How does having a port affect my daily life?

Baird Cancer Treatment Port

Many conditions, such as cancer treatment, long-term IV medication or kidney dialysis, require frequent or constant access to your veins. Repeated needle sticks in the same area can be hard on you and hard on your veins. That’s why we specialize in placing vein access ports, so that doctors don’t have to stick you with a needle or restart an IV line every time you need treatment. That makes care easier — and your life easier.

Once you have a port, you may wonder how it will affect your day to day activities. We spoke with Richard Williams, RN, BSN, OCN at Baird Vascular Institute, who said to think of it as you would any medical procedure, “For the first few days, avoid any heavy lifting or strenuous activities.” Williams continued, “There are folks who like to hunt, or play tennis, or even have a job like a hairdresser where their arms move up and down frequently, for those folks we tell them they need to give the site a chance to heal, to let the skin start coming together and heal.”

Williams added, “We do ask people about their lifestyle and take that into consideration when placing the port. We can put the port on a different side if needed. All these things are discussed with the patient because we know they’re going to have this port for awhile.”

You can even travel with a port. Williams added, “If you do go through an airport scanner, it shouldn’t go off because there’s not metal in the port, but you can pull out a card that we’ll give you and show the agent what the ‘bump’ is in your scan.”

If you’d like to learn more about port and the procedure, we have a whole series of YouTube videos on the topic.

We’ll work with you and your health care team to choose the best long-term IV access option for your situation. Give us a call at (804) 828-2600 to discuss your options.

 

3 nonsurgical ways to cover unsightly leg veins

Baird cover spider veins

Warm weather is here, and with it comes shorter hemlines, lighter fabrics and more skin showing. Unfortunately, 20 percent of all adults, and 50 percent of adults over 50, experience varicose veins, predominantly women. If the unsightly veins on your legs embarrass you, there are a few natural remedies to help.

Makeup. Today, there are a number of high-quality makeup formulas designed to temporarily hide significant skin imperfections. These long lasting products can cover a variety of discolorations and irregularities such as scars, birthmarks, veins and even tattoos. Even your own makeup concealer can be used to cover small areas, but if you have larger areas to cover, there are products for that as well.

Self-tanners. We’ve talked about minimizing skin cancer risks here in the past, so we’re already big fans of any sunless tanning options. But did you know that sunless tanning products can also minimize the appearance of varicose and spider veins? Self-tanning creams and lotions can help cover scars and light veins, and even make skin dimples, cellulite and protruding veins less conspicuous. The bronzing reflects light and evens the overall skin tone and greatly improves appearance. Besides, who doesn’t love a little tan color for those summer picnics and events?

Stockings. Even though stockings are not the first option that comes to mind when you think of summer, you might want to think again. Today’s compression stockings offer a multitude of cute and fashionable options to wear with shorts and skirts. They look like regular knee-high socks, but offer coverage of any discolored or protruding leg veins, as well as the added benefits of compression for pain relief, improved circulation and slowing the progression of vein irregularity.

However, if you’re just simply tired of trying to find new ways to camouflage your embarrassing leg veins, give us a call and let’s see what we can do for you. Our vascular specialists are experts in evaluating and treating varicose veins, from unsightly spider veins using new, gentle and highly effective treatments to the relief of more serious, painful and even dangerous major varicose veins. Our vascular surgeons and interventional radiologists work hand in hand to treat patients with varicose using today’s most advanced technology and procedures, with your treatment plan tailored to your specific needs. Call us at (804) 828-2600 to discuss your options.

Why a port is a good idea

VCU Health Baird Port

From needle sticks and blood draws, from injections to IVs, everybody has had their shots. Usually, a pinch is all there is to it. But many conditions, such as cancer treatment, long-term IV medication or kidney dialysis, require frequent or constant access to your veins. Repeated needle sticks in the same area can be hard on you and hard on your veins. That’s why we specialize in placing vein access ports, so that doctors don’t have to stick you with a needle or restart an IV line every time you need treatment.

We talked to VCU Baird Institute’s Dr. Shep Morano about why someone might need a port.

“A port is a safe, reliable and low maintenance way to access a patient’s bloodstream,” said Dr. Morano. “Sometimes a port is recommended for patients who have used up all their peripheral veins, or doctors or nurses are having difficulty accessing their veins.”

