Does our narrative identity get better with age?

by Carolyn Thomas   @HeartSisters  

I’m often moved by the stories my readers share with me here. Most of them start with dramatic cardiac crises, with survival, with the sudden shock of learning what it means to become a “patient”, with the skilled cardiologists who saved them or the ones who misdiagnosed them. Others share personal hardships they’ve been enduring long before their first cardiac event ever occurred. At age 10, for example, Marie sat in her bathtub one day and counted 33 bruises on her small body, all caused by vicious beatings with a wire coat hanger at the hands of both her mother and sister.* In a family defined by alcoholism, violence  and drug abuse, her siblings also suffered terribly. Two of her brothers became heroin addicts and died within months of each other.

Yet what truly struck me about Marie is that she tells her story without blame or resentment or self-pity. She points instead to what has helped her avoid her siblings’ fate. What Marie is quietly demonstrating is how she decided to create her own narrative identity.      .       .      Continue reading “Does our narrative identity get better with age?”

When cancer treatment damages your heart

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters

It seems a cruel irony: the very thing that may have saved your life after a frightening cancer diagnosis is the same thing that can ultimately endanger your heart. I first heard of the known link between cancer treatments and later heart disease when I was a text editor of the palliative care textbook called Medical Care of the Dying.1  I learned about patients with end-stage heart disease caused by their cancer treatments, sometimes decades earlier.  .   .
Continue reading “When cancer treatment damages your heart”

“Crowds lead to more COVID-19 cases, but so will unabated racism” 

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters

If you’ve been feeling as stunned as I am by what’s been happening in the U.S. this past week, read this compelling call to action for all physicians and public health experts, originally published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) by Harvard physicians Drs. Ingrid Katz and Abraar Karan:       .     . 

Continue reading ““Crowds lead to more COVID-19 cases, but so will unabated racism” “

Does COVID-19 cause carb cravings (or is it just me?)

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters

I’ve heard it said that some people lose their appetite during stressful times. These people are not my relatives. Indeed, in our Ukrainian family tradition, we love food, and we eat when we’re happy, we eat when we’re upset, and we eat during all possible emotions in between.

So amid the stressful reality of the COVID-19 virus pandemic, stress eating in our family can mean only one thing: carbohydrate cravings.            .

Continue reading “Does COVID-19 cause carb cravings (or is it just me?)”

The uncertainty of hitting that pandemic wall

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

One thing is becoming clear as we pass the two-month milestone of our current COVID-19 global pandemic: I don’t like uncertainty.

I like feeling in charge of tomorrow’s plans. I like things that make sense to me. I like being pretty sure of what’s coming up  next. But precious little certainty exists any more for me (or for anybody else – including those tiresome politicians pretending to know).  I’m not sure of very much these days and by now, I’ve had enough of uncertainty.

But I do like the way psychotherapist Nancy Colier explained this level of pandemic uncertainty recently. She compared it to “hitting the wall” during the last few miles of running a 26.2-mile marathon.  .     .
Continue reading “The uncertainty of hitting that pandemic wall”

The real reason we’re so tired of Zoom calls

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters 

From my scheduled chats with friends and family to weekly Toastmasters meetings or Sunday morning crafting calls, my calendar now seems increasingly filled with Zoom appointments (and those are just the fun ones, not counting the Heart Sisters-related meetings with people I don’t even know, like researchers, students or media). I thought at first that my own Zoom fatigue* – yes, even chatting with those I know and love – was due to adjusting to the differences between video calls and in-person communication.

But then I read an intriguing essay by Dr. Evan Selinger called The Problem Isn’t Zoom Fatigue — It’s Mourning Life as We Knew It.     .        . Continue reading “The real reason we’re so tired of Zoom calls”