When we expect to die, but don’t

by Carolyn Thomas      @HeartSisters

Shortly after I was freshly diagnosed with coronary microvascular disease (MVD), one of my readers told me that, for the past 12 years, she too had been living with MVD after surviving her own “widow maker heart attack”, just as I had.  Immediately picturing the future prospect of somehow coping with ongoing bouts of exhaustion, shortness of breath and debilitating chest pain, my surprising gut reaction was:

“12 years!?  TWELVE YEARS?!?!?!  I can’t do this!”

Well, Happy Heart-iversary to me: on May 6th this week, exactly 13 years have passed since my initially misdiagnosed heart attack was finally correctly diagnosed and appropriately treated, but even more amazing to me, I’ve now lived with MVD for 12 of those 13 years.     .      .     Continue reading “When we expect to die, but don’t”

When heart disease wears a smile

by Carolyn Thomas      @HeartSisters

I love this photo of three generations of our family, taken during the weekend of my late mother’s 80th birthday. That’s her on the left, me in the middle, my daughter Larissa Jane on the right. Happy smiles all around – yet one significant problem:  I was very, very ill while smiling for the photographer. In fact, I was admitted to the hospital the day after it was taken.  And this time – unlike my first trip to the Emergency Department two weeks earlier –  my “widow-maker” heart attack was appropriately diagnosed and treated.         .            .   Continue reading “When heart disease wears a smile”

How to avoid six common errors in motivating patients to change

by Carolyn Thomas   @HeartSisters 

In a classic understatement, U.K. researchers Drs. Michael Kelly and Mary Barker observed that “most efforts to change health behaviours have had limited success.”(1)

No kidding. Right now, even as you read this, academic researchers are applying for (and getting) grant funding to study smokers who don’t quit, couch potatoes who don’t get off the couch, or heart patients who stop taking their cardiac meds. I’m betting my next squirt of nitro spray that these studies will no doubt conclude that, yes indeed, those people DO need to change their behaviours, and “further study is required”.    .     . Continue reading “How to avoid six common errors in motivating patients to change”

My year of living COVIDly

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters   

In Italy, where my sister Bev and her husband Marco live, the government ordered a nationwide lockdown on Monday, March 9th last year. The country’s COVID-19 count there had exploded  from under 10 cases to over 9,000 within weeks. On the same day, we here in Canada recorded our first confirmed death. Three days later, hockey-mad Canadians were stunned when the NHL cancelled the rest of its season.

Suddenly, this was really happening.        .     .   Continue reading “My year of living COVIDly”

A children’s book about living with an open heart surgery scar

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters

When Zayna’s infant daughter Sarah was just five months old, the baby underwent open heart surgery to correct a congenital heart defect she’d been born with. “The surgery truly saved her life!” says Zayna. “She went from being tube-fed to becoming a bouncing ball of energy.”

But a few years later, Sarah had an experience with her little friends – one that resulted in a new book for kids who are just like her.    .    .  Continue reading “A children’s book about living with an open heart surgery scar”

Women’s heart disease: wrong symptoms, wrong words or wrong diagnostic tools?

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters   

I walked out of our local hospital’s Emergency Department after having my textbook heart attack symptoms misdiagnosed as acid reflux. Much later, my increasingly debilitating cardiac symptoms were finally correctly diagnosed (same hospital, different Emerg doc). But after my hospital discharge, my pushy family and friends kept asking me about that first visit to Emergency: “Why didn’t you demand to see a cardiologist? Why didn’t you ask for more tests?”

As I was soon to learn, that is so NOT how most health care systems work – especially for female patients.    .    .   Continue reading “Women’s heart disease: wrong symptoms, wrong words or wrong diagnostic tools?”