Friday, 28 August 2015 15:58

What’s in Your Medicine Cabinet?

By Morgan A. McFarland

That half-empty bottle of oxycodone in the back of your medicine cabinet may be more dangerous than you think. Prescription narcotic medications play an important role in pain management after injury or surgery, but for many people, use of prescription medication doesn't end when the injury heals. Misuse, abuse, addiction and overdose are all risks associated with access to prescription medication. Proper storage and disposal of medications, along with education on the risks and warning signs of addiction, can help prevent your medicine cabinet from becoming a gateway to drug abuse.

SB-1Prescription Drug Abuse
Abuse of prescription medication is more common than most people think. In fact, drug overdose (including both illegal and prescription drugs) has eclipsed car accidents as the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that up to 20 percent of people over age 12 have used prescription drugs for reasons other than those prescribed at least once in their life. Trust for America's Health, which compiles national public health statistics, ranks Georgia as having the 36th highest drug overdose mortality rate in the U.S., with nearly 11 people per 100,000 dying from overdose.

"Non-medical abuse of prescription drugs has continued to increase each year at least by a percentage point," says Chris Hinds, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in practice in Marietta for over 30 years. "According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which has the best epidemiological survey data, [in] 2013 there were at least 1.5 million young people ages 12 and older who initiated use with prescription pain relievers. It's those prescription drugs and things in medicine cabinets that seem to, year after year, be keeping pace with cannabis and alcohol. That's definitely a problem."

Who's At Risk?
While the causes for addiction vary from person to person, many prescription drug abusers share common risk factors. Men have a higher risk of developing a prescription drug abuse than women. Individuals with chronic pain, such as from an injury or neurological disorder, are at elevated risk. Genetics can also play a role; those with a history of opioid addiction in one or both parents are more likely to develop an addiction themselves. Drug addiction often occurs in conjunction with other mental health issues, and it may involve patients misusing medication prescribed for anxiety or other mental illness along with pain medications.

SB-2"The majority of my clients are people who have anxiety, stress or depression," says Dr. Clarence Massie, Jr., a professor of psychology at Georgia Perimeter College and counselor at Assurance DUI School. Throughout his 15 years of experience working with substance abuse clients, he has seen that prescription drug addiction is often the result of converging events, such as a combination of injury and major stressors like job loss or relationship instability. Dr. Massie says these can lead to "abusing the drugs, taking them more frequently than recommended, then getting a second prescription when [they] don't necessarily need it."

Watch for the Warning Signs
Prescription drug abuse manifests through physical and psychological symptoms. Some physical warning signs of opioid use include constricted or "pinned" pupils, slurred speech, sedation or sleepiness, confusion, euphoric behavior, itching and nausea. Opiates can also cause depressed respiration, which in the event of overdose can lead to death.

Some of the psychological symptoms are just as telling, such as preoccupation with the medication or feeling panicked when medication becomes inaccessible. Crystal Bradshaw, with Synergy Counseling Innovations, gives the example of a woman who became "extremely aggressive to staff, yelling and making a huge scene in front of other clients because we would not prescribe her child ADHD meds. The child did not exhibit symptoms or signs of ADHD – we believe the mother was seeking the prescription for herself."

SB-3The Danger of Overdose
Prescription drug use in teens can escalate as teens develop a tolerance, sometimes transitioning to crushing and snorting or injecting oxycodone, according to Hinds. Heroin use, often as an escalation from prescription narcotic abuse, is also becoming more prevalent among Atlanta youth.
Luckily, many overdose deaths from this escalating usage can now be prevented. Governor Nathan Deal signed the Georgia 911 Medical Amnesty Law in 2014, providing legal protection to overdose victims or those seeking emergency assistance on their behalf in the event of a drug overdose. The law also offers better access to the life-saving medication naloxone (Narcan), which counteracts the effects of narcotic/opioid overdose. Georgia Overdose Prevention, a grassroots group dedicated to reducing overdose death, can help volunteers receiving training in the use of naloxone and find pharmacies that will fill prescriptions of naloxone for those with loved ones at risk of narcotic overdose.

Georgia also has an excellent program for education and prescription drug abuse prevention. The "Think About It" campaign provides additional information on safe storage of prescription medication, helps Georgians locate drug disposal or "take-back" sites and offers education for healthcare providers, law enforcement, teachers and parents through videos, pamphlets and community education seminars. These resources, and your own awareness of potential problems, can help you make your medicine cabinet and your home a safer environment for everyone.

