This is NOT what a woman’s heart attack looks like

19 May
thatguy2.pngThis is a man told by the photographer to act like he’s having a heart attack.

 

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters  May 19, 2019

One of the reasons that I knew I wasn’t having a heart attack (even while I was actually having one) was my very inaccurate stereotype of what a woman’s heart attack can look like.

I used to think that heart attacks happen only to men. Old men. Mostly out-of-shape chain smokers and heavy drinkers.  Old, out-of-shape, smoking, drinking men, who one day out on the golf course suddenly clutch their chests in agony and keel over, unconscious. CPR. 911. Golf buddies yelling. Ambulance sirens. Paramedics. Defibrillator paddles. That’s a heart attack, right?

Wrong, my dear heart sisters. That’s NOT a heart attack.  Continue reading

A Mother’s Day without my mother

12 May

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

As Christopher Buckley wrote in his memoir, Losing Mum and Pup, when the last of your parents dies, you are an orphan. This is poignantly true if that parent is your mother.

“You lose the true keeper of your memories, your triumphs, your losses. Your mother is a scrapbook for all your enthusiasms. She is the one who validates and the one who shames, and when she’s gone, you are alone in a terrible way.”

This month marks both the occasion of my mother Joanie’s birthday (she would have turned 91 on May 7th, coincidentally the fourth birthday of Everly Rose, the darling great-granddaughter she would never meet) and yet another Mother’s Day when I didn’t send my Mom a card and flowers. I’m getting used to that reality by now. She died seven years ago on February 21st, 2012.  Continue reading

Heading home tips following open heart surgery

5 May

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters     May 5, 2019

Open heart surgery.   Is there any medical procedure in history so surrounded by genuine awe and surreal mystique? Cracking open the sternum to reveal the beating heart beneath, and then somehow trusting a heart-lung machine to temporarily take over the jobs of both the human heart and lungs – now, that’s heroic! But when it comes to explaining just how that happens, few of us might guess that the most compelling and straightforward description comes not from the world of medicine, but from the venerable magazine, Popular Mechanics.
Continue reading

The chest pain / panic connection

28 Apr

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters     April 28, 2019

For most of us, feelings of anxiety or panic are generally occasional, mild and brief – 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

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