Veterans: The Road Home Program is There for You

veterans-day-flagsBy Will Beiersdorf

As we celebrate Veterans Day this year, the Road Home Program would like to deliver an expanded message to our veterans and their families. Along with the traditional message of thanking veterans for their service and sacrifice to our country, we’d like to add that the Road Home Program is there for you (the veteran) and your family.

We have seen firsthand over the last seven months since our opening, the important role Road Home is playing in the veteran community. It’s not just in the services we deliver around counseling and care for PTSD, TBI, military sexual trauma or other challenges, but in the fact that we are there for the veterans and their families.

There to listen, there to assist, there to direct and advocate for each of the veterans and their families members that come to Road Home. It is truly an honor to serve and support our veterans, and we ask our peers and friends in the Rush community to pass along the message about Road Home Program to others in your local communities.

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‘My Motivation, My Strength and My Courage’

Young patient inspires med student, marathon runner

marc-dadiosBy Marc Dadios

Many people ask marathon runners the question “Why would you put your body through 26.2 miles of hell?” The very thought of a marathon can make even the most avid distance runner question their ability to complete a marathon. Most marathon runners tend to have a very strong reason to commit to the training and dedication required to cross the finish line. My motivation for running the 2014 Chicago Marathon was to fulfill a promise I made to a brave teenage boy who lost his battle against Duchenne muscular dystrophy during my third year inpatient pediatrics rotation.

Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is an X-linked genetic disease meaning that it primarily affects young boys. A good analogy for how this disease works is to think of a bridge that is built with inherently weak, easily breakable supports. The more that the bridge is used, the more that the supports break, and the weaker that bridge gets until it eventually collapses. DMD is a disease of the muscles where the proteins necessary to provide tensile support for their function as they expand and contract during movement are inherently weak or absent. When a child with DMD uses his or her muscles to move around or even breathe, they tear and eventually become unusable. The average life expectancy for someone with active DMD is 17 years because of heart and lung problems associated with prolonged use.

Unable to walk

For the sake of patient privacy and HIPAA, I will refer to my patient, good friend and inspiration as “Jay.” I first met Jay at the beginning of my inpatient pediatric rotation at Rush University Medical Center. Before meeting Jay I had only heard about DMD from my studies during my first and second year of medical school. Jay was only 15 years old but he had an extensive medication list that would make even the most seasoned health care practitioner cringe as well as a medical chart that could have been mistaken for a lengthy Harry Potter book. Although I was initially overwhelmed by the complexity of his case, as I got to know him better, I became much more passionate about learning as much as I could about DMD.

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Tackling Obesity by Tracking What Kids Eat in School

By Brad Appelhans, PhD

school-lunchAbout one-fifth of U.S. children over the age of 6 are obese. Childhood obesity often continues into adulthood, placing individuals at higher lifetime of risk for a number of obesity-related diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers.

Reducing obesity in children may be the best way to improve the health of the next generation of adults, but this is one of the most challenging issues we face as researchers and health care providers.

In contrast to adults, young children’s dietary choices are generally made by their caregivers and their schools’ food service providers. Unfortunately, school-based programs focused on healthy eating and physical activity have not been very successful in preventing or reducing childhood obesity.

With generous funding from the Hillshire Brands Co., Rush has partnered with the UNO Charter School Network to help reduce childhood obesity through an innovative method. The Healthy School Meals Realized Through Technology (SMART) Schools program uses barcode scanning and touch-screen technology to track the food choices that students make at school meals. These food choices, and their nutritional value, are then summarized in a weekly report that is sent to caregivers. The reports also include tips aimed at helping caregivers guide their children toward healthy eating both at school and at home.

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For Captain Patty, Swim Across America is Personal

Patty PiaseckiBy Patty Piasecki, BSN, MS, RN

Three years ago, the managing partner at Midwest Orthopaedics asked me to be the captain of the Rush and Midwest Orthopaedics team for the Swim Across America Chicago Open Water Swim.

