“Can’t go to my support group meeting because my husband’s expecting dinner”

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

screen-shot-2016-11-09-at-1-45-37-pmI opened an email recently from one of my Mayo heart sisters. She had dropped me a note because she was concerned about a woman (a recent heart attack survivor) who had told her she really wanted to attend their community’s next support group meeting for women living with heart disease (this one was a monthly meeting held from 3-4:30 p.m.). But this woman claimed that she couldn’t go to the meeting – because she “had to be home to cook dinner for her husband.” Although her hubby was retired and at home all day long, the heart attack survivor explained that “he expects to have dinner ready at the regular time that I have had it for him all the years he was working.”

My initial reaction (after checking the calendar just to make sure it’s not still 1950): I need to go have a wee lie-down to recuperate from reading this story. Continue reading ““Can’t go to my support group meeting because my husband’s expecting dinner””

Squishing, burning and implanting your heart troubles away


by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

Like the eminently quotable cardiologist Dr. John Mandrola once wrote on one of my favourite heart blogs:

“We urge patients to eat less, exercise more, and not to smoke. But when they don’t do these things, we still squish their blockages, burn their rogue electrical circuits, and implant lifesaving devices in their hearts.”

As a heart attack survivor, one of the Big Lessons for me has been that although my doctors can “squish, burn and implant” all they like, their heroic efforts do not address what originally caused this damage to my coronary arteries in the first place.   Continue reading “Squishing, burning and implanting your heart troubles away”

Listen up, ladies: 16 things I’ve been meaning to tell you

by Carolyn Thomas

I always ask women in my Heart-Smart Women presentation audiences what they imagine I would have done had it been my daughter Larissa suffering the same heart attack symptoms that I’d been doing my best to ignore while on that cross-country flight from Ottawa.

Would I have patted her nicely on the head and urged her to just hang in there for nine more hours?  No, my heart sisters, you can rest assured that I would have been screaming blue murder to get immediate help for her.  Yes, even if it meant turning the damned airplane around during this medical emergency.

I was lucky. I managed to survive a heart attack that night on that plane – despite my very foolish determination to “not make a fuss”.  Ever since, I’ve been trying my best to bonk women on the head with reminders to put themselves first on their priority lists, and to be their own best health advocates. But this is an uphill battle that is being waged throughout all levels of women’s health care. Apparently, not even surviving a cardiac crisis is enough to convince some women that they need to start carving out “me-time” every day for the sake of their physical and mental health.   Continue reading “Listen up, ladies: 16 things I’ve been meaning to tell you”