Being of sound mind: it’s time to update your will

 by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters

I feel like I should put a warning alongside this post, because it’s about something we don’t want to talk or even think about. We live in a death-denying society. I know this, because I spent many years working in hospice palliative care. For example, even a woman being admitted to our 17-bed in-patient unit one day seemed shocked by the brochures in her room. She told us that the words ‘end-of-life care’ on the brochure cover should be immediately removed, because those words meant the dreaded D-word that she’d been denying.   .      .  Continue reading “Being of sound mind: it’s time to update your will”

How kids cope when a parent has a heart attack

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters

In response to last week’s blog post about cortisol (which featured Dr. Doreen Rabi’s surprising explanation of how this stress hormone rises among heart attack patients AFTER hospital discharge), Jan Oldenburg sent me a note. Her note simply said:

I’m guessing our children’s stress levels were higher, too. My husband Jon was only 46 at the time of his heart attack.”  . . . .     .     . Continue reading “How kids cope when a parent has a heart attack”

Post-heart attack: why we feel worse before we feel better

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters

Discharge from the hospital is a highly difficult time for both patients and families, who are often under-supported. Our study found that the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in heart attack patients increased sharply after hospital discharge – and they can stay elevated for months.” 

The study that Dr. Doreen Rabi described to me may help to answer the question that so many of my Heart Sisters readers have been asking for years: Why do I feel worse after my heart attack before I start to feel better?   .     .    .     Continue reading “Post-heart attack: why we feel worse before we feel better”

Productive uncertainty: beyond the sourdough

sourdoughby Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters

At our virtual Toastmasters meeting recently, my friend Uma presented an interesting speech about something I’d never heard of: ‘productive uncertainty’.  It’s apparently a well-known concept in education, but given all the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic over the past months, it also fits what I’ve been thinking about lately.  .         .        . Continue reading “Productive uncertainty: beyond the sourdough”

A patient, a caregiver and a doctor walk into a bar…

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters

Just kidding about that title, dear readers! There’s no bar involved in this story. I couldn’t help myself.  But in this recent heart failure study out of Milan, Italy, a unique story-sharing experience evolved among three distinct stakeholder groups (patients, family caregivers and physicians), each guided by the concept called Narrative Medicine.(1)

The Italian researchers asked participants within these three interconnected groups of people to describe in their own words:

  • What is it like to be living with heart failure? 
  • What is it like to be a family member caring for the person with heart failure? 
  • What is it like to be a physician providing medical care to this person?        .           .

Continue reading “A patient, a caregiver and a doctor walk into a bar…”