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It’s Spring. Time to Get Out There and Be Active. A Few Useful Medical Tips

Pictured above: The flowers are blooming in the garden at our Highett clinic.
Lots of us have started running these days. I know I did, and then I hurt my foot, dammit. Limping for over a week, I thought I had a stress fracture, but it got better and I went for my first run again, after a bit of a break. It’s so good to be able to get back. I thought of other ways to tweak things – and here they are.

 

1. Vitamin D. As doctors, we’ve been checking patients’ vitamin D levels, and virtually everyone’s is low! Vitamin D helps make and keep your bones stronger. It allows your bones to absorb calcium. Usually it’s sunshine that increases vitamin D in an active form in the body, making it usable. Combining winter and lockdown means – very low vitamin D! Not a great combination. We’re keeping vitamin D at the clinics, to make it simple. It’s a good idea to get your levels checked. Otherwise, it’s safe to take two a day, especially for the first two months, then wind back to one. In summer, provided you get some sunshine, your levels may be ok. In winter, consider taking it again.

2. Terbinafine antifungal cream. Fungal infection on feet is common. Symptoms include itching, burning or stinging between your toes or on the soles of your feet. You may also notice blisters, cracking or peeling of the skin. If this affects you, using an antifungal can be helpful. Which one? Well, I would suggest Terbinafine since it treats fungal infection on the skin, as well as being the main constituent to treat fungal infection of nails. Fungal infection of the nails, usually occurs slowly but leads to the thickening and discolouration of the nail. It’s common and very stubborn to get rid of. My advice would be to consider using an antifungal on your WHOLE foot once a week, including carefully on your nails, to win the long term battle! It’s useful to apply over your whole foot, since you don’t always see where fungus is lurking! Remember also that creams are water-based (as opposed to ointments that are oil-based), so you need to really rub the cream in well, so it disappears, otherwise you’re basically keeping your foot wet – not good. On the nails, it’s harder to rub in, leaving some coating on the nail and edges/nail bed – is ok.

3. Fluids. So I’ve pictured e15 – the healthy energy drink we make (Visit the e15 website). The concept of drinking lots of fluids, water, healthy drinks – so important. Dehydration is something simple to avoid in your life. Water is great for your skin, kidneys, guts… the list goes on. Our drink e15, has many active ingredients including turmeric, magnesium and you guessed it… vitamin D!

4. Art/Music – well, that’s just the spice of life right? And, some of you would know, I’m partial to Amy Winehouse, so there she is in the background. Enjoy listening to your own favourites as you get out this spring.
Focus on what you can do. For me, these are some of those things.
And so, if you can, get out there and go for a walk or run… SPRING IS HERE!! If you like, feel free to join our group, e15 COVID R.I.P (Robben Island Program) by downloading the “Strava” app on your phone and following Brett Thiedeman. We’d love to be running with you this spring!

COVID-19 Positive Pathways Program

Atticus Health is proud to be involved with community health providers, Monash Health, SEMPHN, Central Bayside Community Health and Alfred Health to deliver the COVID-19 Positive Pathways Program via Doctor in My Pocket (our Telehealth service) to manage low risk COVID-19 positive patients who have minimal symptoms and are living in the community.  
 
The program provides clinical care, monitoring and support for all people who test positive for coronavirus (COVID-19). In particular, the program ensures that patients who are at risk of deteriorating are identified early and transitioned to higher levels of care. 
 
James Walker is a Telehealth Receptionist at Atticus Health.
The program was initiated by the Department of Health and Human Services and Safer Care Victoria to ensure that all Victorians with COVID-19 are offered: 
 
• Monitoring and regular ‘check ins’ to manage symptoms and identify rapid deterioration through primary and community-based care, with access to specialised health service clinical expertise.
 
 • Active in-home programs to reduce presentations and admissions, and reduce the risk of infection to other patients and hospital staff.  
 
 • Health, welfare and social support to assist people through illness and isolation. This includes connecting individuals with an Atticus Health GP if they do not already have one, and connecting and referring people to service providers for other needs such as mental health and pharmacotherapy.
Dr Tohid Hajizadeh

We’ll provide an update on our involvement in the COVID-19 Positive Care Pathways Program in our next newsletter.

