Blood donation. You can save a life!

By Cindy Aldrige, F.N.P., Provider for Lee’s Summit Physicians Group.

Donating blood is something that my family has always done and felt was important. I grew up with my parents working in EMS and helping out in the school health room. I’ve been around healthcare literally my entire life.

As soon as I was old enough to donate blood, I knew it was something that I wanted to do REGULARLY. I hate needles, but one little stick is all I have to endure to literally help save a patient’s life. I decided that was the least I can do to help my community. I pray that someone would donate for me if I needed it at some point, therefore I should help others.

Blood Donation - Cindy and Carol

Let me introduce you to my mother, Carol.

Carol's Blood Donation Milestone PinsCarol is a patient here at LSPG, and with her permission, I would like to brag on her. She has donated 12 gallons of blood over her lifetime and is currently working on #13. That means she has donated blood at least 96 times! She has gone to every traveling community blood bank collection that has ever come to our hometown and now regularly goes to a donation center to give as often as they allow her to.

When I asked her how she got started donating blood, she said, “The first time I gave blood was at Western Electric where I was working. I was around 20. Then I was a health room volunteer at school and we helped on the blood drives here in town. This is what started me giving a semi-regular basis.”

Then I asked her why she donates and she said, “I knew there was a need and I wanted to help. It doesn’t bother me at all to give, and I get to help someone else. I’ve also given double reds and plasma a few times.”

Donating blood is voluntary and it helps people in local hospitals and trauma facilities.

You can donate blood every 8 weeks. You must be 17 (or 16 with parent consent) and weigh at least 110 lbs. You must be feeling well. Make sure you drink plenty/extra non-caffeinated drinks 24 hours prior to donation or at least the morning before donation. And bring your photo ID with you.

The process of donating blood is pretty simple. You can walk in or schedule an apt. They ask you a series of personal health questions and ask about any foreign travel, then do a quick vital sign assessment and prick your finger to make sure you are eligible to donate. After that, you lay back and relax on a bed while they prep your arm then collect the blood. Afterward you get a snack! (that’s my favorite part – Nutter Butters!)

They run tests on every pint of blood that is donated and notify you if they detect a concern like hepatitis or HIV. Sometimes they run promotions that they do free cholesterol screens on your blood as well, so you get a benefit of not having to pay for that at the doctor’s office on your annual physical. Sometimes organizations like the Royals give free tickets or discounts for donating blood as a thank you for supporting our community.

I can’t think of a better gift than the gift of life. Please consider donating to help others and potentially someone you love!

For more information, check out your community blood center or the American Red Cross.

The Biggest Loser 2020 : New Season Features Local Lee’s Summit Resident!

By Cindy Aldrige, F.N.P., Provider for Lee’s Summit Physicians Group.

Biggest Loser - 2020 Season with Kyle YeoThe Biggest Loser is a TV program aimed at helping those struggling with weight loss to make healthy choices and learn how to lose weight. Kyle Yeo had watched the show growing up, and had struggled to lose weight. Kyle is a patient here at Lee’s Summit Physicians Group and has encouraged us to tell his story. His hope is to help others with similar struggles. (The new season airs on January 28th!)

The day he was telling me about his success, he couldn’t wait to weigh in before his appointment! He was smiling from ear to ear and looked so healthy when I saw him for the first time after his transformation. We’d discussed weight and healthy eating like I do with all patients, even those of normal weight. I was so proud of how much his weight loss meant to him and how proud of himself he was. We discussed how this will forever change his future health and discussed things to keep him on track.

Here are some questions I asked Kyle:

What motivated you or made you decide to get involved in this show to help you with weight loss?

“I’ve been overweight my entire life, and I’ve tried to lose weight multiple times, but always seem to fail. I knew that if I wanted to lose the weight for good and change my life for the better, I needed to find help. Luckily I saw Biggest Loser was having an open casting call here in town, so I figured I would give it a shot! I knew this would be my first big step in losing the weight. I thought that if I didn’t make it, I still have the determination to finish what I started!

I grew up watching the show, so I knew this was going to be really hard work, but I figured this is exactly the kind of motivation I needed. Plus they were promoting a new approach to weight loss, and turning the focus on helping everyone mentally and not just physically. This was a huge motivator for me! I knew if I was going to do something, I wanted to find a way to change my mindset away from what got me to this point in my life. It definitely made me realize who I am and the decisions that got me to the 302 pounds I started at!”

