STORIES FROM THE HEART: Pregnancy masked her heart failure; now she helps warn others about heart disease

When Jill Russell started feeling chest pains late in her pregnancy, her doctor offered a simple explanation. It was probably just anxiety over the arrival of her daughter.

Relax, she was told.

Jill figured that made sense. After all, before becoming pregnant, she was the epitome of good health – at 29, she’d always been active and had no family history of heart disease or high blood pressure. Her pregnancy had been relatively symptom-free, too, except for some recent swelling.

Sure enough, the pressure subsided after a few hours. Yet Jill spent the final two weeks of her pregnancy feeling very uncomfortable. The swelling was worse, especially in her legs and feet, and they hurt. Her delivery turned problematic, too. While her daughter was fine, Jill hemorrhaged and needed additional intravenous fluids. (more…)

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Learning to Love Yourself by Becoming Someone Else

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Photo by Jack Montgomery

“We’re all born naked, the rest is drag.” – Rupaul

I am a drag king, meaning I was assigned female at birth and take on a male persona in my performance. In addition to being fun and making me money, becoming another character for a night helps me to better appreciate being myself. (more…)


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Elder Care & Elder Rage: Know the Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s

Jacqueline Marcell 1.20MB 1920x2560 - CopyFor eleven years I pleaded with my ‘challenging’ elderly father to allow a caregiver to help him with my ailing mother, but he always insisted on taking care of her himself. Every caregiver I went ahead and hired soon sighed in exasperation, ‘Jacqueline, I just can’t work with your father. His temper is impossible to handle and I don’t think he’ll accept help until he’s on his knees himself.’ (more…)

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Supporting Families in Milk Sharing as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant

As an Intebreastfeeding authorrnational Board Certified Lactation Consultant, I have, first and foremost, an ethical obligation to provide evidence-based information to my clients to support their breastfeeding relationship. Every day, for a variety of reasons, I encounter and encourage families who need to supplement their baby’s nutrition with something other than milk directly from the mother’s breast. Today, they have many options: pump and feed their own milk, supplement with some sort of donor milk, milk-based formulas, soy-based formulas, pre-digested formulas . . . lots of options, lots of questions, lots of opportunities for parents to be confused. (more…)

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Protecting Your Health: Access to Health Insurance and Medical Decision-Making in Divorces

pictureGoing through a divorce can be unpleasant and stressful even under the most amicable situations.  The obvious issues that need to be dealt with, such as custody, spousal support, or child support, are rarely overlooked.  However, there are several areas of your health rights that are impacted by a divorce that are frequently not considered.  Knowing your rights and being prepared for the issues is the first step to taking control of and protecting your health.

Health Insurance in Divorce

With all the issues that arise during a separation, it is easy to forget about health insurance.  If at all possible, a spouse should try to get an agreement or court order requiring that the health insurance status quo be preserved – meaning that neither spouse nor the children’s health insurance will be affected during the pendency of the proceeding.

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Say “I will,” not “I’ll try”

Deborah DiSanzo 2photo 29nov12A few weeks ago, I attended a workshop alongside 30 marketing professionals from Philips Healthcare.  After a few breakout sessions, it dawned on me: This team does not believe in themselves.  We were encouraging them to lead and inspire their teams to make a difference as a goal of this workshop; however they seemed to lack confidence in their own abilities. They did not feel empowered to make decisions based on their own experiences and instincts. (more…)

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How to Use Your Nursing Skills in a Volunteer Activity

beth-sager-bio-photo (1)- drexelMost people who decide to become a nurse do so because they want to help people. Nursing is an honorable profession, but what about your free time? As a nurse, you can use your medical skills and abilities to help those who need it the most by volunteering. (more…)

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Beneath the Surface: The Scleroderma Project

christy mccaffery

In September of 2009 I lost my mom to a disease called Scleroderma. It quickly and aggressively took my mom from my family and we lost her just a few short months after being diagnosed with a disease we never knew existed.  In my search for answers, I was led to a wealth of information about Scleroderma from patients and doctors. I quickly realized that while hundreds of thousands of patients suffer from Scleroderma, the majority of people have never heard of the disease.

