Turning “Why me?” into “Why not me?”

24 Jul

3heartsby Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

Cathy Aumack-Bandy of Florida wrote this open letter in response to another heart patient’s question to her last month. I’m running this compelling essay here with her kind permission. Hold onto your hats . . .

When first diagnosed with cardiac problems, many people ask, “Who Me? No…” My version of the question “Who me?” was “Why Me?” – until the day my Mom asked, “Why NOT you?”  I hadn’t thought of it that way.

I went into the hospital because of a bout with “asthmatic bronchitis” that I just could not shake. I never imagined it might be a heart problem (neither I guess did my former primary care physician). I’d had a full cardiac work-up in October and been declared “heart healthy.”

Talk about shock… Who knew?

Just two days after my admission, a doctor (I didn’t know him at the time, or that he was a cardiologist) came into my room and, totally ignoring me in the bed, told my husband Gary that my heart was barely functioning and that without a transplant, I would not make three months.  Continue reading

1 in 5 have this genetic risk factor for heart disease – but don’t know it

17 Jul

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

Sandra Revill Tremulis was a healthy, fit woman who had a heart attack at the age of 39 despite an apparent lack of any cardiac risk factors. She’d never smoked, had a healthy diet, normal weight, normal cholesterol/blood pressure – and had run a marathon just the year before. So Sandra’s doctor ordered advanced blood tests and discovered that she had inherited a genetic abnormality that causes early heart disease. One in five people carry this gene, yet most are completely unaware that they do.

Continue reading

No blockages: Living with non-obstructive heart disease

10 Jul

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

Annette PompaAnnette Pompa of Pennsylvania lives with a cardiac diagnosis I’d never even heard of until I, too, was diagnosed with it several months after surviving a heart attack. It’s called Coronary Microvascular Disease (MVD). Unlike the classic Hollywood Heart Attack I’d initially experienced – which is typically caused by a significantly blocked major coronary artery – those of us diagnosed with MVD or coronary spasm disorders have few if any detectable blockages obstructing flow in the major blood vessels feeding the heart muscle. Yet we can experience the same distressing symptoms of a heart attack. Annette is a former art teacher who was barely 41 years old when MVD “came barging into my life”, as she explains. With her permission, I’m reprinting this transcript of an American Heart Association presentation that Annette gave recently about living with a non-obstructive heart condition.

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“This is my story. I represent an often misunderstood population living with a very different type of heart disease. Sadly, there are many more like me with MVD who are simply not being recognized – and indeed even dismissed. Symptoms often persist even without any visible blockage or reason for the angina, shortness of breath and fatigue which often accompany the condition. It is crazy, right? Here I was seemingly healthy – yet ended up battling heart disease.  Continue reading

A beating heart frozen in time

3 Jul

by Carolyn Thomas       @HeartSisters

This amazing image is this year’s winner of the British Heart Foundation’s “Reflections of Research” medical image competition, an annual celebration of the U.K. charity’s groundbreaking research into cardiovascular diseases. This is not a painting – it’s a real image of the blood flowing within an adult heart, frozen in time.  Continue reading

How not to be an audience troll

26 Jun

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters

I’ve had a number of opportunities to witness this kind of audience question oneupmanship first hand, especially when speaking to large audiences. As the chart above suggests, sometimes the audience member who raises a hand to ask a question of a guest speaker doesn’t actually have a question at all – but instead seeks to interject his own story to shift all eyes towards himself.  To find out if you are in danger of becoming “that guy”, consider this flowchart question, for example:    Continue reading

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