What are your future goals?

“My work is definitely not done! I learned so much about myself through this journey. I found a whole new meaning to life. I found a passion for working out that I didn’t know was possible. I still have goals physically that I want to achieve, but my main goal is to pay it forward. I want to help people who are struggling and find ways to motivate them to achieve their goals. I would love to eventually get into personal training and doing whatever I can to help others!”

What was the hardest part so far?

Biggest Loser - 2020 Season with Kyle Yeo“The hardest part is dealing with all of the temptations in life. It’s so easy to stop at a fast food restaurant or just snack on food throughout the day. Everything is so easy and accessible and it can become overwhelming! So it’s important to plan out your food for the day. Meal prepping has been key. Making sure I know exactly what I’m eating and having it with me are so important. If I do get hungry and need a snack, it’s already in the car. There’s no need to stop somewhere or grab something unhealthy if you already have everything you need prepared. I’m a terrible cook, so it took time to get used to cooking every meal. But it gets easier over time!”

What would you tell others that want to lose weight?

“I would tell others to start by asking for help. Doing this on your own isn’t easy.

I learned on my journey that it’s okay to ask for help. I was always stubborn and thought I could do everything on my own, but I’m not an expert at losing weight. I had no idea where to start. So I’d recommend reaching out to a friend or family member who can help keep you accountable first. It’s much easier to do this with someone by your side.

Then start slowly. This isn’t something that’s going to happen overnight. If you trust the process, you’ll see results.

Start by cutting some calories and introducing more exercise. This doesn’t mean you have to get a gym membership, but start walking around the block, taking the stairs as much as possible and just be more active. You’ll start to see the weight come off just by moving and counting calories. There are a lot of great, free apps that can help keep track of your daily calorie intake and track your fitness. It will seem like a lot of work at first, but it will become a routine and you will want to do it every day!”

What follow-up after the show are you planning to do to prevent gaining the weight back? What lifestyle changes need to happen to prevent you from going back to your former weight?

Biggest Loser - 2020 Season with Kyle Yeo

Kyle Yeo is on the bottom row at the far right.

“The great thing about the 2020 season of Biggest Loser is that they’re providing us with a great after-care program. We get a one-year membership to Planet Fitness, one year with a nutritionist and a year of support group. I’ve basically changed my entire life after getting home. I’m cooking every meal. I’m going to the gym five days a week and still counting everything I put in my body.

I developed new habits and learned a lot of valuable lessons. I feel like the most rewarding one is the support group. I feel it’s important to have people to talk to that know what you have been through and can help you when you’re struggling. There are days when I want that slice of pizza or eat fast food. But I can text or call my support group and they can help me through it. I realize it’s okay to have a cheat meal from time to time. But it’s great to have people there to support you and be there for you no matter what! We all want to achieve the same goals and keep the weight off, so they can help balance me when I feel I’m getting off track.”

Anything else that is unique to you and that you want our local area to know?

I was born and raised in Lee’s Summit. My entire family is from the Kansas City area and this is what I’ve known my entire life. Growing up, I was always an overweight child. This problem continued into my adult life and I developed an addiction to food. I was eating out for almost every meal and constantly snacking. I think most of the issues developed because I was afraid to accept who I was and turned to food for help. It wasn’t until I was 28 that I finally found the courage to come out as gay. I wasted so much of my life fearing who I was and letting food and my weight control my life. I definitely have a new outlook on life and I have so much to look forward to in the future!”

We’re so glad to have Kyle as a patient, and we hope you will tune in on January 28th to see his journey on the 2020 Biggest Loser!

LSPG Implements New Self Check-In System Called Phreesia.

By Angela C. Covington, Supervisor for Lee’s Summit Physicians Group.

PhreesiaGreat news! Lee’s Summit Physicians Group has started using a new self check-in system called Phreesia.

Phreesia is a mobile, self check-in system that allow patients to conveniently and securely check in and confirm appointments from their own devices using Phreesia Mobile.

Phreesia will allow our office to send confirmations of appointments by either text or email.

The text or email is sent three (3) days before an appointment. If there’s no response, the system will send another confirmation request 24 hours prior. A final confirmation request will be sent 2 hours before the appointment. Once a patient receives the text, they can either Confirm, Cancel, or Reschedule their appointment.

When the appointment is confirmed, the patient can then start the check-in process at their convenience.

