The medical hierarchy shift

by Carolyn Thomas   @HeartSisters   

treeJWVein-3832108_1280Many years before I finally left a decades-long professional relationship with my family physician, I had observed distressing changes in her practice. I didn’t say anything about these changes at first. They began with her new all-cash medical aesthetics clinic (think: nonstop before-and-after Botox videos looping in every exam room).

She did not post an actual sign in her waiting room telling her longtime patients what we all knew: “I Am No Longer Interested in the Practice of Family Medicine”  – but everything about her behaviours clearly announced that she’d already moved on without telling us.     . Continue reading “The medical hierarchy shift”

What heart patients can learn from Pinktober pinkwashing

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

October (also known as Pinktober in corporate brand marketing circles) is the annual holy month of breast cancer awareness-raising, a month of feel-good retail branding opportunities, bathed in a pretty cloud of pinkwashing, a campaign once described by author Barbara Ehrenreich (a breast cancer patient herself) as the cult of pink kitsch”.  You’ve seen these marketing campaign ads:

“For every _______ (insert name of the company’s special pink product, e.g. a pink-labeled can of Campbell’s soup or a pink-handled Smith & Wesson handgun) that you purchase this month, we’ll make a donation to help raise breast cancer awareness!”

As the late Barbara Brenner reminded us: If breast cancer could be cured by shopping, it would be cured by now.” Continue reading “What heart patients can learn from Pinktober pinkwashing”

Would you drive your car if its brakes were “failing”?

by Carolyn Thomas      @HeartSisters

Imagine your mechanic telling you that your brakes are failing. Would you voluntarily get behind the wheel of that car – and then happily drive it home? Of course you wouldn’t.  Yet right now, as you are reading these words, doctors around the world in a medical office or hospital clinic somewhere out there are casually saying out loud the words “HEART FAILURE” to diagnose people who will leave that place feeling scared to death.   .   Continue reading “Would you drive your car if its brakes were “failing”?”

A tumor? In my heart?!?

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Paula is a “youngish 60”, as she describes herself, recently retired after a long career in public relations and marketing, and very active. A couple of years ago, for example, Paula and her husband hiked 530 miles together across northern Spain on the famous Camino de Santiago trail. So, definitely “youngish”.
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But this past spring, Paula was admitted to the hospital after a week of chest pain, shortness of breath, jaw pain and crushing fatigue. Her initial diagnostic tests suggested she was NOT having a heart attack – but what was discovered after that was something very rare.  .

The importance of planning for everyday joy

by Carolyn Thomas      @HeartSisters

When my mother was already showing early signs of her vascular dementia and had to move into an assisted-living apartment, she hated it. The staff reminded our family that “having something to look forward to” every day would help her feel more settled. They were so right. The move had been scary and overwhelming for Mom, but even knowing that after lunch she’d be playing cribbage or watching a favourite movie could bring a smile to her face.

We didn’t call it this at the time, but what Mom was doing, in the middle of all of her angst and fear, was planning joy.    Continue reading “The importance of planning for everyday joy”