Category Archives: London

GREAT TO BE CHOOSING MY OWN BANANAS

 

Lovely to see full shelves

Now that we’ve been vaccinated against Covid and the rules for masking and social distancing are being more generally obeyed, we feel able to go shopping for ourselves, instead of having to have our groceries delivered. As a retired consultant pathologist, I have no problem with wearing a mask – it’s just like the old days!!

Last Friday, the Tesco store in Kensington was immaculate, the shelves stuffed full of goodies. It was lovely – going to the supermarket in person, being able to select bananas of just the right degree of ripeness and choose between Hovis’ own granary flour and Allison Country Grain flour, taking time to read the package details.

Yes of course I take a list, but at least I don’t have to keep checking that my shopping adds up to £40. Oftentimes, as an elderly couple with smaller appetites than in our youth, we’ve struggled to make our orders up to £40 and had to add things we don’t really need yet. Some supermarkets charge £4 –a whopping 10% – to orders under £40, while some, like Waitrose, won’t deliver orders under £40 at all.

I really missed being able to just wander around and get inspired by what is available and choose fruit and vegetables as they come into season.

But then I just love shopping. One of our regular weekend treats was wandering around shops, not necessarily buying anything – interspersed with visits to one of the great art galleries we have in London.

Zoom is super for browsing and online classes, but there’s nothing like seeing art in the flesh. Have to wait to redeem the tickets we’ve booked when finally, lockdown is relaxed.

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

NOT AGAIN!! NOT MORE FRACTURES

I can’t watch even though I’ve carried out loads of injections as both a dentist and a doctor

I was hurrying towards the taxi to take us to the hospital for the 2nd dose of our Covid-19 vaccine when I caught my foot in one of those large triangular signs that indicate where pedestrians should walk outside some scaffolding and I went flying.

Having osteoporosis, I usually break a long bone when I fall. The last time I tripped was on the steps leaving our flats to go to the cinema, and I broke my left ankle. Previously I tripped over a broken paving stone while looking across the road to see where my piano teacher’s flat was. On that occasion, I broke my left wrist, managed to play my concert piece with him using just my right hand, and then drove home in heavy traffic through Trafalgar Square and St James’s Park using only my right hand. My worst fracture was of my right hip in Spain where I had gone to help Louise, who was having her second baby. We were on the way to the obstetrician for her to have a check-up when I tripped over my thick-soled Doc Marten’s lookalikes. This was during the severe ‘flu epidemic of 2000. The NHS Hospital, the Residencia, was full so I had my hip replacement surgery in a delightful private hospital up on the hillside above San Sebastian, but still covered by my NHS card. I’ve a couple of crush fractures of my vertebrae due to my osteoporosis. No idea when they occurred.

So, with Josh’s help, I picked myself, dusted myself down, got into the taxi, had my jab, and came home. I had fallen hard on my left side and by now it had started to ache badly. Over the rest of the day and the following day the pain got worse. Three ribs on my left side were tender. I couldn’t sleep lying down. Coughing, hiccupping, and burping were all agony. It’s not until you do any of these normal things and it hurts, that you realise how often you carry them out. I’ve tried strapping, hot packs and ice packs, but I think the cure has to be just time. Now, a week later, though those ribs are tender to the touch, they only hurt when I lean back in my chair or I forget and try to lie down on that side.

In normal times I would have asked my GP to book an X-ray at the local Health Centre just to check – I always have at the back of my mind that any fracture could be through a bone weakened by a deposit of my breast cancer, even all these years later. But in these Covid times, a not strictly necessary X-ray clearly isn’t on. It wasn’t until I had a full bone scan in 2002 to see whether my breast cancer had spread to my bones – it hadn’t – that I had a previous rib fracture confirmed. I’ll no doubt find out next time I need a chest  Xray for some other reason. Healed fractures leave a scar on the bones.

It’s been a horrid few days but worth it to feel we now have antibodies against Covid-19 and can at least start to get our own shopping at the supermarket – being careful to mask and keep to social distancing.

Many thanks to all those who wrote to say they were enjoying my memoir ‘Woman in a White Coat’ and my new book ‘Abby’s Tales of Then and Now’.

Woman in a White Coat

 

 

 

 

 

WOMAN IN A WHITE COAT – a memoir

‘Woman in a White Coat’ is the memoir of Dr Abby J Waterman, a poor Jewish girl who makes good. Born and brought up in London’s East End, she is now an 89-year old retired consultant pathologist who has been a Harley Street dentist, a doctor, an entrepreneur and finally director of a cancer research laboratory, as well as a wife and mother of four.

Can you imagine what it’s like to carry out an autopsy on a 4-year-old when you yourself have a young child at home? Or what it’s like to look into the eyes of a young mother nursing a babe in her arms, knowing she’ll be dead by the end of the year? Can you imagine what it’s like to be a pathologist who examines breast cancer cells under the microscope as her profession and then finds that she has breast cancer herself?

‘Woman in a White Coat’ is a poignant account of Abby’s journey from a cold-water tenement in Petticoat Lane, to being faced with life and death decisions in a London hospital. As a medical student, she brings babies into the world and helps to relieve the suffering of patients who are about to leave it.

Filled with insights and gentle humour, this book gives you a very real account of what it’s like to be a doctor at the sharp end. You’ll eavesdrop on the conversations from behind the scenes in hospitals, the stories of patients with strange “unexplained” injuries in embarrassing places, and the tears shed by the medical staff that patients never see. It will give you insights into what it is like, helping the sick to get better and the critically ill to die gracefully.

