Surgeons Share Sons of Joy – Times Three

There’s a language they all three understand when they are in the operating room performing surgery for hip and knee replacements. It’s a glossary that has become part of their every day vocabulary.

But outside the hospital setting, three surgeons at IU Health Saxony have another frame of reference. It’s not unusual for conversations to include words and phrases like “sit up,” “crawl,” “sleep” and “eat.”

Doctors R. Michael Meneghini, orthopedic surgeon and director of joint replacement and orthopedics at IU Health Saxony, Khalid Azzam, orthopedic surgeon, and Lucian Warth, orthopedic surgeon all welcomed sons into their families in 2017.

“When you’re a busy orthopedic surgeon, you need to take time for your family and always take care of mom. Our wives are the VIP of the family,” said Dr. Meneghini, 45, who is married to Sarah. Dr. Meneghini welcomed his fifth child, Mario, four months ago. Mario joins siblings ages 15, 13, three and two.

“Balance is difficult.  I cannot claim to be an expert yet by any means,” said Dr. Warth, 35. He and his wife, Melissa, welcomed their third child, Connor, four months ago. He joins siblings ages five and two. “My wife and I work on communicating our frustrations and trying to carve out time for each other and individually for each child. It’s important to communicate with your partner about expectations and home/work balance.  You will both start with different sets of expectations, and being able to adjust and compromise to meet each other’s expectations will make life a lot easier.”

The dads share their advice freely with new father Dr. Azzam, who welcomed his first child, Adam 11 months ago. He and his wife Annie have been married since May of 2015.

“He’s a mini me,” said Azzam, proudly holding up his firstborn. “He’s changed my life 180 degrees but it’s very satisfying. It is amazing to see how fast he has grown in such a short time period– we go from one milestone to another.”

What does he have to look forward to?

“Every child is different,” said Meneghini. “Mario is very laid back and I think with each child, we get more laid back as parents.”

— By T.J. Banes, Associate Senior Journalist at IU Health.
   Reach Banes via email at
 T.J. Banes or on Twitter @tjbanes.

Can Gel Manicures Make You Sick?

Gel manicures have become all the rage in nail salons over the last decade—they last for weeks and look as shiny as the shellac on a brand-new car. But these glamorous results can come with potential health risks. “There are certain steps you should take to make sure they don’t harm you,” says Chris Adigun, MD, a dermatologist and spokesperson for the American Academy of Dermatology.

The main concern, says Dr. Adigun, is with the lamps used to harden the gel polish and bind it to the nail. “The lamps emit short bursts of high-intensity UVA light, which is about four times the amount of UVA you get from the sun in the same time,” she says. While gel manicures have not been around long enough to assess the long-term damage from such high concentrations of UVA light, we do know that UVA rays damage the skin and penetrate the DNA, raising an individual’s risk for skin cancer and causing cosmetic sun damage, such as wrinkling and dark spots. The damage is also cumulative, so the more frequently you get the manicures, the more harm they may do to your skin. Dr. Adigun points out that while many salons claim they use “safer” LED lamps, those lamps actually emit twice the amount of UVA as older fluorescent ones.

Once you’re done with your manicure, there’s another risk: To remove the gel, you need to soak your nails in an acetone bath for about 15 minutes. “Acetone is the most desiccating chemical you can expose your nails to, and it makes them very brittle,” Dr. Adigun explains. Plus, if your nails were under the UV lamp a little too long, your manicurist may have to scrape the gel off in addition to the acetone; if done too vigorously, this can damage the nail even more. Trying to pick the polish off yourself can also cause the same kind of trauma to the nail. To get the safest experience in a nail salon, Dr. Adigun recommends these precautions:

  • Shield your hands under the lamp: A cream or spray-on sunblock can interfere with the manicure and may not even protect against such strong rays, says Dr. Adigun. Instead, she recommends buying UVA-protectant fingerless gloves (available online) and wearing them during your gel manicures—or simply snip the fingers off a pair of dark, opaque gloves to block harmful rays.
  • Rehydrate after acetone: To keep nails from becoming brittle, coat them with an intense hydrating cream such as petroleum jelly immediately after the gel is removed.
  • Give your fingers a break. Let your nails go bare for a week or two in between gel manicures to let them recover and become less brittle. By stretching out time between gel manicures, you will also be lowering your cumulative amount of UV exposure.

