“Do I belong here?” Unintended barriers to cardiac rehabilitation

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters

It was 10 a.m. sharp when I walked into the gym where my cardiac rehabilitation classes were about to begin. The group’s coordinator was a friendly former cardiac nurse who now spent her mornings with freshly-diagnosed heart patients in the rehab program. She greeted me warmly, and toured me around the facility, introducing me to my fellow cardiac rehab buddies. And “fellow” was the apt word: it turned out that in that particular class, I was the only female heart patient in a gym filled with men. Old men. Old men who all happened to be golfers – which I would soon learn was the sole topic of their conversations.  My initial reaction was: “Do I belong here?”        .             .     Continue reading ““Do I belong here?” Unintended barriers to cardiac rehabilitation”

Behaviour change: if it’s so ‘easy’, why do so many studies show it won’t last?

by Carolyn Thomas      @HeartSisters

Many centuries ago, while I was a volunteer run leader at our local YM-YWCA annual Marathon Run Clinic, my assigned running group each January was the 10-minute milers, whom I affectionately dubbed The Turtles. Our motto: “No course too short, no pace too slow.”   My group members were typically either former runners slowly returning after an injury, or people who were brand new to running. The newbies were as enthusiastic as their freshly-made New Year’s resolutions:  one, for example, declared to me that this was the year that he was finally going to quit smoking, lose 30 pounds, and run a marathon.

To which I replied: “Honey, pick ONE. . .”     .           .  Continue reading “Behaviour change: if it’s so ‘easy’, why do so many studies show it won’t last?”

The bumpy road of the freshly-diagnosed

by Carolyn Thomas        @HeartSisters

bridge-2490738_1280You probably already know that it can be a scary road indeed leading from the moment you hear that initial diagnosis until the day you are able to start thinking of yourself as a person first, who just happens to be a patient. Until then, it’s a bumpy road to recovery, often with more downs than ups, as I’ve written about here and here, for example. But researchers in Spain suggest that there are often four predictably distinct stages in a recovery roadmap. Continue reading “The bumpy road of the freshly-diagnosed”

Walking away vs. trying harder: quitting revisited

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters

When gymnast Simone Biles made the shocking decision to opt out of the women’s team final at the Tokyo Olympics, blowhard pundits (like the insufferable Piers Morgan) declared that there is “nothing heroic or brave about quitting.”

Simone explained that she needed to “focus on my mental health and not jeopardize my health and well-being”.  Even for narcissistic blowhards, Morgan’s response to her decision was out of line. Sometimes, walking away can be the wisest and most thoughtful choice we could possibly make.      .      .       .              . Continue reading “Walking away vs. trying harder: quitting revisited”

Good anxiety: is that even possible?

by Carolyn Thomas       @HeartSisters   

There’s anxiety, and then there’s ANXIETY.  When Dr. Wendy Suzuki wrote about anxiety recently in her Globe and Mail essay, she wasn’t talking about clinical levels of anxiety requiring medical treatment, but what she calls our everyday anxiety:  

You would think that, after 18 months, we might feel better prepared to manage the continuing effects of the pandemic, but instead, our recent history seems to have simply added to our collective anxiety.”

She views this “everyday anxiety” as a new approach to understanding anxiety.       .   Continue reading “Good anxiety: is that even possible?”

Precarity: the perfect word for our times

by Carolyn Thomas      @HeartSisters   

I learned a terrific new word recently. The word is precarity, meaning the state of being precarious, unpredictable or uncertain. Any woman who is freshly diagnosed with heart disease already knows the precarity of life following a cardiac event – a reality that suddenly feels precarious, unpredictable and uncertain as we try to make sense of something that makes no sense. And after 19 months of navigating a global pandemic, we now know yet another kind of precarity.       .          .  Continue reading “Precarity: the perfect word for our times”