Security questions are asked to confirm the identity of the patient. Once these are answered correctly, the patient can complete additional patient information in the privacy of their home. This will allow us to have the most updated patient information for use in the office (for all necessary medical treatment) and for filing insurance.  The Phreesia system will minimize errors and give patients better control of their demographic information.

The first check-in process will take longer than subsequent check-ins.

While the first check-in on Phreesia will take more a bit more time than usual, check-ins following the initial experience will be significantly shorter since patients will need to review and confirm their information. Edits or additions can be made, too. And Phreesia’s logic-based technology means our patients will only need to complete and sign consent forms once a year.

During the self check-in process, there’s an option to add a credit card.

Patient Check-InPatients aren’t required to add a credit card to Phreesia, but it’s a nice convenience. Phreesia is PCI-compliant, registered as an approved solution with Visa and Mastercard, and uses top encryption and security technology to protect financial information. If a patient would like to add their credit card or HSA card for us to collect copay, deductible, coinsurance or any remaining balances that are owed on the account, we can collect that balance with the patient’s approval.

One of the forms a patient is asked to consent to at first check-in is the “credit card on file” form. When signed, we will have permission to run that card for any balances remaining for the patient. We’ll then email them to let them know the amount collected. If a patient doesn’t want to add an HSA or credit card, they simply need to press the Decline button.

After a patient completes self check-in

When a patient arrives for their appointment, they need to inform the front desk that they’ve arrived. The front desk will make sure to update insurance, drivers license, verify we have the correct pharmacy information, update the patient picture for the chart, and collect any copays if not already collected. We ask that patients arrive ten minutes before their scheduled appointment to make sure all documents have been completed properly. Once this is done, they’re checked in and ready to see their provider.

If a patient can’t do self check-in from home, we offer in-office self check-in.

Phreesia In-Office Check-InOnce in the office, we can send a text to their phone, email or they  may use a tablet called a PhreesiaPad to check in. If someone chooses to do the in-office check-in, we ask that they arrive 20 minutes before their appointment. This is will allow our office time to answer any questions and ensure all required documents are complete.

Phreesia is built to meet and exceed the strict security requirements of the healthcare and financial services industries to ensure that all users are protected. Phreesia will never sell or disclose protected health information for commercial use. They adhere to the same rules of security for HIPAA and privacy that we do at Lee’s Summit Physicians Group.

We want to make sure that our check-in process is as painless as possible. Having an efficient check-in process allows us to focus more time on customer service and making each visit as pleasant as possible. We believe Phreesia will help us do this. We’re finding that with Phreesia, it does allow for us to open new avenues of communicating with our patients. Just a teaser… appointment request for scheduling through Phreesia is coming soon!

Exciting things are happening with LSPG and Phreesia. Stay tuned!

Co-Parenting. It’s not a competition. It’s a collaboration of parents doing what is best for the kids. 

By Abbie Engelhardt, R.N. for Lee’s Summit Physicians Group

Co-parenting can be hard. Very hard. When two people decide to have children together, they don’t plan on splitting up. But as we all know, it happens… a lot.

When families separate, it is rough. Tempers flare, fingers are pointed, etc. Parents must realize that the best interest of the children is all that’s important. They don’t deserve to be deflected on and caused to have emotional stress.

Co-Parenting

This hits home for me and my very own family.

We have been co-parenting for 4 years. Addilynn was 5 and Keenen was 2 when we separated. We’ve had many struggles, tears and some animosity. It’s a learning curve to say the least.

As much as their father and I don’t always see eye to eye, we make it work, most days. Things get better day by day. Relationships peak and trough. You have to ride the waves and act accordingly to what the situation requires.

One of the main rules of co-parenting is to never talk bad about the other parent to the children. Ever. To your children, you are so much of their life and make them who they are.

Be open and flexible with schedules and be willing to share them when it may not be your scheduled time. Yes, there are parenting plans with a lot of specific information, but there is no way on earth every detail can be listed. Pick your battles, decide what is important and what isn’t. What seems important to one parent may seem ridiculous to the other.

Find common ground and be respectful. Have empathy. Think about how the other parent feels during a situation and realize that they may handle them differently than you, and that’s ok!

ALWAYS communicate directly with the other parent. The kids should never be messengers. Both parents should share photos, grades, accomplishments with the other parent so they can both treasure the special moments. Remember, kids are the happiest when they feel free to express their feelings of love towards both parents even when they are no longer living under the same roof.