Nearly 30 Years As Methodist Nurse: She’s Witnessed Unforgettable Moments

The hospital is abuzz – doctors and nurses, patients and techs whisking by in a blur — when Sheila Zielinski seems to stop.

She stops to think about the question she was just asked.

Is there a patient that really stands out in her three decades of nursing? A patient that impacted her, that stuck with her?

Zielinski, of course, cannot answer that. There is no way. She has so many stories, so many patients. So many awesome, inspiring, unforgettable, heart wrenching, joyful moments she’s witnessed.

So many patients she cannot and will not ever forget. They all stand out, every single one of them.

“I just love patient care,” says Zielinski, a nurse practitioner, who came to IU Health Methodist in 1989. “They count on you. They trust you.”

And Zielinski has been there for all of them.

In her 28 years at Methodist, Zielinski has stood out as a nurse who has that something special. She says the key to being successful in her career is determination and hard work.

“And keep learning because there is so much to learn. You can never know everything you need to know,” says Zielinski, a married mother of four grown children. “Get good at your skill, your craft. Some of it is science. Some of it is art.”


Zielinski grew up in Kenney Ill., a small farm town of about 400 people. It was one of those tiny dots on a map marked by a stop sign – and that’s about it.

Her dad was a factory worker and her mom stayed home. Zielinski did something else. She dreamed about going to college.

In those days, in her town, young women usually veered toward three careers — becoming a nurse, a teacher or a secretary. Zielinski really liked science, so she decided on nursing.

When she headed off to Bradley College in Peoria, Ill., Zielinski became the first in her family to go to college.

When she graduated, nurses were still wearing the white uniforms, the white hose and those nursing caps propped atop their heads.

After six years working as a nurse in Kansas, Zielinski came to Methodist in 1989 to work in the emergency department as a clinical nurse specialist. Things were so different than they are today.

“Everything was a paper chart,” she says. “We used to have a metal rack and when a patient would come in, triage would have to put their sheet in the rack. Doctors would pull the next person’s chart off a metal rack.”

But as Methodist’s ED evolved in the past three decades, Zielinski was right there with it.

After going back to school to get a degree as a nurse practitioner in 1995, Zielinski made a major impact in the emergency department and the hospital — coordinating the nurse practitioner team and the rapid assessment team, all the while still caring for the sickest of patients.

In 2005, she moved to the intensive care unit. But she continued – until this summer — to work some of her days off in the ED.

It was so hard to leave the department. She loved her coworkers.

But Zielinski has another medical mission on the side that keeps her busy.


It was 1997 when Zielinski first went to Haiti with her church, St. Malachy Catholic Church in Brownsburg. 

There was a medical need in Port-Margot, a rural town of nearly 50,000. It didn’t have a medical facility, so a mission was formed. Zielinski would go with a team to treat patients as a nurse practitioner.

“And then we just kept going out of necessity,” Zielinski says, “because we realized there were so many people that didn’t have healthcare.”

Zielinski has been back to Port-Margot dozens of times in the past 20 years.

The clinic, which has grown from a makeshift mobile unit to a two-story medical building, with a doctor, a dentist, an obstetrician and nurses on staff , serves the entire town.

Zielinski helps care for patients of all ages, from babies to elderly. People will show up hours before the clinic opens, having walked barefoot for miles, to sit and wait for hours to be seen.

Family members will carry loved ones in their arms. They are so appreciative of the care, Zielinski says.

And it’s rewarding to be able to help them, she says. Just like it is rewarding to come to Methodist each day and witness the remarkable patient stories here.