Editorial Resources
Crystal Bradshaw, Synergy Counseling Innovations –
Georgia Overdose Prevention –
Chris Hinds, LCSW, Hinds Therapy –
Clarence Massie, PhD, Assurance DUI Schools –
NIH National Institute on Drug Abuse:
The Science of Drug Abuse and Addiction –
Think About It: Prevent Rx Drug Abuse –


Friday, 28 August 2015 14:37

Give Her a Hand!

By Amy Meadows

It's a moment that Rachel Macy Stafford will never forget. She had taken her youngest daughter shopping for a dress to wear to the party for her recently released book, "Hands Free Mama: A Guide to Putting Down the Phone, Burning the To-Do List, and Letting Go of Perfection to Grasp What Really Matters!" Her phone was shut off and in her purse, where it stays during Stafford's hands free time – that time when she focuses solely on her family. When their shopping trip concluded, she took her phone out and turned it on. Instantly, she saw that she had nearly a dozen text messages from her publisher. In one of them, she saw the words NY Times. And she knew what those texts would say.

"I didn't read them right there," Stafford recalls. Instead, she walked her daughter outside. "I told her, 'You and I are going to read these together.'" Standing on the sidewalk outside the mall, the mother and daughter learned that "Hands Free Mama," published in January of 2014, had made the New York Times best-seller list. "I picked her up and swirled her around. It was our moment," Stafford continues, her voice breaking with emotion, explaining that her joy came less from the accomplishment itself (which thrilled her) and more from the fact that she could share it with her child. "We wouldn't have had that moment if I hadn't kept my phone in my purse. It was such a special moment for us."

PIC1Five years ago, Stafford probably would have missed the opportunity to have that remarkable experience. A busy wife and mother of two girls, she filled every minute of her days with activity. She participated in community activities, headed up school committees and got involved in her church. What's more, she had decided to return to teaching when her family moved, requiring her to take classes so she could receive her state license. "My life pre-hands free was chaotic. There was no white space on the calendar. I was controlled by my phone and tied to my to-do list," she says. "I was trying to be the perfect mom and the perfect wife. I was really putting a lot of pressure on myself."

PIC2Not only was there pressure on her, but the pressure was also spilling over to her children. Her two girls were tense around her, unsure if spilling a drink or breaking routine in some way would set their mom off. Stafford's oldest child developed a habit of nervously picking at her lip until it bled – a clear sign she was carrying too much weight on her little shoulders. Stafford began to sense that something wasn't right, and that it all started with her. "I was so short fused with my family. I managed rather than nurtured. And I was stretched so thin that my passion for living was nonexistent," she says. "I was the closest to having it all but the farthest from the life I wanted to live." Something inside was nudging her to question her lifestyle, but she chose to ignore the voice.

That is, until she took a run one morning, and everything changed. During that jog, she started thinking about a question that was often posed to her by others: how do you do it all? And for the first time, she decided to answer the question honestly in her own mind. "The answer brought tears to my eyes," Stafford reveals. She was able to "do it all" because, she says, "I missed out on life. I missed out on the laughing, the playing and the memory making. I would often say to my children, 'Not now – Mommy's busy.' And I realized that they were only going to be little once. I realized that I should be giving them all of my energy and focus. I should be nurturing these precious people. That was such an impactful moment. And that day, I started my first step to living hands free."

Stafford knew that the journey ahead would not be easy. She had so many distractions, both tangible and intangible. From her ringing phone and hectic schedule to the need to have an immaculate home, she felt like she was addicted to being busy. So Stafford made a list of the immediate distractions in her life and created a strategy for how to deal with them. It was as simple – and as challenging – as making small changes at first: giving her kids an undistracted goodbye in the morning, fully listening to her husband tell her about his day, taking 10 minutes to play with her daughters (even when there were dishes in the sink). And she kept a notebook documenting the moments she would have missed. SB1She didn't tell anyone what she was doing, but her family noticed a difference – even though they couldn't pinpoint what it was. She felt the difference in her own life as well. Three months into her journey, she explained it to her husband, and he encouraged her to share her story. Stafford launched her blog, Hands Free Mama, in 2010. In it, she shared anecdotes about and tips for letting go of distractions and living hands free. "There were crickets at first," she muses. "And I was scared. I was telling people that I'm not perfect." In time, she began to strike a chord.
SB2Thanks to a May 2012 blog posted entitled "How to Miss a Childhood," Hands Free Mama went viral. The post garnered three million hits, and Stafford's readership exploded. Today, her blog draws two million readers per month, and her Hands Free Revolution Facebook page boasts a quarter of a million fans – women and men, mothers and fathers, married and single, young and old. And her work has been featured in USA Today and Reader's Digest, as well as on sites like, and The Huffington Post, among many others. "I still can't wrap my brain around it. I didn't understand the impact this message could have on other people's lives," Stafford states. "The media perpetuates an idea, especially with women, where we see them fit, smiling, working at or outside the home and balancing it all beautifully. We're held to this standard. So we compare and compete. And it's hard to be the one to say, 'I'm struggling.' But you're not the only one. And it's a big sigh of relief when we can just be more real with each other. We need to give ourselves permission to fulfill our hearts and connect to what matters."

