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March 21, 2020

Dr. Jacomides and Dr. Abikhaled Discuss Covid-19 Symptoms, “Flattening the Curve,” and Telemedicine Options

Donna Lee: 

The Armor Men’s Health Hour is brought to you by Urology Specialists. For questions during the week, call us at (512) 238-0762 or visit our website at armormenshealth.com. The Armor Men’s Health Hour is a show dedicated to providing information on a variety of medical topics, some of which may include sensitive subject material about penises. All cases discussed have been done with the permission of the people involved and their penises.

Speaker 1: 

Welcome to the Armor Men’s Health Hour with Dr. Mistry and Donna Lee.

Donna Lee: 

Welcome to the Armor Men’s Health Hour with Dr. Mistry and Donna Lee. I am Donna Lee. You probably recognize that Dr. Mistry is not here today. He’s with his family. He has six children and a beautiful wife and he needs to spend time with them, so I kicked him out of here.

Dr. Jacomides: 

God bless him.

Donna Lee: 

Oh, I know. So we have our other partner, Dr. Lucas Jacomides here today. Welcome. Dr. Jacomides.

Dr. Jacomides: 

Thank you, Donna Lee. Glad to be here.

Donna Lee: 

How’s it going today?

Dr. Jacomides: 

Things are going well.

Donna Lee: 

Yeah?

Dr. Jacomides: 

I think overall things are good.

Donna Lee: 

It’s a little crazy out there.

Dr. Jacomides: 

The world is a crazy place right now, but you know, we all have to find our little Island of, our oasis of happiness.

Donna Lee: 

Of serenity? That’s right. You can reach us during the week if you have questions at (512) 238-0762. Our website is armormenshealth.com. This show is brought to you by Urology Specialists of Austin. And our email address for all those amazing emails we get all week long is armormenshealth@gmail.com. That’s armormenshealth@gmail.com. If you have questions for Dr. Jacomides or any of our providers, I will answer every one of them, and we will ask them on air anonymously of course, because we get some really good doozies.

Dr. Jacomides: 

Yes, we do.

Donna Lee: 

We get some good men’s wellness questions about all sorts of body parts. Anyway, we have a very special guest today and I’d like for Dr. Jacomides to introduce him because I think they’re friends and they’ve done cases together.

Dr. Jacomides: 

My good friend, Dr. John Abikhaled, who I’m welcoming to this studio because this has been kind of a crazy time in the world right now for health. You know, since Dr. Mistry left me the mic, I thought I’d bring as many of my friends as possible. Welcome John.

Dr. Abikhaled: 

Thanks Lucas. Glad to be here.

Dr. Jacomides: 

Tell us a little bit about yourself and specifically your new role this year.

Dr. Abikhaled: 

I’m a general surgeon with Austin surgeons. I’ve been in practice in Austin for over 20 years and this year I’m the President of the Travis County Medical Society, which is a society for physicians in the county. And our role is to support the profession and provide needed services.

Dr. Jacomides: 

Well this is an especially important time and that’s why I reached out to him. Plus he’s a fellow Rice owl like myself.

Dr. Abikhaled: 

Go owls!

Donna Lee: 

I’m glad Dr. Mistry’s not here to make fun of y’all, because he likes to do that if you’re not from Baylor.

Dr. Jacomides: 

That’s right. We are in the middle of an incredible world pandemic, John. And your new role now, you probably didn’t sign up for this when you drew the short, dirty straw. But tell me what are your thoughts today? I mean, we don’t like to, you know, we’re taping this show right after St. Patty’s day. So, you know, everything is very, very fluid and dynamic these days. But tell us what’s the latest?

Dr. Abikhaled: 

It’s been an amazing learning experience for me. Prior than a few days ago, I really had no previous knowledge of dealing with epidemics. So I’ve been trying to learn as much as I can, and I had the good luck of going down to the emergency operations center this morning, and kind of being a fly on the wall for a while, and witness what our first responders and our leaders are doing. And they’re, they’re doing really an amazing job. They have a Herculean task ahead of them, and it’s very, very complicated and there are a lot of moving parts that they’re dealing with, but what they’re putting together and the system for dealing with this viral outbreak is coming into shape. And I think it’s going to be very effective.

Dr. Jacomides: 

I mean, it’s incredible. A week ago, I mean, we are talking now during, what should be the busiest week in Austin at South by Southwest. And a week ago we thought these guys were crazy. You know, what are we doing? You know, we’re closing this event. We’re losing $400 million for the city. But now we were the first ones to actually do what needed to be done worldwide.

Dr. Abikhaled: 

And to think in a way we’re a little bit lucky. We did have a little bit of lead time compared to places like Seattle, New York, where they were the first ones to be really hit. What we’re trying to do is learn from their experience and also learn from the experience of physicians around the world who have already been dealing with this longer than we have. One of the big lessons we’ve learned is that if we can slow down the spread of this virus, it gives us a better chance to take care of people as they become ill, which, which some people will. The main lesson is that if we can slow down the rate of illness among people, that the hospitals and the medical personnel will be able to effectively take care of those people as they come in. And that’s what people have referred to as “flattening the curve.” And what they’re talking about is the curve of the number of patients who are sick at a particular time. And that’s why social distancing, closing down events, closing down large gatherings, is one of the best approaches at decreasing the rate of transmission. There’s no cure for this, there’s only supportive treatment. So we can’t actually stop people from getting it. We can’t make them immune, because there is no vaccine. But what we can do is change the rate at which people get sick. And fortunately, for this virus, the vast majority of people who get the virus will be just fine. They’re going to get over it. And some people actually have very minimal symptoms, especially younger people. It’s the vulnerable population, the elderly, and those with other underlying diseases that can become very sick and need support.

