by Carolyn Thomas ♥ @HeartSisters ♥ August 3, 2018
Breaking up is hard to do. That’s how my blog reader Tommie O’Sullivan described to me the sad news that she lost first one, and then a second trusted cardiologist. It’s nothing personal. Important family reasons. Retirement. She understands these things. But still. . .
As part of my occasional and ongoing “Dear Carolyn” series of guest posts written by women who have learned firsthand what becoming a heart patient is all about, I’m happy to share this, with her permission. Tommie’s words reminded me that, so far, I’ve been lucky in never experiencing the loss of a favourite physician. I suspect that – in this age of increasingly empowered patients, critical doctor reviews online, and second opinions from Dr. Google – her sentiments are what every physician longs to hear one day from their patients: “I will really miss you!” Continue reading “Dear Carolyn: “Breaking up is hard to do””
by Carolyn Thomas ♥ @HeartSisters
Dear hospital employees,
After a particularly bizarre experience undergoing a treadmill stress echocardiogram at your hospital recently, I decided to do something that I have never done before. I called the Cardiology Department manager to complain about her staff. (Incidentally, a recent opinion survey of international travellers found that Canadians were #1 in only one category: “Least likely to complain when things go wrong” – so you can appreciate that lodging an official complaint is a fairly Big Deal here!)
In my best PR fashion, I told the manager how distressing the appointment had been for me because of the behaviour of the two cardiac technicians in the room. Continue reading “Carolyn’s Top 10 Tips on How to Treat Your Patients”
by Carolyn Thomas ♥ @HeartSisters
During my first evening at our “Heart to Heart” support group, the man sitting next to me leaned over and asked me: “What are you in for?”
I told him that I’d had what doctors call the “widowmaker” heart attack two weeks earlier, and that I now had a stainless steel stent implanted in a major coronary artery that had been 99% blocked. He interrupted me with a cheery:
“Me too! But I have THREE stents!”
As he went on and on in exquisite detail about his cardiac event, I felt like my own was suddenly pretty puny by comparison. Three stents? How could I possibly compete with that? My previously-fascinating heart attack misdiagnosis story now seemed hardly even worth mentioning, really.
I came to observe during the following weeks and months that heart patients, consciously or not, seem to slot themselves arbitrarily into what I call the unspoken Hierarchy of Heart Disease. Continue reading “The seven levels in the ‘Hierarchy of Heart Disease’”
Here’s how your heart looks during a coronary angiography procedure. The white/yellow blood vessels are bringing oxygenated blood to the working muscles of the heart. (See link below to the whole slide show).
Coronary angiography (also called cardiac catheterization) is sometimes referred to as the ‘gold standard’ of diagnostics for heart patients. The procedure involves threading a tiny catheter through an artery in the wrist or groin and pushing it up, up, up right into the beating heart. It’s considered to be an invasive procedure, but not surgical. Patients are sedated, but usually awake throughout.
The catheter is guided through the artery with the aid of a special x-ray machine. Contrast material (dye) is injected through the catheter and x-ray movies are created as the contrast material moves through the heart’s chambers, valves and major vessels.
The interventional cardiologists in the ‘cath lab’ then watch your beating heart up on the monitor, where they can spot any coronary arteries that are blocked or narrowed, and evaluate your heart function. If significant blockages are seen, further procedures like balloon angioplasty, stent implants or coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) – commonly known as bypass surgery – may be attempted to restore blood flow to the threatened heart muscle.
I’ve undergone two of these invasive cardiac procedures – the first an emergency catheterization and stent implant when I was hospitalized for a heart attack, the second 15 months later to investigate ongoing cardiac symptoms. And I can tell you that it is freakishly fascinating to lie on the cath lab table, sedated yet very awake, and watch your own beating heart on the overhead monitor. Continue reading “Inside your heart – as captured by National Geographic”