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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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Eight things you can stop apologizing for, starting today.

25 Jun
by Carolyn Thomas   ♥   @HeartSisters
Despite textbook heart attack symptoms, I was sent home with an acid reflux misdiagnosis from the Emergency Department (in the same hospital where I worked!) My only reaction at the time was to feel embarrassed and apologetic because I’d just made a big fuss over “nothing”. I felt so embarrassed that I even sent my hospital colleagues in Emergency a sheepish little thank you note the following day, apologizing once again for wasting their very valuable time. I felt so embarrassed, in fact, that when my heart attack symptoms continued (of course they did!), I refused to return to Emergency for two horrific weeks.
I wrote about this urge to apologize in The Heart Patient’s Chronic Lament: “Excuse Me. I’m Sorry. I Don’t Mean to be a Bother” – about a heart patient who was stunned to add up how many times she had needlessly apologized to her family, friends and especially to staff throughout her hospital stay.
Why do we feel this urge to apologize?

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I need a nap!

23 Apr

I was never a napper before my heart attack. Naps, I used to believe, were only for people like my Dad, whose custom was to doze off after lunch for half an hour or so on the LaZBoy in our farmhouse. But now, I love naps! And because I live with ongoing cardiac symptoms (thanks to a subsequent diagnosis of coronary microvascular disease), I need those naps. If I skip my daily afternoon nap, I pay for it later by feeling sick and shaky.

Author/napper Toni Bernhard recently described in her wonderful Psychology Today column why naps are so important:

“Most people who are chronically ill benefit from scheduling at least one rest period into their day because it helps keep symptoms from flaring.” 

Yet paradoxically, she also notes that taking a “time out” by pausing to rest can be one of the hardest challenges that chronically ill patients face. Continue reading