Remember you are ALWAYS a parent, even if they aren’t with you.

My kiddos are blessed to have a mom, dad, stepmom and future stepdad that love them to pieces. They have seen the transition from when their dad and I were barely cordial and having to meet in public places for exchanges to all of us working as a team to do what is best for them. They are healthy and thriving. And they have lots of people that love them. Unfortunately, not all families are this blessed to have healthy relationships like this.

Working in Pediatrics, we see the successes and shortcomings of co-parenting.

Negative co-parenting may alter the treatment plan your child may receive. Some parents will give a prescribed medication, but while at the other parent’s house, they may not get it. Therefore, a medication that could help them may not be prescribed since it wouldn’t be given consistently. This is just one example of negative effects.

Co-parenting is also linked with a child’s cognitive, socioemotional, and behavioral development. When children are exposed to positive co-parenting, they are less likely to show externalizing problem behaviors (e.g., aggression, hyperactivity, anxiety, depression), and they have better social skills.

Negative co-parenting is associated with increased problem behaviors, poorer social skills, and is negatively associated with a child’s cognitive development. Children who experience negative co-parenting also tend to have slower language development and struggle with emotion management. For the sake of the children, it is possible to overcome co-parenting challenges and develop a cordial working relationship with your ex.

The first step to becoming a mature, responsible co-parent is to always put your children’s needs ahead of your own.

Think about how your children feel about the situation and talk to them. They may be hurting. They may feel like it is their fault. Reassure them and do your best to be civil and not argue in front of them. Enjoy the Youtube video below.

If you find yourself in a co-parenting situation, just know that there are unlimited resources out there. You aren’t alone. A few are listed below.

Additional Resources

https://www.hhs.gov/ash/oah/sites/default/files/coparenting-resources.pdf

https://thecoparentingtoolkit.com/PDF/ToolkitLookInside.pdf

 

Use it or lose it, because ANY activity is better than NONE.

By Cindy Aldrige, F.N.P., Provider for Lee’s Summit Physicians Group.

What do medical professionals mean when they say exercise? Did you know ANY physical activity is better than none? Cleaning house, push mowing a yard, bringing Christmas boxes back down the stairs to the basement is all helpful activity.

I’ve tried using the term activity rather than exercise when speaking to my patients.

I don’t want patients to feel that they have to be able to afford a gym membership and an athletic trainer or specialist to be able to experience the health benefits of activity. Many people feel exercise must be structured, and requires fancy equipment. The term activity seems less structured and more leisurely or even fun!

There are different types of activity including muscle strengthening, aerobic or weight bearing, stretching or flexibility, and balance.

Let’s look through some of these and look at the benefits.

Stretching

StretchingStretching or flexibility is essential to anyone doing physical activity to keep the muscles from being damaged. Just like a balloon is easier to blow up if it’s been stretched first, your muscles need warming up or stretching prior to rigorous activity. Stretching keeps muscles limber and strong and you will have less injuries if you are consistently stretching before physical activity.

Stretching can be done by sitting in a chair or even laying down in bed before you get up. And stretching after Aerobic exercise is important as well to help keep the muscles stretched out when the muscles are warm.

Muscle Strengthening

Strength TrainingMuscle strengthening exercises like lifting weights is helpful in building muscle and strengthening the muscle that you already have. Remember to start with lower weights and more repetitions and slowly work up to higher weights over a long period of time (like several months).

We generally refer to activities that aren’t vigorous enough to be considered aerobic. These include things like walking the dog with intermittent starts and stops, leisure hikes or all day shopping expeditions (one of my favorites :). These are muscle strengthening activities.

Remember, this can be done from a wheelchair and can be done with other physical limitations, you just need to be creative in how to do it.

Aerobic Activity

Aerobic activity, the kind that causes someone to get their heart rate up enough they are too winded to speak a full sentence, is good to help protect the heart and prevent cholesterol build up in the vessels of your body. This type of activity uses large muscle groups. Aerobic activity can lower blood sugars, cholesterol, high blood pressure, and has been shown to release chemicals in your brain that make you feel good, almost like an anti-depressant in natural form.

Examples of this can be running, walking as fast as you can (without an animal on a leash), biking/peddling, swimming, and water aerobics.

Balance Exercise

Balance exercise is a good activity for our bodies, especially as we get older. Tai chi and yoga are great at helping us maintain balance and stretch our muscles at the same time. I encourage people to take part in these types of activity. Balance is important to prevent falls by maintaining stability and flexibility.