A lifelong writer, Stafford decided to pen a book based on her blog. By the time she had written the third chapter, she landed literary agent Sandra Bishop, who got Stafford a publishing deal with HarperCollins Christian Publishing. On Sept. 8, the company will release her second book, "Hands Free Life: 9 Habits for Overcoming Distraction, Living Better, and Loving More." In it, Stafford discusses how to acquire a new perspective and live a life of significance. It's something she felt compelled to write. "I am in a completely different place than I was when I wrote 'Hands Free Mama,'" she observes. "I've cultivated these enduring habits, and I've had a whole perspective change. I realized that I was able to see things that other people couldn't. And I can share this even deeper and more meaningful process."

Stafford also can share her incredible success with her husband and daughters, now 12 and 9. The family typically moves every five to six years for her husband's job, and just over a year ago, his career brought them to the metro Atlanta area. For Stafford, it's the perfect location for a hands free life. "We love it here," she says. "Saturday is a big hands free day for us, and there's always something fun to do. We'll go to a festival, a concert or a park. It's amazing." And at her husband's suggestion, they purchased a bike rack for their car and now explore the area's many bike trails whenever possible. "We have seen so many beautiful parts of Georgia by bike," she adds. "It's so wonderful."

What has truly allowed Stafford to enjoy those moments is her ability to set boundaries in her still increasingly busy life. For instance, when NPR requested an interview during her hands free time, she turned down the opportunity; she had promised to take her girls to the pool, and she did. "I don't regret that decision," she reveals. "If I can't be true to my message, then what good am I?" She also wants to be a role model for her daughters by staying true to her word. She continues, "I hope my daughters see that I lost my way for a while, but by God's grace, I used that difficult period to help others get back to what really matters. One person can make a difference. I want them to use their failings to learn. I want them to chase their dreams. And I want them
to be able to authentically connect with others."

Connecting is something Stafford has done in spades. And when she reaches out, she is steadfast in her message. "No matter how dismal life is now, no matter how many opportunities you have missed, today can be different," she concludes. "With the habits of a hands free life, you can bring joy back into your life and connection back into your relationships. Always remember that today matters more than yesterday."

Friday, 28 August 2015 14:10

20 Fun Getaways for Fall

By Kathy Kantorski

Day in and day out, you do your best to eat healthy and get some exercise. Why abandon your hard work on vacation? These trips, all within a few hours' drive of Atlanta, have a fitness bent to them that will help you feel great while having fun. Whether you choose horseback riding, kayaking at sunset or foraging for a wild meal, you'll return from vacation that much closer to your goals of fitness, health and happiness.


Have an Adventure
Thrill seekers unite! These three destinations will satisfy your adrenaline cravings.

Banning Mills
Drive time: 45 minutes

Soar up to 60 miles per hour over the lost gorge and the ghost town of Banning at Banning Mills Resort and Adventure Park. This family-owned conservancy features more than 100 zip lines and a multitude of sky bridges, along with a 100-foot power free fall, aerial challenge courses, kayaking, hiking, biking and even sleeping in treehouses.

Drive time: 1.6 hours

This Georgia town is a new hotspot for whitewater kayakers. Its 2.5-mile stretch of the Chattahoochee River features Class I to Class V rapids, along with a Lazy River. And what makes this rafting destination unique is its urban location – exit the river and bike or skate along the city's 20-mile river walk, offering live music, food, boutiques and more.

001Amicalola Falls and Unicoi State Park
Drive time: 1.75 hours

Newly introduced adventure-lodge experiences await at these state parks in the North Georgia mountains. Both offer treetop zip lines, GPS scavenger hunts, 3-D archery and climbing walls, and both are designated GoPro Parks, with classes and a rental program enabling guests to make an entertaining record of their day using the action camera mounted on a bike, kayak or helmet. Amicalola Falls also features guided hikes and fitness trail runs, survivalist camping and a birds-of-prey experience, while Unicoi adds lessons in fly fishing, paddleboarding, kayak fishing and primitive camping under the stars.


