Ed Yong, my favourite Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer over at The Atlantic, wrote recently that, when he first started reporting on the medical phenomenon called “long-COVID” (meaning ongoing debilitating COVID symptoms that continue far longer than eight weeks), few scientists or physicians knew that it existed – and more importantly, many even doubted that it did:
“Some researchers still hesitate to recognize long-COVID if it doesn’t present in certain ways; they’re running studies without listening to patients. Long-haulers are growing frustrated that what is self-evident to them – that their condition is very real and in need of urgent attention – is taking a worrying amount of time to be acknowledged.”
That paragraph beautifully captures what women whose heart attack symptoms were initially dismissed have described as well – that sense of not being listened to during a heart attack that was “very real”. . . .
It isn’t often that I’m wide awake at 1 a.m. But sometimes, a dream or a fire truck siren or whatever jolts me so wide awake in the middle of the night that sleep seems suddenly impossible. When this does happen, I’ve learned that I can sometimes lull myself back to sleep by turning on my bedside radio. (Radios! Remember those?) My old clock radio is tuned permanently to CBC, our national Canadian broadcaster. And 1 a.m. is when CBC runs the Public Radio International program called “The World” . I love that show.
I have never had breast cancer, and I don’t write about breast cancer (except rarely). But I noticed soon after launching my Heart Sisters blog that a surprising number of women with breast cancer were reading, subscribing and responding to my blog articles on women’s heart disease. One of my favourites in this group was author and breast cancer activist Nancy Stordahl, who blogs at Nancy’s Point. We’ve never met in person, but Nancy and I have agreed over the years that the traumatic experience of facing a catastrophic diagnosis is shared by many, no matter what that medical condition may be.
I happen to have a pain specialist in my family: my darling 6-year old granddaughter Everly Rose, who studies her assorted owies very seriously. She updates me at each visit on how every scratch, scar or scab is coming along, rating the pain that each injury caused her on the playground, at summer day camp, or while playing with Homie, her cat.
I, on the other hand, am apparently keen on NOT making a fuss, no matter what – yes, even the chest and left arm pain that continued during my own misdiagnosed heart attack.