Colorectal surgeons break new ground for women in medicine

Special to Florida Weekly

 Valerie Dyke, M.D. and Janette Gaw, M.D.  ROMAN DAVID GARAY / COURTESY PHOTO
Valerie Dyke, M.D. and Janette Gaw, M.D.

The job of a
surgeon can be time-consuming, filled with early morning surgeries,
emergency cases and late nights checking on patients, all while making important decisions that can impact patients for a lifetime.

Opening a practice without being part of a team adds even more to the mix, but for colorectal surgeon Valerie Dyke, M.D., there was no other

“I wanted to start my own group, because at that time, colorectal surgeons were establishing themselves as something separate from general
surgeons,” Dr. Dyke says. “I started the Colorectal Institute and I was
so overwhelmingly busy.”

Without anyone to fall back on, Dr. Dyke spent nights on her office couch and days adding patients to her practice. She treated everything
from irritable bowel syndrome to colon cancer, dividing her time between surgery in the hospital and regular office visits with patients. She
rarely went home.

“I needed a partner,” she says. She began calling program directors throughout the country until she landed on a program in Atlanta that
connected her with Janette Gaw, M.D. Dr. Dyke did not know Dr. Gaw except for the recommendations of other physicians, but she decided to
take a chance and offer her a position. Her goal was to get Dr. Gaw to leave her successful program in Atlanta and head south to join a
onephysician practice. The two women had several phone conversations before meeting in person.

“Our personalities meshed well,” Dr. Dyke says. “I knew it was a leap of faith on her part to join a new practice.”

Undeterred by the amount of work ahead, Dr. Gaw took the offer and moved to Fort Myers six months into the Colorectal Institute’s

“I knew there would be a lot of opportunities in Fort Myers,” Dr. Gaw says. “And Dr. Dyke seemed nice. You spend so much time working
together you want someone with a similar perspective.”

The two women don’t necessarily see themselves as pioneers, even though they work in a field that is dominated by men. It’s rare that a
woman would launch a surgical practice without partners to help shoulder the patient load.

“It was tough,” Dr. Dyke says. “But it was the right choice. I knew it was something positive for our community.”

More than eight years later, Dr. Gaw has no regrets. “We put in a lot of long hours, but our patients are so grateful,” she says. “We really
want to make a difference in their lives.”

Now, with experience and a large patient base, the practice continues to grow. Two more surgeons, Jeffrey Neale, M.D., and Nagesh Ravipati,
M.D., joined the practice in recent years. The four surgeons treat patients at the Colorectal Institute and at all four Lee Memorial Health
System Hospitals — Cape Coral Hospital, Gulf Coast Medical Center, HealthPark Medical Center and Lee Memorial Hospital.

In 2010, Dr. Gaw teamed up with her patient, Vera Owens, a colorectal cancer survivor, to form an annual charity run to benefit colorectal
patients who need financial help. The third annual Scope for Hope 5K Run/Walk is March 23 at Hammond Stadium. For more information, go to ¦


Helpful Advice For Preventing And Treating Hemorrhoids

Many adults will deal with hemorrhoids at some point.  Late in pregnancy, and also just after childbirth, is a time when women are apt to get hemorrhoids. Men and women can get hemorrhoids if they strain too much while they are constipated. The practical advice in this article offers several ways to avoid or treat this unpleasant condition.


For hemorrhoids that seem to be protruding outside your body,  try to gently nudge them back into the anus.  You want to make sure that the hemorrhoids aren’t too big though, because if they are, in doing so you may cause further damage.   Pushing hemorrhoids inside the anus also prevents your clothing from chafing against the hemorrhoids.    Make sure you have clean hands in order to keep bacteria from being introduced, which can cause inflammation.   BEST ADVICE:   Go see your doctor as soon as you can to receive treatment, because nudging hemorrhoids inside your body is only a trick that will help you slow down the progression of your condition.


Powdered myrrh and water can make a paste that will reduce hemorrhoid pain.   Mix a teaspoon of water with a teaspoon of myrrh to make a paste that is thick. Place the paste onto the hemorrhoids, and allow it to remain there for 30 minutes. You can purchase powdered myrrh at most any beauty and health store.


If you suffer from the discomforts that hemorrhoids cause, you may be able to find some relief.  Try sitting in a bath of sitz for 10 minutes, several times each day. You can also apply a cold compress to the affected area to get relief.


Steer clear of caffeinated beverages, as well as foods that are spicy and hot in nature. This is because these particular foods are capable of irritating your intestines. Spicy foods are notorious for the burning sensation that they can cause during bowel movements, so they should definitely be off-limits to those with hemorrhoids.


