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When an illness narrative isn’t just about illness

2 Sep

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters     September 2, 2018

The ink was barely dry on the book contract I’d signed with Johns Hopkins University Press on the morning I tuned in, as I like to do every weekend, to Michael Enright’s Sunday Edition show on CBC Radio.

Michael’s guest that morning couldn’t have been more appropriate, given the project I was just beginning. A physician-turned-author named Dr. Suzanne Koven was talking about people who write first-person accounts of their health crises, books that Michael indelicately referred to as “sick lit“.(1)  . Illness, Michael began, is always more interesting to the ill person than to the reader. But Dr. Koven quickly interjected.  Continue reading

“I am lying in a surprisingly bright glass-walled room…”

29 Jul

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters    July 29, 2018

Royal Jubilee Hospital, Victoria, BC - CanadaI am lying in a surprisingly large and very white, bright glass-walled room in the CCU (the coronary intensive care unit) of our local hospital. Through these walls I can see several people who look like nurses and doctors seated at a long desk outside my glass box, staring at computer monitors. It’s action central out there, where staff can observe and monitor every heart patient, each of us in one of the glass boxes.

I can see assorted tubes, lines and beeping machines surrounding my bed or attached to my body. Two nurses are looking down at me, one on either side of my hospital bed, closely examining my right wrist.  They are checking the wound that has been opened up there in order to insert a catheter through the radial artery, up my arm, around the bend of my shoulder, and into my beating heart. I find it oddly touching that each of these women is gently holding one of my hands. I feel like weeping, and so I do.

I have no more pain. No more pain crushing my chest or radiating down my left arm. No more of the increasingly debilitating symptoms I’ve been suffering for the past two weeks. If anything, I’m simply feeling surprised. I have had a heart attack. I HAVE HAD A HEART ATTACK! I, Carolyn Thomas, have had a frickety-frackin’ heart attack. . .
Continue reading

Dr. Martha Gulati’s fabulous foreword to my book

24 Jun

by Carolyn Thomas   @HeartSisters  ♥  June 24, 2018

Dr. Martha Gulati

When you open a non-fiction book, you’ll likely find a section called the foreword, written by somebody who is not the book’s author. It addresses a reader’s questions about the book: Why is the author of this book particularly qualified to write it? What will I gain or learn by reading this book?

The Chicago Manual of Style writing guide describes a foreword as “written by someone eminent to lend credibility to the book”. 

I needed to find someone eminent (definition: famous, respected, important) to agree to write the foreword for A Woman’s Guide to Living With Heart Disease because, unlike other heart books out there written by cardiologists, my heart book was written by a heart patient with zero medical training. To many, that translates as zero credibility. Continue reading

“Best narrative I have ever encountered on this topic”

4 Mar
 
Thanks to John Sawdon and his Cardiac Health Foundation of Canada colleagues for including this chapter-by-chapter overview of my new book in their 2018 Winter Bulletin.

Book Review for A Woman’s Guide to Living with Heart Disease

Written by Carolyn Thomas, a Canadian living in Victoria, B.C. and author of the blog Heart Sisters; foreword written by Martha Gulati, MD FACC, Chief of Cardiology, University of Arizona and Editor-in-Chief, CardioSmart – American College of Cardiology.  Published by Johns Hopkins University Press, 2017.

“Carolyn Thomas begins Chapter 1 with her very first heart attack symptoms and the decision to seek immediate medical help at the Emergency Department of her local hospital. She is misdiagnosed, however, with acid reflux and sent home.  This dramatic introduction is followed by what researchers tell us about women’s heart attack symptoms, and includes brief case studies of women who describe their own surprisingly varied heart attack symptoms. Continue reading

Can’t wait to start reading my book? Here’s Chapter 1!

11 Feb

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters    February 11, 2018

February is Heart Month, so here’s a Heart Month bonus for you! You can now read the full transcript of Chapter 1 of A Woman’s Guide to Living with Heart Disease (Johns Hopkins University Press, November 2017). I’m thrilled to say that my book is already in its second printing of both hardcover and paperback editions. Thank you, darling readers! Here’s Chapter 1, and here’s how to buy your own copy to read the other nine chapters – and, of course, the gorgeous foreword written by cardiologist Dr. Martha Gulati. Continue reading