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“Refrain from operating a chainsaw after your cardiac procedure”

9 Apr
As I love to keep saying, my Heart Sisters blog readers are the smartest and the funniest and the most resilient women out there – and remember that most of them are living with various levels of heart disease symptoms all while busy being smart and funny and resilient.
 
One such reader named Jennifer, who also lives with a thyroid condition called Graves Disease, wrote the comment below in response to my blog post about women’s heart clinics. Her hospital experience with the cardiology gender gap is maddeningly common (and yet another powerful argument for opening a women’s heart clinic in every hospital).

Continue reading

My unofficial (but weirdly true) Hierarchy of Heart Disease

6 Dec

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

During my first evening attending our “Heart to Heart” 7-week education series for recently diagnosed heart patients, the man sitting next to me leaned over and asked me: “What are you in for?” 

I told him that I’d had what doctors call the “widow maker” heart attack two weeks earlier, and that I now had a stainless steel stent implanted in a major coronary artery that had been 99% blocked.  He interrupted me with a cheery:

I have THREE stents!”

As he went on and on in exquisite detail about his cardiac event, I felt like my own was suddenly pretty puny by comparison. Three stents? How could I possibly compete with that? My previously-fascinating heart attack misdiagnosis story now seemed hardly even worth mentioning, really.

I came to observe during the  following weeks and months that heart patients, consciously or not, seem to slot themselves arbitrarily into what I now call the unspoken Hierarchy of Heart DiseaseContinue reading

Want the truth about what we eat? Ask our girlfriends…

4 Oct

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

More reports from the Department of the Bleedin’ Obvious, my heart sisters. Last year, a group of 45 international nutrition scientists launched a campaign to end the use of one of their most commonly-used research tools: the self-reported food diary.(1)  These scientists now claim that “dietary recall is skewed towards healthier behaviour.”

In plain English, it means this: people participating in nutrition studies lie to researchers about what they actually eat, preferring instead to enter foods into their daily food diary like “kale” and “quinoa” before submitting their self-reports.

And let’s face it, a person who has volunteered for a nutrition study may be too embarrassed to officially record for posterity something like: “I ate half a box of Turtles today just to get them out of the house.”*  (And really, I can’t be the only woman to ever admit to this, can I?)   Continue reading

Confessions of a non-compliant patient

17 Feb

by Carolyn Thomas @HeartSisters

Consider this scenario, dear reader:  I’m lying in bed late one Sunday evening, settled in to watch Downton Abbey for the next hour. But this Sunday is different from any other Sunday because I’ve had three new things to deal with during the past week that are utterly separate from my laundry list of daily cardiac concerns:

  1. I’ve been having physiotherapy three times a week because I twisted my right knee (same one I had knee surgery on seven years ago).
  2. I’m using a new prescription ointment for a pesky patch of psoriasis on my left elbow.
  3. I’m wearing a brand new acrylic mouth guard to bed every night that my dentist has just made for me to help treat a longstanding jaw alignment problem.

So. Here I am lying in bed that Sunday evening as our story unfolds . . . Continue reading

Why I decided to start loving my grey hair

3 Aug

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

When I saw the finished product after a photographer took new head shots of me last September, my first horrified reaction was:

“Good grief!!

“Where did those wrinkles around my eyes come from?”

And no wonder.  Let’s face it: gravity is no friend to women of a certain age. Little jowly pouches begin to sag below what was once my strong jaw line. Eyelids droop inexplicably southward. And where once I could bounce a dime off each tricep now hangs delicately crepe paper-like flab. Continue reading