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“Advance directive” is a term most people aren’t familiar with until they are in the midst of a medical crisis. This year, why not plan ahead so your family knows exactly what you want for your health care? The Advance Directive is a simple and free form that allows you to direct your healthcare by naming people you trust to carry out your .

You have the right to fill an Advance Directive that will specify, in advance, what kind of treatment you want or do not want under special, serious medical conditions – primarily those that prevent you from communicating with your providers yourself. For example, if you were taken to the hospital in a coma, what would you want the staff to know about your wishes affecting your treatment?


Writing Advance Directives is about being prepared.

It is about making your medical wishes known in writing, through a conversation with your Agent (the person you are appointing to make those decisions for you, in the event that you cannot) and any family members who may want to be involved in your care if you were not able to make decisions for yourself. Having everyone on the same page makes it easy for all involved to make the right decision – the decision you would make.

What should I do with my Advance Directive if I choose to have one?

Place a copy with your doctor, lawyer and agent. Let them know that you have an Advance Directive and where it is located.

Consider the following:

–        If you have designed a health care surrogate, give a copy of the written designation form to them.

–        Give a copy of your Advance Directive to your doctor for your medical file.

–        Keep the original in a safe place with other important documents, but NOT in a lock box.

–        If you change your Advance Directive, make sure your doctor, lawyer, and/or family member has the latest copy.

To discuss Advance Directives, get your questions answered and/or pick-up a form for yourself, contact the medical social workers at Fort HealthCare at (920) 568-5284. It’s free and can make a world of difference to your family during what could be a very difficult time. Take a few minutes this month and make your care a priority.

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If you’re over 50, osteoarthritis (a.k.a. degenerative arthritis) may be a topic of conversation among you and your friends. Most of the time, osteoarthritis affects the hand, making day-to-day tasks like opening jars, getting dressed and gripping things with your hands, painful.

Thankfully, there are some solutions for hand arthritis.

Relief can come in the form of:

  • Therapy,
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication,
  • Bracing, and
  • Cortisone injections.

For pain not relieved by these interventions, surgery is an option. Painful joints can be fused. This eliminates motion of the fused joint, but also eliminates the constant aching pain.

Alternatively, some joints can be resurfaced; in fact, I can provide  surgery to resurface a painful joint at the base of the thumb on a same-day surgery basis using your own natural joint substitute. Your thumb and wrist are in a cast for four weeks, and gradually regain mobility through therapy.

This type of surgery has a high success rate for decreasing pain and preserving thumb motion. Over time, you actually gain strength in the hands. Tasks that were difficult before become easier and more symptom-free, but treatments like this should be discussed with your doctor, or an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in hand and wrist surgery. To make an appointment, or learn more, visit

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When people experience hearing loss, it can be devastating. This is never more true than when it happens suddenly. “Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss” (SSHL) is a very serious medical emergency often described as going to bed with perfectly good hearing and then waking up the next day hearing nothing, typically out of one ear.

The ear is divided into three sections: the ear canal, outer ear and inner ear and a problem occurring in any of these areas of the ear can lead to hearing loss. Sound waves travel through the structures of the ear and over sensory nerve cells that send signals to the brain to interpret sounds. Damage (often caused by loud repetitive noises, such as loud music, using loud equipment, and gun blasts) to these cells causes hearing loss over time.

One reason for the sudden loss of hearing could be from ear wax impaction. Signs of this condition are when sounds seem fuzzy, or when water gets into the ear, it hurts, “pops,” and then feels better. Other causes could be from trauma to the ear, head or neck, or complications from an upper respiratory infection.

Whatever the cause, if you experience sudden hearing loss, you should see a doctor as soon as possible.  A good rule of thumb is to seek medical attention within three days of sudden hearing loss occurring.  Waiting longer runs the risk of loss of hearing, especially if the hearing loss is due to a problem in the inner ear.

Evaluations by a primary care doctor or an Ear, Nose & Throat (ENT) specialist will determine the best treatment option for you. Most evaluations begin with a hearing test, followed by a medical prescription, or perhaps a recommendation for a hearing assistive device.

It is also important to note that sometimes individuals that have symptoms for hearing problems are actually undergoing treatment for respiratory allergies, where their allergy symptoms are incorrectly being attributed to the hearing issues they’re truly experiencing. An ENT specialist can evaluate, diagnose, and treat respiratory allergies and a number of conditions affecting the ears, head and neck in adults and children.

Protecting the hearing that you do have is always your best option, but if you experience sudden hearing loss, you may need medical intervention to help determine the cause and a treatment plan for your condition.

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