Tag Archives: Dr. Barbara Keddy

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

Could ‘goodism’ and self-sacrifice be linked to women’s heart disease outcomes?

23 Aug

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

These days, whenever I tell my audiences about the hours leading up to my hospitalization for a heart attack last year, I ask them to guess what I would have done had those horrific cardiac symptoms been happening to my daughter (or my next-door neighbour, or even a perfect stranger) during that endless cross-country flight back home to the West Coast. Would I have patted her grim, sweaty face and whispered:

“Just try to hang on, honey. We’ll be home in nine hours…”

No, my Heart Sisters, I would have been screaming bloody murder for the Air Canada crew to get help immediately, even if it meant turning the damned plane around.  But since these attacks were happening to me, and not to somebody else, I chose instead the unwise and potentially fatal option of just slinking down in my seat, very still, hour after hour, and trying not to make a fuss.   Continue reading

Get over yourself: how to stop boring others with your heart attack story

20 Jul

by Carolyn Thomas

I was a distance runner for 19 years, before a brutal case of plantar fasciitis dashed my Olympics dream forever.  I’m kidding about that last part.  My running group (motto: ‘No pace too slow, no course too short!’) had a useful running rule.  The first ten minutes of every training run were devoted to whining.

“My quads hurt. I’m so tired. I think I’m getting a blister.”

But at precisely the ten minute mark, the rule was: no more whining. Let’s face it, my heart sisters: nobody is that interested.

Upon ruminating on the wisdom of Dr. Martin Seligman‘s book Learned Optimism that I’ve been enjoying lately (see Even Heart Patients Can Learn to be Optimists), I can’t help but notice a proliferation of gloom, doom, pessimism, criticism, complaining, blaming and a whack of running negative commentary around lately. And other people besides me are grumpy, too . . .  Continue reading