Tag Archives: Dr. Barbara Keddy

Living with both fibromyalgia and heart disease

5 Nov
by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters

     Dr. Barbara Keddy

In her latest blog post, Dr. Barbara Keddy quotes my new book in this statement: Coping with a chronic illness is work” – an understatement coming from somebody like her.  She is a Professor Emerita at Dalhousie University in Halifax, a retired teacher of nurses, a respected author and blogger – but more importantly to this discussion, she has spent five decades living with fibromyalgia, and more recently, almost five years as a heart attack survivor. With her kind permission, I’m sharing her blog post here: part very personal essay, and part book review:

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I don’t want to talk about it…

30 Aug

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

When you get together with your girlfriends, are there any conversation topics that you believe are not open for discussion? Any that are off-limits? Any personal stories that you think are, well, just too personal to talk about to those women closest to you?

No, me neither.

Nowhere is this communication openness more visible than with our health. We generally like to share our medical news, updates on that medical news, and our opinions about each others’ medical news.  Health topics appear increasingly popular as we age (and thus have way more medical news to discuss).  It’s what my friend Dave likes to call “the organ recital”.  But when it comes to serious health conditions, do you ever wonder if all that sharing is necessarily a good thing?  Continue reading

Feisty advice to patients: “Get down off your cross!”

5 Oct

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

I’ve never met Debra Jarvis, but we’re practically neighbours, separated only by a few measly miles of Pacific Ocean coastline and an international border. She’s a writer, breast cancer survivor, hospital chaplain, and ordained United Church minister from Seattle – a city I can see from the shore here in Victoria. Oh, wait. That’s the city of Port Angeles, Washington. Still, I can see Seattle in the Sarah Palin sense of the word “see” . . .

I first encountered the “Irreverent Reverend” Jarvis watching her poignantly funny presentation at TEDMED 2014.  And like so much in life, when smart people tell good stories, their messages can be meaningful no matter what they’re talking about.     Continue reading

Dr. Barbara Keddy: “I was pitifully ignorant about heart disease”

23 May

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

heart BehanceI’m very pleased to share this with you, my heart sisters.  It’s essentially the journal of a heart attack. The author is Dr. Barbara Keddy, a teacher of nurses, professor emerita at Dalhousie University in Halifax, and author of the book Women and Fibromyalgia* – a condition that Barbara herself has lived with for over 40 years. Barbara and I first “met” each other online when we both happened to be named recipients of the 2009 Women’s Health Hero awards from Our Bodies Ourselves of Boston that year – she representing the east coast of Canada, and I out here on the west.

I’ve been reading her blog and quoting her wise words ever since (here, here and here, for example). And we’ve been casually emailing back and forth for four years – until one day in January, when I received a terse one-line message from her: she had just survived a heart attack.

Barbara’s experience is unique because she’d already been living with the constant pain of a debilitating chronic illness for decades. What happens when such a person gets hit with the double whammy of a serious heart attack on top of everything else?  Here’s her story, in her own words:  Continue reading

Why we keep telling – and re-telling – our heart attack stories

21 Jan

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

A woman in the grocery store calls out from the neighbouring checkout line: “Hey! You’re the heart lady, right?” She continues, in what seems a much-too-loud voice, that she had been in the audience at one of my annual Cardiac Café presentations at the university. But “heart lady?” Is this really how I want to be known and recognized for the rest of my natural life?   Continue reading