Placing a semi-permanent catheter such as a “port-a-cath,” chemotherapy port or IV access port into a large vein in the upper arm or neck can make treatment easier for patients undergoing treatments that require frequent or constant vein access.

  • Chemotherapy or anti-cancer drug infusions
  • Hemodialysis
  • Long-term intravenous antibiotic treatment
  • Long-term intravenous feeding
  • Repeated drawing of blood samples

These ports can remain in place for several weeks or months and can help patients in many ways:

  • Fewer needle sticks to draw blood
  • Multiple IV lines accessible at one site
  • Lowered risk by reduced leakage, which is particularly important with chemotherapy agents that can cause tissue or muscle damage if they leak

Dr. Morano added, “The benefits of added safety, patient comfort, infection control, and ease of access make ports a great option for someone who needs long term central venous access.”

There are several types of long-term IV ports, the most well-known is the Port-a-cath. Unlike most other types of catheters, a port-a-cath is implanted completely underneath the skin. This type of port allows you to bathe and swim without the risk of infection. Port-a-caths can remain in place for months or even years.

A peripherally inserted central catheters or PICC line is inserted into one of the large veins in the arm near the elbow. PICC lines are generally used for shorter periods (one to six weeks) and are easier to remove.

These types of catheters, such as a Central line, tunneled venous catheters or Hickman catheters, are inserted into a large vein under the collarbone or in the neck and leave the body through a separate exit point, usually the upper chest. A “cuff” secures the line, providing protection from infection and holding the catheter in place as your body heals around it.

We work with you and your health care team to choose the best long-term IV access option for your situation.

 

 

Useful Apps for Cancer Patients

Baird Apps Cancer

Modern technology can be an amazing tool to help with our daily lives. Today, even cancer patients can find a variety of useful apps to assist in their treatment and recovery by monitoring symptoms, storing data, providing information and support. Of course, nothing can or should take the place of your physician and care team’s advice, but here are a few apps that may help keep and organize your data and assist in other ways as you navigate the course of your illness.

Cancer.net Mobile

Developed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), this app provides easy-to-use tools to help you plan and manage care – from diagnosis through treatment and beyond, and is provided by Cancer.Net. It includes the latest oncologist-approved cancer information.

Pocket Cancer Care Guide

Provided by the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship, the Pocket Cancer Care Guide is an app that allows you to quickly and easily build lists of practical questions used to guide conversations between you and your doctors and nurses. Users can browse hundreds of questions in categories relevant to stages of your cancer diagnosis, build lists of questions to use when talking to your doctor or nurse, link doctor appointments to your lists and automatically add it to your calendar and record and playback your doctor’s or nurse’s answers. There’s also a glossary of medical terms for reference.

My Cancer Coach

This app, by Genomic Health, Inc., is a free mobile app developed in partnership with BreastCancer.org, Men’s Health Network, and Fight Colorectal Cancer. The app provides specific information about personalized cancer treatments to help manage your cancer’s progression. It’s like having ‘Cancer 101’ in your pocket. Questions about your stage of cancer? Should you get surgery? Is radiation necessary? Do you need chemotherapy? Is your cancer metastatic? My Cancer Coach provides easy-to-understand treatment information for breast, prostate, and colon cancer patients and their caregivers.

Create To Heal

This app is brought to you by The Women Wings Foundation Create to Heal (TM) program. It is designed to gently take you from your head into your heart, where the healing process begins. Because stress is the number one contributor to all major diseases, including cancer, the goal of this app is to provide patients with relief from stress through the use of beautiful imagery, sounds and words.

The Create to Heal (TM) guided meditations, music and art have been tested in several hospitals and cancer centers over a period of 5 years, with hundreds of cancer patients, survivors and their families. This app gives patients the tools to continue their creative therapy and stress reduction at home, at work, wherever they are. The app offers 10 music tracks, 4 guided meditations, 36 pieces of art, and 60+ inspirational messages.

My Medical

My Medical is a comprehensive record-keeping app for your personal medical information. The app offers autocompletion and autosuggestion for a wealth of medical jargon, including prescription drug names; vaccinations; common afflictions; life support options; laboratory units; and much more.

