Tag Archives: widow maker heart attack

Good news: your story is not yet locked in

18 Feb

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters    February 18, 2018

I’ve been thinking about storytelling lately. I encounter a lot of patient stories from my Heart Sisters blog readers here, as well as from the women who raise a hand during my Heart-Smart Women public presentations. (I’ve learned that even the briefest of questions often hides a story behind it). I also tell stories – both my own, and other women’s. A heart patient’s story often kicks off with a profound this-can’t-be-happening-to-me sense of disbelief as we try to make sense out of something that makes no sense at all. Telling the story to others helps us do this at first. “How did this happen?” demand our worried family and friends while we lie there, overwhelmed, and thus our storytelling begins.

I’ve also learned that the way we tell that same story to ourselves and to others changes over time. And as NPR broadcaster Glynn Washington (of Snap Judgment) said in a recent interview, when you start changing your story, you change the storyteller:  Continue reading

Six lessons Emmi learned from her Hollywood Heart Attack

28 May

by Carolyn Thomas  ♥  @HeartSisters

Emmi S. Herman is the mother of three millennials and grandmother of two perfect grandchildren. As the grandmother of one perfect child (our adorable Everly Rose), I can relate. I can especially relate to her because, like Emmi, I too survived what doctors call the “widow maker” heart attack (a misnomer that really needs fixing given how many women I know who have survived it. Physicians don’t, for example, call this serious cardiac event the “widower” maker, do they?)  Emmi is a children’s book author with expertise in early literacy skills. When not writing copy at her day job or at work on a memoir about her sister, she is in her car somewhere between New York and New Jersey. Here’s how she describes the six important lessons she learned about having a heart attack.  Continue reading

When doctors use words that hurt

21 Apr

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

Consider hearing the scary diagnosis of “heart failure” tripping lightly from your doctor’s lips as if it were no big deal. Can there be anything more terrifying and demoralizing than hearing that your heart is failing”And the words don’t even  accurately reflect this condition, which actually means that your heart is not pumping blood as well as it should. 

So why did doctors come up with this heart failure name, and what on earth were they thinking when they decided it would be a good idea to actually say these words out loud to Real Live Patients? And is there a better piece of medical jargon they could use instead?   Continue reading

“The heart is a house with four rooms”

26 Dec

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters

Put your hand on your heart right now.  I’m guessing that your hand is likely in the correct general location (although if you’re like my American friends singing their national anthem, your hand is resting on your left chest area rather than over the heart’s actual central chest location, slightly tipped to the left). So go ahead and slide your hand a wee bit to the right where it belongs.

Now compare that little exercise to how well you’d know the location (or function) of your liver or your pancreas.

I’m pretty sure if we were playing Pin The Tail On the Major Organ, we’d lose on those two examples.

That’s why I loved Dr. Roxanne Sukol‘s creative and plain-English description of the heart. Dr. Sukol is the founder of Your Health Is On Your Plate, and has  spent much of the past 15 years making complex medical information easy for the rest of us to understand. Here’s how she describes our hearts:    Continue reading

“What Was That?” A poem for heart attack survivors

11 May

by Carolyn Thomas

Loyal British reader Lorraine Gradwell responded to a recent post here (Heart Disease Within “The Comfort of Denial) by revealing that its post-heart attack emotional roller coaster message had resonated with her. Like many other women, this 58-year old Manchester mother of two felt frightened and confused after surviving what doctors call a “widow maker” heart attack last fall. And like many other women, her cardiac symptoms (crushing fatigue, light-headedness along with chest, neck, arm and shoulder symptoms) had been initially misdiagnosed as panic attacks

Lorraine explains:

“I had my heart attacks early last October; I didn’t know what was happening and this left me frightened that I could have more. I began a creative writing course the same week and wrote this poem.”   Continue reading