There’s anxiety, and then there’s ANXIETY. When Dr. Wendy Suzuki wrote about anxiety recently in her Globe and Mailessay, she wasn’t talking about clinical levels of anxiety requiring medical treatment, but what she calls our everyday anxiety:
You would think that, after 18 months, we might feel better prepared to manage the continuing effects of the pandemic, but instead, our recent history seems to have simply added to our collective anxiety.”
Welcome to Lotus Land, where, alas, it’s been stinkin’ hot lately. This is tragically unfair, I think. I moved here to Canada’s beautiful West Coast decades ago in order to escape the kind of soul-sucking sauna that passes for summer back east.
And because uncomfortably hot weather is so deliciously rare here, few of us even have air conditioning, although I do have a little electric fan that I’ve started carrying around the apartment with me from room to room this past week.
The freshly-diagnosed heart patient has plenty of opportunity to start thinking thoughts that are new, bizarre and sometimes even frightening. Any life-altering diagnosis can throw us off-balance emotionally, but with heart disease, even the tiniest twinge of new chest pain can paralyze us. Is this something? Is it nothing? Should I call 911 again? As Australian cardiac psychologist (and more importantly, a heart patient) Len Gould likes to say: “Before a heart attack, every twinge is just indigestion. After a heart attack, every twinge is another heart attack!”
When I’m not noodling away here on Heart Sisters articles, or writing about living with heart disease, or doing presentations on women’s heart health, or playing with the world’s sweetest, funniest and smartest grandbaby, one of the activities close to my heart involves a local non-profit agency called Island Heart To Heart. Learn more hereabout this wonderful program for newly-diagnosed heart patients and their family members who live in or near Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.
In 2008, as a freshly-diagnosed heart attack survivor – overwhelmed and frightened – I learned so much from the assorted guest speakers at these weekly classes. Eventually, I became further involved with this unique organization – first volunteering with patients and family members on the cardiac ward, then as a member of their steering committee, and most recently as one of the facilitators who help to run these ongoing cardiac education classes throughout the year.
With her kind permission, I’m running this guest post by Thelma Fayle (a recent Heart To Heart “graduate”) which sums up beautifully three compelling stories:
the awful night her partner Daryl suffered a heart attack
what she and Daryl experienced week by week at their seven Heart To Heart classes
a moving tribute to the visionary young nurse who started Heart To Heart as a pilot project 29 years ago to help newly-diagnosed heart patients like her own Dad
We were sitting around with friends and family recently over some very nice red wine when our friend Noel asked a question about my weekly Toastmasters meetings, and specifically about whether I thought there are some people who simply never learn to feel comfortable speaking in public even after Toastmasters training. After a moment’s contemplation, I replied to Noel:
“I can’t really say – because those who actually feel too uncomfortable probably just stop attending after a while. But the ones who stay seem pretty happy!”
It turns out that what I was describing is essentially what’s known as survivorship bias.*
When I was a little girl in the 1950s, my parents were stingy with praise and magnanimous with criticism. To be otherwise would result in a child developing a “swelled head”, which, as all parents knew back then, would be the worst possible thing that could ever happen to any child.
“She really thinks she’s a SOMEBODY!” was a phrase delivered with withering contempt by my mother in describing any person whose sense of self-esteem seemed even remotely healthy.