Category Archives: Abby’s Tales of Then and Now

DR ABBY WATERMAN’S LOST MARBLES SYNDROME?

Forget-me-nots in Westminster

According to Wikipedia: A syndrome is a set of medical signs and symptoms which are correlated with each other and often associated with a particular disease or disorder. The word derives from the Greek, meaning “concurrence”. Usually, syndromes are named after people by others, but I have called this one after myself because I am both the patient and a doctor.

The symptoms often start in early middle age, though many people show signs of the disease earlier. Sufferers complain that a word is on the tip of their tongue, but they can’t recall it, or that they recognise faces, but can’t put a name to them. Some have claimed that during Lockdown they found it difficult to know what day of the week it was and that when they left the house, they had to go back to check that they’d remembered to turn off the gas and lock the front door.

As a child, I had a nearly photographic memory– couldn’t read a book twice because I’d know what was on the next page – but that faded with increasing age. I didn’t really notice that my store of marbles was less full than it had been, until in 2016 when I had a near-fatal heart attack. When I came off the ventilator, I not only had the weirdest delusions but found that quite often I couldn’t think of the exact word I was looking for -– something that had been rare for me. Later, I noticed that my spelling wasn’t as accurate as it used to be, and that I was increasingly grateful for my spell checker.

It is typical of sufferers of this syndrome that they have secret fears of developing Alzheimer’s, but their worries are often unfounded.

Some think that a nice cup of tea helps, while others recommend lazing in the sun on the French Riviera, or a long scented bath. However, there are no scientific double blind trials to investigate these types of therapy, although the anecdotal evidence is that all three have been found to be of some value.

I would welcome hearing of further examples of the effect of my syndrome as I am thinking of applying to the Medical Research Council for a grant to compare the benefit of a cruise on a COVID-free liner in a POSH cabin, with that of a Weekend in Southend-on-Sea. However, I fear that the Council might balk at the cost of a first class cabin with private balcony.

Note: My memoir is called ‘Woman in a White Coat’ not ‘Increasingly Forgetful Abby Waterman’. You can read more of Abby’s stories in her memoir ‘Woman in a White Coat’ and her previous posts Abby’s Tales of Then and Now. You can Look Inside on the Amazon site and get a taster for free. ‘Woman in a White Coat’ is £2.99 for the Kindle version and £9.99 in paperback. ‘Abby’s Tales of Then and Now’ is £2.99 for the Kindle version and £12.99 for the 7” x 9” paperback. Both are illustrated in colour.

About ‘Woman in a White Coat’

 

YOU KNOW YOU’RE OLD WHEN …

The boys at primary school around 1967

You know you’re really old when your eldest is about to turn 61, the next one is nearly 59 and the girls are 55 and 54. Until 2006, when we moved into our present flat, we had moved every 5 years or so. I like change – even if sometimes it’s not for the better – and I even started the second volume of my memoir to be entitled ’25 Houses’ – the number of houses, flats and hospitals I’ve lived in – including the three private dwellings and the children’s hostel I was evacuated to during WW2.

I won’t list all the various ills my body has been afflicted with, but they include breast cancer, a near fatal heart attack and several bone fractures. When I was 60 and Josh 62, we bought a mews house in Marylebone with a lease of 30 years. We weren’t worried about having to renew the lease – we were sure we’d be long gone when it expired. But after 15 years, we were still around, and had the unpleasant task of trying to negotiate a lease extension with a greedy estate. Fortunately, they were so grasping that we couldn’t afford to stay and moved to a flat in Westminster. It is so much better for us than the mews house, being on one level with lifts, an underground car park and 24-hour porters who keep an eye out for us.

I can remember as an adolescent talking to someone of 35 and thinking I’d never get to be that old but here we are and if I survive (PG) I shall be 90 in October.

Yes, having survived cancer and all that, I am worried about losing my marbles. Every time I can’t think of the word on the end of my tongue or what’s the name of someone or other, I fear that it’s the onset of Alzheimer’s, but perhaps that will be delayed until this new treatment comes on the market and the little grey cells will survive in more or less working order until the end.

Read more of Abby’s stories in her memoir ‘Woman in a White Coat’ and her previous posts Abby’s Tales of Then and Now. You can Look Inside on the Amazon site and get a taster for free. ‘Woman in a White Coat’ is £2.99 for the Kindle version and £9.99 in paperback. ‘Abby’s Tales of Then and Now’ is £2.99 for the Kindle version and £12.99 for the 7” x 9” paperback. Both are illustrated in colour.

