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The message from Sentara’s opioid town hall: It’s OK to hate the addiction but still love the addict

Narcan is often used to “wash out” the effects of opioid use for someone who overdosed.

In the past year, 1,159 doses of the counteracting drug — which is also an opioid  — were administered at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center to counteract the effects of heroin and other drugs.

That has prompted emergency department doctors Chinye Obidi to use words like “epidemic,” and “overdose phenomenon.”

“If you’re looking for a gateway drug, this is it,” the Woodbridge physician told a crowd of more than 50 people Thursday night at the medical center, speaking about opioid use and addiction.

Since 1999, the rate of people overdosing on opioids has exploded. And, it affects everybody.

“I feel like I’ve seen this before,” he said. “Maybe some of you are old enough to remember the crack cocaine epidemic? Well, this is different. Instead of going to an urban center and finding a crack house with people holed up and using drugs, it’s in suburban neighborhoods,” he said.

Sentara organized a community symposium called Project STOP — Speaking Out and Teaching Opioid Prevention. While there, attendees learned that hospitals can use opioids to treat severe pain and that prolonged abusers of the drug have increased sensitivity to pain, constipation, itching, and sweating.

Overdosing is ugly, and sometimes people can’t get the help they need.

“They used to dump you at the emergency department and leave you by the door. Today, they leave you behind 7-Eleven and hope someone finds you before your brain stops working,” said Obidi.

For those able to kick the habit, they will always fight the addiction to use again. “This is a chain you have to carry. This is something you have to fight every day,” he explained.

And, while many people make mistakes and can abuse opioids, Thursday night’s message was: You must have a compassionate and nonjudgmental attitude to the addicts and that it’s OK to hate the addiction but still love the addict.

In the coming year, Sentara plans to provide more resources to families who are dealing with opioid addiction. The hospital also plans to increase the number of drug takeback days, so people can properly dispose of unwanted medication so that it’s not used improperly.

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Glendora Eddine Clemons

Glendora Eddine Clemons, 81, of Prince William, VA, passed away on Friday, November 17, 2017. Glendora Clemons was born August 10, 1936 in Paraiso, Panama to Thomas A. Woods and Eddine B. Woods. She is preceded in death by her mother, father, and brother, Carlton Woods. She is survived by her husband of 61 years, Vernon Clemons Sr.; her sister, Eutrene Woods; her children, Eddine Carter (Larry), Vernon Clemons Jr. (Pamela), Valerie Evans (Bob),

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Road closures for 72nd Annual Greater Manassas Christmas Parade

From the Manassas City Police Department:

Manassas, VA… On Dec. 2, 2017, the Manassas City Police Department will begin road closures at 8:00 a.m. for the 72nd Annual Greater Manassas Christmas Parade. We anticipate all roads to be back open by 1:30 p.m. The Manassas City Police Department is encouraging residents to be aware of the closures and plan alternative routes in advance.

The following roads will be affected: Route 28 (Centreville Rd), Mathis Ave, Reb Yank Dr, Carriage Ln, Sudley Rd, Quarry Rd, Prescott Ave, East St, Main St, Battle St, West St, Grant Ave, Mosby St, Lee Ave, Peabody Ave, Fairview Ave, Maple St, and Zebedee St. Please see the below map for the planned closures.

News
No charges pending for discharge of shotgun in thwarting burglary

From Prince William County police:

Shooting Investigation | Residential Burglary – On November 11 at 5:03 p.m., officers responded to a residence located in the 14100 block of Morrison Ct in Woodbridge (22193) to investigate a fight. The investigation revealed that a large group of males responded to the home and were involved in a verbal altercation with the residents who were still inside.

During the encounter, several of the males began vandalizing a vehicle parked in the drive way then started throwing objects at the exterior of the home. When one of the suspects kicked open the front door of the home, an adult male resident inside of the residence fired two rounds from a shotgun at the suspects. The suspects eventually fled the area on foot as officers were arriving.

At this point, this incident does not appear to be random. No additional damage to property or any injuries were reported. There are no charges pending for the discharge of the shotgun. The investigation continues.


Chronic compression of the spinal cord meant he couldn’t write a letter or open a bottle. Then Dr. Lotfi stepped in.

Lou Ferrao knew something was terribly wrong. He had suffered from neck pain before.

He even had surgery which gave him limited relief. But the neck pain he felt now was severe and accompanied by other, more ominous, symptoms. He had been experiencing spasms and weakness in his legs and now had begun experiencing the same symptoms in his arms.

Lou had always been an active man. He loved to scuba dive and was certified as a rescue diver; a designation only awarded after completing what some divers call the most challenging course they’ve ever taken. He loved to walk and hike.

