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Patient Sheryl Middeke, left, sits with Dr. Jen Heller at Heller Healthcare in Brunswick. Middeke’s treatments have allowed her to live a life free of pain.

Life has dealt Sheryl Middeke some harsh blows recently. In the course of two years, she lost both her husband and her mother in a series of heartbreak.

But rather than properly being able to mourn her loved ones, she was faced with a crushing bout of physical pain that made daily activities impossible.

“I started having pains in my right hip and lower back that would shoot all the way down to my toes. It got to where I couldn’t walk across the room without crying,” Middeke said, shaking her head.

To compound her suffering, she also had to face a serious fear — that she was on the same path as her mother, who endured severe back pain during her life.

“My mother had four back surgeries during her time. I had been taking care of her and she passed away in April. It wasn’t too long after that the pain started,” she said. “It was probably because I was sleeping on a little pull out bed. But it got so bad that I couldn’t walk.”

After her mother’s struggle, Middeke knew that surgery was off the table. Instead, she started seeking out more holistic treatment options. That’s when friends pointed her to Dr. Jen Heller and Heller Healthcare in Brunswick.

“My friends suggested that I look at chiropractors. I also talked to my physician, Dr. Green, and he said, ‘let’s try that,’” she recalled.

She contacted Dr. Heller and scheduled her free consultation. From the point she entered the office, located at 208 Scranton Connector, Brunswick, she found a sea of compassionate support. Middeke also learned about the integrative medicine side of Heller’s practices, and how she has teamed up with Brunswick Urgent Care and Golden Isles Functional Medicine to offer a diverse range of treatment options, spanning from traditional medicine and chiropractic care to innovative regenerative medicine for her patients.

“I came for several visits and started with the massage therapy. It was great for clearing my sinuses but it wasn’t helping much. So Dr. Jen started telling me about the stem cells,” Middeke said.

Heller stated, “well when we tried conservative care and it just wasn’t enough, we had to do more. It was hard to watch her try to go from sit to stand without dropping to her knees”.

Desperate for a life without pain, Middeke signed up for the procedure.

“I told Dr. Jen ‘I’ll do it.’ I didn’t see any other options. I was afraid I would be paralyzed or something,” she said.

Stem Cells are the “body’s building blocks. They are the basic foundation cells that grow all of the tissue and organs in the body. When injected into a damaged tissue, joint, or organ, they support the natural healing process by regenerating and making new tissue.

Stem cell therapy, also known as regenerative medicine, uses stem cells to stimulate the body’s natural repair mechanisms. Many in the medical community including those at the National Institutes of Health and the Institute of Medicine consider it the future of medicine.

In Heller’s practices, the cells used are Human Umbilical Cord Tissue (HUCT) cells, which are derived from the consented, donated umbilical cords from healthy mothers who birthed healthy babies. The amount of stem cells from a newborn’s umbilical cord are a million times greater and the cells and thousands of times more potent than stem cells taken from an aged body. This also makes it a less-invasive treatment with fewer steps since your own stem cells are not harvested from one’s own body.

Stem cell therapy can be used anywhere in the body where there is arthritis, or a muscle or tendon tear. The medical providers at Heller’s regenerative medicine clinic have performed the procedure on low back, neck, hips, ankles, wrists, hands, feet, knees, shoulders and more. Even patients with COPD and other lung diseases are getting relief by taking breathing treatments with stem cells. These treatments can help patients heal and regenerate lung tissue and improve their quality of life.

Middeke had the treatment, which included eight injections, in October 2019. Over the following weeks, her condition continuously improved, and she continues to see improvements each day.

“I didn’t even feel the injections. Of course, my pain level was so bad at the time, they could probably have cut my head off and I wouldn’t have felt it ... it was at like a 20,” she said with a laugh. “Now, it’s at a 3. I feel 90 percent better. And we’re just continuing with the adjustments and it gets better and better.”

The treatment has changed Middeke’s life entirely. She’s been able to embrace life, something that she was afraid she would never be able to do, especially after the loss of her loved ones.

“I was able to travel to Pennsylvania to see my niece, who is in the Brunswick High band, she was in the Thanksgiving parade. We walked a lot and I felt great. We went to New York and walked there too. I would never have been able to do it if I didn’t have the stem cells,” she said.

While the treatment itself proved life altering, it was also the kindness from Heller’s staff that moved Middeke even more.

“Even when I have a bad day, you know, after my husband died and my mama died, Dr. Jen always talks to me. She asks about my job ... she just really cares,” Middeke says, with tears in her eyes.

“She always listens and cares about what is going on with you in your daily life.”

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