Brett Thiedeman – Partnerships Manager.

Encounters With Old Men

Pictured above: “As a twenty-something year old bachelor, I lived alone in an old funky 60s’esk beachside apartment. We’d have a whisky together, at the bar, under a funky wooden spiral staircase that rather abutted a heavily wallpapered wall.”

Both my grandfathers died before I was ever born, so I never had that type of relationship. But I realise now, in retrospect, that along the way, I tried to make up for it.

I used to collect comics, and after school, I’d catch a bus, or jump on my bike and explore the next second-hand book shop or op shop, looking for gold. On one such “before mum got home” escapade, I found myself somewhere in an alley off Centre Road, Bentleigh at the door of an old book shop. I open the door and instantly the whiff of old yellowed paper hit me. As I entered, there were books everywhere, not many comics in sight however. Then emerging from behind the counter was an old man, short, fair, slim with a round head and a green jacket. I didn’t ever get his name, so to myself, I nicknamed him the “Leprechaun”. He showed me a few comics, not many were there. I loved talking to him, and eventually I bought all variety of books from there, including one old set of encyclopedias, that just looked good on the shelf. Yes indeed, there was no internet then.

Moving along, I found myself working in Myer in the video department. That was a cool job; we got T-shirts of all the latest movies and even got to take movies home sometimes for “product knowledge”. I worked there casually, on the weekends, and another old man came to the counter one day. We began to talk, and we connected. It was nice to talk, and indeed, I sensed he was lonely. So, on my tea breaks, he’d come to the counter, and we’d go for a walk, crossing the bridge to Lonsdale Street and enjoy a chat and a drink at a café. I did this a few times and I can’t remember how it all ended. I do remember him telling me that he was a draftsman during his working life. When I later recollected this story to my family, there were some concerns that he was a paedophile, I’d like to believe not.

Later, as a twenty-something year old bachelor, I lived alone in an old funky 60s’esk beachside apartment, that was ok for the Austin Powers type life I dreamed I was living. My neighbour though, Ron, wasn’t in that script, instead he was a man in his 80s. He lived with his wife. She had dementia. He’d come over to my house now and then. I had a bottle of whisky given to me by a rich friend. It was pretty special being “blue” label. The thing is, I wasn’t really a whisky drinker, but Ron was, and he appreciated the blue label. And so, he’d come over, we’d have a whisky together, at the bar, under a funky wooden spiral staircase that rather abutted a heavily wallpapered wall, and talk. Back then, I smoked, we’d a share a cigarette. We talked about all sorts of things. He was a good man. As a young adult, he had an issue with his bowels, such that he had a stoma bag. On the weekends, he’d catch the train into the city to a hospital, to talk to people who were about to have a stoma bag, to reassure them that his life had been just fine with one. I remember him telling me that his wife was actually the wife of his friend and that they were in the Air force together. His friend got killed and he cared for and subsequently married her after that. I thought that was a nice story. When it was time to pack up, he’d usually say to me with a glint of naughtiness, “Now don’t tell the Mrs about this”! I think he loved coming over, and I loved having him do so.

When I finally decided to study medicine, I volunteered at a local nursing home, basically just to go and talk to some of the residents. My introduction though didn’t quite go to plan. They took me over to “Laurie’s” room. We opened the door, Laurie and I talked and talked…and talked! I remember he had a small desk with a computer on it. He had a mouse and mouse pad and a bung thumb. I must admit I was very impressed that he used his mouse so well despite that bung thumb. He had bad arthritis. We got along really well. After a good few hours, I had to go. We promised to see each other soon. Seeing Laurie, I felt really positive about visiting the nursing home and motivated to become a doctor. The next day, I got a call, Laurie was dead.

I remember these encounters in pictures, colours, smells and words. They’re etched on my mind.

In the modern day of a mobile phone by one’s side and calamity abound, it’s hard not to be distracted from the simple act of talking – exchanging a moment with a person. Yet, I put to you, that there is so much joy to be had, if we give ourselves the opportunity to truly learn about a person in our near proximity. That person may be a shop owner. That person may be complete stranger (granted not without its risk, but heck). That person may be a neighbour. That person may be someone in need. But those exchanges, you may just remember, for life.

