Life before diagnosis: not as perfect as we recall?

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters  September 1, 2019

Like most of us, my time on this earth has been bookmarked by a number of important “before” and “after” experiences: the way I lived my life before key events occurred, and the way my life changed after they occurred. Before and after I got married. Before and after I became a mother. Before and after I ran my first half-marathon. But one of the most profound changes has to be before and after the fateful day in the ER when a cardiologist told me,“You have significant heart disease”.

Many of us living with a chronic and progressive illness like this often view these periods of life as two parts: the normal and wonderful times before the traumatic diagnosis, and all the not-wonderful days that have been happening ever since.     . Continue reading “Life before diagnosis: not as perfect as we recall?”

Choose your listeners carefully

 by Carolyn Thomas    @Heartsisters    August 25, 2019

I once heard the late author Dr. Leo Buscaglia tell a conference audience his story about how he grew up equating caregiving with love. When he was a little boy, for example, his own mother seemed cold and distant  – except when he was sick. During those times, she would sit at his bedside, stroke his fevered brow, spoon-feed him homemade soup, fuss over every painful twinge, listen carefully to his every word, and become the kind of loving mother he rarely knew when he was healthy.    . Continue reading “Choose your listeners carefully”

“Life is amazing. And then it’s awful…”

by Carolyn Thomas   @HeartSisters     August 17, 2019

“Life is amazing. And then it’s awful. And then it’s amazing again. And in between the amazing and the awful, it’s ordinary and mundane and routine. Breathe in the amazing, hold on through the awful, and relax and exhale during the ordinary. That’s just living heartbreaking, soul-healing, amazing, awful, ordinary life. And it’s breathtakingly beautiful.”

This reminder about the amazingness of life from author L.R. Knost has always rung true for me.(1)  And so do these words of a local Kindergarten teacher who tells her kids: “You get what you get, and you don’t get upset!”

But we do get upset. Really upset. Especially when we observe that we’re getting not nearly enough “amazing” and way too much “awful” . Continue reading ““Life is amazing. And then it’s awful…””

“A Typical Heart” Film Screening/Panel Discussion September 7th

by Carolyn Thomas   @HeartSisters     August 11, 2019

.UPDATE: This event was  FULL with a WAITLIST. Thanks to all who attended its first public screening in Canada! You can watch this film here.

“A Typical Heart  is a short but powerful documentary film about women’s #1 killer. Heart disease, in fact, will kill more women this year than all forms of cancer combined. Yet until very recently, cardiac research on diagnostic tools, drugs and procedures has been done only on (white, middle-aged) men.(1)  Even the lab  mice used in early cardiac research were exclusively male animals.(2 ) No wonder many women still consider heart disease to be a “man’s problem”.

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This remarkable documentary was the brainchild of paramedic and researcher Cristina D’Alessandro of York Region Paramedic Services north of Toronto, who first asked the profoundly important question:
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If women make up over half our population, why are our heart attack symptoms still called ATYPICAL?”         Continue reading ““A Typical Heart” Film Screening/Panel Discussion September 7th”

Scope creep: when NO means maybe, and maybe means YES

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters     August 4, 2019

I’ve been grappling with a wallop of personal guilt lately. I don’t feel guilty because I’ve done something wrong, but because I finally had to say “No!” to a friend I’d been helping for a long time.

During my public relations career, we called this phenomenon “scope creep”. For example, you happily agree one day to a project with clear parameters, but over time one thing after another gets piled on top of your desk, until the project is suddenly so unwieldy that you wonder how this even happened.

It happened because of scope creep. And your inability to say No!”  to keep the whole thing on track as you went along.  And the way things change. Continue reading “Scope creep: when NO means maybe, and maybe means YES”

When women are far too busy to seek medical help

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters     July 28, 2019

In the wonderful world of cardiology, we know that “time is muscle”. The faster a person in mid-heart attack can get prompt and effective treatment, the greater the likelihood of saving that heart muscle, and of survival itself. As Yale University researcher Dr. Angelo Alonzo has suggested, the weak link in the chain of events leading to prompt and effective cardiac treatment is often patient delay in seeking care (which I’ve written about lots because I was so good at this myself:  here, here and here, for example).  Ironically, even having “knowledge of symptoms or risk factors” does NOT decrease this pervasively common treatment-seeking delay behaviour.   . Continue reading “When women are far too busy to seek medical help”