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

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

How a heart attack turned me into an “information flâneuse”

by Carolyn Thomas      @HeartSisters

Before surviving a heart attack in 2008, I never gave my heart more than a passing thought (except maybe when slogging up that brutal Quadra Street hill with my running group on our way back to the Y).  But after my heart attack and accompanying shock, disbelief, grief and anger, I became just a wee bit obsessed. I threw myself into boning up on women’s symptoms, risk factors, diagnostics, treatments and emerging cardiac research as if I were cramming for some kind of imminent cardiology midterm.

I applied to attend the annual WomenHeart Science & Leadership Symposium for Women With Heart Disease at Mayo Clinic – and then became the first Canadian ever accepted for this patient advocacy training.  I subscribed to daily cardiology bulletins and heart institutes’ news feeds. I launched this blog, Heart Sisters, and have written 500+ articles here so far. I’ve given presentations about women’s heart health to thousands of people. And I applied for media accreditation so I could interview cardiac researchers attending the 64th annual Canadian Cardiovascular Congress in Vancouver last fall, where I was shocked to find that only four of the 700 scientific papers presented at this conference were even remotely focused on women’s heart disease.  I find this subject irresistibly compelling, and am almost insufferably preoccupied with All Things Cardiac.

Just recently, I came across a term that seems to capture the kind of person I’ve become, post-heart attack: an “information flâneur”.   Or, more appropriately, a flâneuse, the female version of this affliction. Continue reading “How a heart attack turned me into an “information flâneuse””