Heading home tips following open heart surgery

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters     May 5, 2019

Open heart surgery.   Is there any medical procedure in history so surrounded by genuine awe and surreal mystique? Cracking open the sternum to reveal the beating heart beneath, and then somehow trusting a heart-lung machine to temporarily take over the jobs of both the human heart and lungs – now, that’s heroic! But when it comes to explaining just how that happens, few of us might guess that the most compelling and straightforward description comes not from the world of medicine, but from the venerable magazine, Popular Mechanics.
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The chest pain / panic connection

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters     April 28, 2019

For most of us, feelings of anxiety or panic are generally occasional, mild and brief – normal responses to being worried or scared. I never thought of myself as a person who was prone to experience anxiety or panic – until I survived a heart attack. I can now tell you quite confidently that there are few things in life that are more anxiety-producing than being in the middle of a frickety-frackin’ heart attack. . . Continue reading “The chest pain / panic connection”

Auricular amputations in confectionary rabbits (or, do you eat the chocolate bunny ears first?)

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters   April 21, 2019

Imagine a bright Easter Sunday, back in the mid-1950s. The sun is shining, church bells are ringing, cherry trees abloom, and I and my sister Cathy are decked out in our brand new matching pink Easter outfits. We have been invited out to lunch at the home of our friends, the Moskal family, after Easter Sunday Mass.

We enjoy a delicious lunch of baked ham, deviled eggs, potato salad and – our favourite! – traditional Easter paska, after which the children are dismissed from the table to go and play while our parents finish their coffee. And that’s when things suddenly go sideways. . .  Continue reading “Auricular amputations in confectionary rabbits (or, do you eat the chocolate bunny ears first?)”

The science of safety – and your local hospital

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters     April 14, 2019

Have you ever walked up to a big door and pulled when you should have pushed? Have you done this despite the sign on the door telling you specifically how it works? Have you even pulled repeatedly on the same door when it won’t open?  I sure have. . .

Dr. Terry Fairbanks tells this story of some door-watching he did at his local bagel shop while he sat at a table waiting for his wife.

“I watched person after person pulling on the shop door despite the PUSH sign. But if this were healthcare, we’d put a policy in place, make a policy binder, and put it on the nurses’ shelf!

“But it’s not about policy, it’s about changing the door!”   

Continue reading “The science of safety – and your local hospital”

Women’s heart health: why it’s NOT a zero sum game

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters  April 7, 2019

In the game of poker, zero sum game theory suggests that the sum of the amounts won by some players equals the combined losses of the others. So if one player wins big, then other players must lose big.

It struck me recently that it’s possible our healthcare system functions as if it were a zero sum game, too.
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MDs often tell women to lose weight rather than address cardiac risk factors

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters    March 31, 2019

This editorial, What Women (and Clinicians) Don’t Know Hurts Them, originally appeared in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. As a woman with heart disease, I wanted to immediately read it to find out what might be hurting me.

But as is common practice in most medical journals, this editorial was behind a paywall, so it was not available for heart patients like me, or anybody else who wasn’t a subscriber to the journal.

I could pay a fee of $35 for the privilege of reading this one article, but the reality is that I can’t afford to pay for articles that aren’t being published in what’s known as an open access journal.* Continue reading “MDs often tell women to lose weight rather than address cardiac risk factors”