Discordance: when patients and docs aren’t on the same page

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters

In her Netflix comedy special, “Not Normal”, Wanda Sykes recalls  having severe post-operative pain following the double mastectomy she underwent after her breast cancer diagnosis. She asked hospital staff for pain medication, but was offered only ibuprofen (or, as Wanda now describes it, “ibu-f***ing-profen!”)  Her white male friends, by comparison, told her that they’d each been given far more effective meds for far less severe pain after their own hospital procedures.

Her recommendation to women now is: “Bring a white man to do your complaining for you! ”   That’s pretty funny. But we all know that the reality is not funny at all.              .        .
Continue reading “Discordance: when patients and docs aren’t on the same page”

Stroke survivor Sharon Dreher: “Don’t use a 1-10 pain scale on women who have delivered a baby”

by Carolyn Thomas       @HeartSisters 

.      Sharon Gilroy Dreher

She said that her headache pain during her stroke was so bad, it felt like “someone had blown a hole in the back of my head”.  But Sharon Dreher’s doctor told her that she was likely just “fighting a virus.”  The article she later wrote about her misdiagnosed stroke experience was written two months post-stroke, “back when I thought a recovery meant I’d get back to normal”. 

But five years later, as Sharon Dreher has learned, “normal” can be a moving target for many women.  

When I first watched the video of her story at the 2019 Canadian Stroke Congress, I almost fell off my red chair. Unlike most stroke patients, Sharon’s symptoms did NOT follow the typical F.A.S.T. model (short for: Facial drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulties and Time to call emergency services).        .     .   Continue reading “Stroke survivor Sharon Dreher: “Don’t use a 1-10 pain scale on women who have delivered a baby””

Walking the tightrope: women cardiologists in an old boys’ club

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters   

You know there’s trouble when the Women In Cardiology Leadership Council reports this year that their group (part of the American College of Cardiology) is “very frustrated and concerned about the lack of growth in the numbers of women pursuing a career in cardiology.”(1) 

And no wonder! Fewer than 13 per cent of cardiologists are women, despite what’s been called “a robust pipeline of female med students and internal medicine residents” who could choose this field.(2)  And I’d bet my next squirt of nitro spray that a man implanted your stent  – because only about 5 per cent of all interventional cardiologists (the ones specifically trained for this procedure) are women.

Female cardiologists are not only the minority in their profession, but “discrimination against women is entrenched in the culture of cardiology”; in fact, female cardiologists are more likely than males (96% vs 8%) to experience discrimination related to gender.(3)       .         .            .         .    Continue reading “Walking the tightrope: women cardiologists in an old boys’ club”

When a red dress just isn’t enough to raise awareness

by Carolyn Thomas       @HeartSisters

A decade of lost ground  is how the official commentary from the American Heart Association bluntly described the stunningly awful results of its own 2019 National Survey on women’s heart disease awareness reported last month. I wrote about my own stunned reaction to this survey in Women’s Heart Disease: an Awareness Campaign Fail?

The results were astonishing.  They suggested that women not only had a low awareness of even the most basic facts about heart disease – the #1 killer of women worldwide – but awareness levels were significantly lower than an AHA awareness survey had found 10 years earlier.    .        .    .    .   Continue reading “When a red dress just isn’t enough to raise awareness”

Who will speak for you when you can’t?

by Carolyn Thomas    ♥     @HeartSisters

Would you like a morning or afternoon appointment? Which colour do you prefer? Paper or plastic? Do you want fries with that?

On an average day (and do those even exist anymore?), we speak up freely when we’re asked countless minor questions about what we want. But what happens if we’re being asked the most important question ever – yet we’re no longer able to respond?    .       .    Continue reading “Who will speak for you when you can’t?”

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”