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Doc Talk: The downside of toughing it out

By Dr. Mo Brown
Orthopedic surgeon

Mo Brown head shot

Dr. Maurice (Mo) Brown

I love taking care of the tough people who live in beautiful Teton Valley. If you live here, you are “tough”. This is not a sit-and-play-checkers-as-the-sun-goes-down kind of place. Our valley is full of tough people. They ski on torn ACLs, they board with broken tailbones, they sled with ripped rotator cuffs, they drive tractors with broken wrists and they go on with their work and recreation for years with these injuries. Really, I have to marvel at the pain these people must endure and the inventions they create to keep on moving.

If you think I’m writing about you, then please read on.

I admire your high pain threshold and your unwillingness to give up any time for rehabilitation because you’re having too much fun or have too much work to do. Just know this: It’s better for you and your orthopedic surgeon to have something to work with when you decide to get “it” fixed, whatever “it” may be.

Just know this: It’s better for you and your orthopedic surgeon to have something to work with when you decide to get “it” fixed, whatever “it” may be.

Orthopedists see X-rays and MRIs that tell the whole story in a few simple images and sometimes, it isn’t pretty.

A good example of long-term damage being the end product of ignoring an injury is a meniscus tear in a knee joint. It’s very common for me to see patients with a “torn and ignored” meniscus. The meniscus is designed to be a protector of the knee joint. But when torn, it becomes a defector and can destroy the joint’s surface cartilage. I see too many patients that have put off treatment because some days it feels fine and they can live with the popping and occasional pain. It’s a bummer to see the joint surface severely damaged when we finally get around to fixing the problem. If I can offer treatment soon after the injury, there is much less damage to the joint surface resulting in a quicker, better recovery and much better long term outlook.

In modern sports medicine we are generally more aggressive when it comes to early rehab. ACL patients start rehab right away — a big change from casting (eek!) and a year in rehab in the early days of ACL reconstruction. However, recent data regarding ankle sprains has led to a step back in how those injuries are managed. Instead of pushing immediate movement, it’s clear that a period of casting or boot immobilization produces better outcomes.

Again, I see lots of patients who ignore a bad ankle sprain and keep on truckin’. They sprain their ankle over and over and ultimately require surgery to reattach or reconstruct the ligaments.

Now, I’m not throwing stones here. I’m just as guilty of delaying treatment. But take my advice: if you get hurt, have it checked out. If you wait too long, what could have been a little R & R with physical therapy or maybe a minor surgical repair can morph into a more complex procedure such as joint replacement.

If you get hurt, have it checked out.

Orthopedics_Mo Brown

Mo Brown and patient

It’s important to know what the consequences can be if you put off medical help for injuries. You may be mentally able to handle physical pain, but your body is sending that pain signal for a reason.

For all of you die-hards out there, let me put it this way: The toughest thing you can do in these situations is to stop your activities, see your doctor and get “it” fixed before it becomes a bigger problem.

Dr. Mo Brown is an orthopedic surgeon at Driggs Health Clinic.

This article originally appeared in the Teton Valley News.


Good Choice, Bad Choice: There’s no Escape

We can all remember our first car. Not the family station wagon. Not the hand-me-down from big brother that smelled like musky gym clothes. I’m talking about the first car that was entirely yours, even if it was used or “pre-owned” as car dealerships like to say.

"1984-1985 Honda Civic hatchback -- 01-07-2012" by IFCAR - Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons -

A mid-1980s Honda Civic via WikiCommons

I was 26 when I purchased my very own brand new car. It was a 1986 Honda Civic wagon and I loved it. No air conditioner, no frills, vinyl seats and 48 mpg. Those were the days. I would drive from Salt Lake to Jackson Hole and back on one tank of gas. I would drive to San Diego, stopping every 40 miles to douse myself at the rest-stop water fountains during those 102-degree desert stretches, then drive soaked from head to foot with the windows down. Now that was air conditioning.

Imagine my excitement when I bought a new Ford Escape Limited in 2004. It was the second time in my life I’d bought a brand new car rather than used pre-owned. I knew the saying that once you drive it off the showroom floor, the car’s value drops 99%. I didn’t care. I was in fact overly proud of the purchase. As the old saying goes, pride goeth before a fall.

