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 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 painless ways for you to make that happen in time for Santa’s arrival:

WHAT READERS ARE SAYING:

First, a small sampling of the reviews (and a sincere thank you to all readers who have shared so many truly lovely responses so far!) The ones that really meant a lot to me came from other women like me. For example. . .

  •   “I immediately recognized myself in the first few pages! I highly recommend this book for all women even if you don’t have heart disease.”  Laura Mishefske
  • I need another copy. Mine is getting dog-eared with all the avid reading it gets!“  Pauline Johnson
  •   “I couldn’t put it down. Funny, highly informative and well-written.”  Rae
  •   “It was as if she were sitting in my living room talking just to me. I love this book!”  Carolyn Parkes
  •   “Thomas writes with a compassionate, engaging tone filled with sharp wit, loads of humor and a healthy dose of cynicism thrown in. A terrific read.” Nancy Stordahl
  •   “The chapters dealing with the emotional aspects of our heart conditions were so helpful and validating – far better than any other literature I’ve read.”  Linda Seegmiller

I was also thrilled to see so many terrific reviews from healthcare professionals:

  • ♥  “This is the very best book of its kind, a must-read. . . ”  Dr. Barbara Keddy, Professor Emerita, Dalhousie University, Halifax
  • ♥ Every woman over the age of 40 and every healthcare provider who works with women should read this book.”  Dr. Gina Oliver, University of Missouri Sinclair School of Nursing, Columbia, MO
  •   “This elegant book is a unique addition to women’s health books and a necessary read for women and the people who care about them.”  Dr. Roger S. Blumenthal, Director, The Johns Hopkins Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease
  •   “Carolyn has given a voice to the female heart patient in a way that few others have been able to. I am grateful that she decided to write this book, because I believe it will improve the dialogue between heart patients and their physicians.”  Dr. Martha Gulati, Chief of Cardiology, University of Arizona and Editor-in-Chief, CardioSmart – American College of Cardiology (and author of the foreword to my book!)
  •   “For heart patients, it offers a lifeline as an effective resource.”  Nursing Times Journal, UK
  •   “This book is required reading, not only for heart patients but for every ER doc and cardiologist.” Burt Cohen, Angioplasty.org
  • “An essential read. Thomas’s voice is calm, practical and patient-centered.” Dr. Anne Stohrer

And one of my favourite reactions when my book first came out last November:

Six lucky women are getting a copy of this book for Christmas, wrapped and ready to go. I’ve been working in cardiology for 35 years and have been waiting just for THIS!” Dr. Kelli Roig, Ed.D, DNP, CDE

Next, here’s how to make sure your gift arrives on time:

HOW TO PURCHASE:

Most public libraries carry my book so you can read it for free – ask them to order it if your local library branch doesn’t have it in yet. You can also ask for it at your favourite bookshop (please support local booksellers!) or order it online (and please take a moment to leave a Customer Review online afterwards, too!):

  • Amazon (This book launched as Amazon’s #1 NEW RELEASE in the Medicine/Public Health category!)
  • Barnes and Noble
  • IndieBooks
  • Johns Hopkins University Press (Holiday sale! Mention the code HHOL to save 40% off list price – and free shipping! In the New Year, use code HTWN to save 20% off list price)
  • Canadian readers! Here’s a special 20% bulk discount for orders in Canada of 10 or more books (for book clubs, support groups, cardiac rehab programs, women’s conferences, etc.) by using the code HEARTAUTHOR by ordering directly from our Canadian distributor, Brunswick Books in Toronto (while saving significantly on direct shipping costs within Canada; email Brunswick Books for order details: info (at) brunswickbooks (dot) ca

WHY WOMEN RELATE TO THIS BOOK:

Each of us is different in a thousand different ways, and each heart patient I’ve met and learned from experiences her cardiac diagnosis in a way that’s unique to her. Yet underneath each story runs a recognizable vein of lived experience we share that seems to ring true for so many of us.

I didn’t really get that until I went to Mayo Clinic and met the other 45 women in my WomenHeart Science & Leadership training program (Class of 2008), and suddenly heard story after story from women like me. I thought that my experience of being misdiagnosed in mid-heart attack and sent home from Emergency was uniquely dramatic, until I heard virtually identical stories from over one third of our class! 

I cannot begin to count the number of times a first-time reader, for example, starts her note to me with, “I thought I was the only one feeling this way. . . ” 

One of my readers simply wrote: “OMG. Are you me?”

I read a great quote recently by Austin Kleon, author of Show Your Work, that summed up my personal experience of both writing a blog and writing this book:

Forget about being an expert or a professional, and wear your heart on your sleeve. Share what you love, and the people who love the same things will find you.”