— By Dana Benbow, Senior Journalist at IU Health.

   Reach Benbow via email or on Twitter @danabenbow.

Nurse, Mother:  “Cancer Has Taught Me To Live To The Fullest”

Defying the odds.

That’s how some people see the strength of Kortney Arnold, 27. The Jeffersonville resident came to IU Health Simon Cancer Center following a treatment plan by Dr. Jose Azar. She was pursuing an associate degree in nursing when she started having symptoms that were eventually diagnosed as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

“My cancer was in my salivary glands. I had chronic inflammation and infection, lots of pain,” said Arnold. Surgery followed to remove cancerous cells from first the left side and then the right side of her throat.  

Dr. Azar recommended immune therapy, and a few months later she began chemotherapy. “He said there was a good chance I’d lose my fertility. We had no children at the time,” said Arnold, who married her husband Mike at the end of 2010.  But she defied the odds.

She was visiting a fertility specialist when she learned she was pregnant with their first child. Daughter Kizely was born in November of 2012. But their family wasn’t yet complete.

Arnold again defied the odds.

“After Kizley was born I did chemo for a few months, lost all my hair and Dr. Azar said I probably wouldn’t get pregnant again so we were foregoing birth control,” said Arnold. “I was having menopause-like symptoms when I found out I was pregnant with our second daughter, Kuinlynn.”

A year later, she obtained a bachelor’s degree in nursing. In August of 2015 she again defied the odds. Their son, Korcen, was born.

Arnold pursued her nursing career in ER before returning to school for a master’s degree. In May she became a nurse practitioner working in Louisville and specializing in anti-aging and wellness.

Arnold’s first encounter with IU Health was at the age of 13 when she underwent surgery at Riley Hospital for Children, to correct a birth defect. The operation, known as Ladd procedure involved correcting an abnormality in her intestine. Two years later, at the age of 15, Arnold was diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disease that affects the entire body, attacking glands that produce tears and saliva.

“The care here has been beyond anything I could expect,” said Arnold. “Dr. Azar is amazing. He also teaches me. When I was first diagnosed, he did an amazing job of acknowledging my level of knowledge and explaining the process in a way that satisfied my need for specific medical information.”

Arnold recognizes the strides she’s made – the odds she’s defied – even as she faces ongoing treatment.

“I have good days and bad days but I try to remain positive,” said Arnold. “I know it could always be worse. What keeps me going are my kids and my family. When people ask me what it’s like to have cancer, I tell them in a sense I feel blessed because cancer has taught me to live life to the fullest. You aren’t guaranteed a future. The future is now.”

— By T.J. Banes, Associate Senior Journalist at IU Health.
   Reach Banes via email at
 T.J. Banes or on Twitter @tjbanes.

Heroes Foundation Warrior Champions Cancer Cause

She stood toe-to-toe with cancer long before she joined an Army going into battle in support of others. Janet Campbell Baker was 15 when she first encountered the giant.  Her father Hayward Campbell, Jr., PhD, a senior bacteriologist, had just been named vice president of research for Eli Lilly in 1976. Two years later, in October of 1978 he died of cancer at the age of 44.

“Because of his role with Lilly he was required to have a physical every year. It was during that physical, in the midst of an overseas assignment, that lung cancer was discovered,” said Baker, 54.

Like her father, Baker’s cancer was first discovered during an annual exam. In the fall of 2010, during a routine mammogram, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Surgery and immunotherapy followed.

“After five years of hormone therapy I was declared cancer clear, but then in late June – totally unrelated, just unlucky – I was diagnosed with colon cancer,” said Baker, the mother of a high school senior.  She was feeling fatigue and had an ongoing cough. Her first suspicion was a reoccurrence of the breast cancer, but a colonoscopy revealed a tumor. She underwent surgery; IU Health oncologist Dr. Paul R. Helft manages her treatment plan.