Ann's Ford Escape

The Ford Escape AKA Mouse Mobile

The Escape was only two days old when I drove my two toddlers to the grocery store. Somehow, an entire jug of milk was spilled between the seats during a backseat conspiracy to search the grocery bags for cookies. I spent 2 hours scrubbing, spraying, rubbing and generally assaulting the area with cleansers. The smell of sour milk never left the vehicle. It was an omen.

One after another, horrible things happened in the Escape. A completely potty-trained child thoroughly wet his pants. Dogs threw up. A cat leaped onto my lap and peed while I was driving. Moldering carrots were found under the passenger seat. A slice of pizza worked its way into the spare tire well and grew fabulous green feathers.

Just before the Plague of Rodents commenced, I had what I thought was the capper to all of this evil. While driving my son’s friend home from a playdate, the cherub told me from the backseat that he needed to go number two. I asked him if I should pull over or if he could hold it until the upcoming gas station. He felt that he could wait. Two seconds later, he said “oh no” and then the fun began. My son caught a whiff and immediately vomited. Twice. I rolled down the windows. I opened the sunroof. I looked back to assess the damage and was struck by a force stronger than a tidal wave. We drove the rest of the way with our heads out the windows, tears streaming down our cheeks. I was triple charged for the car detailing.

Then came the Plague. It started with a few tiny droppings here and there on the car mats. I’d set a trap inside my car, catch a mouse and go on about my business. Then I noticed more droppings. I worked up to 4 traps placed at night and 4 mice in traps in the morning. I detailed. I vacuumed. I squirted VO5 hairspray. I tried sonic sound waves. I put bars of Irish Spring under the seats. The mice ate them.

Finally, I removed all of the interior side panels, trying to find the rodent welcome mat. Caches of seeds, dog kibble and fluffy mouse nests poured from every possible crevice. Entire generations of field mice had wandered about, given birth, raised families and died in my car. I admitted defeat and felt grateful that no one in our family had been struck with Hantavirus.  Accursed vehicle. Stephen King could write a book about it.

The Mousemobile found a new home with a family that apparently does not have a battalion of mice seeking a motel on wheels. I gave full disclosure prior to handing over the keys. Buh bye.

Guess what I’m driving now? A used Honda Civic wagon. With air conditioning.


CEO Viewpoint: From Better to Best

Keith Gnagey, CEO

Keith Gnagey, CEO

This is not your average healthcare CEO article. I won’t trot out numbers, stats and confusing lingo. I’ll only use the word “metrics” once, and instead of looking back, I’m going to tell you what Teton Valley Health Care plans to accomplish in 2015 as we work toward becoming the one of the best rural hospitals in the U.S.

In 2015, you can look forward to online access to your medical records, treatment plans and prescriptions through the implementation of our new patient portal. Through this portal, you’ll also be able to tell us how you’d prefer to receive messages, when you need prescription refills and reminders for follow-up care. Online payments and a review of your prior bills will also be available.

We’ll respond to your needs by adding services that make sense for our community. Currently, we can all benefit from 24/7 consultations with University of Utah Health Center stroke and burn specialists through our portable telemedicine robot. In the New Year, we’ll add tele-adolescent psychiatry and hopefully tele-oncology. We also want to add new clinic service lines, such as dermatology.

You’ll see interior changes in our clinics and hospital as we continue to press ahead with our design goal to reflect a healing environment for our patients, their families and friends. Changes will include a more natural design theme and room renovations that will make navigation easier for patients and providers.

We’re also determined to provide more services at a “one-price-covers-all” cost. This is difficult for hospitals because everybody is physically different and many times when a surgeon or physician has begun a procedure, other issues are discovered that need to be taken care of.  For now, you can check out our new bundled pricing for colonoscopies and upper GI screenings at We’ll add more of this type of pricing throughout 2015.

Similar to the saying that good things come in small packages, I believe that Teton Valley is fortunate to have a small hospital that offers impressive medical and nursing staff, round-the-clock emergency care, a menu of carefully selected services and technology that rivals or exceeds the capabilities available at some larger hospitals.  After giving numerous tours of our facility to outside hospital leaders, specialists and providers from large healthcare organizations, I’ve learned to anticipate their expressions of surprise and some envy when they see – for example – our X-ray and surgical suites, laboratory equipment and digital mammography room.

What services, changes and improvements do you want to see at your community hospital? Let us know by calling me at 354-6355, email or comment on our Facebook page. TVHC tweets, pins, FBs and blogs, too, in an effort to continually offer access and information for everyone.  We invite you to be a part of moving TVHC from better to the very best.

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