When the elephant in the room has no smartphone

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

Shortly after arriving at Stanford University School of Medicine to attend the conference called Medicine X (“at the intersection of medicine and emerging technologies”), it hit me that I didn’t quite belong there. Maybe, I wondered, the conference organizers (like the profoundly amazing Dr. Larry Chu) might  have goofed by awarding me an ePatient Scholarship – rather than a more tech-savvy, wired and younger patient in my stead.

Please don’t get me wrong – I was and still am duly thrilled and humbled to be chosen as one of 30 participants invited to attend MedX as ePatient scholars, generously funded by Alliance Health based on meeting selection criteria like “a history of patient engagement, community outreach and advocacy”.

But almost immediately, I started feeling like a bit of a fraud.  Continue reading “When the elephant in the room has no smartphone”

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””