Avoiding scratching the area, as this can worsen the problem. One alternative to scratching is using a pad with a bit of witch hazel, apply this to the area to get some relief from the hemorrhoid itch. Also ensure that you are getting enough fiber in your diet, as well as the recommended eight cups of water per day.  This can help keep you from too much straining while having bowel movements.


Avoid reliance upon laxatives to alleviate constipation when your hemorrhoids are inflamed. Those products can only help with one movement, and do not address the root of the problem. Dietary changes are a better long term strategy to hemorrhoid management.


Consume fiber-rich foods, and drink plenty of water in order to soften feces. A softer stool is much easier to pass and involves less straining. Straining is the main cause of hemorrhoids. There are some fruits which are wonderful for softening your stool, and encouraging it to move. These include grapes, watermelon and papaya. Some vegetables, like okra and cabbage, are also good for helping the process along. Keeping yourself hydrated with plenty of water can also increase the effects.


As the above article has demonstrated, most people will have hemorrhoids sometime in their lifetime. Many of these people will repeatedly suffer with this problem.   It is possible to prevent the development of painful, swollen hemorrhoids by eating right, exercising, and employing other helpful methods and techniques.    The Bottom Line however is there is absolutely zero need to suffer, as hemorrhoids are a treatable ailment that THE COLORECTAL INSTITUTE can help you with.



Fight Back Against Your Hemorrhoids and Win

If the Internet has been your research tool of choice regarding hemorrhoids, look no further.  It is easy to imagine that you are in dire need of practical, effective advice.   The advice contained in this article will offer some practical tips about treating your hemorrhoids, but the best advice we can have is to schedule an appointment to be seen by one of our board certified colorectal doctors at THE COLORECTAL INSTITUTE.


One the easiest and best ways to lessen the risk of hemorrhoids is to get plenty of water in your diet. Be sure that you drink eight tall glasses of water at a minimum, as well as other nourishing beverages every day to keep from becoming constipated.    Drinking plenty of water is a must for those with a history of hemorrhoids.  Maintaining  your hydration equates to having easier bowel movements.  Also, you need to limit the consumption of both caffeine products and alcohol.



If you think you have hemorrhoids, please understand it is VERY IMPORTANT to be seen by your doctor.  As Lee County’s only Board Certified Colorectal surgeons, many of our patients that come in believing they only have a case of hemorrhoids, many times have some other disease of the colon and rectum that if left untreated may rapidly become life threatening.   EARLY DETECTION of Colon Cancer is therefore your best defense at beating it!    Most individuals have trouble discerning the difference between hemorrhoids and colon polyps, therefore if you have any growth, rectal bleeding, or change in bowel habits, we advise you schedule a quick check-up with one of our physicians to accurately diagnose what may be causing your symptoms.


Getting enough vitamins and supplements daily will assist you in managing hemorrhoids, over the years. If your diet is less than ideal, a supplement and/or vitamin will ensure that your body receives needed nutrients.


Avoid sitting on the toilet if you have the urge to go. Waiting on the toilet puts on unnecessary pressure on your lower body.   Gravity can also worsen hemorrhoids, so ensure that you are ready to go before you sit on the toilet.


It is vital to keep the area with hemorrhoids clean. Use moist wipes to clean up instead of toilet paper. You can also try out a sitz bath. Taking a lukewarm bath will help to relieve the pain, itching and swelling that usually accompany hemorrhoid flare-ups.   About 20 minutes of soaking should provide some relief.


For hemorrhoids that seem to be protruding outside your body, try to gently nudge them back where they belong. You should wash your hands thoroughly before trying this to avoid introducing bacteria into the area and increasing your inflammation.    However, if you have protruding hemorrhoids we advise you to see a doctor for this very common and treatable condition.


Squatting while passing stool will make the process easier and avoid flare-ups. While it may feel a little unnatural at first, by squatting, instead of sitting, hemorrhoid pain can be avoided.


Making sure your body has enough fiber is a great way to relieve any hemorrhoid pain. This is vital because when you don’t consume foods with fiber, you end up having hard stools and a deficiency in important nutrients. Therefore, you may want to consider taking some fiber supplements, like psyllium husks or linseed.


To soften stools, drink plenty of water and eat high fiber foods. Softening your stool is important because it will cause less strain when you are having a bowel movement, which will relieve some of the pain that is associated with hemorrhoids. Papaya, grapes and watermelon are all great examples of food that helps you to soften your stool. Fibrous vegetables also are beneficial, including okra or cabbage. You want to stay hydrated as well, so make sure you drink a lot of water throughout your day.


You may have checked many places for advice on how to best treat your painful hemorrhoids. We are glad that you chose to read this article. Use the ideas we have provided here, and you should find yourself feeling better, yet please take not that consulting with us in person is the best way to treat your hemorrhoids, and for you to make sure that you do not have something more serious going on.