Local Businesses Step Up In the Wake Of Hurricane Harvey

I have never been so proud to partner with local businesses, Texans, and organizations. In the wake of Hurricane Harvey and the one-two punch he threw Texas, businesses big and small are banding together to fight back.  It’s as if they’re saying, “Let me be very clear, Harvey.  You may have been strong.  But we’re stronger.”

Countless businesses have stepped up to to shine light,  love, and peace upon those affected by the storm and efforts to bring about relief.  It is one of the most awesome displays of humanity I have ever seen in my 43 years on this Earth.

And while from a public relations stand point, it makes every bit sense for a business or organization to expose and demonstrate the core values deep at the heart of its brand in times of trouble, I don’t think the majority of businesses who are answering the community’s call for help care much about that.

Their response isn’t just a photo op.  It’s much bigger than that.

Instead, it is about an organic need to contribute any way one can.  Throughout Texas we have seen such beautiful acts from individuals, families, school districts, public officials, and the business community.  And it’s not difficult to understand why businesses have acted.

This hurricane was personal.

Living in San Antonio, all the rain surrounding Harvey was initially tracked to hover over us, not Houston.  When the path veered and we saw historic levels of flooding less than a hundred miles away, it was hard to think of anything else let alone be productive at our typical jobs doing things that at times felt incidental when so much and so many around us waited in need.

At least that’s how I felt.  I know several of my clients echoed that same sentiment.

Many of us in San Antonio have family, homes, or bundles of fond memories in RockPort and Port Aransas, Texas, two areas hit hardest by Harvey.  Many of us in South Texas visit Corpus’ beach areas, tourist spots, have family or friends who live there, or maybe went to school there.  Many of us here, including me, have family in Houston whose texts about the creeping water kept us awake at night and in constant prayer.

Dr. Stephen Dinger, Pain Specialist at Advanced Pain Management and Rehab, has a family home in Port Aransas.   He rushed to the coastal community to do everything he could to secure the house making it off the island just hours before Harvey made landfall.

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When Dr. Dinger saw the first photos of just how cruel Harvey was to homes, restaurants and roadways along the coast, he and his staff knew they needed to do something to help.  So the practice set up donation collection bins and in just a few days collected a truck full of non-perishable food, diapers, and baby formula.

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“We’re physicians and caretakers.  It’s who we are and what we do everyday here at Advanced Pain Management so it just felt right and very necessary to do something impactful,” Dr. Dinger said.

Dr. Dinger himself drove to the Food Bank in Corpus Christi, TX to deliver the donated items thanking his patients during his drive home.

Dr. Dinger wasn’t alone.

Savvy Media client, Dr. Annabelle Garcia of Sonterra Dermatology, contributed similarly by offering her Stone Oak clinic as a drop-off site for Hurricane Harvey Relief donations as well. Dr. Garcia, a mom of two, was intent on collecting what her office could for the San Antonio Food Bank and  Texas Diaper Bank.

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So many local businesses stepped up offering their offices as donation drop off sites which made donating that much easier for those who wanted to help but perhaps were too busy to do drive to their local food bank or large collection headquarters.

Another way some organizations have answered the call for help is by having clothing made where proceeds are donated to any number of relief funds.  I personally purchased two ‘Viva Texas tees’ from Alamo City Moms Blog   where proceeds benefit the Texas Diaper Bank.  I also purchased a darling Love Our Texas Teachers tee  from Bella’s Blessing Bins, a non-profit run by the most compassionate eleven-year-old girl ever with a heart the size of Texas.  Teacher Tee While her organization usually benefits San Antonio’s homeless community, Bella had Hurricane Harvey relief tees designed for teachers where proceeds go towards the purchase of school supplies for those along the coast.

Another SM client, Shooting For Success, also wanted to lend a hand, but in a way where the youth they serve might develop empathy, dedication, awareness, and leadership – a few of the team’s core values.  The youth basketball team organized a field trip to the Texas Diaper Bank who had put out a passionate call for bodies to help unload, sort, and pack the numerous donations coming into its warehouses.  It was hot.  It was rather chaotic. Yet, these young athletes stepped in and up wherever an adult motioned them over to help.

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Sybil Webb, a yoga and intuitive reader in San Antonio took a different approach to joining forces with relief efforts.  After watching her husband and his buddy load up their personal fishing boat and head to Houston to help with rescue efforts, Sybil said she felt a need to respond on a prayerful level.  Sybil, founder of SOUL Readings and Yoga based out of Alamo Heights, created a Yoga For A Cause class, raising over a hundred dollars. She donated 100-percent of money raised to Mayor Sylvester Turner’s Hurricane Fund.   “I thought it was especially powerful to begin the class with a special dedication and intention for peace, love, and light to be placed upon those people and areas most affected by Hurricane Harvey,” said Webb. “You could feel the emotion in the studio.”

Holly Tucker, Country Artist and Season 4 The Voice Finalist and whose Dallas On Your Boots single is burning up Texas Radio and Spotify charts, is making her mark on relief efforts with a huge raffle planned a few weeks from now.  Holly has decided to raffle off a Martin guitar which she plans on having signed by various Texas artists while on her Steel Tour in the coming weeks. Using her large Facebook and social media following and celebrity status, a lot like JJ Watt has done to fundraise millions of dollars so far in his Hurricane Harvey Relief Fundraiser, Holly hopes to wage a friendly competition among her fans all in the name of Hurricane Harvey relief.

This list of people, local businesses, celebrities, corporate giants and organizations who have answered Texas’ call for help and continue to respond to needs seems to grow nearly as large as the donations they’re offering.  Verizon, Whataburger, Walgreens, Kroger, Google, Kendra Scott, Gallery Furniture, UPS, USAA, Randolf-Brooks Federal Credit Union, and Bill Miller BBQ are just a few of the places I am proud to know, shop at, or engage with in some way.

While it is excruciating to watch such devastation infringe upon our fellow neighbors’ homes, livelihood, and lives as they know it – creating disaster, mess, and despair – know this: There has been a new level of beauty to come out of Hurricane Harvey that can be seen for miles and felt even farther.

So please consider donating, volunteering, or doing whatever possible to help in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.  Please consider recognizing and utilizing these gracious businesses who have stepped up in the name of love, generosity, and community.  And, please consider visiting Port Aransas, Rockport, Fulton, Corpus Christi and the greater Houston area in the months and years to come as the Texas coast rebuilds into something bigger, better, and more beautiful than ever.