I hope this helps provide a new perspective on how different types of activity can keep your body healthy. Doing a little of each activity every week can keep your body balanced and fit for life. You’ve heard the phrase – “if you don’t use it, you lose it.” This is certainly applicable to muscles and physical fitness. You can lose strength/flexibility/balance and cardiovascular benefits if you stop being physically active.

Speak to your medical provider as to what type of activity or exercise is good for you. If you EVER experience chest pain or chest pressure, immediately seek medical attention.

This is what medical professionals mean when they remind you to exercise!!! Stay active during the holidays and in 2020!!!

References

American Heart Association, American College of Sports Medicine, and American College of Cardiology all have more information on activity and health concerns that go along with it.

Up to date was used for information for this article.

All Staff Training Day… And Food Trucks!

All Staff Training Day 2019

By Jody C. Brown, Director for Lee’s Summit Physicians Group.

One of my favorite days of the year here at Lee’s Summit Physicians Group is All Staff Training Day. We close all our offices for the afternoon, order up food trucks and our entire staff converges on “the mother ship” – our main location in Lee’s Summit. It’s my favorite day because I enjoy seeing everyone together in one location. I’m out visiting the other offices on a regular basis. But our staff doesn’t have the opportunity to do that so it’s a great opportunity for our staff to see people they might not have seen in a while. And there are always new faces to meet!

All Staff Training Day 2019 All Staff Training Day 2019

This has become such a valuable time for our team.

Getting together and making sure everyone is hearing the same information is crucial for any organization. And there is something different that happens when people are physically together versus reading a staff-wide email.

It’s a time for questions from staff and also a good time for us to share information on the practice. We also share updates on where we’re headed.

With three locations and close to 120 employees, it’s extremely difficult to get everyone together under one roof. But we know the importance of communication (it’s always a work in progress) and we really do strive to be open about what we’re doing and why.

It’s worth the investment to bring our team together to eat, laugh and learn. It might be cliché, but it’s more than a job. We’re a family. And we love these opportunities for big family gatherings.

All Staff Training Day 2019

Happy Halloween from LSPG! Check out these spooky pics.

From all of us at Lee’s Summit Physicians Group, we hope you have a safe and fun Halloween.

Organizations all over the city are having “safe” trick-or-treating opportunities in their buildings and parking lots. It’s always a good idea to go early and with friends. And be sure to spread the candy haul out over a couple of weeks (at least) to avoid stomach aches and children bouncing off the walls.

We enjoy celebrating Halloween, and thought it would be fun to share some of our pictures with you!

LSPG Halloween 2019 LSPG Halloween 2019 LSPG Halloween 2019 LSPG Halloween 2019 LSPG Halloween 2019 LSPG Halloween 2019 LSPG Halloween 2019 LSPG Halloween 2019 LSPG Halloween 2019

History of Halloween

Today’s Halloween customs are thought to have been influenced by folk customs and beliefs from the Celtic-speaking countries. Historian Nicholas Rogers, exploring the origins of Halloween, notes that while “some folklorists have detected its origins in the Roman feast of Pomona, the goddess of fruits and seeds, or in the festival of the dead called Parentalia, it is more typically linked to the Celtic festival of Samhain, which comes from the Old Irish for ‘summer’s end’.”

For the Celts, the day ended and began at sunset; and the festival began on the evening before November 7th (the half point between equinox and solstice). Samhain and Calan Gaeaf are mentioned in some of the earliest Irish and Welsh literature. The names have been used by historians to refer to Celtic Halloween customs up until the 19th century and are still the Gaelic and Welsh names for Halloween. Snap-Apple Night, painted by Daniel Maclise in 1833, shows people feasting and playing divination games on Halloween in Ireland.

Samhain/Calan Gaeaf marked the end of the harvest season and beginning of winter or the ‘darker half’ of the year. It was seen as a liminal time, when the boundary between this world and the Otherworld thinned. This meant the ‘spirits’ or ‘fairies’, could more easily come into this world and were particularly active. Offerings of food and drink, or portions of the crops, were left outside for the spirits. The souls of the dead were also said to revisit their homes seeking hospitality. Places were set at the dinner table and by the fire to welcome them. The belief that the souls of the dead return home on one night of the year and must be appeased seems to have ancient origins and is found in many cultures throughout the world. In 19th century Ireland, “candles would be lit and prayers formally offered for the souls of the dead. After this the eating, drinking, and games would begin”.

