What women need to know about pregnancy complications and heart disease

 by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters

“I’d love to speak about the patient’s perspective at your Toronto conference in June,” I said last winter in response to an invitation from Dr. Graeme Smith, a Canadian obstetrician who teaches at Queen’s University in Kingston and specializes in high-risk pregnancies. “But travelling halfway across the country is just too hard on me these days.”

As the unofficial poster child for the well-documented link between pregnancy complications and premature cardiovascular disease, I was already very familiar with Dr. Smith’s work.  See also: Pregnancy complications strongly linked to heart disease”

Shortly after I turned down his kind invitation to speak, he invited me again (hey, he’s persistent!) – but this time he offered the irresistible option of speaking to the Toronto audience via teleconference. I asked him:

“Does this mean I can stay in my jammies, drink coffee at my kitchen table, and just speak to your group over the phone?!”

Continue reading “What women need to know about pregnancy complications and heart disease”

Looking for meaning in a meaningless diagnosis

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

“That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.  If you tell yourself you feel fine, you will. Don’t cry over anything that can’t cry over you.  When life hands out lemons, squeeze out a smile.”

Translation:  Blah blah blah . . .

Here’s one I like better:  “Sometimes bad things happen to good people.” Period. End of story. As I’ve written here before, there is no Fair Fairy in life.

It is indeed tempting – and common – to spout trite platitudes designed to somehow make people feel better about those bad things with bumper sticker pop-psych. But can platitudes really lend meaning to a life-altering health crisis? Continue reading “Looking for meaning in a meaningless diagnosis”

“To just be a person, and not a patient anymore”

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

Some lively online discussions recently, initiated by yet another interesting article from Dr. James Salwitz called Why Is The Doctor Angry?  This time around, Dr. Salwitz tells the story of one of his patients who had become very ill, but then emailed a doctor 3,000 miles away in California rather than consult his own doctor as he became sicker and sicker. The California doctor forwarded the email back to Dr. Salwitz, who immediately sent his patient to hospital with multiple system failures. Dr. S felt angry about his patient’s behaviour, explaining:

“Did I look him in the eye and tell him that I was upset, that he had neglected his own care by not reaching out and in doing so he violated the basic tenants of a relationship which said that he was the patient and I was the doctor?”

“Did I remind him what I expect from him and what he can expect from me?  You better believe it – I was really pissed!”   Continue reading ““To just be a person, and not a patient anymore””