 

 

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Freezing My Fat Never Sounded So Good: CoolSculpting The Procedure (And First Few Days After)

When my client, San Antonio Dermatologist Dr. Annabelle Garcia, mentioned that I would be a great candidate for CoolSculpting, a popular FDA-approved procedure to rid the body of stubborn fat, I wasn’t sure whether to be excited or a little offended.  The former journalist in me was intrigued by the idea that fat can be frozen away in a non-invasive procedure. The 43-year-old mom of twins plus one in me’s thoughts went right to my abs. You know, imagining what it would be like to find them again and all. 

So it is was with some thrill and great curiosity that I agreed to undergo a complimentary CoolSculpting gig in exchange for sharing my experience – The good, bad, and at times, ugly. 


The news, as it was told to me, is that I have enough fat to freeze.  Maybe it was the comfortable surroundings at Sonterra Dermatology or how just the right amount of natural light seemed to pour through the 2nd story office window at my CoolSculpting consultation, but I somehow didn’t mind when Daniella, Dr. Annabelle Garcia’s kind and compassionate PA, grabbed a hold of my belly with a good solid pinch.  The test was simple and I passed with flying colors.  I had “pinch-able” fat in my lower abdomen area. Yay me.

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I have “pinch-able” fat according to Dr. Garcia and the Sonterra Dermatology team. Yay me.

When you are about to undergo CoolSculpting or any cosmetic procedure for that matter, it is, of course, important to understand exactly what it is that you’re having done. Having watched several CoolSculpting procedures first hand as Dr. Garcia’s PR manager, I was comfortably familiar with the CoolSculpting process and interestingly, how it got its start.

CoolSculpting came about around 2011, after pediatric doctors discovered that toddlers sucking on popsicles while teething suffered fat loss.  Apparently, the infants would come into the clinic with little indents in the fat of their cheeks.  A team of scientists and doctors went to work studying the atrophy effects of freezing fat and the beginnings of what is now CoolSculpting was born.

I have been fortunate enough to have seen my share of CoolSculpting before and after photos and the often dramatic results.  It has been eye-opening to hear women say that they knew they had good lines hidden somewhere in their stomach area and that CoolSculpting helped them find them again.  It has been nothing short of amazing to hear a mom of two say that CoolSculpting was the kick she needed to jump-start a fitness routine that she has finally stuck to.  While these testimonies are incredible, Dr. Garcia and Daniella reminded me, however, of the importance of having realistic expectations with my CoolSculpting results.  They reiterated: I could expect to see a 25-percent reduction in the treated area.  And therefore,  it is wise to have a good idea of what that really might look like beforehand.  So, Daniella thoughtfully showed me photographs from a beautiful mix of of shapes and sizes – real CoolSculpting patients and their 25-percent. That really helped me envision what a 25-percent reduction in fat could look like on me.

Also, Dr. Garcia reminded me that CoolSculpting is meant to help someone with what’s referred to as “stubborn” fat.  I had never thought of my fat as stubborn before. Bothersome?  Yes.  Discouraging?  Yes.  But stubborn?  That’s what I called my twin sons when they refused to wear long pants on the coldest of winter days despite my pleas and warnings.  Stubborn fat is a lot like that.  Despite efforts to get rid of it, stubborn fat just won’t seem to go away.  That is the kind of fat CoolSculpting targets.

CoolSculpting isn’t meant to be a major fat loss solution.  In fact, it is recommended that CoolSculpting candidates are about 10 to 15 pounds from their goal weight before having the treatment.

Of all the reported benefits of CoolSculpting, however, what I have found most attractive about it is that CoolSculpting is permanent. That fat we freeze?  Gone forever, say CoolSculpting experts. Your body metabolizes the targeted fat naturally over a three to four month period.  So, for roughly 12-hundred dollars per area, you can kiss a healthy portion of your fat goodbye for good.

Yes, please.

The Warmup 

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Like with most cosmetic procedures, I was expected to get those infamous “before” pics so I can one day soon be photographed with my so-called after shots and then compare the two.  So, Daniella handed me a pretty snazzy pair of shorts to wear during the procedure. Shorts on and shirt lifted, I tried to stand pretty for my ‘before’ photographs. That’s not so easy to do when you’re standing with your feet hip-width apart on a small, blue dial of sorts, slowly turning, so that every angle of your so-called problem area can be photographed.

“Breath,” Daniella reminded me.  “And let it all hang out.”

Awesome.

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Next,  Daniella used a highlighter to mark the exact points where I’d be getting the CoolSculpting.  I liked the fact that Daniella was precise and intent on getting the CoolSculpting applicator placement just right.  This was not the type of treatment on which I wanted someone to simply guess.

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“Applicator”,  by the way, is a CoolSculpting term good to be familiar with before going under the cold.  CoolSculpting typically targets one area of fat at a time with either one or two applications.  My consultation determined that I would probably see better results with two applications.  That meant I would have the CoolSculpting machine placed at two different places, symmetrically, on my lower ab area in the shape of a “V” of sorts.

Netflix and Chill

With my lower abdomen area clearly marked for the two applicators it was about to meet, I was almost ready.

As I reclined to a comfortable position in the procedure chair, Daniella gave me a blanket (because CoolSculpting, duh) and placed a pillow on my abdomen.  Then, Daniella turned on a large flatscreen TV and turned on Netflix.

Hang on.

I had to pause for a brief and super pleasant reality check.

I was sitting here being waited on.  I had a stack of the most current Us and People magazines at my side.  And I was about to watch Netflix without a kid, two, or three jockeying for my attention.

Not only did I now not fear this CoolSculpting process that was about to go down, I began to relish the idea of two hours of pure uninterrupted “me” time.

I was about to Netflix and chill.  Literally.

The Good Grab

To begin the CoolSculpting treatment, Daniella placed a very cold protective strip over my lower abdomen.  She warned me that it might take my breath away for a second, which it did.  It reminded me of that fleeting shock felt when jumping into a cold pool.

Within seconds, my tummy was used to the feeling.

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Look closely and you can see the skin of my lower abdomen, the area being treated with CoolSculpting, following the so-called “grab”.

Next, was the CoolSculpting “grab”.  I was able to snap a very cool picture of this.

Daniella told me that it is important, when undergoing CoolSculpting, that the machine get a real good hold of that “pinch-able” area it’s about to treat.

So, on a count of three, Daniella placed the machine precisely over the area that she had highlighted a few minutes before.

I felt a good tug.  Because I’m vocal,  I think I may have uttered a quick “ooh” sound while breathing through the grab.

Daniella looked at the machine.

She looked at me and then smiled with satisfaction.

“You got a really good grab,” she said.

Um.  Thanks?

Freezing Fat

Once connected to the CoolSculpting machine, it was time for the big work to begin.  The CoolSculpting machine went to work on my lower tummy while I just sat there enjoying my Netflix.