Throughout Ireland and Britain, the household festivities included rituals and games intended to foretell one’s future, especially regarding death and marriage. Apples and nuts were often used in these divination rituals. They included apple bobbing, nut roasting, scrying or mirror-gazing, pouring molten lead or egg whites into water, dream interpretation, and others.

From at least the 16th century, the festival included mumming and guising in Ireland, Scotland, the Isle of Man and Wales. This involved people going house-to-house in costume (or in disguise), usually reciting verses or songs in exchange for food. In Scotland, youths went house-to-house with masked, painted or blackened faces, often threatening to do mischief if they were not welcomed.

It’s interesting to know more about the history of Halloween! For more information, check out the entry for Halloween on Wikipedia.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Jody shares her story.

Jody BrownBy Jody C. Brown, Director for Lee’s Summit Physicians Group.

Cancer. We hear that word all the time. I’m pretty confident that the majority of people reading this blog have either themselves been affected by cancer or know someone who has been affected by it.

My family and I are no different. I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 39 years of age, with no family history at the time.

Getting the call that something is “abnormal” is jolting to say the least.

I remember going for my biopsy. At the end of the procedure, my doctor asked me if I would like to hear her thoughts on whether or not it was cancer. Or if I would prefer to wait until the following week for the biopsy results. I’m a very matter of fact person so of course I wanted to hear what she had to say.

She believed it was cancer.

I would hear this information on a Friday and my husband and I would spend that weekend in a state of shock. But by Monday when we got confirmation that it was cancer, we’d already been able to process the information. We were ready to take on the fight.

I could go into the details of all the appointments that would start to be scheduled. And the very heavy decisions that would need to be made. Like telling our families, trying to stay positive for our school age boys, trying not to Google mastectomy and breast cancer and all those other scary words.

But I don’t want to talk about that today. I want to talk about the upside to a cancer diagnoses and treatment.

Breast cancer ended up being a bit freeing for me.

Breast Cancer Awarenss MonthI have a fairly thick head of naturally curly hair. When I learned that I would indeed need chemo, I burst into tears at the very thought of being bald.

What could possibly be worse than being bald??? It turns out there are a million things worse than losing your hair. When I started chemo, they told me I would begin losing my hair 14 days after the first treatment. They were spot on.

14 days exactly.

My husband and I were in San Antonio, TX on a trip on the 14th day. That morning, as I began fixing my hair, I pulled out a big clump. That was startling, and then I couldn’t keep my hands out of my hair. I kept pulling clumps of hair off my head. By the time we made it back to Kansas City that very same night, I knew I would have to “do the deed” (have my head shaved) immediately.

That night, at 11pm, I made my husband get the electric razor and shave my head. But I made him put a “one guard” on because I was not ready to face being completely bald at that moment. I looked rough, I’m not going to sugar coat it. The places where I’d pulled my hair out were completely bald. The rest of my head still had a very short layer of hair.

I went to work the next day with a hat, and a coworker met me there with some scarves that she had used during her battle with breast cancer. By the following weekend, I was ready to have my head shaved completely. I went to a friend’s house and she shaved my head clean.  My middle son had accompanied me on this errand. I will never forget what he said as we left her house. He said, “well, at least you don’t look like you have mange any more!” and I burst out laughing. He was so right, I’d totally looked like I had mange!

I found that being bald was actually a blessing.

I could now cook bacon inside my house on a night that wasn’t a “wash night”. I could sit out at a bonfire any night I wanted to. It was wonderful to ride in a car with the windows down. Getting up, showered and out the door in 5 minutes was fantastic. I could drastically change my appearance regularly by wearing a different wig, or a scarf or nothing at all on my head.

The thing I noticed most is that everyone was nice to me… all the time! Perfect strangers would be so kind to me. They would hold doors for me, let me go before them in line, and not get irritated if I happened to unknowingly cut in front of them. I probably could have stolen someone’s coveted parking space and when they saw my head (I generally wore scarves, a sure sign that someone is battling cancer) they would just let me go with no confrontation.

Losing my hair, once thought to be the worst thing that could possibly happen to me (okay, that’s a slight exaggeration… slight!) would end of freeing me in so many ways.

My hair grew back.

