My book is one year old! Some excerpts to tease you…

18 Nov

 

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters    November 18, 2018

What a year it’s been since my book was published by Johns Hopkins University Press one year ago this month! When it was launched, A Woman’s Guide to Living with Heart Diseasebecame Amazon’s #1 New Release in its Medicine/Public Health category. The book is already into its second printing, and reviews have been truly wonderful (with one notable exception: an Australian reader named Robert who complained in his Goodreads review that there was a bit too much emphasis on how women are neglected when it comes to heart disease” – and then added: “Happily for me, my doctors, nurses and physios did everything by the book.” Thank you Robert, for helping to illustrate the cardiology gender gap so perfectly!

To celebrate this one-year milestone (and entice you to buy the book for yourself, or as a really useful gift for a freshly-diagnosed woman you care about), here are some random excerpts from my book, gathered from each of the 10 chapters. Enjoy this little teaser… 
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How a $5 Tim Hortons gift card changed my life

11 Nov

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters    November 11, 2018

I settled in at the impressive boardroom table of a chic downtown ad agency, where I’d been invited to review a new patient website that this agency had created for its client, our provincial Ministry of Health.

This agency wanted to know if an average patient like me seeking online health information would be able to easily navigate this new website. My volunteer assignment that morning was to noodle around the site in response to a dozen or so search prompts that the young agency hipsters seated around me would provide. When I hit the “Search Health Topics” tab, it revealed a pull-down menu with many diagnoses listed. But I noticed immediately that “heart disease” was oddly missing from the health topics pull-down. I did see that the diagnosis of “hemorrhoids” was up there. What kind of health website for patients forgets to list our #1 killer? Continue reading

“To just be a person, and not a patient anymore”

4 Nov

by Carolyn Thomas @HeartSisters  ♥ November 4, 2018

New Jersey oncologist Dr. James Salwitz, in his blog post called Why Is The Doctor Angry?, tells the story of the day that one of his patients had become very ill. Instead of calling Dr. Salwitz, however, his patient emailed a doctor 3,000 miles away in California as he became sicker and sicker. The California doctor forwarded the email back to Dr. Salwitz, who immediately sent his patient to hospital with multiple system failures. Dr. S said that he felt angry about his patient’s behaviour, explaining:

“Did I look him in the eye and tell him that I was upset, that he had neglected his own care by not reaching out and in doing so he violated the basic tenants of a relationship which said that he was the patient and I was the doctor?”

“Did I remind him what I expect from him and what he can expect from me?  You better believe it – I was really pissed!”

My own question to Dr. Salwitz was: “So, did you ever find out from the patient WHY he did not reach out to you?”   Continue reading

Dear Carolyn: “People can change for the better”

28 Oct

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters    October 28, 2018

We know now that childhood trauma is strongly associated with chronic illness later on, including heart disease. As I wrote in a recent blog post about ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences), researchers warn us that scoring 4 or higher on the ACE test can predict a significantly higher risk of physical or mental illness as an adult. I was stunned when I took the test and saw that my own score was 4; I was well aware of my childhood experiences, of course, but I thought that only marginalized kids from desperately poor families were at high risk – and that wasn’t me! A history of psychological childhood abuse or neglect is not what we expect our doctors to ask us about – but this research suggests that maybe they should start.

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One response to that post really hit home for me. Marie (who prefers not to use her real name here) lives with a type of ischemic heart disease called coronary microvascular disease (as I do, too). With her kind permission, I’m sharing her childhood story with you as the latest guest post in my regular but very occasional series called Dear Carolyn“:

Appropriately confident: what are YOU really good at?

21 Oct

 by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters    October 21, 2018

It all started with a little post on Twitter by San Francisco OB-GYN Dr. Jen Gunter, urging this call to action:

I was hooked when I read an early response from a pediatrician, who (on top of everything else a pediatrician might feel self-confident about) mentioned that she does the New York Times crossword IN PEN. Now, that is true confidence, my heart sisters. . .

I decided to bite, tossing aside all that ‘aw shucks’ false modesty that women are so often socialized to embrace. Here’s how I responded about myself:
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