So far, CoolSculpting was just as others had described to me – slightly uncomfortable and relatively painless.  It felt cool, not cold as the machine consistently tugged at my target area.

In fact, the least desirable thing about the CoolSculpting treatment is what I saw with my own two eyes after the CoolSculpting machine finished its hour of freezing.

When the freezing process had finished, Daniella removed the CoolSculpting machine from that area of my lower abdomen.

I had almost wished she hadn’t taken me off the machine.

My belly was unrecognizable to me.

I had to look away.

And you may want to as well.

 

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Post CoolSculpting massage

Soft, red, and protruding, my abdomen moments after CoolSculpting looked like a stick of butter wedged beneath the skin.

It was tender to the touch.

I found my belly even more uncomfortable to look at as  Daniella massaged the swollen treatment area. Doing so, Daniella said, has shown to dramatically improve results. It actually reminded me of my belly in the days following giving birth – ten years ago. No baby now.  Just stubborn fat.

Though not pretty at times, when it was all said and done, within two hours of having stepped through the Sonterra Dermatology doors, my CoolSculpting treatment was complete.

Finished.

Over.

I was free to go and wait eagerly for my CoolSculpting results.

All The Feels – Days One Through Six Post Treatment

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the days following my CoolSculpting brought all the feels in a very “I just recovered from a procedure” kind of way.

Though the procedure was non-invasive, simple, and relatively painless, I soon realized that not unlike most treatments, when the body is put through trauma, or something it isn’t accustomed to, it might react.

React it did.

On days one through three post-CoolSculpting, my belly was sore and swollen.  I walked extra carefully as not to rub up against anything, and, I definitely didn’t want to sleep on my stomach.  I could go about my work day as normal, however, I was happy those first few days that I work from home and the weekend was near.  I only wanted to wear yoga pants or loose-fitting athletic shorts.  I did not feel up to exercising or doing any major housework.  But then, that’s not really out of the norm.

Days four through six brought some itching around my treated area and nerve pain. Apparently, my nerves had to reawaken in a sense, which because they’re nerves, doesn’t feel great.  Some people have described this nerve pain as comparable to being stung by bees.  Honestly, I felt more like my lower abdomen was being pricked by tiny needles.

Though I knew what I was experiencing was normal,  I called Dr. Garcia, just to be safe. Showing the compassion and concern she’s praised for, Dr. Garcia immediately calmed my fears and she prescribed a medication for nerve pain.  I took the medicine as prescribed and it was magical.

By day nine, any nerve discomfort had completely disappeared even without the medication. Additionally, the swelling was now minimal and the itching had subsided.  At this point, I was feeling good and looking forward to my results!

The Wait!

Like the popular saying, The best things in life are worth waiting for, such are my CoolSculpting results.  In today’s world of instant everything, CoolSculpting requires a little patience- three months worth.

Though I think I’m beginning see more of my pre-kids abs already just one month after CoolSculpting, the results won’t really be noticeable, says Dr. Garcia, until three or four months post-procedure.

That means I should be able to buy a killer holiday dress, this December. 

So hang tight.  And pray my abs do too.

And I’ll again entertain you with way too many shots of my belly again, coming soon.  In the meantime, if you have questions for Dr. Garcia or me about CoolSculpting, please post away in the comments below.

~ Erin

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Posted in CoolSculpting, Uncategorized, weight loss | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Behind The Brand: Savvy Media Welcomes Elite Basketball Trainer David “DJ” Jones and Holly Tucker Country Music Artist

Savvy Media is proud to welcome two of the most interesting people … (Cue ‘The Most Interesting Man in the World’ commercial)

Okay, so, maybe they’re not astute James Bond-like characters who claim to have once won a staring contest with their own reflection.  But they are, however, very interesting and among the most respected  in their respective industries.

Also, I will tell you, they are two of the kindest people I have ever met.

Joining the Savvy Media family are Elite Basketball Trainer, David “DJ” Jones, and, Holly Tucker, Country Music Recording Artist and the former “The Voice” contestant who won hearts all over America on Season 4 of the hit music reality show.

How I got to know Holly is an interesting story.

Like probably many of you, I first saw Holly on “The Voice” hook an impressive “4-chair-turn” from Blake Shelton, Shakira, Adam Levine, and Usher.  I remember being impressed with Holly’s story of humble beginnings, having grown up in Waco, Texas, having sung on church stages with her parents throughout her life, and having performed with the Baylor Bears Marching Band while she pursued her degree.  As a fellow Texan, I was proud to watch Holly rise above some pretty tough competition, week after week, on Team Blake.

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About a year later, I was lucky enough to meet Holly in person, at a San Antonio area scholarship pageant.  Holly was the entertainment and captivated the audience with her well-known version of How Great Thou Art that she had once opened The Voice with.

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A “fan”, I asked Holly for a photo at the Miss South Texas Scholarship Pageant in 2014.

 

 

Upon meeting Holly and asking the power vocalist for the obligatory, and, somewhat awkward I’m-a-big-fan photo, Holly’s family and I got to talking a little about the then college student’s career and aspirations.

A few months later, when Holly returned to San Antonio for a performance at the youth packed Camp T Bar M, I was able to help Holly out with a little media placement.

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So Holly and I, along with one especially cute little Savvy Media helper-for-the-day, made the media rounds.  Holly sang her heart out.

Holly continued on – going to school full time while pursuing her dream as a country music artist.  In June 2015, Holly graduated from Baylor with a degree in Communication Arts.  Less than a year later, Holly launched her first full album, “Steel”, since competing on “The Voice”.   It was three years in the making.  The album took so long, in part, because, as Holly told me, it was so expensive to produce, in Nashville, especially on the budget of a mostly college student.  Also, in production with “Steel” was none other than Nashville great Jay DeMarcus, best known for his work with Rascal Flatts.  Holly also co-wrote many of the songs on “Steel” which was a new experience for this young and rising country artist.

Through it’s hard for me to pick one favorite from “Steel”, three songs which I love to belt out in the car (catch me at a red light and you will no doubt be entertained) are “Dallas On Your Boots“, “You’re In Texas“, and probably my favorite, which Holly expects will play very well when it is released on radio, “Knock Off“.

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Today, with a brand new full-length album in hand, and, as Holly builds a strong team around her, I am humbled and excited to have been invited to join her circle of creatives, as her Publicist.

Through weekly Skype meetings, regular texts, and during a recent 2-day visit Holly made to San Antonio to promote her latest single to hit and climb the charts on Texas Radio, “You’re In Texas“,  I have had the pleasure to really get to know Holly and Holly’s brand.

Let me tell you, they are one in the same.  Holly is as genuine as the country music she creates.

She is kind.

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During a recent trip to San Antonio, Holly took time out from her media push to visit with and play for children at North Central Baptist Hospital.

