Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Stop Making Carrie Fisher's Heart Attack about your Sexist Agenda -- and stop Coopting Veganism to do It

I just read Neal Barnard's blog where he takes Carrie Fisher to task for having a heart attack and then schools all women (white women?) about how we should all be taking better care of ourselves by eating a more plant-based diet.

“I tell my younger friends that no matter how I go, I want it reported that I drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra.” Yeah, she said that.  Also: FU, because she would say FU.

First of all, I love me some plant-based diet; I've been on one since 1988 or so. Hey!  I wrote a book about veganism in American culture and am married to a super successful vegan chef.

Second of all, we have no actual intel on what happened to Fisher.  Third, this is the most sexist shit I can imagine.  Did he do this when George Michael died of confirmed heart failure?  Or when Ricky Harris died of a heart attack? No?  Right.  Because Neal Barnard sees Carrie Fisher's death as an "in" to target women who should be vegan to avoid heart attack.  Nothing is more patronizing or infuriating for yours truly than this noise.

When I checked out of the hospital after nearly a week stay post massive heart attack caused by SCAD, a genetic variable that no one thought to research until -- gasp! -- the last 20 years, I was one of the lucky ones who survived what is normally called a widow maker  Most cases of SCAD, prior to Sharonne Hayes's EXTREMELY important study of it, had been discovered post-mortem, because most of us died before being diagnosed. 

Here's my heart attack.  Those really weird things at the bottom of the page?  That ECG pattern is called "tombstoning."  Because you don't come back from those.

Yup: this is me, 10 minutes from "nite, nite."

Can I get a "hell, yeah?"

Where is the research on women's heart attacks?  When I left the hospital, I got a brochure -- illustrated! -- about how to play golf post-heart attack and how to get the wife to clean the house.  

Hey, beeatach: I need for you to vacuum the living room.  Cool?

If Neal Barnard would like to talk to me about my experience with SCAD, as a VEGAN woman with NO risk factors who nearly died, then he should email me (  I would love for him and every other cardiologist in the country to examine and understand the ways in which women die from their fucked up hearts.  And many of us die regardless of the care we take.

But shaming a dead woman and trying to get the rest of your readership to go vegan because of an undiagnosed medial issue?  For that, my friend, you should be ashamed.

And, here's my letter to you.  Peace, from a person who survived a heart attack that very likely would have killed you.

Hi Neal,
I'm a vegan woman who nearly died from SCAD in 2013. I find the medical profession's treatment of women's heart isses to be unbelievably sexist -- and I think that your article is contributing to that sexism, even as it's simultaneously unbelievably inconsiderate of Fisher's death. We have no idea what caused her to die; many of my fellow SCAD survivors feel that it might well be SCAD, and if you have SCAD, it's not your fault. Not that she should be made to be a fault regardless.

I have been vegetarian since 1988 and vegan since 2000. I am a long distance runner with no history 
of tobacco use or subtance abuse, and I nearly died on October 25, 2015 due to a spontaneous coronary artery dissection (which was diagnosed finally after I sought a 3rd opinion from Dr. Sharonne Hayes at the Mayo Clinic a year later).

I'm in a FB group for SCAD survivors -- along with 1000+ other people, mostly really, really heath-conscious women who have had at least one and sometimes multiple heart attacks, many of them massive (mine was a widow maker) despite our best efforts. If you'd like to read my about my heart or my veganism, you can do so here: And here's a link to my most recent book:

If you'd like to get more information about SCAD, about the ways that it's almost entirely unique to otherwise healthy (even vegan) women, please feel free to contact me. Your readers are welcome as well:
Dr. Laura Wright, Ph.D.
Professor of English


  1. As a professor of English I wonder why you have to use four letter words to "describe" thought and feeling. Degrades the article and questions the intelligence of readership. I quickly skipped over the rest of the article.

  2. I use profanity for the exact reason that, as a woman who gets called out by people like you, I'm not supposed to use it. I use it because it allows me the full range of my emotional discontent in the face of sexist physical and linguistic exclusion. I use so-called profanity because I am a person who has studied the subversive use of the English language since the 1980s. I am profane because I don't really care what anyone who would shy away from the profane would care about anything that I write. I write from a broken heart, from a place of having been silenced for decades. I am screaming. And: I don't give the remotest of a care if you can't handle my anger.

  3. Wonder how you might update this nonsense blog with the recent news about her "atherosclerotic heart disease..." Dr. Neil Barnard is being sexist?? Please. It's SCIENCE. He is creating awareness. You sure have your lingo backwards! states that "since 1984, more women than men have died each year from heart disease and the gap between men and women’s survival continues to widen." We've known this for years! Do your research!

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