Climb A Mountain
If you think "The higher the altitude, the better," check out these getaways, in order of distance.

Callaway Gardens
Drive time: 1.25 hours

Located in the southernmost foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, Callaway Gardens is a man-made nature retreat for the purpose of connecting people with nature in ways that benefit both. The area features four lodging options along with activities such as a butterfly center, daily birds of prey shows, treetop zip lines and obstacle courses, geocaching (a real-world treasure hunt), beach and water sports, golf and, of course, plenty of gardens to tour.

002Town of Blue Ridge
Drive time: 1.5 hours

This cozy mountain town offers easy access to the Aska trail system, which features 17 miles of walking and biking trails. In October, visit the nearby Georgia Apple Festival, which includes food, art, crafts and more from hundreds of vendors, or catch a movie under the stars at the Swan Drive-In Theatre, built in 1955. If you decide to stay overnight, Escape to Blue Ridge ( offers a wide selection of cabins with great views and amenities.

Snowbird Mountain Lodge
Drive time: 2.5 hours

Celebrating its 74th season, the Snowbird Mountain Lodge offers majestic views and warm accommodations. Hike, horseback ride, do yoga, mountain bike, fish and canoe, or go for the unique experiences of wildflower walks or night walking with synchronous fireflies. The lodge closes for the season on November 29.

003Bryson City
Drive time: 3 hours

Take a break from the gym and take a fitness trip to the Smoky Mountains instead—Bryson City, North Carolina, to be exact. The city offers a two-day get-fit itinerary that involves jogging past waterfalls and through woods, paddleboarding, a sunset kayak tour, mountain biking and a one-hour massage to cap off the trip.

Singletree Gun and Plough Resort
Drive time: 5.5 hours

Nestled in the city of Danbury, N.C., this 1,000-acre family-owned wilderness resort offers lodge rooms or private cabins. Eight miles of private hiking trails are offered for guests of the resort only, but you can also visit the adjacent Hanging Rock State Park for 26 more miles of hiking trails, including five waterfalls and a 12-acre lake for fishing, boating and swimming. Additional activities include zip lines, fly fishing and tubing. We recommend you cap off the day watching the sun set over the Blue Ridge Mountains as you sip moonshine on the lodge's front porch.



004Primland Resort
Drive time: 5.75 hours

Let the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains take your breath away as you sleep not just under the sky, but in it, in one of Primland Resort's three treehouses. Or you can opt to stay on the ground in the mountain homes, cottages and other lodging options of this 12,000-acre mountain resort, offering activities such as golf, disc golf, fishing, horseback riding, hunting, mountain biking, nature walks, sporting clays, off-road adventures, archery, swimming, tennis and stargazing from the resort's observatory.


Get Cultured
These destinations offer the perfect combination of history and activity for those looking to stretch their bodies and expand their minds.

Drive time: 1.15 hours

Home to the largest hard-rock gold mine east of the Mississippi (and site of the first major U.S. gold rush), Dahlonega is a historic quaint mountain town in the heart of Georgia wine country, just over an hour north of Atlanta. Enjoy panning for gold and gemstones, visiting the heritage museums and touring the town, with its arts scene and gold-medal wineries. Or crank the activities up a notch with hiking, kayaking, bicycling, mountain biking, golfing, hunting, fishing and camping.

005Biltmore Estate
Drive time: 3.25 hours

In 1895, George Vanderbilt built this 250-room chateau in Asheville, N.C., which stands today as the largest home in America. The home's gardens were designed by renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, with the Blue Ridge Mountains as the backdrop. Outdoor activities include fishing, horseback riding and bike rentals, and visits to the nearby Antler Hill Village and Biltmore Winery are popular highlights of this trip.

006The Brice Hotel
Drive time: 3.5 hours

A new addition to Savannah, Ga., The Brice Hotel overlooks Emmet Park and the Savannah River in the city's historic River District. The four-star boutique hotel is pet friendly, and offers PUBLIC Bikes so guests can spin around the city. Its inviting brick courtyard, called the Secret Garden, is charmingly strung with lights, and a nightly social hour with free wine is held in the lobby.


Eat, Drink and Be Merry
Foodies and wine enthusiasts will treasure these getaways that leave you well fed and feeling great.

007Chateau Elan Winery and Resort
Drive time: 45 minutes

Just a quick drive to Braselton, northeast of Atlanta, Chateau Elan is a 3,500-acre vineyard featuring healthy dining, a European health spa and 63 holes of golf with courses for beginners to champions. While you're there, check out the resort's Night Golf, a walking course event with glow-in-the-dark balls, flagsticks and tee markers lighting the course.