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Holly became the first music artist to visit the St. Jude’s Ranch For Children in Bulverde, TX.

Holly  loves talking with children.

On a personal get-to-know-Holly note, she is rather obsessed with dogs.

And, Holly, at just 23 years old, can be tough as nails, when she needs to be.  As Holly’s music will tell you, it is okay to be both vulnerable and strong.  In fact, the combination is something special.

After all, it surely can’t be easy to be a female artist in a more male-dominated Texas country music genre.  Holly is soaring, yet, remains humble and true to her values.  Values, that largely encompass family, church, respect for one’s self and others.

It is by no accident that Holly entitled “Steel”, as such.

Be on the lookout for Holly on the local and national music scenes as this Baylor proud graduate and Waco native prepares to launch her first-ever tour in spring, 2017.  Holly has her own app Holly Tucker Music App too!  To learn more about Holly and to download “Steel”, click here.


 

Equally as impressive, talented, kind, and embodied with the kind of character we all strive (or should strive) to emulate, is David “DJ” Jones.

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While Holly shoots for the stars, David just plain shoots.

Threes.

A ton of them.

David Jones played professional basketball for 13 years all over Europe and holds the scoring title for 11 of those 13 years.  His free-throw average?  Ninety-five percent.

“DJ”, as most of the world calls him, runs the Shooting For Success Youth Basketball Program in San Antonio, Texas.  He also trains elite and professional athletes and is credited with “fixing” none other than Jeremy Lin’s basketball shot, helping to catapult the six-foot-three athlete into the NBA.  His innate ability to diagnose a player’s struggles on the court and make the necessary adjustments has earned DJ the name ‘The Shot Doctor’ by sports journalists and top commentators home and abroad.

By luck, my own-two basketball playing sons and a dear friend landed me in a local Starbucks with DJ one day.  Not only did I find DJ to be one heck of a coach and trainer, I learned quickly that he’s a really good person and I couldn’t be more excited to join his team.  Granted, I wasn’t about to stand under a basketball hoop, but this five-foot-two PR girl was eager to get into the game.

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Here’s the thing about DJ.  While his statistics speak volumes about his performance and training abilities on the court, what is even more impressive is his ability to transform athletes off the basketball court.

DJ runs his training, club teams, and basketball camps around a set of core values. Traits such as leadership, honesty, discipline, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, and work ethic, among others.  Coach DJ doesn’t just talk the talk. DJ walks it.  And his athletes run it.  DJ is serious about his core values.  He makes that known to parents and athletes.  Core values are demonstrated at every practice, scrimmage, and training session, and game play.  DJ expects those same core values to be demonstrated by Shooting For Success athletes outside of his gym too.  DJ helps facilitate that by involving athletes in service projects, community outings, basketball camps abroad, and social team-building opportunities.

I saw these core values at work when DJ shared with me the story of a Shooting For Success athlete he trains who was born with clubfoot.  Not only did DJ make modifications to the athlete’s stance and shot that enabled the teen to shoot better than he’s ever shot, DJ helped the young man overcome the mental difficulties of dealing with having a birth defect.  News 4 San Antonio’s Robert Price interviewed both the athlete and DJ.  You can watch the news story, here.

In the end, DJ’s athletes receive top-notch skills training and the opportunity to learn from a professional, in a professional manner.

As a mom of three young basketball players, to find such a coach and trainer is a huge success.  As a public relations professional, it’s a dream come true.

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DJ’s next Shooting For Success camp is coming up December 26-30.  For more information on David Jones, follow him on Facebook here and his website here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in basketball training, NBC's The Voice, Texas Music | Leave a comment

Putting 4 Pops Helps Dads With Cancer Face Financial Burdens

Blog written by Erin Kirwan for Putting 4 Pops

Almost everyone is affected by cancer in some way at some point.  At 42, I have watched my fair share of people battle cancer.  Sadly, I have lost friends, grandparents, and colleagues to it.

I can still remember, as clear as day, the short time that I shared with my grandfather, whom we called Papa, during his final months battling stage 4 colon cancer.  He was 74.  I was 20 at the time and in the midst of college.  Following a short fight and ultimately a concession, my Papa left behind my grandmother, who did not work outside the home at the time, and three grown sons who all had families of their own.  At the time of his passing, something you’re never quite prepared for emotionally, and often, financially, I can remember hearing a lot of “adult” conversation go on about finances, surrounding my Papa’s untimely death.

To fight cancer is difficult enough.

To fight cancer and mounting medical bills and funeral costs that today can be in the upwards of ten to fifteen-thousand dollars, can be too much for some people.

People, like the Romero family.

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Humberto and his wife, Martha

Humberto Romero, at 58, was a hard-working man who enjoyed grilling, traveling, going to church, and spending time with his wife, kids, and grandchildren.  He was usually busy. He was always full of life, according to his daughter, Karen.  That’s why, one day, when doctors told him, his wife and family by his side, that he had stage 4, non-small cell cancer, his family just stared back at those doctors in absolute shock.

Humberto fought. He gave it his all.  Throughout the chemo, CT scans, and numerous X-rays Humberto remained steadfast and hopeful.  He told his daughter more than once that his life and his future were in God’s hands.

His wife and daughter, also put a lot into God’s will.  Humberto was their breadwinner and bills were piling up fast.

One day, their worry about how they might go on should they lose the love of their lives, led them into a conversation with a cousin, Jaime Luna, about finances and what they were to do to best make ends meet.  Jaime, heartbroken and concerned, began brain-storming ideas on ways to fundraise to help his family financially during Humberto’s final days and eventual passing.

“We are all familiar with the many wonderful, deserving and very necessary fundraising opportunities for women or children fighting cancer,” said Luna.  He continued, ” I found myself, however, asking what resources were available for men who find themselves in a similar fight and battle with bills.”

That’s when Jaime, an avid sports fan, devised a fundraising  opportunity aimed at helping men with cancer.  The fundraiser would help Humberto’s family and the families of men like him who are all someone’s father, uncle, or grandfather.  He decided on a golf event and would call it, quite appropriately, Putting 4 Pops.

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So a little over a year ago, Jaime and a group of close friends and family set out on a mission to kick cancer’s butt.  Or, at least give a big nudge to all those bills and costs a family is faced with during the fight.  They formed a committee, got Putting 4 Pops non-profit status, and got ready to tee-off with precision, focus, and determination.

Putting 4 Pops raised nearly 5-thousand dollars for Humberto’s family.

“My family and I were – and still are – overwhelmed by the love, effort, and support everyone has put into the tournament and foundation that has been created because of my amazing dad,” Karen said.

