Good anxiety: is that even possible?

by Carolyn Thomas       @HeartSisters   

There’s anxiety, and then there’s ANXIETY.  When Dr. Wendy Suzuki wrote about anxiety recently in her Globe and Mail essay, she wasn’t talking about clinical levels of anxiety requiring medical treatment, but what she calls our everyday anxiety:  

You would think that, after 18 months, we might feel better prepared to manage the continuing effects of the pandemic, but instead, our recent history seems to have simply added to our collective anxiety.”

She views this “everyday anxiety” as a new approach to understanding anxiety.       .   Continue reading “Good anxiety: is that even possible?”

Precarity: the perfect word for our times

by Carolyn Thomas      @HeartSisters   

I learned a terrific new word recently. The word is precarity, meaning the state of being precarious, unpredictable or uncertain. Any woman who is freshly diagnosed with heart disease already knows the precarity of life following a cardiac event – a reality that suddenly feels precarious, unpredictable and uncertain as we try to make sense of something that makes no sense. And after 19 months of navigating a global pandemic, we now know yet another kind of precarity.       .          .  Continue reading “Precarity: the perfect word for our times”

Women’s misdiagnosed heart attacks: the COVID long-haulers of cardiology

by Carolyn Thomas      @HeartSisters

Ed Yong, my favourite Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer over at The Atlantic, wrote recently that, when he first started reporting on the medical phenomenon called “long-COVID” (meaning ongoing debilitating COVID symptoms that continue far longer than eight weeks), few scientists or physicians knew that it existed – and more importantly, many even doubted that it did:

“Some researchers still hesitate to recognize long-COVID if it doesn’t present in certain ways; they’re running studies without listening to patients. Long-haulers are growing frustrated that what is self-evident to them – that their condition is very real and in need of urgent attention – is taking a worrying amount of time to be acknowledged.”

That paragraph beautifully captures what women whose heart attack symptoms were initially dismissed have described as well – that sense of not being listened to during a heart attack that was “very real”.    .     .    .

Continue reading “Women’s misdiagnosed heart attacks: the COVID long-haulers of cardiology”

Dear Carolyn: “I couldn’t tell if my pain was ‘normal’.”

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters

I happen to have a pain specialist in my family:  my darling 6-year old granddaughter Everly Rose, who studies her assorted owies very seriously. She updates me at each visit on how every scratch, scar or scab is coming along, rating the pain that each injury caused her on the playground, at summer day camp, or while playing with Homie, her cat. 

I, on the other hand, am apparently keen on NOT making a fuss, no matter what – yes, even the chest and left arm pain that continued during my own misdiagnosed heart attack.

One of my Toronto readers told me recently about the time that she too could not bring herself to describe her pain as pain.  As part of my occasional “Dear Carolyn” series of reader narratives, I’m sharing her story here. Notice how many times she avoids revealing her true pain:       .          .   Continue reading “Dear Carolyn: “I couldn’t tell if my pain was ‘normal’.””

Why patients don’t have admin assistants

                   Moments from the full, rich life of patient partner Lelainia Lloyd *

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters

Patients can sometimes be sickly people in bed, wearing embarrassingly undignified bum-baring hospital gowns.

Patients can also be experts in the lived experience of their own diagnoses,  who contribute to medical research and education teams as partners in meaningful academic projects.

If you’re surprised by that last description, you’ll be even more surprised by all the things that many patient partners can do in life (besides laying around being sickly).       .        . Continue reading “Why patients don’t have admin assistants”

Post-COVID handshakes: dread or delight?

hand-shake-4092737_1280by Carolyn Thomas       @HeartSisters

  • the COVID-19 variants
  • our record-breaking heat wave
  • devastating forest fires
  • air quality (see: forest fires)
  • the deer eating my zinnias

Okay, that last one may seem trivial (but I was TOLD that deer won’t touch zinnias – which is apparently FALSE!)  I have also noticed that my cardiac symptoms don’t even make that worry list these days.    n .        .   Continue reading “Post-COVID handshakes: dread or delight?”