Now he found his legs no longer responding to the directions that he was giving. It was devastating.

Determined to find the reason behind his troubling symptoms, Lou visited a neurologist who diagnosed him with severe nerve damage on his left side and moderate damage on the right. His neurologist then referred him to the Sentara Back & Neck Center and Dr. Paymaun Lotfi, an orthopedic surgeon specializing in spinal surgery, to determine the cause of the damage.

As Lou went through a series of tests prescribed by Dr. Lotfi, his condition continued to deteriorate. He was no longer able to open a bottle or write a letter, and when he moved from a room with carpet to one with wood floors, he would lose his balance and stumble.

After all the tests had been completed, Dr. Lotfi diagnosed Lou with cervical spinal stenosis.

Dr. Lotfi explains, “It’s a condition that causes narrowing of the cervical spinal canal and chronic compression of the spinal cord and nerves; this causes numbness and weakness in arms and legs as brain signals can’t reach extremities.”

Dr. Lotfi suggested a spinal laminectomy and fusion, which removes the back part of the vertebrae, decompressing the spinal cord. The spinal column is then stabilized by placing screws and rods in the spine. Since Lou’s condition had been longstanding, Dr. Lotfi explained that he might not regain all his lost strength and lost functions, but it was important to decompress his spine to prevent weakness, paralysis or something even worse.

Lou appreciated the time that Dr. Lotfi spent explaining his condition.

“When Dr. Lotfi sat down with us, his empathy really showed. He tried to put himself in my shoes. He showed us the MRI. You couldn’t see my spinal cord from C2-T2 because it was so compressed,” Lou said. “He gave me an in-depth explanation of what was going on. He was educating me at the same time as he was helping me.”

After listening to Dr. Lotfi, Lou realized that the surgery wasn’t about feeling better; it was about survival. With his wife’s agreement, Lou made the decision to have surgery at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center.

The day of the surgery, everything went well. Dr. Lotfi was with Lou when he woke up and actually removed his cervical collar at that time. Lou suffered very little pain from the procedure and within four days was up and at rehab several hours a day.

Life is better for Lou now. While damage to the spinal cord can sometimes take years to heal, Dr. Lotfi says, “He (Lou) had a rapid recovery, and almost immediately could tell the difference in improved strength in his arms and legs.”

Lou no longer has the severe neck pain that plagued him, and he has regained his sense of balance and is walking with a cane. He is slowly getting his endurance back. He describes his life before and after his surgery as “the difference between night and day.”

Lou can’t say enough about Dr. Lotfi and his experience, “He (Dr. Lotfi) lives up to the Hippocratic oath. He was my guardian angel. It (the surgery) was the best thing I ever did.”

Unfortunately, many individuals suffering from spinal pain don’t seek help. They endure the discomfort and inconvenience for years because of many different reasons.

Dr. Lotfi understands this but says, “(You) may understandably be guarded about surgical treatment of the spine. However, many conditions such as stenosis are very disabling, and a properly executed surgery can truly improve one’s quality of life and function.”

Lou agrees and adds, “People shouldn’t have to suffer because they don’t know a procedure can help them.”

News
Potomac Local Poll: Are the tolls too high?

If you Slug, ride the bus or use some other form of carpooling you don’t worry about having to pay a toll on the Interstate 95 or I-495 E-ZPass Express Lanes.

By now, you should know that everyone who rides in vehicles with three or more occupants, with an E-ZPass Flex transponder rides free.

So today’s poll is geared to those who must travel the lanes to a place where Slug lines or transit services don’t go. Maybe you work outside the urban core of Washington, D.C, or have a medical appointment during off-peak hours.

Whatever the reason, we want to hear from those single occupancy drivers or SOVs that must make a daily decision: should I use the E-ZPass Express Lanes?

 

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Breakfast Links: Teen’s final moments on tape

Teen’s final moments: “They shouted at her, demanding information about her role in the slaying of their clique leader, Christian Sosa Rivas, who was set up and killed with machetes, tree limbs and rocks in Prince William County about a week earlier.” [Virginian Pilot]

The Greater Washington Board of Trade went outside of the region to pick a new CEO, tapping Jack McDougle of New York to replace longtime chief Jim Dinegar. [Washintgon Business Journal, metered paywall]

Two Republicans clinched narrow victories over their Democratic opponents after votes were certified by the Stafford County Electoral Board on Tuesday afternoon. [Free Lance-Star]

Virginia Rep. Barbara Comstock, R-10th, said Tuesday that a sitting member of Congress exposed himself to a young female staffer who then quit her job. [Free Lance-Star]