JoJo's ArmyGrowing my hair back was actually more painful than being bald. There were some really rough “bad hair days”. But even during that time there were blessings. We had moved to Kenya two months after I completed treatment. My hair was just beginning to grow back. No one in Kenya had ever seen me before, so they had nothing to compare my appearance to and no one ever said a word about it! By the time we came back to the States my hair was well on its way to being exactly like it was before, curls and all.

My story had a successful conclusion. Many do not. It’s important to understand what going through breast cancer can feel like for a woman. Compassion and support are important things to give someone you know facing breast cancer. My family and coworkers surrounded me during my battle and it really helped. So as we recognize October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, thank you for reading my story. And I am so thankful to be able to share it with you!

What you need to know about Medical Marijuana in Missouri

By Dr. Emily Robb

Medical MarijuanaMissouri has approved the use of medical marijuana for appropriate patients who are residents of Missouri. There are still a lot of questions about medical marijuana. The internal medicine department of LSPG would like to help you understand the current state of medical marijuana in Missouri.

Is medical marijuana legal?

Medical marijuana is legal in Missouri for persons that obtain a Missouri medical marijuana patient identification card. Federally, marijuana is still illegal. Missouri residents that are found with marijuana in a state that has not legalized medical marijuana could be charged with possession of an illegal substance. Legal questions are best addressed by a lawyer.

Is medical marijuana safe?

More study is needed to fully answer this question, but there are some risks with use. These risks include, but are not limited to, addiction, breathing trouble, intractable vomiting, dizziness, impaired memory/concentration, slower reaction times/impaired driving, worsening of mental health disorders (increased anxiety, depression or schizophrenic tendencies) and withdrawal with abstinence of use. Marijuana will interfere with certain drugs and may require close monitoring by your physician.

Is medical marijuana effective?

Again, more study is needed. Currently we know it is very effective for certain types of seizure disorders. There is some evidence it can help with pain and anorexia associated with cancer and cancer treatments. We recommend you talk to your physician if you feel that medical marijuana would be helpful treating your medical issues.

What are qualifying conditions in Missouri?

  • Cancer
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • Intractable migraines unresponsive to other treatment
  • A chronic medical condition that causes severe, persistent pain or persistent muscle spasms, -including but not limited to those associated with multiple sclerosis, seizures, Parkinson’s disease, and Tourette’s syndrome
  • Debilitating psychiatric disorders, including, but not limited to, post-traumatic stress order, if diagnosed by a state licensed psychiatrist
  • Human immunodeficiency virus or acquired immune deficiency syndrome
  • A chronic medical condition that is normally treated with a prescription medications that could lead to physical or psychological dependence, when a physician determines that medical use of marijuana could be effective in treating that condition and would serve as a safer alternative to the prescription medication
  • A terminal illness
  • In the professional judgment of a physician, any other chronic, debilitating or other medical condition, including, but not limited to, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, Huntington’s disease, autism, neuropathies, sickle cell anemia, agitation of Alzheimer’s disease, cachexia, and wasting syndrome.

How does a qualifying Missouri resident obtain a patient identification card?

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services website has excellent information on how to obtain a patient identification card as well as a list of qualifying conditions.

Please go to this website for complete information: https://health.mo.gov/safety/medical-marijuana/how-to-apply-pi.php

Part of the certification process requires a physician certification form. The internal medicine department of LSPG is willing to fill out physician certification forms for our current patients that meet appropriate criteria.

  • The applicant must have been an established patient with LSPG for at least 2 years. Care with LSPG must have been established by June 30, 2017. Any patients that began care with LSPG after June 30, 2017 do not qualify and we will not sign your form.
  • The applicant must have been treated for, or currently receiving treatment for, one of the qualifying conditions listed above. In addition, the patient must have failed or had a sub therapeutic response to conventional treatment.
  • The applicant must be at least 21 years old and a Missouri resident.
  • The form must be filled out and signed by a medical doctor. Our nurse practitioner is unable to fill out forms.

Your LSPG physician will require you to schedule an office visit to discuss appropriate use and risks of medical marijuana prior to filling out your physician certification form.

Patients currently taking opiate medication for pain will be closely monitored and will be required to taper down or off their opiate pain medications if they are going to proceed with use of medical marijuana to treat their pain.

LSPG charges $100 per physician certification form. LSPG will only fill out paper forms. We do not fill out forms online. You will need to print out the physician certification form and bring it to your appointment.