White Hills Herb Farm
Drive time: 2 hours

Lisa Kessler, a former instructor at the Medical College of Georgia, now runs this sustainable herb farm in Dearing, just outside of Augusta. She welcomes guests to her 1890s farmhouse and offers tours of the fragrant lavender farms as well as lessons in producing field-to-product balms or lavender-infused oils, creating the perfect herb rub or pot of tea.

Paradise Hills Winery Resort
Drive time: 2 hours

The Lander family, originally from Northern Maine and Belgium, moved to Blairsville, Ga., in 2002 to open and run this winery resort. Situated on a mountain ridge, Paradise Hills offers cabin rentals, a spa and a family farm winery. The area is also popular for outdoor activities such as fishing, rafting, canoeing, hiking and horseback riding.

White Oak Pastures
Drive time: 2.75 hours

This cherished, sustainable family farm just opened its doors in August to diners and lodgers. Guests can stay in cabins or book a room in the Pond House. Every other Saturday, the farm will host classes, such as a seed starting class on Sept. 6. Additional offerings include guided horseback trail rides, farm tours led by a member of the Harris family, fishing in the farm's ponds, skeet shooting and, of course, the incredible farm-to-table dining.

No Taste Like Home
Drive times: 3.5 hours

Take a foraging trip with this culinary travel group. No Taste Like Home partners with three hotels to offer foraging-for-fitness packages through October. The excursions include a woodland "shopping spree" where you gather wild mushrooms and other edible plants. Picnic, then enjoy fine dining at one of the group's lodging partners (including the Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville, N.C.) as the chefs there cook up your "catch of the day."


Go Where Life's A Beach
If the sun and sand are calling your name, try these trips!

Hilton Head Health
Drive time: 4.15 hours

Already a top retreat for weight loss and wellness, Hilton Head Health recently underwent a transformation and now features a new spa and art gallery, and program changes including educational speakers. The wellness resort's focus is combining health with nature, and it features such activities as kayaking, a daily sunrise beach walk, paddleboard yoga, daily cooking classes, golf, tennis and more. The retreat is located within Shipyard Plantation, an 800-acre gated resort and residential community on Hilton Head Island.

008Jekyll Island Holiday Inn Resort
Drive time: 4.75 hours

After a $20 million rebuild, the Holiday Inn Jekyll Island opened its doors earlier this year, and guests have been flocking to its 1,200 square feet of unobstructed beachfront space on the historic Jekyll Island, which itself is undergoing a revitalization. Amenities at the new resort include a fitness center, kids club, nightly entertainment and more, and guests can also enjoy multiple water activities, golf, tennis, biking and nature-based excursions.

009Sea Island
Drive time: 4.75 hours

The Lodge and The Cloister are resorts on Sea Island, and both have been ranked among the Top 10 resorts in the U.S. by the readers of Travel + Leisure magazine. Needless to say, this is a high-quality getaway for families, outdoor enthusiasts and those looking to simply refresh and recharge. Sea Island features five miles of private beach with horseback riding and open-sea kayaking, tennis and squash centers, a yacht club, a shooting school and three championship golf courses including Seaside, the site of the PGA Tour's McGladrey Classic.

010Emerald Coast
Drive time: 4.75 hours

It's time to revisit Florida's Emerald Coast. With St. Joe Club & Resorts, your weekend could include: biking the Timpoochee Trail, which links each town's art galleries, cafes, a popular food truck stop and beach access points; kayaking, canoeing or stand-up paddleboarding across Western Lake; playing a round of golf on the Greg Norman-designed Shark's Tooth course; hopping on a pontoon boat at Bay Point Marina and fishing for snapper, grouper and scallops in the Gulf, then cruising over to Shell Island to enjoy lunch on the beach; and ending the day next to a bonfire on the beach.


Thursday, 23 July 2015 19:09

Body Symmetry MD

Thursday, 23 July 2015 19:05

Lotus Medical Wellness, LLC

Thursday, 23 July 2015 15:29

The 411 on Family Vaccines

Staying up to date on vaccinations is about more than protecting yourself against illnesses. It also protects those around you – whether it is your child, spouse, co-worker or simply the person standing nearby when you sneeze. Many of the diseases that vaccines prevent can be dangerous, sometimes deadly. Vaccines reduce the risk of infection by working with the body's natural defenses to develop immunity to disease. Vaccines have been extensively monitored and are safe and effective. So, what immunizations are recommended for your family?


