Hard, laborious work is just that — hard work. It’s also hard on the body and back.
For Maria Abundes, hard work has been a defining quality of her life. The Brunswick resident spent years harvesting fruits in Florida fields, as well as lifting children as a daycare worker.
Abundes’ daughter, Cynthia Diaz, says that those careers took a toll on her mother’s body.
“She’s worked a lot ... she worked in housekeeping, in the fields and she used to work in daycare. So she developed arthritis and structural problems in her back,” she said, helping to translate her mother’s native Spanish.
That led to Abundes experiencing severe pain and mobility difficulties.
“She couldn’t walk without a walker,” Cynthia noted, glancing at her mother. “It really started in about 2010, but it kept getting worse.”
True to her nature, however, Abundes wasn’t going to give up. She saw many doctors who labeled her condition as “arthritis,” “you’re getting older,” or prescribed pain medications and rest. When this didn’t work, Abundes started perusing the internet for answers and found great reviews for Heller Healthcare in Brunswick. She decided to give it a try.
“I didn’t even know she made the appointment,” Cynthia said with a laugh. “She just told me to take her here. I think originally she thought it was a place where they stretch you out.”
What Abundes discovered was an integrative office that provides chiropractic care and medical massage, while its sister practice, Golden Isles Functional Medicine offers anti-arthritis programs, degenerative joint care treatments, holistic pain management options, hormone optimization, nutritional planning and specializes in regenerative medicine.
Both sides of the practice work together to develop a comprehensive care plan for each patient. And their goal remains simple — to help each patient live his or her best life.
For Abundes, it was more than just a way to find real answers — it was also away to find a much-needed support system.
When Abundes entered the practice for the first time, the staff was a little taken aback by her condition.
“She was bent forward and unable to stand straight up. She was using a walker and they had to put her in an office chair to wheel her through for x-rays,” Cynthia said. “She wouldn’t use a wheelchair.”
Heller also noted that Abundes’ mood was downcast and sad.
“She was just very quiet, kind of dark and sad. You could tell she was in a lot of pain,” Heller said.
The two settled on a plethora of testing that had never been done for her before, including food and hair testing, exploring every aspect of Abundes’ biology and lifestyle. That allowed them to fully understand what was happening in her body.
“We found significant deficiencies in minerals, heavy metals in her body, and foods that one would think are healthy and good for us are incredibly inflammatory for her” said Heller. “For Maria, it wasn’t just looking at her x-rays and looking at arthritis and degenerative disc disease, we needed to look at her inflammation too.”
Heller adds that many don’t realize that if they’re allergic to foods, it cause will flare up any type of arthritis and pain all over the body.
“As an office, we do a lot of extensive testing to figure out where the hiccup is in the function of health,” Dr. Heller said.
“The way our office is designed is the way I needed it for my own health. The patients may meet with me first, but the magic comes from bringing our traditional medicine providers, holistic medicine providers, and nutritional and functional based providers knowledge together and blend them to create the right plan for each patient.”
They two quickly set to work, making a plan to end Abundes’ pain. That included traditional chiropractic adjustments and massage. She also explored Heller Healthcare’s branch of functional medicine which includes nutritional treatment.
Today, just a few months since Abundes first entered Heller’s doors, she is doing remarkably better. She is able to walk, using only a cane rather than a walker. And she’s able to enjoy time with her nine grandchildren instead of constantly focusing on her pain.
But that’s only the beginning, Heller says.
“We’re going to get her off of the cane too,” she said with a grin. “But she’s done really well. It’s so exciting for me to see her doing, so well so fast.”
While Abundes’ ability to walk and move has vastly improved, her outlook has also changed. It’s something that makes Heller smile.
“Now, she’s smiling and joking. She’s a completely different woman than the one who first came here,” she said.