The form is available at this website: https://health.mo.gov/safety/medical-marijuana/pdf/physician-certification-form.pdf

If you have already met with your physician and established a care plan involving medical marijuana, you are able to drop your form off at the office for completion. Otherwise, an office visit is required to complete the form. Please allow five (5) business days for completion. The form fee will be due at the time the form is picked up from the clinic. You will need to upload the paper form to your medical card online application as a PDF. If you do not have access to a scanner, you should be able to take a picture of your form and upload the image.

Be aware, once the form has been signed by your physician, you have 30 days to complete and submit your application with the state of Missouri.

The importance of organ donation. A personal story from Cindy’s family.

By Cindy Aldrige, F.N.P., Provider for Lee’s Summit Physicians Group.

Have you ever been asked about organ donation… maybe at the DMV? Do you have a lot of questions about the process? I’ve worked in the Emergency Department for years and as an EMT on an ambulance and I have a lot of experience with this topic from the medical/caregiver point of view. I was always in favor of donation, but a personal experience just made me affirm my decision even more!

Let’s talk about some concerns people have when the topic of being an organ donor comes up.

Organ DonationLet’s face it, when even discussing this topic for possible publication we had someone say, “well I’ve heard that if I sign up as an organ donor, they won’t try to save me.”

This so, so far from the truth. Health care providers work to resolve every problem/concern EVERY TIME. They try to save YOU, NOW… they’re not looking to save someone in the future.

In healthcare, workers have a very strong code of ethics. We do everything in our power to help and knowledge is what we all strive for. Plus, working together as a team, if anyone forgets or messes up, the others are not afraid to step up and correct them.

Organ donation, from a healthcare prospective, is something that is thought about after someone has been given every opportunity and there is no hope for recovery or has already died.

Let me tell you my family’s experience.

I have a cousin that was living in Key West when she was riding home from work on her motorcycle one night. A car didn’t yield to traffic signs and ran right into her. She was taken to a trauma center in Miami, Florida and they did everything they could to assess her and take care of her. Her sister lived nearby and rushed to the hospital. My parents were visiting central Florida so they responded as well. The rest of the family flew down as soon as they could get flights.

The medical staff cared for her for days, but she was not improving. They determined that she was brain dead. Her other organs were working fine, but her brain would never improve. She was on a ventilator and tubes to sustain her life. She had many experts and tests that were ran and re-ran in hopes that she would show signs of improvement, but she was never going to get better.

Our family knew her wishes in advance… which is key in making these tough decisions. We knew there would be no question as to what Angie would want done – to help as many people as possible since there was no hope for her improvement. When the topic of organ donation came up, we knew what the next decisions were going to have to be. It’s never easy, but knowing her wishes in advance made the decision to disconnect life support a bit easier. We knew she wouldn’t want to continue in a lifeless state, having to be cared for with no quality of life.

The support team and hospital staff were very supportive. Our family was able to control decisions, decide the time frame and get all our questions answered before any further action was taken.

I’ve experienced this on a professional level as well when families have made the difficult decision to help others through organ donation.

I’ve seen families make this incredibly difficult decision. The medical staff takes the person off life support, monitoring their response, just as they would anyone that was taken off life support that wasn’t donating organs. After they’re pronounced dead, the talented team of experts begin to work to save as many lives as they can with the viable tissue and organs that can be used. They coordinate getting recipients into other operating rooms awaiting the transplanted organs and they update families. They coordinate hospital staff and flights for organs that can be used.

Organ DonationWhat a glorious day when learning well over a year after we said our goodbyes to my cousin Angie, that Angie’s kidney had saved a family from having to sell their home to pay for medical expenses. The man that got Angie’s kidney is now able to work and spend time with his many children, all because Angie and her family were so generous to save other lives! Angie’s kidney is in Iowa today, thriving and doing well, taking care of that young family and allowing children to grow up with a father that can be active with them.

We were contacted by letter from this man, so grateful for his gift of life. Many other people have benefited from Angie’s gift as well, but we know the kidney story and we know the happy ending. Everyone that knows me or reads this will understand that I’m an organ donor. I will do everything in my power to help people even after they sign my death certificate!

Thank you for letting me share our personal organ donation story with you.

If you still have questions, I would be happy to speak to you. You can also learn more here where the Mayo clinic talks about the most common questions asked about organ donation.

I’ve also included a couple of other links about organ donation and end of life care. Please, please make your wishes known and fill out the paperwork and sign up on the organ donation registry so your family can honor YOUR wishes rather than have to make tough decisions in a time of crisis.

Additional Resources