Now in its 2nd year, Putting 4 Pops expects to raise closer to ten-thousand dollars to go to another family like the Romeros.

Jaime Luna, now the event’s chief organizer, has even bigger dreams for Putting 4 Pops. He’d like to see the foundation grow large enough to host two golf tournaments side by side and raise enough money to give at least three families a donation of at least 10-thousand dollars each, the average amount anticipated today for final stage of life care and funeral arrangements.

On November 7th, when friends, family, supporters, sponsors, and community members converge on the putting greens at Fair Oaks Ranch Golf and Country Club, they will be greeted by Humberto’s picture and name on the hole.

Karen is sure her father’s kindred spirit, tenacity for a good challenge, and sense of hope will be there too.

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This year, Humberto’s picture will greet golfers at the hole.


 

Putting 4 Pops  would like to grow its list of possible recipients for this year’s donation. Jaime and his board will hand-pick a family in need.  To be considered, Jaime asks that you fill out a brief application which is on the Putting 4 Pops website.  Jaime has recently extended the deadline for recipient applications to December 1, 2016.

Click here for the application.

For more information on Putting 4 Pops, click here and follow Putting 4 Pops on Facebook, here.


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Erin Kirwan is a former broadcast journalist and Owner of Savvy Media Marketing and Public Relations.

 

 

 

 

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Hot Meds: 10 Medications Affected By Extreme Heat

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“Mom, is it hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk?”

“Yes,” I replied, wondering whether this question was more rhetorical, or, whether my 9-year-old daughter was really looking to try frying that egg.

As we head into July in San Antonio, Texas, temperatures will soar, forecasted to average a daily high around 95 degrees.

With this temperature hike comes different warnings we’re all fairly used to hearing: Be careful not to overheat, wear sunscreen, and never leave a dog or child alone in a hot car.

But here’s a heat warning you may not be as familiar with: Keep a close eye on your prescription and over-the-counter medications and where you’re storing them.

I sometimes keep a stash of allergy medication in the glove compartment of my vehicle. My mom always keeps a little aspirin in her vehicle’s glove compartment, she says, in case she or someone with her suffers a heart attack while she’s driving.

According to the City of San Antonio website, when the outside temperature reaches around 93 degrees, the inside temperature of a vehicle can spike to to 125, within 20 minutes!

Storing meds in a hot car can cause some major changes in those medications, quite possibly putting your health in danger.

Dr. Stephen Dinger of Advanced Pain Management and Schertz Pharmacy says heat can alter the effectiveness of some medications, both prescription and over-the-counter.

“Pharmaceutical manufacturers recommend most of their products be kept at a controlled room temperature which is about 66 to 77 degrees,” says Dr. Dinger.  He says meds containing proteins are most at risk for being altered in extreme heat, and often, you can’t tell just by looking at the medication.

A few storage places that are subject to extreme heat, in addition to a vehicle, include the medicine cabinet that’s located in a bathroom that includes a shower (think humidity), a non-air conditioned home such as a cabin or tent, and, suitcases left for long periods of time on some airplane or vehicles, especially if they’re not in use.

10 Medications Affected By Extreme Heat

  1. Antibiotics Extreme heat might cause antibiotics to decay, resulting in upset stomach, or even, kidney damage.
  2. Birth Control “Medications containing hormones are sensitive to extreme heat,” says Chandra Johnson, Pharmacist-In-Charge at Schertz Pharmacy. Hormone medications are often protein-based.  When protein gets hot, its properties can change.
  3. Insulin If you are diabetic, you might carry and insulin cooler during summer months.  Insulin contains protein and when its heated its potency can change.
  4. EpiPen When it comes to safely storing an EpiPen, an injector that uses epinephrine to treat allergic reactions, the auto-injectors should be kept in their carrier tubes at 77 degrees.  They should not be stored in refrigerators or glove compartments.  Before using an EpiPen, it’s suggested you check for discoloration, which could be a sign of a loss of effectiveness due to extreme heat or light.
  5. Aspirin and Ibuprofen When it comes to aspirin, watch the heat.  If you’ve been outside all day or your body temperature is increased by a good run and then you go to reach for an aspirin, you could be putting yourself at risk.  Aspirin and Ibuprofen are part of an anti-inflammatory drug family called NSAIDs.  They can be affected by your hydration level.  Risks include problems like heat stroke and kidney failure.
  6. Nitroglycerin Nitroglycerin is sometimes taken by those with a heart condition.  It can degrade quickly, if exposed to high temperatures of light.  Dr. Dinger says in cases where you’re unsure, it’s always best to call your Physician or Pharmacist.
  7. Allergy Medications (Diphenhydramine) Some allergy medications, such as Benadryl, taken in extreme heat conditions can actually decrease your body’s ability to sweat, which could increase the risk for your body to overheat.
  8. Diagnostic Strip Tests Common test strips including those to detect blood sugar levels and pregnancy can be affected by humidity.  Basically, if moisture adheres to the strips, it can dilute the test liquid and possibly give you an incorrect reading.
  9. & 10. Topical Medication Patches (Butrans and Fentanyl) : “The skin can vasodilate with increased temperatures meaning it absorbs more quickly,” says Dr. Dinger. With pain medication such as Butrans and Fentanyl, that can leave a patient feeling dizzy and over-medicated.

In the end, when it comes to medication, both prescribed and over-the-counter, Dr. Dinger says it’s always a good practice to call your Pharmacist or Physician should you have any question about the effectiveness of a medication.

DrStephenDinger-Head-shotDr. Stephen Dinger, D.O. is triple board certified in Pain Medicine, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and Electrodiagnostic Medicine.  He founded Advanced Pain Management and Rehabilitation with offices in Stone Oak, Schertz, and Downtown San Antonio, in 2012.

Dr. Dinger also owns Schertz Pharmacy located in Schertx, TX.

Savvy Media is proud to partner with Dr. Steven Dinger to bring you the latest information and advancements in pharmaceutical care and pain management.

 

 

 

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The Truth Behind Medical Clinical Trials

IMG_7513I haven’t really ever had any real-life experience with clinical trials for a new drug or medical treatment.  I have had family friends, usually those undergoing a condition where current treatment wasn’t as effective as hoped, try them.  In one case, a family friend believes it was the clinical trial treatment that sent her dad’s illness into remission.  Another friend, a neighbor, credits a clinical trial for prolonging her husband’s life just a little longer.

Otherwise I have always been more familiar with clinical trials from hearing them advertised across the radio or television offering compensation for those who take part.  And that, to be honest, has always seemed a little scary to me.

But I’ve recently come to see clinical trials in a new light.

In part, because I’ve had the opportunity to talk with and interview Dr. Paul Ratner, a leading San Antonio Medical Researcher.