Midwest Orthopaedics is an ongoing sponsor of the event, which has raised funds for cancer research at Rush since 2012. I am very familiar with the swimming community — my daughter Morgan graduated from Michigan State University and swam there for four years, as well as four years at Downers Grove North High School. During that time, I was at almost all of Morgan’s swim events. What’s more, I am a nurse practitioner in orthopedic oncology, so there was a logical connection.

It made sense for me to be involved with the Swim Across America Chicago event, but I’ll admit that I barely swim in a pool, let alone in Lake Michigan. But, of course, I became Captain Patty.

Luckily for me, the swim is a noncompetitive race — no triathlon clawing or scratching — and the half-mile swim parallels the beach, which means the water is shallow and makes the race doable for all skill levels. For those more proficient swimmers, you can swim up to three miles. It is way easier than any chemotherapy treatment, any radiation treatment, or any surgical procedure and rehabilitation that my cancer patients have gone through. We even have former cancer patients on the team. Continue reading

Couple Wed in Last Days Together

Marco Christina Wedding_05A surprise proposal, and then a wedding, in a cancer unit at Rush

Marco Contreras proposed to Cristina Tecanhuehue around 9 p.m. on June 25. She said yes, and they were married the following afternoon in a small, intimate ceremony.

It was a bittersweet moment for a young couple that had been dating for two years. Their wedding and all the preparations — even Contreras’ proposal — took place at Rush University Medical Center, where Tecanhuehue was being treated for cervical cancer.

On July 1, five days after the ceremony, the 28-year-old Tecanhuehue passed away. Her new husband was at her bedside, holding her hand.

“We had the wedding to comfort her and give her some closure and to give us some closure,” says Tecanhuehue’s uncle, Javier Torres.

He praised the Rush staff for making it possible. “This is the right profession for them, because they show compassion,” Torres said. “The quality of the organization and the people they have as staff has been a blessing for our family.”

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Samantha’s Story: ‘An Amazing, Healthy Daughter’

Samantha, age 6By Maria Dimond

On December 30, 2007, my husband Rich and I drove to Rush at 2 in the morning because I had a fever of 102. I was not quite 26 weeks pregnant, and I was barely showing. Never in our wildest dreams did we imagine that we would be parents that day. It was just a fever.

However, it was a fever indicating that I might have a sick baby inside of me. Dr. Patricia Boatwright made the right decision to deliver, and it was confirmed that Samantha was a verysick baby. She had an infection and stayed in the neonatal intensive care unit at Rush for 14 weeks.

The phrase “a deer in headlights” definitely described Rich and me. That parental bond took a very long time to develop for us. Initially we heard “Mom” or “Dad” and our first instinct was to look around for someone else.  We also called our daughter “baby” and had to force ourselves to call her Samantha. We enjoyed being around our baby and did everything asked of us while Samantha was in the NICU. But that deep bond just wasn’t there for these first-time parents. Not like now. I realize now how overwhelmed we were.

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Dolores’ Story: Treatment for a Brain Aneurysm

When Dolores Castillo learned she had an aneurysm in her carotid artery, she knew she had to do something about it. Soon.

She was referred to Demetrius Lopez, MD, a neuroendovascular surgeon at Rush.

“I felt totally comfortable with him, I liked his bedside manner, and ultimately he was the doctor that I chose,” she says. “He spent a lot of time with me and explained the procedure.”

Under the care of Lopes and the neuroendovascular team at Rush, she underwent a cerebral stenting procedure to prevent the aneurysm from rupturing.

“I think when you mention brain surgery, it sounds like a serious surgery, and it was,” she says. “But I’m doing everything that I did normally. I’m active, I do yoga, I run, and my recovery was a lot shorter than expected.”

As for her experience at Rush: “I felt like I was in a boutique hotel, and I was in downtown Chicago. It was really that good.”

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