In addition, there are areas for emergency contacts, health insurance, doctors’ contact information, and other data that are not strictly part of a traditional personal health record (PHR) are all available. It will put doctor’s appointments and upcoming lab tests on your calendar. You can even set reminder alarms directly from the app, without ever going into your calendar. Finally, the app offers an area for files to be attached to your record. For example, you can add a picture of the pill next to a medication, or a copy of your insurance card alongside a provider’s contact information.

iHealth Log

iHealth Log helps individuals with chronic health issues manage their disease.  All medications and dosages are easily maintained along with important prescription details including a photograph of the medication and physician and pharmacy information.  The diary tracks daily medications and measurements which are critical to disease management.  iHealth Log makes it easy to email lists of medications to schools, summer camps and health care providers and it has reporting capabilities to plot measurement data and send this data via email to the physician.

Practicing mindfulness during cancer treatment

baird-cancer-mindfulness

Mindfulness is a common buzzword floating around many online sites these days. What is mindfulness, and what does it do?

Mindfulness is defined as:

“a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.”

By the textbook definition, mindfulness sounds a great deal like meditation, a technique used for centuries to clear the mind, de-stress the body and improve focus and concentration. But mindfulness takes meditation a step further and asks the practitioner to incorporate mindfulness throughout the day, rather than mediate for a few moments at the beginning or ending of each day. Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present, where you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance – without judging them good or bad.

According to the website Cancer Forward, “there are many studies about mindfulness and its benefits for cancer patients. They show positive improved psychological functioning, reduction of stress symptoms, enhanced coping and wellbeing in cancer outpatients. This adds up to a greater sense of peace, ease, and resiliency while living with cancer. The stillness that comes with mindfulness meditation fosters deep, physical relaxation and an opening of the heart.”

Anyone can practice mindfulness. It takes no special equipment, training or locations. All it takes is a willingness to learn and turn inward to acknowledge feelings and the present day. Many websites feature detailed ideas on how to get started, or ask a healthcare practitioner for direction.

By practicing this technique, it allows the mind to better cope with the day-to-day stresses, anxiety and negativity that creeps into the day.

Is image-guided treatment right for me?

baird-image-guided-right-for-me

“Excruciating.” That’s the word every active person uses to tell us about the pain of “runner’s heel” (plantar fasciitis), “tennis elbow” and other tendon injuries. That little twinge you felt on your daily jog or practicing your forehand has now become a knife-sharp sting in the exact same spot with every step or every swing you take, every day. It’s impossible to ignore the pain…and you shouldn’t. Tendon injuries need attention. Sometimes, rest, therapy and a change in activities may ease the pain…but often the damage is permanent, and only gets worse.

Until now. Using precision ultrasound imaging guidance and a minimally invasive treatment, we can delicately remove the damaged tendon tissue and get you back to the activities you love in a matter of weeks – with little to no pain.

If you answer yes to these questions, it may be time to discuss our image-guided tendon treatment.

  • Have you given up any activities due to tendon pain?
  • Have you been suffering for three months or longer?
  • Have you taken multiple steps to get rid of your pain without lasting success?
  • Are you tired of masking the pain or enduring it rather than treating it at the source?

Sometimes you can cope with tendon injuries with ice, rest, physical therapy and other treatments – particularly if you stop the repetitive activity and rest as soon as you feel the very first twinges. More often than not, people try coping with the growing pain, on the job or at play. However, if the damage doesn’t heal properly, or if you continue the activity and increase the damage, you risk long-term injury, constant pain – and giving up an activity you love.

If you’re frustrated with chronic tendon pain or have tried multiple treatment options, image-guided tendon treatment – also called percutaneous tenotomy or fasciotomy – could be the treatment you need for rapid pain relief. Unlike other medical or physical therapies, this procedure safely removes the cause of the pain at the source, and unlike many traditional surgical procedures, it is far less invasive, requires far less recovery time – and has a much higher success rate.

The treatment may require only a local anesthetic and a tiny incision, and is virtually pain-free. We use a targeted application of ultrasound energy to break down the damaged tendon tissue while leaving surrounding healthy tissue untouched.

