Report card: my month of eating Mediterranean

18 Jun

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

May, as you may recall, was National Mediterranean Diet Month, celebrated at our house with a helpful Oldways calendar posted on the fridge with 31 daily suggestions on how to introduce more heart-healthy Med Month changes into our regular routine. As threatened promised, here’s how I did:  Continue reading

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“Never been sick in my life” – so how could she have a stroke?

11 Jun

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

“The doctor showed me an x-ray of my brain. He pointed to a small spot and told me, ‘That’s where the blood vessel burst in your brain!’ It was surreal.”

My heart sister Dina Piersawl (affectionately known to some of us as Dee Mad Scientist) had just celebrated her 41st birthday when she survived an ischemic stroke. A professional scientist – and a former athlete and personal trainer in Chicago who describes herself as “never been sick in my life” – Dina sure didn’t look or feel like any stereotypical stroke patient you might imagine. Continue reading

The Patient Dignity Question meets the “Care Effect”

4 Jun

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

“What do I need to know about you as a person to give you the best care possible?”

Tina was our longtime former housekeeper at the Royal Jubilee Hospital. She somehow knew that this question was the key to her remarkably close relationships with patients and their families at our 17-bed Victoria Hospice in-patient unit. During her 30+ year career spent cleaning patient rooms day in and day out, amid rotating nursing shifts and a blur of end-of-life care consults, Tina’s friendly face was often the one predictable constant for patients. She chatted with them while she worked, got to know family members and other visitors by name, and remembered details about each patient’s real life (meaning, before they became patients) that made them feel unique and cared about. And it was reciprocal – everybody loved Tina!

Tina didn’t invent this question, but as a kind and naturally compassionate person, she knew intuitively that what’s known as the Patient Dignity Question was very, very important to patients and their families. Continue reading

Six lessons Emmi learned from her Hollywood Heart Attack

28 May

by Carolyn Thomas  ♥  @HeartSisters

Emmi S. Herman is the mother of three millennials and grandmother of two perfect grandchildren. As the grandmother of one perfect child (our adorable Everly Rose), I can relate. I can especially relate to her because, like Emmi, I too survived what doctors call the “widow maker” heart attack (a misnomer that really needs fixing given how many women I know who have survived it. Physicians don’t, for example, call this serious cardiac event the “widower” maker, do they?)  Emmi is a children’s book author with expertise in early literacy skills. When not writing copy at her day job or at work on a memoir about her sister, she is in her car somewhere between New York and New Jersey. Here’s how she describes the six important lessons she learned about having a heart attack.  Continue reading

European women face the same cardiac gender gap we do

21 May

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

I’m interested in women’s heart health, and because my Heart Sisters blog readers come from all parts of the world (in 190 countries at last count), that interest isn’t aimed only at women’s shared experiences here in North America where I live. As the World Heart Federation tells us, heart disease is the #1 global health threat to women everywhere on the planet.

Researchers know that the cardiac gender gap we worry about here is distressingly similar to what women around the world face, too. Here’s how one European cardiologist describes how she views this gap for the women where she lives:  Continue reading