You might be most familiar with Dr. Ratner’s pollen reports.  He practiced Allergy and Immunology for many years in San Antonio.  Today, he focuses on medical advancement, having been a part of hundreds of clinical trials – one of which even produced a vaccine your children most likely received.

Savvy Media is proud to partner with Dr. Ratner, and, introduce him in this very personal guest post on The Truth Behind Clinical Trials And Why They’re Important To Me (As A Physician And Father).


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Dr. Paul Ratner

It’s not often I talk about my personal life.  However, outside of being a physician and clinical researcher, I am also a father to four, including a set of twins.

Today, the twins are 13.

As a parent raising twins, you are often asked, ‘How do you do it?’.

Honestly, raising twins, as my wife will emphatically confirm, isn’t always easy.  Often, I like to say it’s delightfully crazy.  And sometimes, it’s just plain crazy.

That could not ring more true, perhaps, than during a brief period when the twins were infants and contracted the Rotavirus.

If you’re not already familiar with the Rotavirus, it is the leading cause of dehydrating diarrhea in infants and young children.  A child with Rotavirus will often have loose stools and diarrhea for anywhere from nine to 12 days!

When our twins got the Rotavirus, diarrhea was everywhere.  Twice the number of sheets were constantly being changed, as were clothing sets.  While that was enough to turn any parent’s hair gray, even more concerning was the medical danger of dehydration that often comes into play with the Rotavirus.  I was traveling at the time and will never forget my wife calling me and directing me to meet her at the hospital.

Fortunately, for my son and daughter, after a short hospital stay and treatment, both recovered from the Rotavirus.  My wife and I, on the other hand, aren’t sure we ever did!

Fast forward to 2009.  After years of following my personal experience with the Rotavirus and working in clinical research, I was asked to work on a study for a Rotavirus vaccine.

That vaccine went on to be FDA approved, and today, has markedly reduced the number of incidences of the disease.

To think parents today do not have to go through what my wife and I did, what our twins did with the Rotavirus, thanks to a clinical trial that helped produce a vaccine, is nothing short of amazing.

It is just one example of the many clinical trials that eventually pave the way to major medical advancement.

Participating in a clinical trial can bring with it several benefits.  For example, a participant may gain access to new treatments that are not available to the public.  As a patient in a clinical trial, you may obtain expert medical care at a leading health care facility.  You get to play an active role in your own health care, you often get paid or receive a treatment or drug at no cost, and, in the larger picture, participating in a clinical trial offers you the opportunity to help others by contributing to medical research.

Yet a lot of people hear the words clinical trial and they want no part.  To participate in something that is not yet mainstream, something new, or, something that has not yet been FDA approved can be frightening for some, understandably.  According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, there are risks.  There may be unpleasant, serious, or even life-threatening side effects from treatment.  The treatment may not be effective for some.  The study could require your time and sometimes a study or treatment does not compensate.

In my experience, having been a part of over 800 studies, I think there’s a little more going on that creates such a stigma attached to clinical trials.  I sometimes see a mistrust of the pharmaceutical companies and their economic motivation behind gaining the approval of new drugs as a factor.  I get that.  However, at this time, there is no other regulatory pathway to approval other than clinical trials.  I understand that sometimes the pharmaceutical industry comes under fire, however, without the pharmaceuticals sponsoring these trials there would be little development of new drugs.

I first became involved with clinical research as a fellow at UT Health Science Center in 1982.  The studies in which I have been a part of have influenced the creation of Asthma, Allergy, COPD and Psoriasis.  Even when I retired from private practice in 2007, I continued with clinical trials.  Working in research allows me to still interact with patients as well as pharmaceutical sponsors.  I am involved in the entire process from advising on medical protocol to the recruitment plan and execution of the actual trial.  Seeing a clinical trial through – start to finish – brings me such a sense of personal satisfaction.  The idea that I may play this small role in the advancement of medicine and even more importantly, improving someone’s quality of life, is the ultimate reward.

IMG_7537Currently, I am most excited about a new drug being studied here in San Antonio to treat peanut allergy.IMG_7534  It is a peanut powder case study, currently in phase three and being tested on patients who have reacted to peanut a good part of their lives. It has a lot of promise.  In fact, I suspect we will see this treatment available for market in the next few years.

Considering that roughly one in 30, today,  have peanut allergy and how profoundly having this life-threatening allergy affects entire families – to think we could have a treatment that would better protect them from a dangerous reaction when peanut is accidentally ingested, is exciting!  We are currently looking for people for this peanut powder study.  For more information on whether you might qualify, click here or call me to talk more about it, at, 210-614-6673.

If the peanut powder or another drug like it is approved, it would stand out, to me, as a clinical trial that proved to be truly life-changing.

Much like the Rotavirus vaccine.

~ Dr. Paul Ratner

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Prince’s Death, Pain Management, and Pain Meds: Insight with Dr. Stephen Dinger, D.O.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Prince and his untimely passing.  Actually, it’s pretty hard to not think about the legendary artist, as tributes to him and covers of Purple Rain blanket social media and internet (this one’s my favorite), and, almost every news source or magazine your open or watch continues to follow the questions surrounding his death, at just 57.  To lose someone as iconic and talented as Prince, so young,  is deserving of inquiry, concern, and lots of dialogue.

Just in case you’ve been extremely busy and missed the news (which, as a mom of three young children, this former news reporter turned stay at home mom sometimes did – for weeks at a time – gasp!) on April 21, Prince passed away at his Paisley Park home and studio in Minneapolis.  As of Tuesday, the cause of death had not been released.  However, according to U.S. News and World Report, just days after Prince’s passing, a law enforcement official apparently told the Associated Press that investigators were looking into whether his death may have been the result of a drug overdose and whether Prince may have been suffering from an addiction to prescription painkillers.

One of the more interesting observations into Prince’s death and alleged use of pain medicine is a recent conversation I had with Dr. Stephen Dinger.  Dr. Dinger is a San Antonio physician who specializes in pain management and rehabilitation.

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Dr. Stephen Dinger, D.O., is board certified in pain management.

“As we learn more about Prince’s death, we’re getting a glimpse into a more and more common problem in today’s society,” Dr. Dinger told me.

Savvy Media is also proud to partner with Dr. Stephen Dinger and Advanced Pain Management and Rehab.  I thought it would be interesting to highlight his insight into the alleged events surrounding Prince’s death and even more so, the controversy surrounding pain meds like Percocet and other opioids that can lead to addiction.  Curious about what he sees?  So was I.

Erin:  Some reports indicate Prince apparently was dealing with chronic hip pain and was treated with chronic medications for this condition – namely narcotic medications, which are allegedly connected to his death.  Is this a problem among pain management?

