How a Miniature Pacemaker Got a Former Radio City Rockette Back on Her Feet
92-year old Lenore Beetar is back to her vivacious self, thanks to a Sentara doctor
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Prince William County resident Becky Turner had been living in pain for years.
“I had been to surgeons all over the area trying to get some relief. It was to the point where I had to use a wheelchair a lot of the time. At the very least, I had to use a walker,” explains the 62 year old.
As her crippling back pain increased, so did her weight.
“Everyone said, there was nothing they could do for me,” she remembers.
Until her primary care physician suggested gastric bypass surgery, sharing how another patient received relief after undergoing the procedure. From there, an idea was born.
“I thought about it for a while and I thought, let’s see what’s involved,” says Turner.
That’s when she met Dr. Masoud Rezvani and the team at the Sentara Weight Loss Surgery Center, a designated Accredited Center by the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP.) Her insurance said it would pay for the procedure, but Turner would have to undergo testing and complete a six-month dietary weight loss class.
After the class was completed, the insurance company gave the okay. Because Becky was a diabetic with an insulin pump, the decision was made to perform a Biliopancreatic Diversion with Duodenal Switch, also known as BPD-DS, using minimally invasive robotic surgery. Dr. Rezvani is one of the only gastric bypass surgeons in Northern Virginia, who performs this complicated procedure.
“It’s very important to have the right procedure for the right patient,” explains Dr. Rezvani, “Every individual is a different package. Based on the patients’ age, gender, body mass index, past medical history, past surgical history and goal of the operation is going to determine what works best.”
In a BDP-DS operation, doctors reroute the intestines, which cuts back on how many calories a patient can absorb. As a result, patients feel less hungry, lose most of their excess weight within one year and keep the weight off, all while having significant health improvements.
“This surgery isn’t for everyone,” Dr. Rezvani says, “It requires a lot of maintenance. Not only is there a weight loss effect, there’s a metabolic effect which helps patients with conditions such as severe diabetes, sleep apnea and high blood pressure.”
For Becky, who was having issues managing her diabetes, it was a good fit. Her main concern going into her September surgery was the procedure, but the pain that could accompany it. It was something doctors worked with her to manage. “I never had the first bit of pain,” she says, “I don’t know if I’m the exception to the rule, but it was a good experience for me all the way around. Everyone was wonderful to me. All the nurses just went out of their way to be nice. I just adore Dr. Rezvani.”
In just three months since her surgery, Becky has already lost 92 pounds and dropped more than three sizes. “I’m shocked it’s coming off as quickly as it has,” and her back which had been in constant pain is already feeling better, “Though it’s not 100% yet, it’s about 70%. I can go and do stuff again. I can help with yard work,” she says smiling.
Becky is off her insulin pump and now taking insulin shots just twice a day. Her hope is, when she loses a little more weight, her diabetes will go into remission. She’s also is looking forward to becoming more active with her rescue pups, “Penny” and “Peanut.”
“Before my back really started hurting, I used to walk 5 miles each day. And I felt great. So, it has been about 6 or 7 years since I felt this good. I’m looking forward to getting back out there,” says Turner.
As she prepares to lace up her tennis shoes for those walks, she says she would recommend this procedure to anyone looking to change their life, “I would tell them to go for it, especially if you’re in pain. What do you have to lose? I was at a point where I was in so much pain, I was so unhappy, I didn’t have a life. And I thought –I’ve got to give this a try.”
Surgery isn’t for everyone. To learn if you qualify, head over to sentaranova.com/wl, there you can watch our informational videos to discover if weight loss surgery is right for you. Or you can call 1-800-SENTARA to learn more.
Lenore Beetar isn’t like most 92 year olds.
Her life has always been about movement, grace and energy, qualities vital to a dancer. For four years from 1944 to 1948, Beetar was a Radio City Rockette.
But, over the summer, her daughter, Lenore Reeves, noticed her once lively mother was suddenly acting differently, “I just knew something was wrong because she wasn’t being herself. I kept saying to her, ‘You’re so out of breathe. You don’t have any energy. There’s something wrong here.’”
That’s when she took her mother to see a doctor, who put her on a heart monitor. The monitor showed Beetar’s heartbeat was dropping, explaining some of her recent symptoms. Beetar was referred to Electrophysiologist, Dr. Aysha Arshad.
Electrophysiology is a subspecialty within cardiology where doctors train in rhythm disorders and how to fix them. Often these disorders are corrected with an implant device, most commonly known as a pacemaker.
“Pacemaker is a device that can help patients with a low heart rate. It can also help in patients with alternating slow and fast heartrates where medicines may be needed, which can aggravate the slow heart rhythm. So, a pacemaker would stabilize a heart rhythm in that circumstance,” explains Dr. Arshad.
Dr. Arshad explained to the family the benefits of a pacemaker. The workings of the device weren’t foreign to them since a close relative had one, but Reeves’ worried her mother’s memory issues could cause problems with recovery. That’s when they started exploring the Micra Pacemaker, the world’s smallest pacemaker, as an option.
It’s something many of Dr. Arshad’s patients are pursuing, “It’s a miniaturized device containing revolutionary new technology. It’s delivered directly into the heart and cosmetically appealing, since there’s no scar. The device itself is as small as a vitamin pill.”
For Lenore Beetar and her family, the recovery time and limited restrictions were key. Beetar spent one night in the hospital before being released. Her daughter says the results were instantly noticeable, “She had energy she hadn’t had in three months, it was unbelievable! It made an immediate difference.”
As for the soon-to-be 93 year old, she barely knows the device is there, “I feel fine. I don’t even think about it! If you asked me about it, I’d say, ‘Oh, I think I have it,’” she shares chuckling.
Reeves recommends the device to everyone, sharing her mother has had little discomfort; Beetar agrees, “I didn’t feel anything!”
“There was no pain, no tenderness. They went in through the groin, it was a couple of stitches and some light bruising. It was very simple from a patient standpoint,” adds Reeves.
It’s been just three months, but already Beetar is back to her vivacious self. And, on a recent shopping trip she was able to keep searching for deals, just like the old days.
“The procedure was a no-brainer for us,” says Reeves, “It gave my mom her quality of life back.”
Dr. Arshad reminds women their heart disease and heart attack symptoms may be different than men’s. While men are known to have crushing chest pains, women may have jaw or neck pain. They may be sweaty, or like Beetar, have a difference in exercise capacity.
If you’re experiencing chest pains, seek immediate medical attention. To find an Electrophysiologist or Cardiologist who’s right for you, contact 1-800-SENTARA or find a provider at www.sentara.com.