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My book is one year old! Some excerpts to tease you…

18 Nov

 

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters    November 18, 2018

What a year it’s been since my book was published by Johns Hopkins University Press one year ago this month! When it was launched, A Woman’s Guide to Living with Heart Diseasebecame Amazon’s #1 New Release in its Medicine/Public Health category. The book is already into its second printing, and reviews have been truly wonderful (with one notable exception: an Australian reader named Robert who complained in his Goodreads review that there was a bit too much emphasis on how women are neglected when it comes to heart disease” – and then added: “Happily for me, my doctors, nurses and physios did everything by the book.” Thank you Robert, for helping to illustrate the cardiology gender gap so perfectly!

To celebrate this one-year milestone (and entice you to buy the book for yourself, or as a really useful gift for a freshly-diagnosed woman you care about), here are some random excerpts from my book, gathered from each of the 10 chapters. Enjoy this little teaser… 
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Is ‘being nice’ hurting women?

30 Sep

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters    September 30, 2018

Imagine the reaction from Emergency Department staff to the woman I met at my Mayo Clinic training, the one who had been sent home from Emergency three days in a row despite her complaints of increasingly distressing cardiac symptoms. Each time she arrived there, she clearly declared the following to the Emergency physician, who continued to repeatedly dismiss her concerns:

“I don’t care what you say. SOMETHING is wrong with me!”

What a royal pain in the ass, staff may have muttered about her, sotto voce.

On her third visit, the physician recommended anti-anxiety medications. But on the fourth visit, on that fourth day, she was taken directly from the E.R. to the O.R. to undergo emergency coronary bypass surgery. Continue reading

First the big change, then the big transition

19 Aug

3quotes-Change-is-external--by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters     August 19, 2018

My 30 year-old BREE bag circa 1989

I can’t even remember reading the book when I bought it, hot off the press, back in 1991. It was during the busy pre-Kindle heyday of my career in corporate public relations. In those days, I traveled a lot for work, so on any given day I carried a business book or two in my briefcase to read on the plane. (Remember briefcases? Do people still carry briefcases?)

This particular business book is called Managing Transitions by William Bridges, the “preeminent authority on change and managing change”.  While sorting out old books recently to donate to charity, I cracked open this book to the section called How to Deal with Non-Stop Change. Bill Bridges was writing specifically about dealing with change in the workplace, but his message also made a lot of sense to me as a patient who has seen plenty of changes in my life due to a cardiac event in 2008. The reality is that there is no workplace change – layoffs, restructuring, corporate mergers, you name it – that could possibly compare to the profoundly significant changes that so many of us go through when we are diagnosed with a serious medical condition.   Continue reading

“A Typical Heart”: how YOU can help create this documentary!

30 Jul

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters    July 30, 2018

Do you sometimes wish that everybody (and their healthcare providers) were more aware of the unique differences in male and female heart disease? ….  I know you do! Cristina D’Alessandro is a Toronto-area paramedic and healthcare researcher who has that same wish. She’s a healthcare professional who, like so many of us, is concerned about what’s known as the cardiology gender gap in diagnosing and treating women’s heart disease. She asks, for example, this brilliant question: 

“In paramedic school, they teach us about the ‘atypical’ signs of a woman’s heart attack. But why exactly do they call it ‘atypical’ when women are more than half the population?”

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“I am lying in a surprisingly bright glass-walled room…”

29 Jul

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters    July 29, 2018

Royal Jubilee Hospital, Victoria, BC - CanadaI am lying in a surprisingly large and very white, bright glass-walled room in the CCU (the coronary intensive care unit) of our local hospital. Through these walls I can see several people who look like nurses and doctors seated at a long desk outside my glass box, staring at computer monitors. It’s action central out there, where staff can observe and monitor every heart patient, each of us in one of the glass boxes.

I can see assorted tubes, lines and beeping machines surrounding my bed or attached to my body. Two nurses are looking down at me, one on either side of my hospital bed, closely examining my right wrist.  They are checking the wound that has been opened up there in order to insert a catheter through the radial artery, up my arm, around the bend of my shoulder, and into my beating heart. I find it oddly touching that each of these women is gently holding one of my hands. I feel like weeping, and so I do.

I have no more pain. No more pain crushing my chest or radiating down my left arm. No more of the increasingly debilitating symptoms I’ve been suffering for the past two weeks. If anything, I’m simply feeling surprised. I have had a heart attack. I HAVE HAD A HEART ATTACK! I, Carolyn Thomas, have had a frickety-frackin’ heart attack. . .
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