Most people won’t need any further treatment, such as physical therapy. You wear a walking boot for a week or two while the area heals. The most common post-procedure problem reported is some soreness, which can generally be treated with over-the-counter pain medication and typically lasts less than a week. In a recent study, doctors reported no other side effects. More than 35,000 people have had the treatment since 2012, with a high rate of satisfaction. In most cases, patients are back to the activities they love in six weeks or less.

We treat a range of common tendinitis or tendinosis conditions that can take you out of action:

  • “Runner’s heel” (plantar fasciosis or fasciitis)
  • “Tennis or golfer’s elbow” (lateral or medial epicondylosis of the elbow)
  • Achilles tendinosis

If you’re been coping with tendon pain, it may be time for us to help you get back in action.

 

 

 

6 Resolutions for a Healthy New Year

baird-healthy-resolutionsWhen dealing with a cancer diagnosis, the celebration of a new year may feel a bit bittersweet. Your health concerns have taken precedence over many areas of your life and you may feel a bit apprehensive about the New Year. Many of your friends and family will make resolutions to get healthy or lose weight. There’s no reason you can’t make some health-related resolutions of your own – even while going through cancer treatment. Here are some healthy ideas that you might not have thought of that help improve your overall health and well-being.

Practice Mindfulness. Mindfulness is a common buzzword floating around many online sites these days. What is mindfulness, and what does it do? By the textbook definition, mindfulness sounds a great deal like meditation, a technique used for centuries to clear the mind, de-stress the body and improve focus and concentration. But mindfulness takes meditation a step further and asks the practitioner to incorporate mindfulness throughout the day, rather than mediate for a few moments at the beginning or ending of each day. Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present, where you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance – without judging them good or bad. Anyone can practice mindfulness. It takes no special equipment, training or locations. All it takes is a willingness to learn and turn inward to acknowledge feelings and the present day. Many websites feature detailed ideas on how to get started, or ask a healthcare practitioner for direction. By practicing this technique, it allows the mind to better cope with the day-to-day stresses, anxiety and negativity that creeps into the day.

Stay hydrated. Drink a full 8-ounce (or larger) glass of water each time medication is taken. If you have to take pills in the morning, at lunch, at dinner and at bedtime, that’s 32 ounces of water each day. If larger volumes of water seem difficult, try keeping bottled water handy at several locations throughout the house, and try to sip from them whenever you can. Incorporate high water-content foods into your diet. Foods like cucumbers, celery, tomatoes, green peppers, cauliflower, broccoli, watermelon, spinach, cantaloupe and strawberries are not only good for you – but are also more than 90% water. Try alternative sources of fluids like popsicles, milkshakes, sports drinks or smoothies. Increase the amount of fluid you take in if you’re outside in hot weather or exercising. If you’re sweating, you’re reducing the amount of water in your body, so it needs to be replenished.

Exercise your mind. Maintaining good health not only includes diet and exercise and our physical presence, but also good mental health and memory strength as well. Without stimulation, the brain is just like our muscles, it loses strength and ability if it is not challenged on a regular basis. However, research has shown that the brain needs to be challenged, not just stimulated, in order to retain memory and clarity over time. Crossword puzzles, for example, may be your go-to brain exercise, but if you breeze right through them, it may be time for something that challenges your brain in a different way, like painting or Sudoku.

See the world. With the holidays soon over many are thinking ahead to vacation travel to beaches, or the mountains, or destinations beyond with family and friends. If you’re undergoing cancer treatment, it’s no different; you need time to recharge from the day-to-day stresses of life, and especially your medical condition. When undergoing cancer treatment, there are a few extra precautions and considerations for the traveler, but that shouldn’t stop you from traveling or enjoying a vacation away from home. Careful planning can ensure you have a great – yet safe – experience.

Get some sun – safely. After being cooped up during the winter, many are looking forward to spending more time outdoors exercising or taking care of upcoming spring yard work. Whether spending the day outside, or just taking care of a few chores, it’s important to always protect your skin from the harmful rays of the sun. Depending on your skin tone, even just a few minutes can cause damage to your skin.

Incorporate superfoods. While no single food will protect you from disease, there are many foods that have disease-fighting properties that can be grown easily in your home garden. Some foods actually increase your risk of cancer, but some, such as cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, and kale; Lycopene rich foods such as tomatoes and tomato based products and leafy, green vegetables such as spinach, kale, collards and chard, all support a healthy body and strengthen your immune system.