Three years ago, Baker joined the board of the Heroes Foundation, an organization started by Vince Todd Jr., who at age 26 was fighting his own battle with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The focus of the public charity is to provide meaningful support to cancer patients, education to promote cancer prevention, and resources to advance research for a cure.

The Heroes Foundation is a supporting partner of the IU Health Simon Cancer Resource Center that provides patient advocacy and assistance programs. Through the assistance of the Heroes Foundation, patients, families and caregivers at IU Simon Cancer Center are able to share dinner, conversation and comfort during a First Monday Support Group at the cancer center.

Founded in 2001, the Heroes Foundation continually grew to include new programs and initiatives focused on the needs of people living with cancer. The staff also grew and last year Baker was named the manager of development. She brought with her a background that includes serving as vice president of external relations for The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. She also worked for The Indianapolis Star and the Indiana Sports Corporation. Beyond her professional credentials, she brought with her personal experience living with cancer.

“What does it mean to work with the Heroes Foundation and live it?  I was living as a survivor when I was on the board but this new diagnosis of colon cancer gives me more of a personal connection to the cause,” said Baker. “To be diagnosed not once but twice and see that it not only touches my life but so many others gives you a passion for what you are doing. They say with your job, live your passion. My experience makes me close to the cause and passionate about the work we are doing. To be a patient and to know what the Heroes Foundation is doing – helping people going through cancer, and also supporting doctors and researchers who are spending their lives trying to find a cure – is very personal.”

In part, Baker’s passion is fueled by her belief in self-advocacy. During her time at The Children’s Museum, incredibly, three of her direct reports were diagnosed with breast cancer.

When she meets people who are newly diagnosed, Baker tells them to be a personal advocate for their health. “I learned from one of my dear colleagues who battled cancer that you have to exhaust all avenues for information about your health. I think too often people are turned off by their diagnosis so they run away or they take the doctor’s advice as the only solution. It may be the only solution but it’s always good to get another opinion, ask questions, and do research.”

That’s how she became a patient at IU Health.

“I knew through my work with the Heroes Foundation that I needed to be close to the research and teaching. I needed to be close to cutting edge healthcare,” said Baker. 

“Dr. Helft is phenomenal. I knew when I met him that I had an oncologist who was going to treat me using the most current information and knowledge and give me the most up-to-date and compassionate care possible.”

— By T.J. Banes, Associate Senior Journalist at IU Health.
   Reach Banes via email at
 T.J. Banes or on Twitter @tjbanes.

13-Year-Old Girl Has New Life After Two Hip Replacements

The pain was waking Emma Wicker up in the middle of the night. She would be in a deep sleep one minute and writhing and screaming in pain the next.

Those were the screams that have woken Stacey Wicker up for years.

Those were the worst sounds — her little girl so desperate to relieve the agony. Her daughter begging to go to the hospital, to do something, to do anything to make it go away.

But on this day in November, Emma is quiet. She is inside IU Health Saxony Hospital just minutes from a hip replacement surgery that will rid her 13-year-old body of that awful pain.

She will be under the expert hands of R. Michael Meneghini, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon with IU Health.

He will be doing a surgery that is common, but that is extremely rare for a 13-year-old. Emma is one of just three patients her age or younger — out of 1,000 patients – to have hip replacement surgery in the past six years.

And it’s not a new thing. Not for Emma. Not for Meneghini. These two have been together before.

In March, she had her left hip replaced as a 12-year-old. This surgery will replace Emma’s right hip. 

And hopefully – with this one — all that pain will dissipate. Hopefully, those screams in the night will fade.

“I can’t even imagine what she’s been going through,” says Stacey. “The pain she has been in.”


Emma has Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, a childhood condition that affects the hip. With the condition, blood supply is temporarily interrupted to the ball part of the hip joint. 

The bone then begins to die, due to the lack of blood flow, so it breaks more easily and heals poorly. And it hurts.

How Emma gets through the pain, she “just bears with it.” There’s nothing she can do to make it better, she says.

