Happy 8th Heart-iversary to me!

6 May

by Carolyn Thomas  ♥  @HeartSisters

Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 6.34.28 PMEight years ago today, I was hospitalized for a myocardial infarction – or what my doctors referred to as the “widow maker” heart attack.  (Note the gender-biased semantics here, heart sisters: docs don’t call a cardiac event caused by a blocked left anterior descending coronary artery the “widower maker”, do they?) 

I am, frankly, surprised to be here writing this today.

For much of those past eight years, particularly during the first early years, I did not actually believe I would make it to this anniversary. Ongoing cardiac issues associated with a secondary diagnosis of inoperable coronary microvascular disease mean frequent episodes of debilitating symptoms, a fistful of daily cardiac meds, and having my pain specialist at our Regional Pain Clinic on speed dial.

As Australian cardiac psychologist (and himself a heart surgery survivor) Len Gould likes to say: before heart attack, every chest pain is just indigestion. Afterwards, every chest pain is another heart attack!

Happy heart-iversary to me, and to all of you who are survivors, too!


Q: Have you recently celebrated your own Heart-iversary?

.See also: 




45 Responses to “Happy 8th Heart-iversary to me!”

  1. Barbara Keddy May 8, 2016 at 3:09 pm #

    Congratulations, dear Carolyn!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Carolyn Thomas May 8, 2016 at 6:36 pm #

      Thank you, dear Barbara. We know that women’s survival stats after MI are often scary, so it’s always a mutual celebration to share when one of us defies those odds year after year. Hurray for us!


  2. Pauline May 8, 2016 at 12:09 pm #

    I now realize that July 3 will mark my two-year heartiversary since an NSTEMI.. BUT it marks my 12th year since I first had chest pain that resulted in stents. I am ever grateful. Thank you for the article.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Carolyn Thomas May 8, 2016 at 6:30 pm #

      You know what this means, Pauline? You get TWO cakes on July 3rd! Best of luck to you…


  3. Sandra May 7, 2016 at 11:28 pm #

    So happy you are here, Carolyn! Thank you for all you contribute to help women survive and do the best they can after a heart attack.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Quitting the Sitting May 7, 2016 at 8:16 am #

    I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the inspiring comments and thoughtful tributes to you on your 8th Heart-iversary. First of all, so glad you survived and a big shout-out to the teams of health care professionals who were instrumental in your recovery.

    Carolyn, you are just remarkable! People in the midst of a personal medical crisis understandably need to focus on themselves and make their self-care a top priority. But you didn’t do that. Yes, you made your health a priority, but you didn’t stop there. You decided to use the experience of almost dying from a heart attack to help others. Using your considerable talents and professional expertise, you launched Heart Sisters to fill a badly needed void: a clearinghouse of accurate, research-based information on all issues related to women’s heart health.

    And in doing so, you’ve helped, inspired, and given hope to countless people who come here desperate and frightened, but soon realize that the line of heart survivors is indeed very long. The Welcome mat is out and the porch light is always on at Heart Sisters with your unique blend of accurate information, warmth, and sharp wit.

    While you didn’t launch Heart Sisters with the goal of becoming a Top Heart Health Website, great ideas and resources often snowball and flourish. And on a personal note, you are my shining example of what one person with a small budget but a lot of persistence and determination can achieve.

    Carolyn, you have my complete respect and admiration. In my almost 54 years on this planet, I’ve never said that to another person, nor do I expect to again anytime soon. You are spectacularly special and unique!

    Many thanks and Happy Heart-iversary, my friend!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Carolyn Thomas May 7, 2016 at 11:09 am #

      Oh, Denise. I could almost feel my head swelling as I read your words! Seriously, thanks so much for your kind sentiments and generous support of what I do. I loved your line “the Welcome mat is out and the porch light is always on at Heart Sisters…” – what a lovely way to describe my work here. 🙂


  5. Sharon Bonin-Pratt May 7, 2016 at 12:37 am #

    Congratulations on attaining this milestone and especially on generously sharing your story in order to help others adopt a healthier and more aware life style. Enjoy this much earned anniversary.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Carolyn Thomas May 7, 2016 at 6:36 am #