Dr. S. Dinger: There are individuals who develop chronic pain cycles from various medical conditions including arthritis, trauma, a nerve injury, etc. and for whom non-narcotic medications are not effective.  For these type of patients we will try to implement multiple therapies, medications, modalities, procedures, and sometimes surgery to treat their pain or condition.  For some of these patients, long-term medication or use of narcotics is needed simply to allow for improved function of daily activities.  But there is a fine line when dealing with narcotic medication.  It must be taken as prescribed, as the consequences of taking too much of the medication, can lead to breathing challenges and ultimately death if emergency medical care is not obtained.

Erin:  Multiple news sources reported that six days before Prince’s death, his private plane was diverted so he could be given a “life saving shot” for a presumed overdose.

Dr. S. Dinger:  There are new medications on the market that are self-administered naloxone (an opioid antagonist) which counteracts the effects of the narcotics.  It works similarly to the way the epipen works to stop an allergic reaction.  This treatment is becoming more readily available and accessible for use by family members.  This was likely the “life saving shot” that Prince was given when he was hospitalized, if he was suspected of a drug overdose.

Erin: Prince’s death is opening up a lot of dialogue on narcotic use, specifically opioids.  In fact, an article I recently read places San Antonio among the highest of larger cities in the United States for above average opioid abuse.  You can read the article here.

Dr. S. Dinger: We do hear a lot about addiction related to narcotic use, especially in recent years.  It is clear this is a serious and growing problem.  There are multiple efforts in place to help minimize these medications from falling into the hands of people willing to abuse them and ensuring that they are taken by the patients that they are intended for.  Addiction can lead to overdose and death.  This is little room for error with prescription use for these medications.

Erin: Is tolerance to prescription pain medication a problem you see?

Dr. S. Dinger:  Sometimes, specifically with narcotic medications (Percocet for example), when taken appropriately for the intended pain state, we see a patient develop a tolerance to the medication.  Basically the patient is taking the dose prescribed and is requiring higher doses of medications to get the same pain relief.  This can result in a false sense of security as the patient feels that they can take more medications when having increased pain, however, the respiratory system can be impacted by the increase and death can be a consequence.

Pain medicine physicians will use these medications if needed, but if possible, these medications used long term are minimized, or, we use low-dose regimens to supplement other treatments.

Erin: It sounds like a grey area.

Dr. S. Dinger: Yes.  That is one reason why if someone is suffering from chronic pain, it is important to see a physician board certified in pain management.  Pain management diagnosis and treatment is custom.  I believe firmly that a patient’s history and overall well-being should be studied carefully, especially before prescribing medication.

Erin: Dr. Stephen Dinger, thank you.

 

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Celebrating the Momprenuer: Four Women Whose Role As ‘Mom’ Boosts Business

Today, I am inspired by the out-pouring of  Mother’s Day posts, shout-outs to moms and mother-figures, and words of affection coupled with photographs, sprinkled around social media like pops of colorful confetti.

As a mom of three children and a media marketing professional, I can’t help but feel such admiration for my Savvy clients who also adorn the title of “Mom” boldly and proudly.

On this day following Mother’s Day, I celebrate four women whose role as ‘Mom’ impacts their businesses in a big way:

13076937_864637326997696_2482487933925880000_nLisa Sinn, Owner/Broker Lisa Sinn Real Estate | Mom to Zoe (9), Landon (7), and Hunter (2)

I’m pretty sure when the Energizer Battery executives conceptualized its ad campaign for a bunny that keeps going and going and going … they had Lisa Sinn, Owner of Lisa Sinn Real Estate and mom to three young children, in mind.  Lisa is equal parts realtor and mom and never fails to impress when it comes to attaining such balance between her professional and personal lives.  As Stone Oak’s Top Producer for 2015 and a consistent Top 50 Realtor, Lisa works tirelessly to ensure her clients achieve their real estate dreams comfortably and affordably.

When she is not helping with a relocation, Lisa can be found volunteering at her children’s elementary school because, she says, in addition to allowing her to be close to her children, she gains insight into San Antonio’s schools – something important to so many of her clients.

 

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“Being a mom helps me relate – especially to sellers – who struggle with listing their home with small kids.  Having three kids myself who are always into something, I have first-hand expertise staging and de-cluttering a family’s home while keeping it functional too.  I work hard to convey to a family that kids running around as we try to plan or talk – is okay.   Families inspire me. ”


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Dr. Patricia Gomez Dinger, Advanced Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology Center, PA | Mom to Mykenna & Makalyn (10) and Nathan (8)

Dr. Patricia Gomez Dinger can be seen including her children often among her Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology practice. They created a Looming For Pets charity that Dr. Dinger allows them to showcase in her front office, and, they could be found often this last year out in the community, helping Dr. Dinger promote Food Allergy Awareness.IMG_6254

And for good reason –  because one of the messages Dr. Dinger aims to communicate to her patients is that she treats them with the same interest, care, and compassion that she shows to her own children and husband.

I greatly admire how Dr. Dinger works to balance serving a large community and serving her family.  She drives them to and home from school nearly every day.  She enthusiastically cheers them on at evening and weekend sporting events all over South Texas,  and, Dr. Dinger can often be spotted on social media, flashing her contagious smile in somehow beautiful “selfies”that most of us dream of taking.   She connects with her patients, to today’s world, and, remains on top of the latest advancements in allergy and asthma treatment – a culmination of strengths of being both mom and a top-rated physician.

“Being a mom helps me empathize with parents concerned about their children’s health because I completely understand the worry or uncertainty they feel as parents.  Also, I often hear moms apologize when their child or siblings are “extra active” in the exam room.  I ensure them that I have been where they are and can remain focused on diagnosis and treatment despite any distraction.  I think that’s a trait we all inherit when we become mothers!  As a mom and physician, I also love running into my patient families outside the office at school functions, sports games, art classes, and more.  I feel blessed to be a physician mom!”IMG_0998


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Theresa Naramore and Cheryl Green of Twin Sisters Interiors | Mom to Ava (5) and Luke (4), and, Mom to Tyler (11) and Logan (9).

Theresa Naramore and Cheryl Green, twins sisters and Owners of the boutique design and decorating firm, Twin Sisters Interiors, credit their children for a large number of their design inspirations!

One peak inside Theresa Naramore’s North Central San Antonio home and you see how modern design can be both aesthetically pleasing and functional for raising two small children and caring for two large rescue dogs!  Her house boasts of materials that hold up to kids.IMG_2748

“Let’s be real: It’s not always easy! Being a mompreneur is a delicate balance and I work to maintain that balance, constantly.  There have even been times where I have had to bring my son or daughter with me while meeting with a client.  Thankfully, my clients embrace my little “assistants” and my passion for motherhood –  in large, because it is the same passion that I pour into design projects.”

