What to get the heart patient who has (almost) everything. . .

9 Dec

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters     December 9, 2018

Oh, sure, you can do last-minute Christmas shopping for another scented candle, or a lovely piece of pottery that might end up on the yard sale table together some day. Or you can decide to shop for a truly useful gift for any of the women in your life who have been diagnosed with heart disease. Here’s why, in my admittedly biased view, that gift should be A Woman’s Guide to Living with Heart Disease (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2017) – along with some simple and easy ways for you to make that happen in time for Santa’s arrival: Continue reading

Still too tired to put away the Halloween costume…

2 Dec

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters    December 2, 2018

I’m a wee bit embarrassed to admit that my Halloween costume is still on a hanger on prominent display, hanging from a bookshelf in the bedroom, waiting to be boxed up and put away. I’m thinking of calling it a room decor feature by now. It’s a spectacular clown costume, I must say, complete with big baggy pants in ravishingly bright colours and, of course, with its own rainbow clown wig. I’ve worn it dozens of times over decades, and often loaned it out to Halloween party-goers among my family and friends, too.

It’s pretty nice, but it’s not nice enough to explain why, after over a month, I haven’t been able to put this costume away yet. I suspect my utter inability to do so reflects the state of my life these days, and the fact that my days are typically divided into these two distinctly unique phases: Continue reading

Dr. Google in the E.R.

25 Nov

 by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters    November 25, 2018

Once upon a time, whenever the good citizens of Belgium experienced puzzling symptoms (let’s say, “twitching eyelids”), they would turn to Dr. Google to find out what might be causing the symptoms. But the Belgian government, concerned about false and scary health information online, came up with a public awareness campaign that warned: “Don’t Google It. Check a reliable source!” This also included a referral link to a government health site that could help to correctly answer questions about twitching eyelids and several other health issues.

This campaign was what patient activist Dave de Bronkart (aka ePatient Dave) bluntly described at the time as spectacularly wrong, insulting, misinformed and wrong-headed. Continue reading

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 the 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.
Continue reading

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