Denise Foley

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Blindness Hasn't Robbed Accomplished Sculptor of Her Creative Vision

Posted by Denise Foley on Sep 20, 2016 1:40:13 PM

The first thing you notice about Betsy Clayton’s house in Dresher are the gardens. Even in the midst of an August heat wave, they’re lush with blooms: golden black-eyed Susans, dancing pink cleomes and purple loosestrife, and a spectacular white tree hydrangea thick with immense cone-shaped flower heads. She does it all herself, though a teenaged grandson helps with some of the harder chores, like pruning.

The garden extends from the front to the back of her house in Philadelphia’s Montgomery County suburbs, where it’s framed by a wall of windows in her family room like an immense mural—a mural she can’t see.

At the age of 30, with eight children, Clayton learned that she was going blind. She has a genetic, early-onset form of macular degeneration, an incurable eye disease that leads to the deterioration of the macula, a small, central part of the retina that controls visual sharpness in the center of the eye. She still has some peripheral vision, but the disease has already robbed her sister, Carol Saylor, of most of her sight.

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Topics: All About Art

All About Art: Pain Informs a Noted Painter-Printmaker's Unique View of the World

Posted by Denise Foley on Sep 14, 2016 1:53:17 PM

Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, who struggled all her life with the aftereffects of physical trauma—childhood polio and  a near-fatal bus accident that shattered her pelvis and broke her spinal column—once wrote, “I’ve done my paintings well. . . and they have a message of pain in them.”

Pain is not quite as in evidence in the works of noted Philadelphia painter and printmaker Gerard “Jerry” Di Falco, except in the quartet of assemblages on wood he calls, “Pain.” The painted and gilded animal skulls and bones—and a seed pod resembling a twisted spine—hang in the ninth floor Cherry Street apartment in Philadelphia that he shares with partner of 26 years, Ron Funk.

Di Falco, whose work is displayed in dozens of museums and private collections around the world, has been in almost constant pain for the past 35 years, the result of degenerative disk disease, including multiple herniations, scoliosis, and stenosis. He also has reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome (RSDS), sometimes called complex regional pain syndrome, a rare disorder in which the nervous system sends punishing nerve impulses to parts of the body, often the extremities, causing burning pain, touch and temperature sensitivity and muscle weakness. 

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Topics: MossRehab, All About Art

Nathan's Legacy: Raising Tay-Sachs Awareness Among People of Irish Heritage

Posted by Denise Foley on Mar 2, 2016 10:38:08 AM

Twins Jacob Nathan and Ryland Nathan Harney were smaller than the average sack of sugar when they were born at 33 weeks on December 17 last year. But they were healthy: Ten fingers and 10 toes each, healthy wails, and, most important, no wayward gene mutation of the type that cost their older brother Nathan his life when he was only 4.

Nathan Harney, the first child of Aaron and Kathryn Harney of Downingtown, was diagnosed at 14 months with Tay-Sachs Disease, a rare and lethal inherited neurological disorder largely associated with Ashkenazi (central or eastern European) Jews. But the Harneys aren’t Jewish. Kathryn Harney is Irish and German, her husband, Irish and Italian. But through their work with a researcher at Einstein Healthcare Network, they—and Nathan—have become the new face of a devastating disease that seems to also single out the Irish and people with French Canadian ancestry. (It’s also more common in groups where there’s more intermarriage, like the Amish.)

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Topics: Tay-Sachs

Peripheral Arterial Disease: The Most Dangerous Disease You Never Heard Of

Posted by Denise Foley on Feb 2, 2016 4:43:19 PM

You walk up a flight of stairs or down the driveway to get the mail, and your legs are screaming with pain as though you’d just climbed Mt. McKinley. After a few minutes rest, however, you’re feeling as good as new.

You blame it on muscle stiffness, just another of the indignities of age, along with the ache in your arms when you raise them to wash your hair and the unremitting cold feeling in your fingers.

What you don’t consider is cardiovascular disease.

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Topics: Heart and Vascular

How to Tilt the Scales in Favor of Emotional Strength and Stability Following Bariatric Surgery Weight Loss

Posted by Denise Foley on Dec 31, 2015 2:22:38 PM

Alfred Trang, MD, and Ann M. Whitehouse, PsyD

When Einstein bariatric surgeon Alfred Trang, MD, tells his patients that they’re going to have to see a psychologist before they have weight loss surgery, he quickly short-circuits their protests. “I tell them ‘it’s not because we think you’re crazy,’” he says. “’It’s to help you deal with issues afterwards that no one expects.’”

Your body isn’t the only thing that changes after weight loss surgery. While the after-effects are largely positive—you’ll be buying smaller clothes, fitting into an airplane seat with room to spare, saying goodbye to chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension—you also may be facing some emotional challenges post-op, says Dr. Trang, who has been doing bariatric surgery for eight and a half years, performing thousands of surgeries.

At Einstein, the psychologist you’re likely to see is Ann M. Whitehouse, PsyD., Einstein Behavioral Health. “Having weight loss surgery is a little like having a baby,” explains Whitehouse. “You can’t always anticipate every little thing. It’s like reinventing yourself. It can affect all your relationships. Some people are very surprised at some of the feelings they have.”

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Topics: Bariatrics

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About this blog

Perspectives highlights the expertise and services provided by the physicians, specialists, nurses and other healthcare providers at Einstein Healthcare Network. Through this blog, we share information about new treatments and technologies, top-tier clinical teams and the day-to-day interactions that reinforce our commitment to delivering quality care with compassion. Here, you will also find practical advice for championing your health and wellness.

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