The questions you don’t ask your doctor

by Carolyn Thomas   @HeartSisters     July 14 , 2019

Let’s say you’re a woman recently diagnosed with heart disease who wants to know if it’s “normal” to feel crushing fatigue every time you take a shower.  Or you’re a woman living with rheumatoid disease who needs advice on which shoes are best for people who suffer joint pain like yours. Or you’re a woman diagnosed with breast cancer who is trying to make sense of the new emotional extremes you’re struggling with.

Who you gonna call? Continue reading “The questions you don’t ask your doctor”

“Brave men” and “emotional women”: gender bias and pain

by Carolyn Thomas   @HeartSisters     July 7 , 2019

My little granddaughter Everly Rose is mesmerized by her “owies”. Every bruise, scrape, or even the tiniest scratch inflicted while playing with her kitten, Homie, requires a healing kiss and an equally healing Band-Aid, which can then be proudly pointed out to every stranger we pass on the street. One morning, after I’d had a hard fall while out with my walking group, she carefully examined the dark scab and asked me, very seriously, “Did you cry?” I told her that I’d thought about crying at the time, but then I patted myself all over, realized I wasn’t badly hurt, and so I decided not to cry.

She thought about this explanation for a long while, as if it had never occurred to her that not crying was even an option. Is that because Rosie is a little girl – and not a boy?  A Swedish study helps to answer that question.(1)    .   Continue reading ““Brave men” and “emotional women”: gender bias and pain”

Start a symptom journal, and solve a mystery

by Carolyn Thomas   @HeartSisters    June 30, 2019

I regularly hear from Heart Sisters readers who contact me because they’re having distressing symptoms that might be heart-related, and they want me to help solve the diagnostic mystery. (Please don’t do this, by the way. I’m not a physician so cannot comment on your specific symptoms. That’s all I will be able to tell you if you ask for a medical opinion). But besides my standard “See your doctor!” advice, there’s one thing I do recommend to readers worried about strange new symptoms, and that is simply to start a Symptom Journal

Here’s how it works:   Continue reading “Start a symptom journal, and solve a mystery”

When you ignore pain because you’re used to it…

by Carolyn Thomas   @HeartSisters    June 23, 2019

I can’t be completely sure, of course, but I’m betting my next squirt of nitro spray that I am a world-class stoic when it comes to putting up with pain. I survived a ruptured appendix and a near-fatal case of peritonitis that kept me hospitalized for a month as a teenager. I popped out two babies the old-fashioned, drug-free way. I suffered a broken bone in a bicycle accident while commuting downtown, but still somehow climbed back on that bike in order to show up on time for the meeting I was heading to. 

And I put up with two long weeks of increasingly unbearable symptoms (including being unable to walk more than five steps at a time) after being initially misdiagnosed in mid-heart attack with acid reflux.

So I sat up and paid attention when I happened upon the Despite Pain blog post called The Problem with Being Used to Pain or Illness.  
Continue reading “When you ignore pain because you’re used to it…”

A cardiologist’s own family calls 911 – but has to beg for help

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters  ♥  June 16, 2019

Dr. Jennifer Co-Vu is a pediatric cardiologist at the University of Florida Congenital Heart Center. She recently shared on Twitter a chilling report of what happened when 911 was called to help her own mother-in-law who was experiencing crushing chest pain. The ambulance arrived quickly, but paramedics told this 65-year old woman with diabetes that she was having a panic attack.

Unlike other women who are misdiagnosed in mid-heart attack, however, this patient had immediate access to something few of us have: doctors in her family.   .. Continue reading “A cardiologist’s own family calls 911 – but has to beg for help”