Being of sound mind: it’s time to update your will

 by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters

I feel like I should put a warning alongside this post, because it’s about something we don’t want to talk or even think about. We live in a death-denying society. I know this, because I spent many years working in hospice palliative care. For example, even a woman being admitted to our 17-bed in-patient unit one day seemed shocked by the brochures in her room. She told us that the words ‘end-of-life care’ on the brochure cover should be immediately removed, because those words meant the dreaded D-word that she’d been denying.   .      .  Continue reading “Being of sound mind: it’s time to update your will”

The sudden death of an ex-husband

 by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters

His body was found in his favourite chair, facing the TV that was still on (most likely, watching hockey). He’d been a lifelong Toronto Maple Leafs fan despite the team’s disappointing inability to win the Stanley Cup each year since 1967; even his obituary included his long-suffering lament:

“When I die, I want the Leafs to be my pallbearers, so they can let me down one last time.”           .       .

Continue reading “The sudden death of an ex-husband”

Is the practice of medicine making doctors sick?

by Carolyn Thomas   @HeartSisters   

Sue Robins of Vancouver has an irresistible writing talent that’s somehow both quietly approachable and yet sneakily explosive. We see this talent in her book A Bird’s Eye View: Stories of  a Life Lived in Health Care. We also see it in her compelling blog essay, “We Are All In This Together” as she explores the “basic lack of humanity that ails health care – a lack of humanity for patients, families, staff, clinicians, physicians and administrators.”  As Sue says:

“We are all in this mess together.    .     . Continue reading “Is the practice of medicine making doctors sick?”

“The doctors want my symptoms but not my stories”

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters

Marilyn Gardner, in her 2014 book called “Between Worlds: Essays on Culture and Belonging“) wrote about a compelling conversation she once had:

Yet our physicians aren’t trained to embrace our stories, but instead to ask right away, “What brings you here today?” to kick-start a brief Q&A that can most efficiently solve the diagnostic mystery sitting across from them.      .     .    Continue reading ““The doctors want my symptoms but not my stories””

How kids cope when a parent has a heart attack

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters

In response to last week’s blog post about cortisol (which featured Dr. Doreen Rabi’s surprising explanation of how this stress hormone rises among heart attack patients AFTER hospital discharge), Jan Oldenburg sent me a note. Her note simply said:

I’m guessing our children’s stress levels were higher, too. My husband Jon was only 46 at the time of his heart attack.”  . . . .     .     . Continue reading “How kids cope when a parent has a heart attack”

Post-heart attack: why we feel worse before we feel better

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters

Discharge from the hospital is a highly difficult time for both patients and families, who are often under-supported. Our study found that the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in heart attack patients increased sharply after hospital discharge – and they can stay elevated for months.” 

The study that Dr. Doreen Rabi described to me may help to answer the question that so many of my Heart Sisters readers have been asking for years: Why do I feel worse after my heart attack before I start to feel better?   .     .    .     Continue reading “Post-heart attack: why we feel worse before we feel better”