The sudden death of an ex-husband

 by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters

His body was found in his favourite chair, facing the TV that was still on (most likely, watching hockey). He’d been a lifelong Toronto Maple Leafs fan despite the team’s disappointing inability to win the Stanley Cup each year since 1967; even his obituary included his long-suffering lament:

“When I die, I want the Leafs to be my pallbearers, so they can let me down one last time.”           .       .

Continue reading “The sudden death of an ex-husband”

Eight questions from Nancy about my blog

Screen Shot 2018-08-11 at 12.19.19 PMby Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters

I have never had breast cancer, and I don’t write about breast cancer (a recent exception here). But I noticed soon after launching this Heart Sisters blog that a surprising number of women with breast cancer were reading, subscribing and responding to my blog articles on women’s heart disease. One of my favourites in this group was author and breast cancer activist Nancy Stordahl, who blogs about breast cancer over at Nancy’s PointNancy and I have agreed over the years that the traumatic experience of facing a catastrophic diagnosis is shared by many, no matter what that medical condition may be.

So when Nancy invited me to participate in her annual 2020 Summer Blogging Challenge, I was pleased to oblige one of my favourite bloggers by answering the eight questions that she asked about my blog:    .    .  Continue reading “Eight questions from Nancy about my blog”

Does our narrative identity get better with age?

by Carolyn Thomas   @HeartSisters  

I’m often moved by the stories my readers share with me here. Most of them start with dramatic cardiac crises, with survival, with the sudden shock of learning what it means to become a “patient”, with the skilled cardiologists who saved them or the ones who misdiagnosed them. Others share personal hardships they’ve been enduring long before their first cardiac event ever occurred. At age 10, for example, Marie sat in her bathtub one day and counted 33 bruises on her small body, all caused by vicious beatings with a wire coat hanger at the hands of both her mother and sister.* In a family defined by alcoholism, violence  and drug abuse, her siblings also suffered terribly. Two of her brothers became heroin addicts and died within months of each other.

Yet what truly struck me about Marie is that she tells her story without blame or resentment or self-pity. She points instead to what has helped her avoid her siblings’ fate. What Marie is quietly demonstrating is how she decided to create her own narrative identity.      .       .      Continue reading “Does our narrative identity get better with age?”

“Crowds lead to more COVID-19 cases, but so will unabated racism” 

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters

If you’ve been feeling as stunned as I am by what’s been happening in the U.S. this past week, read this compelling call to action for all physicians and public health experts, originally published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) by Harvard physicians Drs. Ingrid Katz and Abraar Karan:       .     . 

Continue reading ““Crowds lead to more COVID-19 cases, but so will unabated racism” “

The Christmas truce – 1914

Christmas Truce 1914by Carolyn Thomas        @HeartSisters

As World War I raged on in the trenches of Europe in 1914, Christmas Eve arrived cold and bleak. But German soldiers put up Christmas trees decorated with candles, on the parapets of their trenches. Although their enemies, the British soldiers, could see the lights, it took them a few minutes to figure out where they were from. Could this be a trick?

British soldiers were ordered not to fire, but to watch closely. Instead of trickery, however, the British soldiers heard the Germans singing carols and celebrating. Here’s what one young soldier wrote home about this remarkable event:     Continue reading “The Christmas truce – 1914”