Starting at birth, vaccinations shield children from a long list of illnesses, ranging from chickenpox and polio to Hepatitis A and B. Talk to a pediatrician about all of the recommended immunizations, the risks of not vaccinating and the health benefits of the following vaccinations for your children:

Diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis (Dtap/Tdap) – protects against serious infections including pertussis (whooping cough), which can be life threatening, especially in infants.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) – protects against several strains of HPV, which can lead to cancer of the cervix, mouth and throat. Recommended for both males and females, this vaccine is most effective when given during the pre-teen or teenage years.

Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) – protects against measles, which is a highly contagious and life-threatening disease. Between 2013-2014, U.S. measles cases tripled, largely due to unvaccinated individuals.


Many vaccinations now routinely provided to children – including chickenpox, Tdap, and MMR – are also beneficial to adults who never received them. Have a conversation with your primary care doctor about which immunizations are right for you based on your age and health condition. Also consider getting these important vaccinations:

Influenza (flu shot) – protects against seasonal influenza - a highly contagious viral disease that can cause coughing, fever and severe illness. Pregnant women, young children and those with compromised immune systems are at greater risk and should get vaccinated annually.

Pneumococcal (PPV) – protects against several types of infections, including meningitis and pneumonia.

Shingles – protects against a painful skin rash (often with blisters), triggered by the same virus that causes chickenpox. The vaccine is recommended for people 60 years or older.



David W. Jones, MD
Kaiser Permanente
Sandy Springs Medical Office

Dr. David W. Jones is assistant chief of pediatrics for Kaiser Permanente of Georgia, the state's largest not-for-profit health plan serving 280,000 members through 26 medical centers across Metro Atlanta and Athens. Read more about Dr. Jones at staff.

Sponsored by: Kaiser Permanente |





Thursday, 23 July 2015 15:16

Abnormal Vaginal Bleeding

My Dear Readers,

With this article, it is with great pleasure that I introduce to you my beginning series of editorials to discuss minimally invasive approaches to women's health. We will begin by addressing a condition that I see affecting many women tremendously: abnormal vaginal bleeding. It creates anemia, associated fatigue, and if left unattended, can be life threatening.

What are the main objectives of treatment? Safety and quality of life. If pregnancy is present, urgent attention is needed. For young ladies, the possibility of experiencing a blood clotting disorder, presence of ovarian cysts, or potential hormonal disbalance (along with other concerns) must be taken into consideration. Further in reproductive years, such bleeding can signal uterine fibroids, adenomyosis (glands of the uterus within the muscle of the uterus), uterine polyps, cervical or vaginal problems and overgrowth of the lining of the uterus that can lead to malignancy.

For some, you may not realize the heaviness of your bleeding, so we always check your hemoglobin at the time of annual visits. Initial evaluation for vaginal bleeding (in addition to history and examination) includes a pain free Transvaginal (TV) ultrasound that can be performed during a first visit. This ultrasound results in an abundance of information on the structure of your uterus, the endometrial lining and cervix, and confirms the normal architecture of the ovaries.

From here, it is determined whether or not a biopsy needs to be performed, non-invasive approaches are applicable or minimally invasive procedures or outpatient surgeries must be performed. There are many options in medicine to help you, and they each start with listening to what is happening in your life now, and what course can be taken to move you back to the joys of life easily, freely and fully.

Be brave and believe that everything will be OK.

With much love,

Assia Stepanian

P. S. In my September letter I will be sharing my thoughts on Urinary Incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse.


Dr. Assia Stepanian grew up in Moscow, the daughter of two illustrious physicians. In fact, much of her training was supervised by her mother, Dr. Leila Adamyan, the developer of some of the most advanced techniques used today in the practice of Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery.

Dr. Stepanian has authored and coauthored articles, book chapters and classifications in gynecology. She has presented nationally and internationally. Her devotion to women's health was exemplified by her 2001 creation of the first and the leading media resource with the focus of teaching minimally invasive gynecologic surgery worldwide.


LOGODr. Stepanian is quite candid about her devotion to her patients. "My focus is always on learning about the total woman," she says. "I spend a great deal of time talking with each patient, and I find that I am both teacher and student. It can be an emotional experience for us both. Our visits invariably end with a warm hug. I am extremely fortunate."


