Oh, sure, you can do last-minute Christmas shopping for another scented candle, or a lovely piece of pottery that might end up on the yard sale table together some day. Or you can decide to shop for a truly useful gift for any women in your life who have been diagnosed with heart disease. Here’s why, in my admittedly biased view, that gift should be A Woman’s Guide to Living with Heart Disease (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2017) – along with some simple and painless ways for you to make that happen in time for Santa’s arrival: Continue reading “What to get the heart patient who has (almost) everything. . .”
What a year it’s been since my book was published by Johns Hopkins University Press one year ago this month! When it was launched, “A Woman’s Guide to Living with Heart Disease” became Amazon’s #1 New Release in the Medicine/Public Health category. The book is already into its second printing, and reviews have been truly wonderful (with one notable exception: an Australian reader named Robert who complained in his Goodreads review that there was “a bit too much emphasis on how women are neglected when it comes to heart disease” – and then added: “Happily for me, my doctors, nurses and physios did everything by the book.” Thank you Robert, for helping to illustrate the cardiology gender gap so perfectly!
To celebrate this one-year milestone (and entice you to buy the book for yourself, or as a really useful gift for a freshly-diagnosed woman you care about), here are some random excerpts from my book, gathered from each of the 10 chapters.
Continue reading “My book is one year old! Some excerpts to tease you…”
The ink was barely dry on the book contract I’d signed with Johns Hopkins University Press on the morning I tuned in, as I like to do every weekend, to Michael Enright’s Sunday Edition show on CBC Radio.
Michael’s guest that morning couldn’t have been more appropriate, given the project I was just beginning. A physician-turned-author named Dr. Suzanne Koven was talking about people who write first-person accounts of their health crises, books that Michael indelicately referred to as “sick lit“.(1) . Illness, Michael began, is always more interesting to the ill person than to the reader. But Dr. Koven quickly interjected. Continue reading “When an illness narrative isn’t just about illness”
I am lying in a surprisingly large and very white, bright glass-walled room in the CCU (the coronary intensive care unit) of our local hospital. Through these walls I can see several people who look like nurses and doctors seated at a long desk outside my glass box, staring at computer monitors. It’s action central out there, where staff can observe and monitor every heart patient, each of us in one of the glass boxes.
I can see assorted tubes, lines and beeping machines surrounding my bed or attached to my body. Two nurses are looking down at me, one on either side of my hospital bed, closely examining my right wrist. They are checking the wound that has been opened up there in order to insert a catheter through the radial artery, up my arm, around the bend of my shoulder, and into my beating heart. I find it oddly touching that each of these women is gently holding one of my hands. I feel like weeping, and so I do.
I have no more pain. No more pain crushing my chest or radiating down my left arm. No more of the increasingly debilitating symptoms I’ve been suffering for the past two weeks. If anything, I’m simply feeling surprised. I have had a heart attack. I HAVE HAD A HEART ATTACK! I, Carolyn Thomas, have had a frickety-frackin’ heart attack. . .
Continue reading ““I am lying in a surprisingly bright glass-walled room…””
When you open a non-fiction book, you’ll likely find a section called the foreword, written by somebody who is not the book’s author. It addresses a reader’s questions about the book: Why is the author of this book particularly qualified to write it? What will I gain or learn by reading this book?
The Chicago Manual of Style writing guide describes a foreword as “written by someone eminent to lend credibility to the book”.
I needed to find someone eminent (definition: famous, respected, important) to agree to write the foreword for A Woman’s Guide to Living With Heart Disease because, unlike other heart books out there written by cardiologists, my heart book was written by a heart patient with zero medical training. To many, that translates as zero credibility. Continue reading “Dr. Martha Gulati’s fabulous foreword to my book”
Before I was misdiagnosed with acid reflux and sent home from the Emergency Department, the heart attack symptoms I was experiencing had seemed pretty dramatic during that eventful early morning walk. They were, in fact, what all physicians (and Dr. Google) would consider to be classic heart attack signs.
My most debilitating symptom at the time was the chest pain that doctors know as angina pectoris (a Latin name that translates gruesomely as “strangulation of the chest”). In my case, it felt like a cross between a Mack truck parked on my chest and a burning searing pain going up into my throat. I also felt like I was going to vomit, I was sweating profusely, and I had pain radiating down my left arm. (None of those textbook symptoms, by the way, helped to convince the Emergency physician that I was, in fact, having a heart attack. Read more about misdiagnosis of women’s heart disease in this Heart and Stroke Foundation report here).
Continue reading “Typical vs. “atypical” heart attack signs in women”