This is another of my favourite parts about being a GP. As I sit with a patient, listening, I feel like I’m travelling into a person, learning about their life. And the more I listen, the deeper I understand and am affected. People are fascinating. Each of us has a unique story and wherever you are, at a campsite or a dining table (or under a fiercely retro staircase), if you listen really carefully to their story, really closely, something magical at that moment – happens, for both of you.

Dr Floyd Gomes – General Practitioner And Managing Director.

Corporate Health – Nissan

Well done to Angus Robinson and the team at Nissan Motor Corporation in Dandenong South for leading the way and getting their COVID-19 vaccinations administered onsite at their workplace.

It was great to personally be a part of this program and hopefully other local businesses will follow.

If you run a business, Atticus Health is willing to organise COVID-19 vaccinations onsite. We are happy to help keep businesses running safely this way.

Feel free to get in touch on:
1300 COVID19

Email: bthiedeman@atticushealth.com.au

Brett Thiedeman – Partnership Manager.

Diamond Kind: Episode 3 – With Jess

Floyd and Brett are joined by our special guest, Jess. In 2020, Jess completed Year 12 during Melbourne’s lockdown and is a receptionist in training with Atticus Health.

She shares with us her story about how she overcame the struggles of finishing school in lockdown and came through it with kindness. Jess also gives advice for students and their studies during lockdown this year. We talk about preparing for exams, completing final exams from home and schooling from home.

COVID-19 Vaccinations

Book your COVID-19 vaccination appointment

Please call us on 1300 268 431 (1300 COVID19) to enquire or book in. Anyone aged 12 and over can get vaccinated.

Atticus Health Vaccination Clinics: 

Melbourne – William St

Bangholme (Accepting walk-ins)

Hastings (Includes drive-through)

Carrum

Somerville

Hamilton Island

Important information for bookings for those aged 12-59 years

Talk to your doctor about medical conditions.

People who have a pre-existing medical condition and/or disability are encouraged to receive their COVID-19 vaccine by their doctor.  Your doctor will be able to talk to you about your health and any questions you have.

Watch this video from the Department of Health. This webinar video provides an overview on the COIVD-19 vaccination program including:

– which vaccines are available
– eligibility
– side effects
– vaccine design
– development and safety
– vaccine safety for parents
– vaccines and faith
– how to book.

Thank you for helping to protect Australians against COVID-19.

 

 


 

Are they really OK? Ask them today

Dr Floyd Gomes (Atticus Health – Managing Director & Founder) teamed up with Laura Boscaglia from Headspace in Hastings and 153 participants at BlueScope Steel, to explore how people can stay connected, who might need asking “R U OK?” and how to find a meaningful moment to have a conversation with someone.

In challenging times it’s more important than ever for us all to stay connected and, for those who are able, be willing to support those around us. If you need professional support, please contact your doctor at your local Atticus Health clinic. If you are having suicidal thoughts, please seek assistance by contacting your doctor or calling Lifeline on 13 11 14.

If you are concerned for your safety or the safety of others, seek immediate assistance by calling Triple Zero (000).

The Best Way To Structure Your Day

These days, for many, life has become more unstructured. We move from our beds, perhaps to breakfast and not far beyond, start work on whatever desk/kitchen benchtop/dining table our home office so happens to be. We can wake up later, go to bed later. We can, go with the flow.

I’m here to make one suggestion. Wake up early.

I think I’ve mentioned before that from the age of 12, I’ve been waking up at 5am. Originally, that was with an alarm clock and because I was a paperboy. These days, I often spontaneously wake up earlier than that, sometimes at 3:30am, sometimes at 4am, less often after 5am.
At one stage of my life, I was so busy between work and family, I decided to segment my day into three parts rather than two. These comprised – wake at 2am. Work/education from 2am – 7am. 7am – 8pm – kids/family and other usual daily work. 8pm – 2am – sleep. This allowed me to basically fall asleep when I put the kids to bed. Sure, I often fell asleep whilst reading them a bedtime story or telling them a story from my childhood. After all, I was buggered. They would shake and nudge me, sometimes pry my eye open. Quite a few of my stories were pretty bad. Hopefully they gave me points for effort! But the day worked.

