How to Overcome Health Obstacles

Alex's Story

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Read more about Alex's story, and see how you can help fund a deep-brain stimulation operation for her through The Dr. Phil Foundation. 

Alex, 27, appeared on The Doctors and shared her struggle with dystonia, a neurological movement disorder that causes muscles to contract and spasm involuntarily. The muscle contractions force Alex's body into repetitive and often twisting movements, as well as awkward, irregular postures. Presently, there is no cure for dystonia, but multiple treatment options exist, including physical, speech and voice therapy, medications, Botox and surgery.

Talk-show host and best-selling author Montel Williams visited Alex to give her inspirational advicewalk down Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills with her head held high. and helped her garner the courage to

Alex returns to The Doctors a more confident woman, but is still searching for medical answers. A video taped segment features Alex and Montel meeting with leading experts about her condition at Massachusetts General Hospital.

"Going to Boston was a complete eye-opener," Alex says. "After going to 20-plus neurologists and doctors, saying I was crazy, that I was making this up in my head, that I was doing this for attention and nothing was wrong with me, Montel [gave me] the sweetest thing anyone has ever given me. We went there, talked to the doctor who made it a point and actually said, 'You do have dystonia. You're not making it up. You're not crazy, you don't have to go see a psychiatrist. There is something wrong with you.'"

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Alex met with neurosurgeon Dr. Emad Eskandar to find out more about deep-brain stimulation as a treatment option.

Dr. Eskandar says that Alex is a candidate for the procedure and explains what deep-brain stimulation entails. "In her case it's a process, it's not an immediate thing," he says. "It's a two-stage surgery. In one case, we put in the deep-brain stimulators. That part is done with her awake just so we can test her and make sure we're in the right place. Then [there is] a smaller surgery later to put the pulse generator in. And then, we turn it on. [With] dystonia, unlike other things, like Parkinson's disease, it takes time for it to take effect, so we expect gradual improvement over a period of three-to-six months.

"The ideal would be that once it's all in and turned on and adjusted and so on, that a casual observer or someone just walking down the street looking at her would have no idea that there was anything wrong with her," Dr. Eskandar adds. "That would be our goal."

Montel's Food House Call

Montel's Healthy Recipes

Do you want your family to eat healthier? Montel shares his easy-to-make, nutritious recipes!

Like many American families, the Gordon's dinners aren't always well-balanced and healthy. Eating well is essential for any family, and Montel makes a house call to teach Kimberly, 42; Glenn, 41; Tatum, 15; Tanner, 13; Truth, 11; and Timothy, 5 what they are doing wrong and how they can eat more nutritious meals.

Montel says that substituting a grilled or baked fish, instead of a large piece of meat, can make a big difference.

Pediatrician Dr. Jim Sears adds, "Fish is good for just about every part of your body. It's good for your brain. But most importantly, it's good for your heart. It helps improve your cholesterol and your lipids; it helps increase HDL, which is the good cholesterol."

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Montel uses an animation to show how simple changes to the food you eat can change a meal from bland and unhealthy to colorful and nutritious.

At-Home Colon Test
Colon cancer has a 90 percent cure rate when detected early, and the Colon Health Check, a new at-home fecal occult blood test, may be able to help you detect blood in your stool, which is a symptom of colorectal cancer.

"You take it one time, and it's simple," Montel says. "You do it at home, and it's almost like a home pregnancy test. You take a little tester -- and every now and then, you should look in that toilet before you flush it -- you dip it [into your bowel movement], poke it six times, put it back into a little bottle, shake it up and you put two drops on a little reader. That reader will come up either negative with one stripe or positive with two stripes. If it comes up [positive], then you know that you need to see your doctor because you may have something going on inside of you.

"Colon cancer affects 150,000 people every single year," Montel adds. "Fifty-thousand people die from it [every year in the US]. It's an equal-opportunity killer, male and female. And we know for a fact it is the one cancer that we can eradicate just through early detection."

E.R. physician Dr. Travis Stork emphasizes that the Colon Health Check is not a substitute for a colonoscopy. "After age 50, it's recommended that everyone get a colonoscopy," Dr. Travis says. "It's the only way to detect early cancers, because, a lot of times, a polyp won't bleed until it's too late."

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OAD 10/14/09