Financial toxicity: can you afford to have a heart attack?

by Carolyn Thomas  ♥  @HeartSisters 

Here in the Lotus Land that is Canada’s beautiful west coast, my total hospital bill after my heart attack was ZERO. The costs of my Emergency Department visits, all cardiac diagnostic tests/procedures/treatments, my hospital bed, physician/nursing care – plus all follow-up appointments with a cardiologist – are entirely funded by our provincial government health plan. Unlike so many of the American heart patients I’ve encountered since my own heart attack, I left the hospital without ever worrying how I was going to pay for my medical care.

Yet I’m highly aware that cardiac patients far less fortunate than I am often leave their hospitals not only worried about their hearts, but now worried about paying catastrophic bills.  Medical researchers call this financial toxicity.     .   Continue reading “Financial toxicity: can you afford to have a heart attack?”

Implementation science: should research actually DO SOMETHING?

by Carolyn Thomas    ♥    @HeartSisters

“Don’t just publish another paper.  Let’s DO something!”  That feisty challenge to her academic colleagues comes from Dr. Cindy Blackstock, expressing her frustration in a University Affairs interview.

The McGill University professor in Montréal is internationally known for her work in child protection rights of Indigenous families. But her frustration can readily apply to medical research, too – where “doing something” seems barely on the radar.           Continue reading “Implementation science: should research actually DO SOMETHING?”

Precarity: the perfect word for our times

by Carolyn Thomas      @HeartSisters   

I learned a terrific new word recently. The word is precarity, meaning the state of being precarious, unpredictable or uncertain. Any woman who is freshly diagnosed with heart disease already knows the precarity of life following a cardiac event – a reality that suddenly feels precarious, unpredictable and uncertain as we try to make sense of something that makes no sense. And after 19 months of navigating a global pandemic, we now know yet another kind of precarity.       .          .  Continue reading “Precarity: the perfect word for our times”

Is the practice of medicine making doctors sick?

by Carolyn Thomas   @HeartSisters   

Sue Robins of Vancouver has an irresistible writing talent that’s somehow both quietly approachable and yet sneakily explosive. We see this talent in her books A Bird’s Eye View: Stories of  a Life Lived in Health Care or Ducks in a Row: Healthcare Reimagined.  We also see it in her compelling blog essay, “We Are All In This Together” as she explores the “basic lack of humanity that ails health care – a lack of humanity for patients, families, staff, clinicians, physicians and administrators.”  As Sue says:

“We are all in this mess together.    .     . Continue reading “Is the practice of medicine making doctors sick?”

“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””