Getting back to the point, simply put, I would encourage everyone to be an early riser. If you wake up really early, by a particular time of the evening, you essentially are so tired, you will fall asleep. That may not be, and may not need to be by 8pm, but it could be by 9pm, or 10pm, with no melatonin, alcohol or any other drugs needed. If you work nightshift, you’ll have to do some thinking to work out the equivalent regimen.

In general, these days, I think I sleep for about 7.5 hours, and feel refreshed. Still, by being awake well before 5am, I just seem to get so much more done. And, I’ve accepted my body’s ebbs and flows. Therefore, on the days, for whatever reason, I wake up earlier at 2:30am, or whatever it may be, I don’t fight it. I just get up, feel lucky to have been given a random dose of energy and start doing something. By that night – I’m buggered, hit the hay early and some sort of clock resets. And sure, occasionally, I sleep in, but it’s pretty rare.

So, there you have it, what I do. And, whilst I’d accept what I do/have done may well not be for everyone, the general point is, despite any opportunity to sleep in, don’t do it. It’s generally much more useful to wake up early, rising before dawn. Indeed, as corny as the saying goes, there is much truth to it –

“Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise” – Poor Richard’s Almanack, by Benjamin Franklin, 1732. And of course, I’m sure Benjamin would agree that this includes women.

Skin cancer – Important to stay sun safe   

As we enter bright and beautiful summers, and people spend more time outdoors, it’s critical to heed the warnings about the dangers of exposure to ultraviolet radiation and skin cancer. Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. 

Every year, in Australia: 

  • skin cancers account for around 80% of all newly diagnosed cancers 
  • the majority of skin cancers are caused by exposure to the sun 

The good news is that skin cancer is also one of the most preventable forms of cancer by protecting skin from overexposure to UV radiation. Also, regular skin checks with your GP can help in early detection and treatment. Often, the doctor may even detect the growth at a precancerous stage, before it has become a full-blown skin cancer or penetrated below the surface of the skin. 

What causes skin cancer? 

The main cause of all types of skin cancer is overexposure to UV radiation. When unprotected skin is exposed to UV radiation from sun, the structure and behaviour of the cells can change, causing cell damage and leading to skin cancer. 

There are three main types of skin cancer: 

  • basal cell carcinoma 
  • squamous cell carcinoma 
  • melanoma – the most dangerous form of skin cancer. 

Skin Cancer Symptoms 

The sooner a skin cancer is identified and treated, the better your chance of avoiding surgery or, in the case of a serious melanoma or other skin cancer, potential disfigurement or even death. 

It is best to talk to your GP if any new/unusual spots are identified. Become familiar with the look of your skin, particularly spots and moles, so you pick up any changes that might suggest a skin cancer.
Look for: 

  • any crusty, non-healing sores 
  • small lumps that are red, pale or pearly in colour 
  • new spots, freckles or any moles changing in colour, thickness or shape over a period of weeks to months. 

Report any unusual moles or changes in your skin to your doctor to detect any early signs of cancer. 

Treatment for skin cancer 

Skin cancers are almost always removed through surgery using local anaesthetic. In more advanced skin cancers, some of the surrounding tissue may also be removed to make sure that all the cancerous cells have been taken out. 

Regular skin checks are vital as when detected early they are easier to treat. Any spot/signs of cancer not treated may become dangerous and disfiguring. So, if you spot anything that just doesn’t look right, get it checked by your GP as early as possible.

Practise Sun-Safe Behaviours 

The five simple things you can do to protect yourself and your family and reduce the risk of skin cancer are: 

  1. Slip on sun-protective clothing that covers as much skin as possible.  
  2. Slop on broad spectrum, water resistant SPF30 (or higher) sunscreen. Put it on 20 minutes before you go outdoors and every two hours afterwards. Sunscreen should never be used to extend the time you spend in the sun.  
  3. Slap on a hat – broad brim or legionnaire style to protect your face, head, neck and ears.  
  4. Seek  shade.
  5. Slide on some sunglasses – make sure they meet Australian Standards. 