755 Mount Vernon Highway, NE | Suite 240 | Atlanta, GA 30328 | (404) 549-3224
Total Managed Care-Offering Options to Support a More Holistic Approach for Women


Thursday, 23 July 2015 14:57

My Best Self: Julia and Eugene Smookler

By Beth Carter

They say marriage is hard work, and Julia and Eugene Smookler will celebrate their fifth anniversary this year by working up a sweat – literally. They were the first couple to be chosen for CNN's "Fit Nation," a program that proves even regular, busy adults can reach their health and fitness goals with determination and hard work. In this case, the fitness goal is to complete the Nautica Malibu Triathlon next month. Julia and Eugene were hand-selected by host Dr. Sanjay Gupta and CNN producers and have spent the entire year training. We caught up with them to hear about their progress and what it means for their whole family's health.

What motivated you to sign up for the "Fit Nation" challenge?

Julia: A few years ago, I was a new midwife, pregnant, and my dad was dying of cancer, so I started emotional eating. After my daughter was born I had back surgery and couldn't work out, so I put on more weight. One of my patients told me about "Fit Nation," so I decided to apply for the show for the motivation and challenge.

Eugene: We've both gained weight since our daughter was born. Obesity runs in our family, so we wanted to make a conscious effort to show our daughter a healthier lifestyle.

Have you done a triathlon before?

Julia: No, and I didn't really know how involved it would be. I love recreational bike riding
but didn't know about competitive biking.

Eugene: I've played sports my entire life but have never done a triathlon. This is something out of my comfort zone. I'm a natural swimmer and biker, but the running has been a challenge. My legs are like jelly after swimming, biking and then running. We did a mock triathlon in May with the four other "Fit Nation" participants, and I finished first and Julia came in second place. I was so proud of her!

What is your average workout schedule?

Eugene: We both work out six days a week. In the beginning, it was really hard to figure out a schedule that worked for both of us.

Julia: I was doing two-hour sessions initially, but it was a bit much, so now my max is an hour or hour and a half. I'm always trying to find a balance between training and my everyday life. Eugene and I have the challenge of who's working out when because someone has to watch our daughter. We're getting into a better balance with that.

What support has CNN given you for the triathlon?

Julia: During the January kick-off weekend they gave us our gear: bike, shoes, helmets, a Garmin watch, wetsuits and Oakley sunglasses. They brought in nutrition experts, checked our body mass index (BMI), heart rate zones and evaluated our health. We also have check-in calls every two weeks with our CNN producer, trainer and other participants. I wouldn't have been as successful, motivated and happy if I didn't have their support.

Eugene: It's like a family and the "Fit Nation" alumni have been so supportive. Jeff Dauler from "The Bert Show" was a participant before and gave us bracelets that said "Keep Moving Forward."

What have you learned about yourself while preparing for the triathlon?

Eugene: The hardest part of my training is the eating. I'm doing the workouts, but I like cheeseburgers and pizza! I haven't lost weight, but I've put on muscle and my heart rate has gotten much stronger from when I started.

Julia: I've learned that I can do anything I put my mind to. I've always wanted a quick fix for my weight, but now I have more patience – this is my lifestyle. I'm going to stay active and be healthy. I'm eating smaller portion sizes, healthier carbs and teaching my daughter that this is a normal way to live.

Have you found a new favorite meal since beginning the Challenge?

Eugene: I'm eating a lot more fish tacos. I make them at home, and they're healthier. It's fish, avocado, salsa and a little cheese.

Julia: I love Whole Foods' power kale salad. I was not an egg person before, but now I love hard-boiled eggs; it's good protein.

How do you relax when you're not training?

Julia: There's not a lot of down time, but I love to spend time with family. I take our daughter to the pool and have quiet time for myself. I want to get back into yoga, which I loved doing in college.
Eugene: When I'm not training, I like to listen to music and take long walks in the parks.

Has training together strengthened your relationship?

Eugene: Yes, it's the best thing we could ever do together. It takes dedication, communication and sacrifice so the other person can work out. It's strengthened our marriage because we both have more energy and a healthier lifestyle. Couples who work out together stay together.

Julia: It has brought us closer together because we both have the same goal. We're on the same page with getting healthy and not bringing bad food in the house. The competition has been healthy for us, and he's inspired me to do better. It's more fun together.

Has the Fit Nation challenge helped you to become your best self?

Julia: 150 percent, yes! It was exactly what I needed to get the ball rolling. I've lost 25 pounds, and my heart rate has improved drastically. I had the realization before I started that 'I'm a midwife, I'm overweight and I'm teaching about diet and exercise to my pregnant moms.' It was important for me to get fit and be a good role model for my patients and my daughter.

Eugene: This has been a life changer, and I feel so lucky to have the opportunity. I've changed my whole lifestyle by making better food choices and working out. It's baby steps and celebrating small accomplishments. Instead of just "talking the talk," we're living it.



