A blogging challenge: 15 random facts about me

26 Jul

totally-random

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

And now for something completely different . . . My blogging sisters Marie Ennis-O’Connor (Ireland) and Nancy Stordahl (Wisconsin, USA) inspired me recently to follow their blogging challenge called “15 Random Facts About Me”.  Because I’d really enjoyed learning random gems about both Marie and Nancy  (after admiring their work for years), I was happy to take up their fun challenge:  Continue reading

Do you want the truth, or do you want “Fine, thank you”?

17 Jul

Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

One beautiful afternoon last fall, I was walking my daughter home from her downtown office at the end of her workday. I love these mother-daughter walks of ours. We used to do them quite often (before Larissa recently delivered my darling grandbaby Everly Rose and started her extended maternity leave).

She’d phone me just as she was about to leave work, and we’d each start walking from opposite ends of Rockland Avenue (a long leafy ramble that starts downtown near her office and finishes up near our respective homes in Oak Bay Village). We’d meet up about halfway to walk the rest of the way home together. In this fashion, we each got an hour’s brisk walk into our day, but best of all, we got to chat all the way home.

But this one afternoon, while we were walking along Rockland, I felt the familiar yet ominous crush of chest pain as we walked, that frightening kind of angina that seems to get worse with every step.  After trying my best to ignore these symptoms at first, I finally had to stop her while she was in mid-sentence, fishing in my bag for nitro spray as I lurched towards a nearby stone bench to sit down. Continue reading

When you’re the adult child of a heart patient

12 Jul

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

My Dad died of cancer at age 62, my mother decades later from a stroke following years of increasing dementia. So I have some experience being the adult daughter of a parent diagnosed with a life-altering medical condition.  And I’ve also seen the faces of my own grown children right after they flew home to be with me right after my heart attack.  Honestly, I don’t know which felt worse . . .

The majority of heart patients in North America have adult children.  And when heart disease strikes, it can affect not only the patient, but the immediate family of that patient.  If one of your parents has a cardiac event, as psychologist Dr. Wayne Sotile warns, you might have the makings of what he calls “the best hidden victims of heart illness: the patient’s adult children”.  Continue reading

Deprescribing: fewer drugs, better health outcomes?

5 Jul

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

We all know about prescribing. It’s what our docs do when they pull out the prescription pad so we can start or keep taking a specific drug for a specific medical reason.

But have you heard about deprescribing?

Basically, deprescribing happens when a health care professional decides to taper or stop recommending one or more prescription drugs for any given patient. The practice is aimed at minimizing what’s known as polypharmacy (that’s when adult patients are taking multiple medications at the same time) while at the same time improving patient outcomes.

What’s the problem with polypharmacy? Plenty, as it turns out.
Continue reading

As if fear of dying weren’t bad enough . . .

28 Jun

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

In the astute words of the late Irish soccer star, George Best:

“People say you have to hit rock bottom, and I can tell you that almost dying is as rock bottom as it gets.”
Here at Heart Sisters World Headquarters, we have important news from the Department of the Bleedin’ Obvious: feeling terrified by the immediate possibility that you’re dying is “quite common among patients suffering a heart attack”, according to U.K. research published in the European Heart Journal.(1)
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In fact, researchers observed that “although heart attack survival rates have improved tremendously over the last few decades, many patients remain quite frightened during the experience” (an understatement, by the way, that could only have been uttered by somebody who’s never actually experienced a frickety-frackin’ heart attack). 
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But it turns out that the intense distress caused by this fear of dying in mid-heart attack is not only a common emotional response, but is also linked to actual biological changes during the weeks following a cardiac event – changes that are ironically associated with a higher risk of suffering yet another heart attack.

Continue reading

Non-inspirational advice for heart patients

21 Jun

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

I know I’m not the only one who wonders why famous inspirational speakers and writers are so often NOT inspiring.  Call me cynical, but maybe I’ve heard once too often:

  • Follow-your-dreams!
  • Reach-for-the-stars!
  • Eat-more-kale!

These pep talks are typically delivered with varying degrees of cheerleading conviction by speakers who invariably spend considerable time boasting about their own amazing dream-following, star-reaching and kale-eating accomplishments.  Continue reading

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