Dr. Jacomides: 

So what do you tell those patients out there, or people out there who are wondering if their patients, if they’re starting to feel the symptoms? I mean, first of all, what do we know as far as the symptoms that should get you calling? And then do they go to their doctor? There’s a lot of, “No, you should stay away from ERs and hospitals when you’re sick.” But then again, that’s exactly why you to go to an ER or hospital. What do we tell people in terms of symptoms and then what to do next?

Dr. Abikhaled: 

Right. So, the typical symptoms are flu like symptoms, which means feeling achy and very fatigued, tired, developing a fever, and developing symptoms of a cough, maybe a sore throat. Those are the most common symptoms. And if a person develops those symptoms but they’re otherwise doing okay–not in distress with regard to their breathing–they should just stay home. They probably will get better. Stay well hydrated, stay well nourished. Don’t get into close contact with other family members in the house. If you can isolate yourself to a bedroom and with its own bathroom, and probably you will feel better. If you are concerned, you can contact your local physician, your primary care physician. And certainly if you’re becoming ill and you’re having trouble or distress, then you may need to come in and seek a higher level of care. Fortunately, the vast majority of people will not need that type of care.

Dr. Jacomides: 

Right. What are your thoughts on, we hear a lot now about telemedicine, and I understand that even on a national level, this has been opened up in terms of just can patients talk to their doctors and say can we just handle this meeting over the phone? Does a doctor actually get to charge, or is it something that’s even billable? I mean, there’ve been a lot of regulatory things in the past and I don’t know if there’s anything that’s been eased up from what you know?

Dr. Abikhaled: 

I’ve heard that restrictions on telemedicine have been eased up to deal with the crisis. We have not used telemedicine in my own practice, so it’s kind of unfamiliar to me. But we have gone to making more contacts with patients simply over the phone, checking in on people and if they don’t need to come to the office, now we’re putting that off. And that’s been very effective and many of our patients have been very thankful to not have to make the trip into the office. I know that there are numerous telemedicine platforms, some of which are making themselves even free at this point to help physicians deal with the crisis. I think one result of this could be that we end up having, once things get back to normal, a much more expanded role for telemedicine and acceptance of it.

Donna Lee: 

Yeah, no, look, it works really well in our clinic. I encourage the people listening, if you have a doctor’s appointment and it’s just a follow up for labs or something simple, reach out to your doctor’s office and see if they can just handle this over the phone. But I like the analogy you used earlier before the show started, we were talking about if everybody had a heart attack at the same time, can you go over over that information? I thought that made a lot of sense.

Dr. Abikhaled: 

So I was trying to think of an analogy to help people understand the idea of flattening the curve and being able to take care of everybody who’s sick. We know that over the course of a year, many people will have heart attacks, and those people will be cared for under normal conditions and many of those people will survive and receive all the treatment they need. If for some reason everybody all of a sudden had all their heart attacks in one month or in two weeks, the system would be overloaded, and the system would not be able to handle that sudden surge. So that’s kind of what we’re facing, is we’re facing a lot of people getting sick with a viral illness all at once. And this virus would be very manageable if it was happening very slowly over a long time, but it’s kind of hitting us fast. And what we’re trying to do is spread that time out so that it happens over as long a period as possible, and then we can take care of the people who need care.

Donna Lee: 

That’s right. That’s why we have Netflix and restaurants.

Dr. Abikhaled: 

And audio books…

Donna Lee: 

Oh yeah, oh there’s a book–what’s that?

Dr. Jacomides: 

And our children get to see us, and our spouses, and we get board games. And for all you kids out there who may be listening on this radio station…

Donna Lee: 

They’re like, “What’s a board game?” I know Dr. Mistry’s at home probably playing a board game with his amazing kids. So, do you guys have any more questions?

Dr. Jacomides: 

No, I definitely think we’d like to cover some more stuff in the next segment. I do have a few more questions to ask, but I know we’re in between advertisements.

Donna Lee: 

We’ve got some sponsors we have to satisfy. So, again, reach us during the week at (512) 238-0762. Our email address is armormenshealth@gmail.com. That’s armormenshealth@gmail.com. Send me your questions. We will get them answered as soon as possible. We have four locations in the Austin area. Dr. Mistry has been here for 13 years. One’s in Round Rock, one’s in North Austin. We have a South Austin location on South Congress and now we’re in Dripping Springs. But again, email us during the week, armormenshealth@gmail.com, and it looks like we will be right back after these messages. Thank you so much Dr. Abikhaled.

Speaker 4: 

The Armor Men’s Health Hour will be right back. If you have questions for Dr. Mistry, email him at armormenshealth@gmail.com.

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