Event Information

Calling all runners, walkers and joggers and everybody who likes to move in a fun atmosphere. If you're looking for a great way to improve your fitness, build a bond with your fellow co-workers or meet new friends, join the largest organized corporate fitness event in the Southeast: Atlanta's 2015 Kaiser Permanente Corporate Run/Walk & Fitness Program.

Under the leadership of U.S. Olympian and America's running coach Jeff Galloway, this workplace-organized fitness program has become an annual, beloved tradition in the Atlanta business community since its start in 1983. Coinciding with the 30th anniversary of Kaiser Permanente in Georgia, the 2015 event is looking to be even more spectacular than in the past. This year's 5K Corporate Run/Walk & Company Party takes place Thursday, September 24, 2015 at 6:30 p.m. in Downtown Atlanta.

happy-participantsWhat's included?

A unique 8-week training program for registered participants, featuring:

  • Walking and running training schedules from Jeff Galloway for beginners and seasoned walkers and runners.
  • Ongoing weekday walks and runs with pace groups at Phidippides stores, Atlanta's premier running/walking specialty stores (Wednesdays at 6:15 p.m. in Sandy Springs, Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. at Ansley Mall and Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. at Ansley Mall).
  • Saturday morning running and walking training program with pace groups – Begins August 1, 8 a.m., Phidippides-Ansley Mall.
  • Kaiser Permanente Boot Camp on Saturday, August 8, 15, 22, 29 and Saturday, September 12 and 19 (limited to 500 participants) – The boot camp will begin at 7 a.m. at the Piedmont Park Athletic Field and end at 8 a.m. Celebrity Fitness Tammie Leady will lead the KPCRW boot camp. Paid parking is in the SAGE parking deck, and participants are encouraged to carpool, use MARTA, walk or bike to the activity if possible.
  • Fitness and nutrition tips e-mailed weekly.
  • Discount coupons on fitness items and services.
  • Complimentary, personalized 30-Day Workout Fitness Pass to all LA Fitness area locations. Kick-start the training program at your own pace.

corporate-funThe Main Event: September 24

Here's what to expect on race day:

  • The 5K (3.1 miles) run/walk winds through the streets of Downtown Atlanta, with thousands of participants and spectators celebrating the day.
  • Access to the popular Best Self Atlanta Health & Fitness Expo, in which numerous companies exhibit their products and services.
  • A Finish Line celebration where participants receive the 2015 commemorative T-shirt, pose for team and candid photos, enjoy live music by The Rupert's Orchestra and attend the awards ceremony.
  • The "World's Largest Office Party" with company teams consisting of employees, family and friends gathering under illuminated tents for hundreds of picnics and a good time. (Individuals who may not have a company team are encouraged to register and will have the option of purchasing a boxed dinner from Jason's Deli at registration.)
  • Corporate Can Contest benefiting the Atlanta Community Food Bank, Back on My Feet and the Atlanta Braves Foundation. Greystone Funding Corporation is the reigning champion and challenger, donating 20,000 pounds of food!

Run/Walk Details

There will be separate, monitored start areas for elite runners, CEOs, runners/joggers and walkers.
Seeded runners must include a qualifying event on the registration form, and elite category runners must submit official 2014 – 2015 documentation for qualifying times.

  • Open Men – 6 minutes/mile
  • Open Women – 7 minutes/mile
  • Masters Men (40 +) – 6:15 minutes/mile
  • Masters Women (40 +) – 7:15 minutes/mile

Awards will be given to the top Overall and Masters Men and Women, fastest team times, highest overall participation and the winner of the T-shirt design contest. CEO Cups will be awarded to the fastest male and female CEOs. The Kaiser Permanente Corporate Cup is presented to Atlanta's "Most Fit" companies in four categories, based on the number of full-time employees. Participation awards are also given to companies in each of 38 industry categories.

Profile-picRacing for 32 Years

Jerry Dubner has participated in the KP Corporate Run/Walk with his PricewaterhouseCoopers team for 32 years – since 1984! Hear what this KP race veteran thinks about all aspects of the event:

On his team's improved physical fitness: "We have seen a number of employees who have participated in the event as walkers in the past who are now runners."

On one of the best parts of the race: "Free food!"

On his most memorable KP event: "Two years ago, I participated in the event after being diagnosed (and cured) of lung cancer the year before. It meant a lot to me to be able to continue to participate."

How do I sign up?
Visit or call (404) 843-8727. Follow the program on Facebook and Twitter.