Dear Carolyn: “After 19 months of daily discomfort, my pacemaker was replaced”

by Carolyn Thomas   ♥  @HeartSisters

             .     Clayton & Linda Vardy

As part of our occasional “Dear Carolyn” series of personal patient perspectives shared by my readers, today I’m introducing you to Canadian heart patient, Linda Vardy, a retired high school math teacher. You might expect that Linda’s experience of undergoing triple bypass surgery at age 61 (after being told for almost a year that all of her cardiac test results were “inconclusive”) would be a dominant theme in her story – but that part is for a future post.

Ten years after her surgery, Linda was told that she now needed a pacemaker implanted. And that’s when things started going sideways. While I was reading her story, I couldn’t help wondering if Linda might have been treated differently had she been a male heart patient.  Read her story and let me know what you think. . .       . Continue reading “Dear Carolyn: “After 19 months of daily discomfort, my pacemaker was replaced””

Dear Carolyn: “I take issue with the heart attack terms STEMI and NSTEMI”

by Carolyn Thomas   ♥   @HeartSisters

Today, in this Dear Carolyn episode (our 11th in the occasional series featuring Heart Sisters readers sharing their heart patient perspectives), we’ll attempt to address my reader Eva’s observations about how our heart attacks are currently classified:

I take issue with the terms STEMI (the most serious type of heart attack) and NSTEMI (a slightly less serious heart attack). But both types of heart attack have a serious impact on our lives and how we live them.”             

Dear Eva,

The day I first read your comment in response to an earlier Heart Sisters post coincided with the tragic heart attack death of a woman in an American hospital’s Emergency Department. Continue reading “Dear Carolyn: “I take issue with the heart attack terms STEMI and NSTEMI””

Dear Carolyn: “Adapting to adaptations?”

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters  March 10, 2019

 

People living with chronic illness often discover that they must adapt to changes in what occupational therapists like to call our activities of daily living (ADLs).  The basic ADLs typically include eating, bathing, dressing, grooming, toileting, and moving around independently (e.g. getting up off that couch). Even smaller changes occur: for example, I now wear a medical I.D. on my wrist all day. I never leave home without my nitro spray for chronic angina. I count out all my cardiac meds for the week in labeled pill organizers. These represent a few of the many adaptations I’ve learned to make since my cardiac diagnosis.
.
Today, in this Dear Carolyn episode (our eighth in the occasional series featuring Heart Sisters readers sharing the experiences of becoming a heart patient), we’ll attempt to address a related reader question about adapting.

Continue reading “Dear Carolyn: “Adapting to adaptations?””

Dear Carolyn: “People can change for the better”

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters    October 28, 2018

We know now that childhood trauma is strongly associated with chronic illness later on, including heart disease. As I wrote in a recent blog post about ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences), researchers warn us that scoring 4 or higher on the ACE test can predict a significantly higher risk of physical or mental illness as an adult. I was stunned when I took the test and saw that my own score was 4; I was well aware of my childhood experiences, of course, but I thought that only marginalized kids from desperately poor families were at high risk – and that wasn’t me! A history of psychological childhood abuse or neglect is not what we expect our doctors to ask us about – but this research suggests that maybe they should start.

.
One response to that post really hit home for me. Marie (who prefers not to use her real name here) lives with a type of ischemic heart disease called coronary microvascular disease (as I do, too). With her kind permission, I’m sharing her childhood story with you as the latest guest post in my regular but very occasional series called Dear Carolyn“:

Dear Carolyn: “Breaking up is hard to do”

by Carolyn Thomas      @HeartSisters 

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””

Dear Carolyn: “Did I have a ‘real’ heart attack?”

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

As part of my occasional Dear Carolyn series featuring my readers’ unique narratives about how they became heart patients, I offer today a medical mystery from an Oregon reader. After dueling physicians differed in their opinions of her diagnosis, Lynn Bay now wonders if she actually did have a “real” heart attack, as one of them had diagnosed. Her story may seem familiar to you if you’ve ever had your medical experience dismissed or minimized. Here’s Lynn’s story, with her permission: Continue reading “Dear Carolyn: “Did I have a ‘real’ heart attack?””