And as I wrote about my own early days as a freshly-diagnosed heart patient in the preface to “A Woman’s Guide to Living with Heart Disease”:

“I wasn’t looking for books about cardiac risk factors or heart-healthy recipes or bad cholesterol. What I desperately wanted to find were those written for and by women like me.

“The book I wrote is the one I couldn’t find back then when I really needed it. I’m not a physician. I’m not a scientist (although I spent two decades living with one – does that count at all?) As I often describe myself, I’m just a dull-witted heart attack survivor. But I’m also a woman who, like far too many others, had her heart attack misdiagnosed. There’s nothing quite like surviving a misdiagnosis to heighten the high stakes required to make a good story.”

A Woman’s Guide to Living with Heart Disease is now in its second printing of both hardcover and paperback editions! Thank you, readers!

 

See also:

10 Responses to “What to get the heart patient who has (almost) everything. . .”

  1. Alethea January 6, 2019 at 3:09 am #

    Just wanted to let you know that my sister stumbled on your blog last month and was convinced by reading this article to give me a copy of your book for CHristmas. What a perfect gift – – I had open heart surgery in early December, valve replacement, and this book was A LIFE-SAVER! I thought I was the only one ever feeling so scared and overwhelmed since then. You helped me realize that it’s just not so by writing about everything the hospital should have been telling me before sending me home, but didn’t.

    I’m now a subscriber to your blog and cannot thank you (and my dear sister) enough for this kind of informed and reassuring support. God bless you in 2019, Carolyn.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Carolyn Thomas January 6, 2019 at 4:02 pm #

      How nice to read your comment, Alethea. Thank you for your kind words. I hope you are feeling much better day by day. Happy New Year….

      Like

  2. RN in NYC December 14, 2018 at 8:28 am #

    Hi Carolyn – I pre-ordered your book when it first came out, so may have been among the first to get my own copy. I read it in one sitting, as one of your reviewers said, I could NOT put it down. I worked on the cardiac unit for 5 years, yet I learned so much in your book about what life can actually be like for my patients once they were discharged home.

    What might surprise many who have not yet read this book, the psychological experience of going from being a normal healthy person to a “patient” crosses all diagnostic boundaries. I now recommend this book to any woman recovering from any serious diagnosis, not just heart patients.

    Thank you again – you did good!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Carolyn Thomas December 14, 2018 at 9:49 am #

      Hello RN – thanks for your kind comments. I’ve heard that observation (“not just for heart patients”) a number of times. While I didn’t write the book for breast cancer patients, for example, I have a surprising number of readers with that diagnosis. I believe it helps, when we’re in the middle of trying to make sense out of a medical crisis so big that it makes no sense, to read something that makes us feel less alone.

      Like

  3. Holly Morris December 12, 2018 at 9:30 pm #

    I have a pacemaker and ever since I’ve had it I can’t still go up hills. My chest tightens up, I can’t breathe and all they tell me is to push through it and it hurts so what am I supposed to do if it hurts and they won’t listen to me.

    I want to start exercising, I want to start walking, but if I get to a little hill it’s impossible it hurts and all they can say to me is just push through it and it scares me.

    Like

    • Carolyn Thomas December 13, 2018 at 3:03 pm #

      Hi Holly – I’m not a physician so cannot comment specifically on your pacemaker question, but I can tell you generally that sometimes it takes some time and adjustments to get the settings just right, and sometimes starting on walking up hills needs to start with a very slight incline, not a steep hill. Start very slow and gradually build up…

      You might also be interested in visiting online ‘pacer’ forums – filled with other people like you who are living with pacemakers, too. You can ask questions and browse many pacemaker-related topics. Here’s an example.

      Also, check into groups like the Pacemaker Club or WomenHeart’s All About Arrhythmias

      Like

  4. Deborah Walker December 9, 2018 at 8:51 am #

    The best news in this post is that the book is in its second printing. Yes!!
    All the best in the holiday season, Carolyn.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Carolyn Thomas December 9, 2018 at 11:39 am #

      Thanks Deborah and the same to you, too. The second printing was awesome news, and that happened within just a couple of months post-launch (which likely tells you that the publisher vastly under-estimated the numbers that would sell when deciding on how big to make the first print run!) And my editor Debby Bors told me later (while she was in Victoria to meet up in person!) that my book is in the Top 5 list of best sellers at Johns Hopkins University Press! ♥

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Sandi Deschaine December 9, 2018 at 7:33 am #

    Thanks for your post. I have your book, have loaned it out to several women that share our condition. It makes you feel less lonely.
    Sandi

    Liked by 1 person

    • Carolyn Thomas December 9, 2018 at 7:55 am #

      Thank you for lending it out, Sandi. That’s how more women will get to read it. ♥

      Like

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