It’s been quite the ride since my book was published by Johns Hopkins University Press in 2017! When it was launched, “A Woman’s Guide to Living with Heart Disease” became Amazon’s #1 New Release in the Medicine/Public Health category. The book is now in its second printing, and reviews have been truly wonderful – with one notable exception: an Australian reader named Robert who complained in his review that there was “a bit too much emphasis on how women are neglected when it comes to heart disease” – and then added: “Happily for me, my doctors, nurses and physios did everything by the book.”
Thank you Robert, for helping to illustrate the cardiology gender gap so perfectly!
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 CBCRadio.
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 “When an illness narrative isn’t just about illness”→
I 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 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 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 ““I am lying in a surprisingly bright glass-walled room…””→
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”.
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.
“Carolyn Thomas begins Chapter 1with 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 ““Best narrative I have ever encountered on this topic””→