Tag Archives: Dr. Elvira Aletta

Why “Call me if you need help…” is not helpful

3 Mar

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters   March 3, 2019

Immediately after my heart attack, I appreciated kind-hearted friends and family who said: “Just call me if there’s anything at all that I can do for you!”

But as well-meaning as those offers were, I knew deep down in my heart of hearts that I was NOT likely to call them to ask about certain things I needed help with, like:

“Can you please come over and change the kitty litter?” 

As those who don’t like asking others for help can attest, that request was just never going to happen.   Continue reading

A heart patient’s positive attitude: a “crazy, crazy idea”?

8 Jun

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

I blame genetics – and three decades spent working in public relations – for generally making me one of those smiley, glass-half-full, annoyingly über-positive personalities much of the time. Not even horrific symptoms during my heart attack could alter the weak happy face that seemed freakishly pasted on throughout that ordeal.

It’s as if I were channeling Elizabeth Banks classic character in her short yet brilliant film Just A Little Heart Attack – in which she attempts to smile brightly despite textbook cardiac symptoms, and even good-naturedly taunts her concerned family:

“Do I look like the kind of person who’s having a HEART ATTACK?”

Don’t make a fuss. Chin up. Don’t worry, be happy. Just get on with it. I’m fine, just fine.

Trouble is: people like me who sport a perma-smiley face may not be “fine”. Not at all. And I now believe that feeling obliged to pretend we are what we’re not can be both physically and psychologically damaging.   Continue reading

Is it post-heart attack depression – or just feeling sad?

24 Jul

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

One of the small joys of having launched this site is discovering by happy accident the wisdom of other writers – even when they’re writing on unrelated topics not remotely connected to my favourite subject which is, of course, women and our heart health. For example, I happened upon a link to Sandra Pawula‘s lovely blog called Always Well Within. Sandra teaches mindfulness meditation, and she lives in Hawai’i (note her correct spelling).

She also has a hubby and three cats. I don’t even know this woman, but I like her already.  And while scanning through her beautiful site, I was stopped cold by an article she called: Why Sadness is the Key to True Happiness“.   Continue reading

“Stress creep”: are you like the frog in the pot of boiling water?

22 Nov

Guest post, originally broadcast on WBFO Radio by Dr. Elvira Aletta:

“I’m sure you’ve heard that if you boil a pot of water and throw in a live frog, that frog will hop right out, saving his life to croak another day. If, on the other hand, you place a frog in a pot of cold water and turn the heat up slowly, that frog will stay in the pot. The frog will not jump out.

“Instead, he will slowly get used to the increasingly hot water until it boils to death. Truth or urban legend? To prove it, I’d have to cook a live frog – and that’s not going to happen! It sounds true,  so it should be because of what it teaches us.   Continue reading

When grief morphs into depression: five tips for coping with heart disease

29 Oct

by Carolyn Thomas @HeartSisters

Dr. Elvira Aletta is a clinical psychologist with a unique perspective on what it’s like to live with a chronic illness. In her early twenties, she was diagnosed with nephrotic syndrome, a rare kidney disease that usually affects young boys. Then in her thirties, she came down with a chronic autoimmune condition called scleroderma.

She’d never heard of that, either. She describes her experience like this:

“Chronic illness means getting sick and being told it is not going away, and that stinks. Our bodies have suddenly freaked out on us, and we’ve lost control of the one thing we thought we could count on.”

These sentiments might also seem familiar to those of us living with cardiovascular disease. And that can feel downright depressing. See also: When are cardiologists going to start talking about depression?

Continue reading