular tissue than fatty tissue as seen on a mammogram – so falling into this category is quite normal.
If you’re a woman with dense breast tissue, you’ll receive a letter in the mail that includes an explanation that this is a risk factor for developing breast cancer and that having such tissue may make it more difficult to detect a tumor. (However, having dense breast tissue is only a small risk factor for developing breast cancer and mammography is still considered the gold standard in breast-cancer screening.)
While this notification is meant to educate women about their own bodies and empower them to make better health-care decisions, it could also result in needlessly alarming or confusing patients. It’s important that women understand why they’re receiving this information and what they can do about it, which is why Stanford Hospital prepared the video above.
All of us are challenged in one way or another to stay healthy. But making smart choices doesn’t have to be difficult and, in fact, can be fun. That’s what Stanford Hospital & Clinics had in mind when it launched a month-long heart health challenge.
The 28-Day Heart Health Challenge focuses on simple changes people can make to their diets and exercise routines that can have a big impact on their heart health. Each day of the week features a different theme with a related challenge. For example, on Stress-less Saturdays you will be reminded of how detrimental chronic stress can be to heart health and be challenged to give meditation or yoga a try. On Meet A Doctor Monday you’ll be introduced to a Stanford physician who will describe what he or she does to keep the heart healthy and then be challenged to try out a similar strategy.
Robyn Horn, a Stanford Hospital employee and Scope contributor, has committed to take on the challenge full force, and she wants to share her experiences with the world. Every day this month, Robyn will try that day’s challenge and write about it in her Heart Health Challenge Blog.
And while the challenge may only be 28 days long, the hope is that after February is long gone, at least some of the information will stick and people like Robyn will continue making heart healthy choices for years to come.
Scoliosis is a painful and debilitating condition that causes the spine of an individual to curve like an “S.” For Jerry Stark, having degenerative scoliosis meant he could no longer work or even live much of a life: He was so bent over that he couldn’t see himself in his bathroom mirror, and his pain grew so great that life became all about managing the pain and little else. Stark eventually came to see Stanford orthopaedic surgeon Ivan Cheng, MD, who performed a minimally invasive technique that changed his life.
Watch the video to meet the new Jerry Stark.
From Dec. 24 to Jan. 7, Scope will be on a limited holiday publishing schedule. During that time, it may also take longer than usual for comments to be approved.