      It’s hard to believe sometimes that this is my 8th anniversary! Thanks Sharon…


  6. Kathleen May 6, 2016 at 9:28 pm #

    Good for you! And thanks for what you have done (and are doing) for the rest of us.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Sunny May 6, 2016 at 8:29 pm #

    Late to your party but so glad you started this blog and became another on-line heart friend! And congratulations! I’m coming up on 5 years since OH surgery to repair my mitral valve, perform a maze, and a Left Atrial Appendage Ligation. My ejection fraction then was 7 and I could barely move let alone function! Today the EF is close to normal and my heart failure (diagnosed in 2002) has improved also…. I’m grateful to still be alive and crowding my 77th birthday! Yay, me!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Carolyn Thomas May 6, 2016 at 8:58 pm #

      An ejection fraction of 7!? That’s almost heart transplant territory. Nice recovery of that EF, Sunny! You are the poster child for why cardiologists need to come up with a better diagnosis than heart “failure” – 14 years on, yours has improved. Yay, you indeed!


  8. Penny Carpenter May 6, 2016 at 8:22 pm #

    How inspiring it is to read all of these messages. Happy Heart Anniversary Carolyn. I am a newbie with one year post op. All the very best. Can’t thank you enough for your giving ways!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Carolyn Thomas May 6, 2016 at 9:05 pm #

      Thank you Penny! You’re so right – these messages are certainly inspiring. Although you might feel like a newbie now, I hope you too will be one day looking back on your cardiac event (way back in history) and acknowledging your progress ever since. Good luck to you…


  9. Laura Gutierrez Mendez May 6, 2016 at 6:51 pm #

    I had a myocardial infarction almost three months ago. Doctors tell me I am lucky to be alive, and I thought it was not that hard. After reading this, I feel more confident that there is someone I can share my fears with, because now it is very clear to me that it was indeed a tough event and I am really lucky to be alive. Thank you very much for this…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Carolyn Thomas May 6, 2016 at 7:10 pm #

      Thanks Laura for sharing your experience here. And Happy 3rd Month Heart-iversary to you, by the way. Along the way to your first year milestone, click on the ‘Categories’ button on the right sidebar to find a variety of topic themes (e.g. “Living With Heart Disease“) that might interest you.


  10. autocreate740 May 6, 2016 at 4:04 pm #

    Congrats to you on this victory. Every woman who gets properly diagnosed is lucky! As a much younger woman, I spent quite a bit of time being mis-diagnosed with an Atrial Myxoma. I am happy to report that I will be reaching a 21 year anniversary in June thanks to a doctor who believed I was actually experiencing breathing problems – Dr. Emmanuel Troulakis! Women need to believe what they are experiencing and be diligent until they find the right doctor. Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Carolyn Thomas May 6, 2016 at 4:19 pm #

      Congrats on your own anniversary next month! Such a good point about patients being diligent in seeking appropriate diagnoses. Good luck to you as well….


      • autocreate740 May 6, 2016 at 4:29 pm #

        Thank you for this wonderful resource! Women need as much information and empathy as they can get. You perform a great service. 20 years ago I did not have your advice. So glad you’re available
        All the best!

        Liked by 1 person

  11. patandjak May 6, 2016 at 3:04 pm #

    Happy Anniversary Carolyn. You have helped so many people in the past 8 years. I am happy to have worked with you at Heart to Heart and heard some of your presentations. Enjoy the day and Happy Mother’s Day on Sunday.
    Pat Hapgood 

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Curious to the Max May 6, 2016 at 2:32 pm #

    Haaaaaaaaaapeeeee haaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrt to yooooooooooooo
    haaaaaaaaaaaaaaapeeeee haaaaaaaaaaaaaa’art to yooooooooooooooo
    haaaaaaaapy hapeeeeeeeee Haaaaa’aaaaaaaaaaaart
    deeeeeeeer CaaaaaaaaaaaaaarOliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiin
    Haaaaaaaaaaaapeeeeeeeeeeeeeee haaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrr’rt tooooooo


    Liked by 1 person

    • Carolyn Thomas May 6, 2016 at 4:05 pm #

      You have such a beeee-yooootiful singing voice, Judy-Judith! Thanks so much for that serenade… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Stories of Our Boys May 6, 2016 at 10:44 am #

    Now I have to go google microvascular disease.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Jaynie Martz May 6, 2016 at 10:44 am #

    Happy Happy 8th heart-iversary to YOU Carolyn Thomas the Amazing!! I remember when you first showed up in WomenHeart online discussions, ill and confused. And now look where you have driven this train…. into the TOP 10 Lists for cardiac blogs and websites. You’re a wonder m’dear and ‘welcome to repeat that story again and again’.