(more…)

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Health Care Innovation in the Style of Gov 2.0

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From medical apps, to check-in kiosks at the doctor’s office, to telemonitoring- it is clear that innovation is changing the way health care is received and practiced. DW recently sat down with Medical Officer and Chief Strategist for Innovation in the Division of Science and Innovation, Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, Dr. Rebecca Coelius, to talk about how the government is supporting innovation. (more…)

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Develop a Coaching Culture

“I know I blow up and get angry. I am protective about my patients and the physicians in my department and I can’t help myself.”

Dr. Leonard was one of my coaching clients, a surgeon who had left a trail of destruction by his combative style everywhere – the operating room, staff meetings and medical executive meetings.

“I’m a leader in my surgical specialty. People expect me to be forceful.”

I asked, “What do you look for in a good leader?”

“I want someone who listens to me, who looks at all options without stuffing his solution down my throat. I want someone who is calm, thoughtful and . . .”

After a long pause I heard “Oh.” (more…)

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Stripping our masks: Redefining attractiveness and questioning social pressure to wear makeup

Jenkins picMy memories of childhood are fragmented, mixed up, and often hazy.  But there are few memories that stand out with particular force.  One of those is of a woman I barely knew, the mother of two of the neighborhood kids in our fresh-from-the-cornfield suburban development in Yardley, Pennsylvania.

Like many of the women in that time and neighborhood, she was a stay-at-home mom, who made sure her two strikingly blonde boys left the house with unwrinkled shirts every morning, and that the hardwood floors gleamed when her husband came back from work.  None of this made her remarkable to me.  It was, instead, a comment she made to a group of women at a neighborhood barbeque one night:  “My husband has never seen me without makeup.” (more…)

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A perspective on true dignity: A response to Vermont Patient Choice and Control at End of Life Act

Physician aid-in-dying, aCarrie Handyka physician assisted suicide, has been debated in many articles over the past 10 years.  It is often enlightening to read the online comments that frequently follow such stories. A common theme is that we opponents are heartless zealots who don’t appreciate the suffering of others. A sample comment: “Obviously they’ve never been with a dying patient, or they would feel differently.  I saw my parent die a painful death, a death I wouldn’t wish on a dog! I want this option so I can avoid the same pain and suffering!”

I would never minimize the emotion, fear and sincerity inherent in such comments. But, rather than being callous toward suffering, we who oppose prescription death are concerned with the great suffering that may occur as a result of legal assisted suicide.

Vermont recently became the third state to enact “right-to-die” legislation, following Washington and Oregon. However, good law has little or no negative unintended consequences.  (more…)

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Green space for healthier cities

When it comes to maintaining respiratory health, living in an environment with good air quality is clearly an important factor. In many urban areas inhabited by low-income populations, this clean air is nowhere to be found. Having green space within a city can play a significant role in reducing air pollution as well as mitigating the dangerous urban heat island effect. The need for green space is often recognized in more affluent parts of a city, while low-income areas are neglected. When these less affluent communities are overlooked, there can be serious health consequences such as the extreme disparity in negative asthma outcomes in the black and Hispanic children who inhabit these neglected areas.  In this article, Planet Forward and the National Society of Landscape Architects examine the benefits that parks can have for the health and prosperity of low-income urban communities. (more…)

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Asthma Disparities series: How technology can bridge the gap

Kenneth Eisner

Kenneth Eisner

Ivor B. Horn, MD, MPH

Ivor B. Horn, MD, MPH

By Ivor Horn, MD, MPH and Kenneth Eisner. Asthma is the most common chronic pediatric medical condition in the United States.  Its prevalence has tripled in the last three decades with disadvantaged, urban, minority children incurring a disproportionate share: 12.8% of African American children are diagnosed with asthma compared to 7.9% of Whites, and African American children are nearly seven times more likely to die from asthma than Whites. Additionally, African Americans use emergency departments more frequently, incurring higher healthcare costs. (more…)

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Ronnie’s Story: A son’s mysterious illness

Lamar and Ronnie TylerBy Ronnie and Lamar Tyler. I remember when my son was first diagnosed with asthma. I was a single mom living over 600 miles away from my family and friends. He was in the 2nd or 3rd grade, and it seemed like he was always getting sick.

The nurse would call me at work and say, “Please come pick up your son. He has a low grade fever and he threw up on the playground.” Of course any child who throws up at school has to go home. So, I had to leave work to pick him up (it took about 30 to 45 minutes to get to his school). When I picked him up and took him home he was fine. (more…)

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