Why your own story is not scientific data

RecognizedExpertsby Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters 

One of my all-time favourite reviews of my book (A Woman’s Guide to Living With Heart Disease, published by Johns Hopkins University Press) comes from Robert in Australia, who wrote:

“A bit too much emphasis on how women are neglected when it comes to heart disease. Happily, for me and my fellow patients, my doctors, nurses and physios did everything by the book.”

Dear Robert:   Thank you for helping to prove my frickety-fracking point.        .      .     Continue reading “Why your own story is not scientific data”

Panic attack – or heart attack?

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters 

For most of us, feelings of anxiety or panic are occasional, mild and brief – the body’s normal responses to being worried or scared. I never thought of myself as a person who was prone to experience anxiety or panic – until I survived a heart attack. I can now tell you quite confidently that there are few things in life that are more anxiety-producing than being in the middle of a frickety-frackin’ heart attack. . .      .            . Continue reading “Panic attack – or heart attack?”

How could YOU – of all people! – have a heart attack?

by Carolyn Thomas   @HeartSisters

I’ve come to learn that a common reaction to a heart attack is others’ utter shock that this could happen to “YOU, OF ALL PEOPLE!”  Women in particular report reactions like this because, generally speaking, we’re used to being the strong glue that holds our family life and relationships together.

How dare we get sick. . .      .          .          .     Continue reading “How could YOU – of all people! – have a heart attack?”

Change your story, change the storyteller

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters 

I encounter a lot of patient stories from my Heart Sisters blog readers here, as well as from the women who raise a hand during my Heart-Smart Women public presentations. A heart patient’s story can at first kick off with a profound this-can’t-be-happening-to-me sense of disbelief as we try to make sense out of something that makes no sense at all. Telling the story to others helps us do this at first. “How did this happen?”  demand our worried family and friends while we lie there, overwhelmed. And thus our storytelling begins.       .      .    Continue reading “Change your story, change the storyteller”

Heart attack symptoms: what women expect vs. what we get

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

I wasn’t short of breath, or dripping with sweat. I had chest pain WITHOUT left shoulder/jaw/arm symptoms or any other signs of illness. I attributed my chest pain to stress.”

This recent Twitter comment from a nurse about her own heart attack raises an important concern:  have we done such a good job of warning women about freakishly weird non-chest pain heart attack symptoms that we no longer believe it’s really a heart attack unless we also have vague symptoms in a dozen other body parts?    .           . Continue reading “Heart attack symptoms: what women expect vs. what we get”

When we expect to die, but don’t

by Carolyn Thomas      @HeartSisters

Shortly after I was freshly diagnosed with coronary microvascular disease (MVD), one of my readers told me that, for the past 12 years, she too had been living with MVD after surviving her own “widow maker heart attack”, just as I had.  Immediately picturing the future prospect of somehow coping with ongoing bouts of exhaustion, shortness of breath and debilitating chest pain, my surprising gut reaction was:

“12 years!?  TWELVE YEARS?!?!?!  I can’t do this!”

Well, Happy Heart-iversary to me: on May 6th this week, exactly 13 years have passed since my initially misdiagnosed heart attack was finally correctly diagnosed and appropriately treated, but even more amazing to me, I’ve now lived with MVD for 12 of those 13 years.     .      .     Continue reading “When we expect to die, but don’t”