Emma says those words without flinching. She is mature for her age. She smiles sweetly when asked if she is nervous to be going into surgery this day. Maybe a little nervous, she says.

But this has been Emma’s life, growing up in Lafayette, Ind. It’s her tenth surgery. Any procedure Stacey watches her daughter go through is tough. The first one happened when Emma was just six years old.

Emma was complaining of knee and ankle pain. Stacey noticed that when Emma walked, her foot was turning in.

Stacey thought that seemed odd. So she called a family friend, a chiropractor. After X-rays, he told Stacey he thought Emma had Legg-Calve-Perthes.

“And I said, ‘What? No way?’” Stacey says.

She was familiar with that diagnosis. Emma’s dad, Carlos, has the same condition. He was diagnosed much later, at age 14, after he fell from the top of a curly slide.

Doctors thought his pain was from that trauma, but soon found it wasn’t. In his 20s, Carlos had his own hip replacement.

For Emma, the condition has consumed her life. She has had to miss school. She hasn’t been able to run and dance freely.

“The femur where your hip is, that just pretty much disintegrates and your body absorbs the old bone and then you kind of regrow back a newer one,” Stacey says. “But it takes a few years to go through the whole process.”

And Emma’s didn’t grow back in a good way. Her ball joints on both hips grew back flat and jagged looking. And she had to walk on that.

“Even though you don’t see it on the outside of the body,” Stacey says. “She feels it.”

Emma has made the best of it. She loves her dog Harlee, a schnauzer poodle mix. She loves crafts.

One Christmas, she took socks and filled them with rice, put faces on them like snowmen and gave them to all her aunts and uncles.

“It was so sweet,” Stacey says. “She is so sweet.”


The anesthesiologist walks in. He wants to discuss pain control. He tells her what he will do to ease the pain after surgery.

There will be a breathing tube like last time, he tells her. 

“And I know you want to go to sleep with the mask. We can do that. It’s no big deal at all,” he says. “We will put the IV in after you’re asleep. You will wake up in this bed and we’ll take the breathing tube out as you’re starting to wake up.”

Stacey signs the consent form. Emma looks more nervous. But she’s not saying it.

“Alright, I’ll see you back there in a minute,” the anesthesiologist says.

It’s time for Emma to leave for surgery. A nurse comes in to take her to the operating room.

“Are you ready for that new hip?” Stacey asks her daughter. “Are you going to do cartwheels out of here?” She hugs Emma and kisses her.

“We will take very good care of her, mom,” the nurse says. Stacey nods. Now, for the wait.


Inside the operating room, the prep begins. Dr. Meneghini will be using the smallest size hip replacement made for Emma’s surgery.  

He talks about how rare it is to be replacing a second hip on a young girl.

“She’s a great kid,” he says. A tough kid. The surgery begins. It lasts less than two hours from start to finish.

As Dr. Meneghini pulls out the ball of Emma’s old hip, he holds it up. It’s flat.

“That can’t feel good to walk on. Look at that,” he says. “Normally, it’s a ball. She is walking on a pancake.”

As he’s stitching Emma up, Dr. Meneghini asks to have Stacey put in a conference room. The surgery is over.

“All done,” he says, as he walks into the small room where Stacey is sitting. “No problems at all. It went great.”

“Awesome,” Stacey says, a look of relief spreading across her face.

“It was bad, like we knew it was,” Dr. Meneghini says. “It was flat as a pancake just like the other side was. But she did great. Now her legs are equal. She will be very happy.”

Stacey is sure of that. She is sure Emma will be thrilled to be living without that pain.

“Thank you so much,” she says to Dr. Meneghini.

“You’re very welcome. Happy to do it,” he says. “From the first time we met, I remember, it was a tough situation from the very beginning. But she’s done great.”

— By Dana Benbow, Senior Journalist at IU Health.

   Reach Benbow via email or on Twitter @danabenbow.