Just living life. No awesomeness required.

I’m always chuffed (as my Brit friends would say) to run into an patient essay that’s so good, I wish I’d written it – one that captures the essence of what I’ve been thinking all along but somehow haven’t quite gathered those thoughts as succinctly. Although Barbara Westfall wrote this for her blog Pilgrim125 as a woman living with Stage IV breast cancer, she tells a familiar story that spoke to me as a heart patient, too.

She writes about those magical moments when we just try to live life as if we didn’t have a life-altering medical condition, thank you very much, no matter what our diagnosis. With her kind permission, I’m sharing it with you. Thank you, Barbara!

Continue reading “Just living life. No awesomeness required.”

Handling the homecoming blues: the third stage of heart attack recovery

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

Today we look at the third stage of The Four Stages of Heart Illness from Dr. Wayne Sotile’s excellent book called Thriving With Heart Disease, a must-read for all heart attack survivors and those who love them. Dr. Sotile, a cardiac psychologist, describes the heart patient’s journey through a series of “separate, identifiable stages”.  He believes that your recovery will have fewer surprises if you are familiar with these four stages and know what to expect.*


Stage 3:  Handling the homecoming blues: You’re suddenly on your own, reality sets in, and the whole team must adapt to its new normal.

You’re now home from the hospital, and you’re expected to surf a bewildering wave of emotions, anxieties and procedures. No longer are nurses and doctors checking, monitoring and calming you.  Now you have to decide what you can and cannot do, and you may feel under-qualified for the job.

What used to be simple is suddenly unbearably complex.  Making the bed, a doctor’s appointment or even a tuna sandwich can overwhelm you and bring you to tears. You feel childish and emotional and terribly alone – no matter how many people surround you at home.   Continue reading “Handling the homecoming blues: the third stage of heart attack recovery”

“But you don’t look sick…”

happy face hats

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

There have been some days when it would have been ever-so-handy if I were sporting a cast on my arm, or crutches, or a big fat neck brace. Now that would be a realistic indicator to the world ‘out there’ of how it can sometimes feel to have Coronary Microvascular Disease, a particularly debilitating form of heart disease.

But instead, every day some of us wake up, shower, get dressed in our usual clothes, comb our hair in the usual way, floss and brush just like we have always done – and go about our day, looking pretty much how we’ve always looked.

Few people ‘out there’ who don’t know us would even guess that we live with significant heart disease.  Few would guess that I’m still unable to work at the PR  job I love, for example, or that even the smallest outing with family or friends takes every bit of stamina I can muster, or that I need to nap like a pre-schooler every day just to manage the ‘new normal’ that has become my life. Continue reading ““But you don’t look sick…””