When you meet Cheryl, Theresa’s sister, you are reminded how having sons, can foster strength and endurance. Cheryl masters huge commercial decorating projects, single-handedly.  IMG_2750

“Being a mom enhances my ability to multi-task!  Motherhood has made me a stronger woman yet allows me to be vulnerable when necessary ,which can add to the emotion and feeling that go hand in hand with design projects that are true reflections of our clients.”


 

 

 

 

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Incorporating Fiesta Into Your Home Decor

Savvy Media is proud to partner with San Antonio based decorators, Cheryl Green and Theresa Naramore of Twin Sisters Interiors .  In this video blog, Twin Sisters Interiors share festive tips on how to incorporate a little Fiesta into our homes.

Fiesta graphic for video

It can be said that in San Antonio, Texas there are five seasons: spring, summer, fall, winter, and Fiesta.

We celebrate it, take off of school and work for it, and of course, decorate for it.

Yes, “Viva Fiesta” echos throughout the South Texas city each April as family, friends, and many visitors come together to Fiesta – or basically, party – for nearly two weeks.  Fiesta-themed events are held all over town.

So why not Viva Fiesta inside your home as well?

Whether it’s for a party or just seasonal decor, bringing a little Fiesta into your home can be simple, festive, and a lot of fun.

“Consider every room your guests will be using at your home and add just a touch of Fiesta to it, ” says interior decorator, Cheryl Green of Twin Sisters Interiors.

In today’s video blog I talk with Cheryl, and her twin sister, Theresa, as they show me several easy decorating tips to incorporate a little Fiesta into our homes.  Take a look.


WHERE TO FIND IT:

Cheryl and Theresa purchased the metal bucket and wooden crate seen in this blog at Michael’s.  The Fiesta hats, runner, tins and everything else Fiesta-themed they picked up at Amol’s party supply.  The paintings displayed on the mantle and outdoor kitchen were painted by Cheryl Green.  Wreaths by Josie Tober wreaths (on facebook).

Also! We have a giveaway opportunity coming up tomorrow on Twin Sisters Interiors facebook page!  Follow them … and you could win one of the decor items seen in the blog!

 

 

 

 

 

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The Cost of a Severe Allergy Season

Rain Cost AllergiesThis spring and summer season in will surely go down as one to remember.  For days at a time, my kids and I found ourselves staring out our window at rain coming down like buckets from the sky.

More than once, we put on our rain boots and danced in it.

Some parts of this atypical South Texas weather pattern we’d rather forget.  The flooding, the lightning strikes, and the outdoor events cancelled by the storms.  Other aspects of the rain have been good for our community, helping the Aquifer rise and drought-stricken areas flourish with greens that actually stay, well, green.

Then, there’s this: Allergies. While the rain immediately sends pollen numbers falling (but mold numbers soaring), once the skies dry and the wind picks up, the rain actually worsens our seasonal allergies.

“If allergy symptoms get worse during the rain it’s usually due to the rain saturating the pollen and causing it to split releasing more allergen particles into the air,” says Dr. Patricia Gomez Dinger, Board Certified Allergist with Advanced Allergy Asthma and Immunology with offices in Stone Oak and Schertz, TX.  Dr. Dinger adds the more rain, the more growth of grass, plants, and trees, which later increases pollen production and that’s bad news for allergies.

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bluebonnets spring 2015

Remember how abundant those bluebonnets were across South Texas this spring?  As beautiful as they were, that was sign number one that it was going to be a more severe allergy season for those who suffer from pollen.  Even though it’s not bluebonnets that produce the pollen that typically affects allergy sufferers, those radiant blooms in full force were a sign of what’s to come.

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Oak pollen, spring 2015

First, to understand this heavy rain allergy connection,  let’s talk pollen.  Pollen is defined as tiny grains needed to fertilize many kinds of plants, according to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology.  Did you know pollen from plants with colorful flowers usually do not cause allergies?  It is the plants that produce a powdery pollen and be easily spread by the wind that can cause allergy symptoms.  In San Antonio and Austin, think oak pollen.  You know, that greenish-brownish stuff you find all over your windshields and glass doors in the spring.

Spring 2015 brought with it, higher pollen levels.  Summer is following suit.   Grasses are recording at high levels and ragweed is expected to hit hard come August.   Dr. Patricia Gomez Dinger expects ragweed pollen to be greater than the last three years.    What does this mean for allergy sufferers?  Prepare to suffer.  Medically and financially.

“People come into my office after having exhausted a lot of time and money in attempts to treat their seasonal allergies without a proper diagnosis and treatment plan, ” says Dr. Dinger.  She adds, “It can add up”.

On average, a family will try and pay for four to five over the counter treatments before seeking out a specialist and continuing treatment.  At ten to 17 dollars a pop, consumers are looking to shell out a good fifty bucks for over the counter treatment that may or may not work.   It’s bad news for consumers’ pockets.  It’s worse for employers.   Allergic rhinitus is the 5th leading chronic disease and a major cause of work absenteeism and presenteeism, according to the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America.  The pair results in nearly 4 million missed or lost workdays each year, resulting in a total cost of more than $700 million dollars in total lost productivity. That’s in a relatively non-severe allergy season.  

“People don’t give allergies enough credit,” says Dr. Dinger.  The San Antonio Allergist says allergies, when untreated, can be a huge burden, medically and economically.

So, what can seasonal allergy sufferers do to save costs in a more severe allergy season?

  1. Get tested.  Plain and simple.  A Board Certified Allergist can determine which allergens are causing symptoms and save you a lot of trial and error time and money.
  2. Be wary of non-certification.  Dr. Dinger says she sees new patients who come to her after paying for and receiving unsuccessful diagnosis and/or treatment from doctors or companies that are not board certified in Allergy.  In order to become board certified, an Allergist must first complete a sub-specialty in internal medicine or pediatrics and then continue with additional education and training in the specialty of allergy.  From interpreting tests to forming treatment plans, a board certified allergist is specially trained with the proper and most up-to-date know-how.
  3. Minimize exposure to pollens by installing a HEPA air purifier in the home
  4. Undergo a trial of over-the-counter fluticasone.
  5. Minimize pollen by washing your hair and body before bed, bathing your pets more often (every other week) and vacuuming carpets often.  Keep windows closed.
  6. Refrain from going outdoors on windy days or days when the pollen count is categorized as high, especially during peak pollen hours (mid-morning).

Follow these tips, especially having an accurate diagnosis and you don’t have to be miserable.  Your nose, eyes, and throat will thank you.   So just might your boss.

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