Dear Carolyn: “I couldn’t tell if my pain was ‘normal’.”

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters

I happen to have a pain specialist in my family:  my darling 6-year old granddaughter Everly Rose, who studies her assorted owies very seriously. She updates me at each visit on how every scratch, scar or scab is coming along, rating the pain that each injury caused her on the playground, at summer day camp, or while playing with Homie, her cat. 

I, on the other hand, am apparently keen on NOT making a fuss, no matter what – yes, even the chest and left arm pain that continued during my own misdiagnosed heart attack.

One of my Toronto readers told me recently about the time that she too could not bring herself to describe her pain as pain.  As part of my occasional “Dear Carolyn” series of reader narratives, I’m sharing her story here. Notice how many times she avoids revealing her true pain:       .          .   Continue reading “Dear Carolyn: “I couldn’t tell if my pain was ‘normal’.””

Why patients don’t have admin assistants

                   Moments from the full, rich life of patient partner Lelainia Lloyd *

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters

Patients can sometimes be sickly people in bed, wearing embarrassingly undignified bum-baring hospital gowns.

Patients can also be experts in the lived experience of their own diagnoses,  who contribute to medical research and education teams as partners in meaningful academic projects.

If you’re surprised by that last description, you’ll be even more surprised by all the things that many patient partners can do in life (besides laying around being sickly).       .        . Continue reading “Why patients don’t have admin assistants”

Learn or Blame: when mistakes happen in medicine

by Carolyn Thomas   ♥   @HeartSisters

Mistakes happen in medicine, just like in every other workplace. As intensive care physician and president of The Doctors’ Association UK (DAUK) Dr. Samantha Batt-Rawden reminded us in a BBC Newsnight interview:

“If patients are looking for a doctor who has never made a mistake, they simply won‘t find one.”       .          .         .

Continue reading “Learn or Blame: when mistakes happen in medicine”

Post-COVID handshakes: dread or delight?

hand-shake-4092737_1280by Carolyn Thomas       @HeartSisters

  • the COVID-19 variants
  • our record-breaking heat wave
  • devastating forest fires
  • air quality (see: forest fires)
  • the deer eating my zinnias

Okay, that last one may seem trivial (but I was TOLD that deer won’t touch zinnias – which is apparently FALSE!)  I have also noticed that my cardiac symptoms don’t even make that worry list these days.    n .        .   Continue reading “Post-COVID handshakes: dread or delight?”

Heavy menstrual cycles and those anticoagulant drugs you’re taking

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters

Sara Wyen is a writer and founder of Blood Clot Recovery Network, a site that helps patients through the recovery process from deep vein thrombosis* or pulmonary embolism*. Her own story about a freakishly heavy period while taking her anticoagulant medication is a good one to share with any women you know who are prescribed these drugs.    .            .     Continue reading “Heavy menstrual cycles and those anticoagulant drugs you’re taking”

Did you underestimate your cardiac risk?

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters

GREEHEARTI was once asked by a U.S. publisher to review a new book written by a heart patient, a memoir about her surprising diagnosis.  But about 12 pages in, she mentioned that she had been a chain-smoker for three decades before her “surprising” cardiac diagnosis.  I had to re-read that line. How could a person who had been chain smoking for decades possibly be “surprised” by this predictable outcome? Didn’t this clearly intelligent, educated woman know that smoking is a dangerous risk factor for heart disease (and a whole bunch of other nasty health issues)?   I thought of this book recently when a new study from Harvard researcher Dr. Catherine Kreatsoulas reported that women are in fact more likely than men to underestimate their own risk of heart disease.    .        .       .       .         .         . Continue reading “Did you underestimate your cardiac risk?”