The 2018 Summer Blogging Challenge

12 Aug

Screen Shot 2018-08-11 at 12.19.19 PM

by Carolyn Thomas  ♥  @HeartSisters    August 12, 2018

My blogging friend Nancy Stordahl, author of several books about breast cancer, including (best title ever!) “Cancer is Not a Gift and it Didn’t Make Me a Better Person”, as well as the excellent breast cancer blog Nancy’s Point, sent me a little nudge this week. Perfect timing for an invitation to participate in her 4th Annual Summer Blogging ChallengeIt’s hot outside, I’m cranky, I’ve attempted writing half a dozen blog posts this week  yet abandoned all of them – maybe Nancy’s challenge will help me feel unstuck.

Her invitation: just answer the following 12 questions about being a blogger (or about the blogs you enjoy reading). Feel free to accept her challenge yourself. Continue reading

Dear Carolyn: “Breaking up is hard to do”

3 Aug

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters     August 3, 2018

Breaking up is hard to do. That’s how my blog reader Tommie O’Sullivan described to me the sad news that she lost first one, and then a second trusted cardiologist. It’s nothing personal. Important family reasons. Retirement. She understands these things. But still. . .

As part of my occasional and ongoing “Dear Carolyn” series of guest posts written by women who have learned firsthand what becoming a heart patient is all about, I’m happy to share this, with her permission. Tommie’s words reminded me that, so far, I’ve been lucky in never experiencing the loss of a favourite physician. I suspect that – in this age of increasingly empowered patients, critical doctor reviews online, and second opinions from Dr. Google – her sentiments are what every physician longs to hear one day from their patients: “I will really miss you!”  Continue reading

“A Typical Heart”: how YOU can help create this documentary!

30 Jul

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters    July 30, 2018

Do you sometimes wish that everybody (and their healthcare providers) were more aware of the unique differences in male and female heart disease? ….  I know you do! Cristina D’Alessandro is a Toronto-area paramedic and healthcare researcher who has that same wish. She’s a healthcare professional who, like so many of us, is concerned about what’s known as the cardiology gender gap in diagnosing and treating women’s heart disease. She asks, for example, this brilliant question: 

“In paramedic school, they teach us about the ‘atypical’ signs of a woman’s heart attack. But why exactly do they call it ‘atypical’ when women are more than half the population?”

Continue reading

“I am lying in a surprisingly bright glass-walled room…”

29 Jul

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters    July 29, 2018

Royal Jubilee Hospital, Victoria, BC - CanadaI am lying in a surprisingly large and very white, bright glass-walled room in the CCU (the coronary intensive care unit) of our local hospital. Through these walls I can see several people who look like nurses and doctors seated at a long desk outside my glass box, staring at computer monitors. It’s action central out there, where staff can observe and monitor every heart patient, each of us in one of the glass boxes.

I can see assorted tubes, lines and beeping machines surrounding my bed or attached to my body. Two nurses are looking down at me, one on either side of my hospital bed, closely examining my right wrist.  They are checking the wound that has been opened up there in order to insert a catheter through the radial artery, up my arm, around the bend of my shoulder, and into my beating heart. I find it oddly touching that each of these women is gently holding one of my hands. I feel like weeping, and so I do.

I have no more pain. No more pain crushing my chest or radiating down my left arm. No more of the increasingly debilitating symptoms I’ve been suffering for the past two weeks. If anything, I’m simply feeling surprised. I have had a heart attack. I HAVE HAD A HEART ATTACK! I, Carolyn Thomas, have had a frickety-frackin’ heart attack. . .
Continue reading

When patients feel like hostages

22 Jul

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters    July 22, 2018

When his 6-year old son became very ill and was hospitalized, Dan Beckham observed how his own behaviour in the hospital began to dramatically change compared to his real life. Although he would readily send a restaurant meal back if it weren’t properly cooked, now when his son received poor care (e.g. a healthcare professional who did not wash his hands), Dan hesitated to be assertive “for fear of alienating the physicians and nurses whose goodwill he needed to maintain.” Here’s how he explained this:

“I felt dependent and powerless, as if my son was a hostage to the care he received and the system that delivered it. It was as though I was compelled to negotiate for his safe release from potential harm.”

Such a reaction is an example of what’s known as Hostage Bargaining Syndrome (HBS), as described in the medical journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings.(1)  Continue reading