Experiential learning: How patients go from novice to expert

1 Jan

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

Unlike the professionals I know in the field of cardiology (the ones who decided they really wanted to spend many, many years of their lives studying All Things Cardiac), people living with heart disease are thrust unwillingly into an intensive overnight learning immersion program. We go from being utterly ignorant to, little by little, becoming increasingly familiar with even the most complex information on the subject of our own diagnosis. As one of my Heart Sisters readers told me she had astutely reminded her physician: “This is your career, but it’s my life.”

And this seems to be true no matter what the diagnosis. I know that, had I been diagnosed with lupus instead of heart disease, I’d be blogging and speaking and writing about lupus right now.
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The Christmas truce – 1914

25 Dec

by Carolyn Thomas      @HeartSisters

Christmas Truce 1914As World War I raged on in the trenches of Europe in 1914, Christmas Eve arrived cold and bleak. But German soldiers put up Christmas trees decorated with candles, on the parapets of their trenches. Although their enemies, the British soldiers, could see the lights, it took them a few minutes to figure out where they were from. Could this be a trick?

British soldiers were ordered not to fire, but to watch closely. Instead of trickery, however, the British soldiers heard the Germans singing carols and celebrating. One young soldier wrote home about this remarkable event:    Continue reading

“You’re young, healthy, thin – and nothing’s wrong with your heart”

18 Dec
Elissa and her family

              Elissa and her family

Elissa is a busy 32-year old professional violinist, a mother of three, and a violin teacher who also teaches part-time at her local university. Last year, the northern Utah resident began experiencing unusual symptoms that seemed to be heart-related: chest pain, shortness of breath and crushing fatigue.

These symptoms were so alarming that she knew she needed to seek medical help. See if you can spot the red flag as she tells her story . . .

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More drugs, less talk for post-heart attack depression?

11 Dec

Pill Box

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters

We know that many heart patients (like me, for example), experience some degree of situational depression immediately following a cardiac event. When we seek help, that help is far more likely to come as a prescription for an antidepressant drug rather than a referral to a professional for talk therapy. In fact, talk therapy – either by itself or in combination with medication – is actually on the decline(1) while the rate of antidepressant use has increased by almost 400% in the past two decades.(2)

This is important, because we also know from 2015 research on depression published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) that, for most people, there is no statistically significant difference in effectiveness between talk therapy and taking drugs.(3) When researchers tracked treatment outcomes for those suffering from depression, they found patients responded equally to either treatment. So why hasn’t the rate of talk therapy gone up by 400%, too? Continue reading

Pill splitting: which ones are safe to divide?

4 Dec

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

Physicians and other prescribers are often frustrated by their non-compliant patients. (Full disclosure: as I’ve written about here and here, even the word non-compliant makes me cranky, as it sounds so much like it has punishment at the end of it). These frustrating patients are generally described as those who are not following doctor’s orders (there’s another patronizing term for you) or more specifically, are not taking the medications prescribed for them.

A Consumer Reports Health prescription drugs survey reported that many people are splitting their pills in half to save money on high-priced prescription drugs. The bad news, however, is that many have also learned to save even more money by taking half-doses every other day. Continue reading

16 minutes that will change how you look at the “soul-crushing reality” of healthcare

27 Nov
Mayo Clinic's Dr. Victor Montori at TEDx Zumbro River

       Mayo Clinic’s Dr. Victor Montori

by Carolyn Thomas  ♥  @HeartSisters

I felt like weeping with joy and hope by the end of this TEDx talk by Mayo Clinic’s visionary physician, Dr. Victor Montori. It’s about healing healthcare with kindness and caring.  This is nothing less than a patient revolution to address what he calls the “soul-crushing reality of a healthcare industry that has corrupted its own mission.” Continue reading