COVID R.I.P. Robben Island Program

About the program

As a medical company, in speaking with our patients, we have noticed that because of so much uncertainty in the present environment, there is an ever increasing trend towards disempowerment.  This is almost a separate pandemic of its own.  The pandemic of learned helplessness and hopelessness.

It’s time to reclaim space.

Unless we actively acknowledge and take measures to address disempowerment, we all stand to lose precious time.  What started as weeks, becomes months and possibly years of focusing on things, too often, totally outside our control.

We do not want this to happen to us nor any members of the Atticus community, ideally not to anyone at all.

Enter – the e15 COVID RIP (Robben Island Program).  e15 COVID RIP hopes to let COVID rest in peace as far as its ability to disempower your life.

The nitty gritty…

Origin of the name: Robben Island

Robben Island is where Nelson Mandela was unjustly locked up for 18 years.  It’s an island off the coast, north of Cape Town in South Africa.  Previously, it operated as a prison, nowadays it remains as a museum.  In total, Nelson Mandela spent 27 years wrongfully locked down, in prison, under the apartheid regimen. We use the name of this program to remind ourselves that despite the present times, including lockdowns in Australia, we still live in a truly free country where we enjoy certain liberties that others could only dream of, including a democratically elected government.  Whether you were born here or immigrated, it remains all our good luck to still call Australia home.  We will emerge from our present restrictions and once again be free.  A baby born today in some places of the world, will likely never emerge.  Nelson Mandela was lucky to emerge after 27 years in total of being imprisoned.  Despite tough times behind us and ahead, let’s remain grateful.  It can be easier to be grateful when you can relatively compare your life to that of someone else.  Let Robben Island be that for you.

Who is the program for?

Anyone who wants support to regain a sense of self determination and empowerment in their life and is willing to follow these six rules: 

  1. Get fully vaccinated against COVID-19 within 15 weeks.  YES

  2. Join e15 HEC on Strava and complete a minimum 50km per 4 weeks

  3. Restrict reading the news/following social media to 30 mins a day

  4. Set your own mission.  A stretch target/event to complete after 15 weeks

  5. Read one book/audiobook per fortnight.  Set by the COVID RIP organisers. A voluntary fortnightly book club zoom meet will be available

If you haven’t already done so, see your GP at least once, at the start of the program to have a health check up.  If you have your own GP, that’s great, see them. If you don’t, let us know and we’ll connect you with one of ours.

The program is for all various fitness levels.  You may use it to get fit – physically and mentally.  Alternatively, if you are fit and doing ok, then think of joining the program to help and encourage those who may be struggling, within the group.  Share your positive disposition and state of mind, because it’s needed, now more than ever.

When

  • Monday, 31st August – registrations open
  • Monday, 6 September 2021 – COVID RIP starts
  • 7am Saturday, 18 December 2021 (AEST) – COVID RIP ends with our (your) event.  We run/walk whatever – together.

Regarding the event on Saturday 18 December, we encourage you to push yourself in setting your own personal target.  It is yours to conquer and ours together to celebrate, as a group.

The cost

  • You can choose your entry fee and donate whatever you can spare to our e15 COVID RIP gofundme campaign.  We’ll send you the link once you’re registered
  • Atticus Health pledges to match all donations/entry fees

All proceeds will go to Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) Australia.

A message

If you have lost your job or business entirely because of COVID, please don’t take this program to be condescending.  Rather than that, we hope that it can help focus your emotions to move forward with life.  Indeed, as an organisation and community, Atticus Health hopes to rally around anyone who’s really struggling, to give them moral and practical support as much as we can.  By joining the program, may you be spurred on to make it through 2021 and beyond, stronger.

How to register

To register for the program, email bthiedeman@atticushealth.com.au.  All you need to include is your full name.  We’ll email back to you all the instructions about what to do next.

Dr Floyd Gomes, Brett Thiedeman and the COVID RIP team.