Auricular amputations in confectionary rabbits (or, do you eat the chocolate bunny ears first?)

21 Apr

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters   April 21, 2019

Imagine a bright Easter Sunday, back in the mid-1950s. The sun is shining, church bells are ringing, cherry trees abloom, and I and my sister Cathy are decked out in our brand new matching pink Easter outfits. We have been invited out to lunch at the home of our friends, the Moskal family, after Easter Sunday Mass.

We enjoy a delicious lunch of baked ham, deviled eggs, potato salad and – our favourite! – traditional Easter paska, after which the children are dismissed from the table to go and play while our parents finish their coffee. And that’s when things suddenly go sideways. . .  Continue reading

The science of safety – and your local hospital

14 Apr

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters     April 14, 2019

Have you ever walked up to a big door and pulled when you should have pushed? Have you done this despite the sign on the door telling you specifically how it works? Have you even pulled repeatedly on the same door when it won’t open?  I sure have. . .

Dr. Terry Fairbanks tells this story of some door-watching he did at his local bagel shop while he sat at a table waiting for his wife.

“I watched person after person pulling on the shop door despite the PUSH sign. But if this were healthcare, we’d put a policy in place, make a policy binder, and put it on the nurses’ shelf!

“But it’s not about policy, it’s about changing the door!”   

Continue reading

Women’s heart health: why it’s NOT a zero sum game

7 Apr

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters  April 7, 2019

In the game of poker, zero sum game theory suggests that the sum of the amounts won by some players equals the combined losses of the others. So if one player wins big, then other players must lose big.

It struck me recently that it’s possible our healthcare system functions as if it were a zero sum game, too.
Continue reading

MDs often tell women to lose weight rather than address cardiac risk factors

31 Mar

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters    March 31, 2019

This editorial, What Women (and Clinicians) Don’t Know Hurts Them, originally appeared in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. As a woman with heart disease, I wanted to immediately read it to find out what might be hurting me.

But as is common practice in most medical journals, this editorial was behind a paywall, so it was not available for heart patients like me, or anybody else who wasn’t a subscriber to the journal.

I could pay a fee of $35 for the privilege of reading this one article, but the reality is that I can’t afford to pay for articles that aren’t being published in what’s known as an open access journal.* Continue reading

Why won’t doctors believe women?

24 Mar

by Carolyn Thomas   ♥  @HeartSisters    March 24, 2019

A woman in one of my Heart-Smart Women presentation audiences told me about a conversation she overheard in our local Emergency Department, in which the physician said to the (male) patient in the bed next to hers:

“All of your cardiac tests came back ‘normal’, but we’re going to admit you for observation just to make sure it isn’t your heart.”

That story tells us that (unlike your average woman – i.e. me! – with cardiac symptoms alarming enough to propel her to seek emergency care, but unlucky enough to have tests that look “normal”), a man who shows up with both cardiac symptoms and “normal” test results does not need to fight to be believed. Continue reading