You’re not always going to feel this way

by Carolyn Thomas   ♥   @HeartSisters

While binge-watching Season 4 of Grace and Frankie on Netflix the other day, I heard Frankie’s sweetheart, Jacob the Yam Man, trying to calm her down with a statement that has proven to be very true for me since my heart attack:

“You’re not always going to feel the way you do today!”

I think I’ll go embroider that on a pillow. . .            Continue reading “You’re not always going to feel this way”

Diagnostic uncertainty: when we just don’t know

by Carolyn Thomas      @HeartSisters

The image above is all about uncertainty. It’s like a 5-step roadmap that you’d use when traveling an unfamiliar road to a new destination you know nothing about and do not want to visit.(1)  For people experiencing scary symptoms they fear might be heart-related, for example, uncertainty about what’s happening now and what will happen next is pervasive. But a new study published in the journal Patient Education and Counseling reminds us that patients aren’t the only ones facing uncertainty around a medical diagnosis: “Both patients and clinicians experience diagnostic uncertainty, but in different ways.”(2)        .        .   Continue reading “Diagnostic uncertainty: when we just don’t know”

Behaviour change: if it’s so ‘easy’, why do so many studies show it won’t last?

by Carolyn Thomas      @HeartSisters

Many centuries ago, while I was a volunteer run leader at our local YM-YWCA annual Marathon Run Clinic, my assigned running group each January was the 10-minute milers, whom I affectionately dubbed The Turtles. Our motto: “No course too short, no pace too slow.”   My group members were typically either former runners slowly returning after an injury, or people who were brand new to running. The newbies were as enthusiastic as their freshly-made New Year’s resolutions:  one, for example, declared to me that this was the year that he was finally going to quit smoking, lose 30 pounds, and run a marathon.

To which I replied: “Honey, pick ONE. . .”     .           .  Continue reading “Behaviour change: if it’s so ‘easy’, why do so many studies show it won’t last?”

“Be alert to both the absence of normal as well as the presence of abnormal”

by Carolyn Thomas      @HeartSisters

It isn’t often that I’m wide awake at 1 a.m. But sometimes, a dream or a fire truck siren or whatever jolts me so wide awake in the middle of the night that sleep seems suddenly impossible. When this does happen, I’ve learned that I can sometimes lull myself back to sleep by turning on my bedside radio. (Radios! Remember those?)  My old clock radio is tuned permanently to CBC, our national Canadian broadcaster. And 1 a.m. is when CBC runs the Public Radio International program called “The World” . I love that show.

It isn’t often that I hear something on The World so perfectly applicable to women’s heart attacks that I’m moved to sit up in bed, grab a Sharpie and the little stack of post-it notes beside said radio, and quickly scribble down the words before I forget what’s just been said. But this was one of those times.         .    .    Continue reading ““Be alert to both the absence of normal as well as the presence of abnormal””

How I used to describe SCAD. And what I’ve learned since.

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

I’d never heard of the heart condition called Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD) until I attended the WomenHeart Science & Leadership patient advocacy training at Mayo Clinic in 2008.  SCAD, I learned back then, was a rare and often fatal condition, seen mostly in young, healthy women who have few if any cardiac risk factors. But in a recent interview, cardiologists who specialize in this frequently misunderstood diagnosis added some surprising updates to what is now known about SCAD.     .        . Continue reading “How I used to describe SCAD. And what I’ve learned since.”