Diagnostic error: will it go away if we just don’t talk about it?

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters   

As Audre Lorde once warned us:

“My silences have not protected me. Your silences will not protect you. Only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth. And that is not speaking.”

I am exquisitely aware that when I write or speak about the subject of diagnostic error in medicine, some people will feel uncomfortable. It’s difficult to talk about being misdiagnosed in mid-heart attack and sent home from Emergency while somehow making that story sound flattering to the medical profession.        .    .  Continue reading “Diagnostic error: will it go away if we just don’t talk about it?”

Heart FAILURE vs. heart FUNCTION

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters   

A number of cardiologists seem to be revisiting the warnings of their late colleague Dr. Bernard Lown, who often cautioned physicians against using words that hurt – specifically, the name heart FAILURE * (what he termed “doom forecasting”).  Imagine being a patient hearing for the first time the words, “You have heart FAILURE.”  A terrifying – and worse, often inaccurate – name.  I’ve been told that changing the name of this condition would be impossible. But a recent editorial in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology has suddenly offered a glimmer of hope. 

Continue reading “Heart FAILURE vs. heart FUNCTION”

Auricular amputations of confectionary rabbits

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters  

Imagine a bright Easter Sunday, back in the mid-1950s. The sun is shining, church bells are ringing, cherry trees abloom, and I and my sister Cathy are decked out in our brand new matching pink Easter outfits. We have been invited out to lunch at the home of our friends, the Moskal family, after Easter Sunday Mass.

We enjoy a delicious lunch of baked ham, deviled eggs, potato salad and – our favourite! – traditional Easter paska, after which the children are dismissed from the table to play while our parents finish their coffee. And that’s when things suddenly go sideways. . .    .       . Continue reading “Auricular amputations of confectionary rabbits”

It’s a BOY!

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by Carolyn Thomas      @HeartSisters

Wonderful news for our whole family this weekend – my son now has a son of his own! A beautiful healthy baby boy, Zachary David Dunn, was born at 6:46 p.m. on March 27, 2021, weighing 8 pounds 8 ounces – a second grandchild for me (his Baba), a fourth for Grandma MaryAnn, a sweet baby cousin for Everly Rose, and the long-awaited precious first baby for ecstatically happy parents Paula and Ben, who are exhausted but over the moon!  Mum and babe both doing well. I can’t visit them in person or hold my little grandson because of COVID-19 precautions, but I can have a “window visit” from the hospital parking lot today!        .       .
Continue reading “It’s a BOY!”

Bereavement eating: does grief cause carb cravings?

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters

(originally published here after my mother’s death nine years ago today)

I’ve heard it said that some people experience a loss of appetite during stressful times like a death in the family.  These people are not my relatives. Indeed, in our Ukrainian family tradition, we eat when we’re happy, we eat when we’re upset, and we eat during all possible emotions in between.

Every family gathering surrounding my mother’s death in 2012 was no exception.

For example, the delicious lunch following her funeral service was a true labour of love prepared by the women of my mother’s church, just as the women of churches, mosques, temples, synagogues and neighbourhoods around the world have been doing for mourners since time began.         .               . Continue reading “Bereavement eating: does grief cause carb cravings?”

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”