Woman in a White Coat

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE FIREWORKS MUSIC SCHOOL

If you have a library card – certainly in Westminster – you can access Naxos and listen to a variety of interpretations by virtuosos.

I stopped having piano lessons at home a year ago, once Covid got into its stride. Online music tutoring didn’t appeal to me but now that Josh and I have had both our vaccines it seems safe enough to have a personal tutor again. The lively young Greek woman recommended by the Fireworks Music School is a Music Therapist and therefore fully vaccinated. I specified a tutor who was not only vaccinated but willing – like me – to wear a mask indoors.

I was eight years old and evacuated to a children’s hostel in Dawlish, South Devon, when I started to learn the piano with Mr Lawson, a brilliant teacher who was the organist at the local church. He instilled in me a love of music that has stayed with me for the 80-odd years since.

When I came back to London in 1942, I had lessons at Toynbee Hall and then with Miss Singer at my school, Central Foundation School for Girls in Spital Square. I gave up the piano while studying Dentistry and then Medicine, but started playing again when our four children were old enough to play a musical instrument. Our ensemble consisted of two guitarists, a clarinettist, a flautist and me playing the piano with one or two of them singing along.

Once they got involved in O and A levels and I went back to Medicine and became a Pathologist, I gave up playing again and we sold the piano.

On my retirement age 60, after a tussle with Breast Cancer, I started going to classes at CityLit College. I’d lost some of my manual dexterity but was delighted to find I was still able to sight read with ease. For various reasons I later changed to having private lessons at home and continued until Covid.

I was tempted to call this post ‘Tinkling on the Ivories’, but then thought about how many expressions, that were in common usage when I was a child in the 1930s, are now clearly racist, sexist and/or downright disgusting. To think that all those magnificent animals were slaughtered for tusks to be made into white piano keys so that all those Victorians could have pianos in their parlours!

My tutor suggested that I start with Mozart’s variations on the nursery rhyme Ah! Dirai-je vous maman – a lovely piece with enough different moods and techniques for me not to need Czerny’s exercises as well.

If you have a library card – certainly in Westminster – you can access Naxos and listen to a variety of interpretations by virtuosos.

Read more of Abby’s stories in her memoir ‘Woman in a White Coat’ and her previous posts Abby’s Tales of Then and Now. You can Look Inside on the Amazon site and get a taster for free.

Woman in a White Coat’ is £2.99 for the Kindle version and £9.99 in paperback. ‘Abby’s Tales of Then and Now’ is £2.99 for the Kindle version and £12.99 for the 7” x 9” paperback. Both are illustrated in colour.

Woman in a White Coat

Amazon Review

Woman in a White Coat is an enticing mix of the personal and professional. Social and cultural history merge in a lively, pre-war East End of London, populated by a constant stream of colourful characters. Following evacuation and the end of war, Abby embarked on her academic career, and a post war struggle to be recognised in a profession with a limited quota for women. And no quota at all when the woman becomes a mother of four children.
In its poignant story telling of success and failure, love and loss, ambition and defeat, this book holds the reader’s attention from the first page in a perceptive and heartfelt mix of anecdotes about the characters, patients, autopsies, family and colleagues who have populated a long and uncommon life.

BREAKOUT AFTER LOCKDOWN

Lovely to see a full supermarket and more being unpacked.
Just before lockdown, the fruit and veg racks were virtually empty!!

Yes, we were fortunate in that, being aged and vulnerable, after a couple of weeks we were able to get supermarkets slots. It was all very well, but inevitably, although they appeared on their websites, some items would be unavailable on the day. Flour, yeast and baking powder were particularly hard to come by. I was able to buy 10kg of bread flour in 2.5kg packets from eBay at a moderate price but was reduced to paying £7.99 for a £1.50 bag of self raising flour. There were plenty of profiteers out there.

The bliss of being allowed out to shop in person!! We went to a large Tesco’s very early on the first Monday vulnerable people were allowed out. There were hardly any other shoppers and the store was immaculate. Couldn’t believe my eyes when I approached the Baking aisle. Such a variety of different flours! And being able to choose just the size and kind of fruit and vegetables we like.

OK – I’ve been to the Uffizi, glided down the waterways in Venice, seen a giant hippo on the lawn in Malawi, but that Tesco store was right up there with them!! Absence definitely makes the heart grow fonder.

Read more of Abby’s previous posts in her book Abby’s Tales of then and Now is£2.99 for the Kindle version and £12.99 for the 7” x 9” paperback. Both are illustrated in colour. You can Look Inside on the Amazon site to get a taster for free.

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