    I shall always be a big Carolyn’s Heart fan. Yours is big, loves to reach out and gather all the struggling ones into a safety net of experience + education + your unique brand of humor.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Carolyn Thomas May 6, 2016 at 11:28 am #

      Hi Jaynie! I’m laughing out loud as I read your words, as I well remember what a complete wreck I was when I first “met” you online in Inspire’s WomenHeart community (“ill and confused” would be a charitable description of me!) Readers: you can find this online support group for women living with heart disease here!

      You’d already been actively participating in that group for a while by then. You may remember me whining one day about way too much friendly chit chat going on between longtime members (e.g. “How was your ski weekend with the kids?”) At the time, I wanted no part of chitchat; I just needed facts and answers to my many questions about what the heck had just happened to me, and was obsessively researching as if cramming for a cardiology midterm. All that chatty friendly stuff was just distracting me!! I recall your response was something like “calm down, honey…” Thanks for tolerating me in those early days/weeks/months, Jaynie, and for your very kind words today…. xoxo


  15. Maxine Charlesworth May 6, 2016 at 9:28 am #

    Happy anniversary, Carolyn! Your world changed in more ways than one eight years ago! Thank you for your valuable public service in examining issues about this important area of women’s health and sharing valuable research findings, as well as personal experience of the topic.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Julaine May 6, 2016 at 7:55 am #

    I am celebrating today, also! Two years ago, I had open-heart surgery with a bypass, maze for afib, and a new aortic valve…

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Deborah Walker May 6, 2016 at 6:56 am #

    I hope your loved ones spoil you rotten today! You deserve it. Thank you for your inspiration and here’s to your 18th, 28th, 38th heart-iversaries.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Carolyn Thomas May 6, 2016 at 7:10 am #

      Thank you so much, Deborah – I’ll be 96 when I’m celebrating my 38th Heart-iversary! Something to look forward to. My own maternal grandmother was in her 90s when she died, having outlived three husbands and survived her whole life on a diet consisting basically of the holy trinity of our Ukrainian culture: bacon, butter and sour cream!


  18. Karen May 6, 2016 at 6:52 am #

    Happy Heart Day…I call them my Re-Birthday. I will celebrate 7 years in October. I know how important these days are for us. And for those that have never had such a thing happen to them, well…. they kinda act like it’s stupid.

    I personally celebrate my heart day more than my birthday, and look forward to many many more right along with you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Carolyn Thomas May 6, 2016 at 7:05 am #

      Thanks Karen – I love your idea of a Re-Birthday. For many of us, it is a profoundly important milestone!


  19. Jennifer Merhar May 6, 2016 at 5:52 am #

    Happy Anniversary! I celebrated 10 years in March of this year. Similar story to yours. We caught mine before the heart attack/damage/death by I believe a few hours. I had problems during the next 8 years but……. my cardiologist decided it was safe to stent my left main since I was safely bypassed, maybe it would increase the blood flow just enough to keep angina at bay……yippee! Hallelujah! It did the trick! Took 8 years of ill health but I feel so much better heart wise.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Carolyn Thomas May 6, 2016 at 6:00 am #

      A great good-news example, Jennifer! Happy belated Heart-iversary to you, too…


  20. Anne Stohrer May 6, 2016 at 5:40 am #

    Happy heart-iversary, dear one! 💖

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Anna May 6, 2016 at 4:29 am #

    A Heartfelt Happy Anniversary Carolyn and a Bumper Thank You Too!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Carolyn Thomas May 6, 2016 at 5:25 am #

      Thank you, Anna! 🙂


      • Rayne May 8, 2016 at 2:46 pm #

        Really happy for you!! This is my 6 year anniversary!! 🙂


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