Saying the word “misdiagnosis” is not doctor-bashing

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters   
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Before my cardiac symptoms forced an early retirement, my entire adult career was spent in the field of public relations, in corporate, government and non-profit sectors. Which is to say I’ve had decades of firsthand experience speaking publicly on behalf of all kinds of people. I was paid to both defend the indefensible stupidity of certain industry presidents, and also to pitch engaging human interest stories to help promote good causes.
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But it was only when I started voluntarily speaking out on behalf of other female heart patients that I encountered any real backlash – and that came from the most unlikely sources.       .          .  Continue reading “Saying the word “misdiagnosis” is not doctor-bashing”

“The doctors want my symptoms but not my stories”

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters

Marilyn Gardner, in her 2014 book called “Between Worlds: Essays on Culture and Belonging“) wrote about a compelling conversation she once had:

Yet our physicians aren’t trained to embrace our stories, but instead to ask right away, “What brings you here today?” to kick-start a brief Q&A that can most efficiently solve the diagnostic mystery sitting across from them.      .     .    Continue reading ““The doctors want my symptoms but not my stories””

The medical hierarchy shift

by Carolyn Thomas   @HeartSisters   

treeJWVein-3832108_1280Many years before I finally left a decades-long professional relationship with my family physician, I had observed distressing changes in her practice. I didn’t say anything about these changes at first. They began with her new all-cash medical aesthetics clinic (think: nonstop before-and-after Botox videos looping in every exam room).

She did not post an actual sign in her waiting room telling her longtime patients what we all knew: “I Am No Longer Interested in the Practice of Family Medicine”  – but everything about her behaviours clearly announced that she’d already moved on without telling us.     . Continue reading “The medical hierarchy shift”

Skin in the game: taking women’s cardiac misdiagnosis seriously

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters    December 16, 2018

Our physicians are highly trained experts in providing medical care, but it’s their patients who have “skin in the game”This odd phrase is believed to have originated in the financial sector to describe senior investment advisors who demonstrate their confidence in a company by putting their own money (their own “skin”) into the company in order to build investor confidence. So if stock prices fall, they stand to lose – just like their clients will. Advisors who choose not to do this may be every bit as smart, but they have no skin in the game.  Continue reading “Skin in the game: taking women’s cardiac misdiagnosis seriously”

Downplaying symptoms: just pretend it’s NOT a heart attack

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

When a blockage or spasm in one or more of your coronary arteries stops allowing freshly oxygenated blood to feed your heart muscle, a heart attack can happen. The faster you can access emergency treatment to address that culprit artery, the better your chances of being appropriately diagnosed.  The period of time between your first symptoms and actively getting the help you need can be divided into three phases:

  1. decision time – the period from the first onset of acute symptoms to the decision to seek care (for example, calling 911)
  2. transport time – the period from the decision to seek care to arrival at the Emergency Department
  3. therapy timethe period from arrival at the Emergency Department to the start of medical treatment

Only the first phase is the one you have complete control over. So don’t blow it.   .       . 

Continue reading “Downplaying symptoms: just pretend it’s NOT a heart attack”

Words matter when we describe our heart attack symptoms

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters

When I interviewed Dr. Catherine Kreatsoulas* about the research paper she presented last month in Vancouver at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress(1), her  previous heart study caught my attention, too.

I was surprised by her explanation from that earlier research on how some women describe their chest pain during a heart attack (2), as she told me:  .   .
Continue reading “Words matter when we describe our heart attack symptoms”