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Life after heart attack if you’re a Type A

8 Oct

by Carolyn Thomas  ♥  @HeartSisters

Shortly after my heart attack, while I was lying around at home on the big red chair wondering when I was ever going to feel like my old self, my real self, my fun self again, I went online to seek help from a cardiac support group I’d just discovered (the WomenHeart online community at Inspire).  All I had to do was type in the question “Does anybody else out there experience this?” and I knew that many of the 32,000+ other women members living with heart disease would have an answer, a handy tip or just some virtual understanding for me.

What was happening to me? I had turned into a person I no longer recognized. That person I used to be – the one who was the last to leave any party, the one everybody else could count on, the one who thrived on juggling multiple deadlines with ease – seemed to have disappeared. How could I get her back?  Ongoing cardiac symptoms and an as-yet-undiagnosed coronary microvascular disorder meant a much slower pace that I did not like one bit. What should I be doing to speed up this annoyingly slow recovery business? I posed these questions to my online group, and among many replies, this one arrived from an anonymous sisterly soul who, like me, had been going through much the same awkward transition. A self-described recovering Type A personality, she wrote me the following:  Continue reading

Thoughts on returning to work if you’re a heart patient

27 Aug

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

A list of five Choosing Wisely recommendations from the field of occupational medicine caught my attention the other day. For those of you who have never had the pleasure of working with a real live occupational therapist, they are under-appreciated healthcare professionals who help recuperating patients develop, recover, and improve practical skills they need for daily living. The goal of the Choosing Wisely campaign is to basically help reduce waste in the healthcare system and avoid patient risks associated with unnecessary treatment. It’s all good. But the part of this occupational medicine list from Choosing Wisely Canada that stopped me in my tracks was the first recommendation on this list:
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What’s your ‘being sick’ style?

20 Aug

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

Here at Heart Sisters World Headquarters, it has come to my attention that there seems to be a divide between two types of recuperation styles when women get sick.  I don’t mean urgent/call 911/another-freakin’-heart-attack kind of sick, but more like your garden variety feeling-like-hell when you’re knocked flat in bed with a flu, a cold, or recovering from a bad flare of chronic illness symptoms.

The two most common responses from my Heart Sisters blog readers (always a goldmine of data!) are these:
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First, there was compliance. Then, adherence. Now, concordance!

16 Jul

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters

Non-compliant patients who, for whatever reason, do not follow doctors’ orders are a pain in the neck to their physicians. But to me, the most problematic part of that statement is the use of the word non-compliant. Simon Davies of the U.K.’s Teenage Cancer Trust once described it as “a word that sounds like it has punishment at the end of it.”  Yet physicians are frustrated about why so many of us refuse to take their expert medical advice. Continue reading

How soon are heart patients safely fit to drive?

9 Jul
by Carolyn Thomas      @HeartSisters

Almost all freshly-diagnosed heart patients are warned not to drive for a specific period of time following hospital discharge, ranging anywhere from 24 hours to several months, depending on the specific cardiac issue.  And in the earliest days or weeks, we may have mixed emotions even thinking about getting behind the wheel of a car again.

Some of us might feel afraid to drive (“What if I have another cardiac emergency while driving by myself on the highway?”).  A Swedish study that followed drivers living with chronic illness (including cardiovascular disease) over a 10-year period found that very few road accidents were directly caused by either the disease or its treatment after early driving restriction time periods had passed (just 0·8% of all cases).  Despite those stats, the researchers reported that many individual drivers voluntarily surrendered their driving license post-diagnosis because of the personal decision that “my state of health was no longer compatible with safe driving.” (1)
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