It also shows you that there can be a fulfilling life after retirement, even when it is threatened by near fatal disease.

Buy Woman in a White Coat on Kindle at £2.99, as a paperback on Amazon at £9.99 or get a free taster on Amazon using Look Inside.

http://bit.ly/Woman_in_a_White_Coat

Woman in a White Coat

PIPPED MY USA FACEBOOK FRIENDS TO THE POST

I know it’s not a football match, but I can’t help being proud that the Old Country managed to get out the Coronavirus Vaccine before the USA did. The first woman patient in the UK had the Pfizer/ BioNTech vaccine on Tuesday December 8th and Josh and I had ours the next day, December 10th. We’re due the 2nd dose on December 30th.

We will still have to be careful – wear masks and socially distance – but we won’t feel we are taking our life in our hands when we venture out. Great to be able to go to the supermarket again. People are supposed to wear masks in shops, but they don’t all and there are stories of people being very aggressive if you try to tell them to be sensible. And we can go to Art Galleries again – once they re-open.

Josh said he didn’t feel the injection at all, but though I didn’t feel the needle go in, injecting the solution was a bit uncomfortable. The injection site was a little tender on the 2nd day, but now I’d have to look in the mirror to see where I had the injection to find the site. So far, no side effects. They do say that us oldies experience less side effects with the Covid vaccine.

Hope it works out for all of you.

My Vaccine Card

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 to get a taster for free.

Many thanks to all those who wrote to say they were enjoying my new book Abby’s Tales of Then and Now It 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

 

 

 

 

 

COOK, EAT, TV, SLEEP then COOK, EAT, TV, SLEEP again

 

One year a Mallard duck came to visit the balcony of our 9th floor flat but not this year

Boring, boring, boring. It started in February, when I looked around my tightly packed Art History class and decided that with the accounts of the new circulating Coronavirus, it wasn’t safe to go on attending. There was a short gap in the summer, with the reduction in the number of Covid-19 cases, when we ventured out to get new spectacles, have our hearing aids adjusted and our teeth scaled and polished. Best of all, we felt able to visit supermarkets instead of having food delivered.

Then the second wave started. We are lucky in being old and vulnerable and able to get delivery slots, but we missed picking out the produce for ourselves. We would never have chosen a carrot weighing 500gms or tiny clementines, little more than a mouthful.

The local home library delivers six books every three weeks and I have attended some Art History classes on Zoom. Recently I made myself get out my Ancient Greek exercises and started practising the piano again. And I re-opened the sequel to my memoir ‘Woman in a White Coat’. I had written some 28k words but hadn’t felt able to face revisiting all those old memories of my ’25 Houses’ – the number of houses, flats, billets and hospital accommodations I have lived in.

I’m bored and fed up with being stuck indoors. Living in the centre of London, I don’t enjoy going for local walks, though we do drive out to quiet places to have a short walk on Sundays. We are back to supermarket food deliveries but now, finally, there is an end in sight.

I tick so many health problem boxes, I would be unlikely to survive a bout of Covid-19, so I am absolutely delighted to hear that the Pfizer/ BioNTech vaccine has been passed for distribution in the UK. Being well over 80, we shouldn’t have to wait too long for our turn to be vaccinated. It is recommended that we should still practice social distancing and wear masks when indoors after being vaccinated, but what freedom – feeling we can go to shops and art galleries and cinemas without fearing for our lives.

And No, I don’t have any reservations about getting vaccinated. We blithely had all those mandatory vaccinations when travelling to Africa without a second thought and some of them had quite nasty side effects.

From BBC News

WHAT HAS IT GOT IN ITS POCKETSES, PRECIOUS?

My neat little charger and my hearing aids

I keep my hearing aids in when I have a nap in the afternoon. A week ago, I got out of bed, stretched, and realised my left hearing aid was missing. I stripped the bed, looked underneath, looked under my bedside cabinet – no luck. I then went round the flat. Not in the bathrooms, the other bedrooms, the hallway, or the kitchen.

Although my Phonak hearing aids have Bluetooth, unlike my previous ones they don’t have GPS or an app to find them if you lose them, but they show how charged they are. Wherever I went, I was near enough to the charger to see both hearing aids.

I then stepped into the hallway outside the flat and both aids were still showing. They only disappeared from the app when I went right to the other end of the living room and shut the door,

Very mysterious!!

I finally realised that it must mean that I had both hearing aids somewhere about my person, but my trouser pockets were empty, and the missing hearing aid wasn’t caught up in my clothing.

Then the penny dropped. My T shirt has a pocket over my left breast and just tucks in below it. My hearing aid had fallen into the pocket and because of its position and that it was so small it didn’t produce a bulge,

The pocket in my M&S T shirt (without my hearing aid)

What a relief! The aids are insured, of course, but there is an excess clause so I wouldn’t get all the money back.

Read more of Abby’s previous posts in her book Abby’s Tales of then and Now. It 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.

Woman in a White Coat

HERE WE GO AGAIN – LOCKDOWN AND COVID-19

The new entrance to Morley College South London

Locked in again – I fear that for Josh and me it is for the foreseeable future – or until we get an anti-Covid 19 vaccine that is safe and effective.

It all started this February. I was sitting in a college classroom listening to the most popular Art History tutor. As usual, his class was full, the chairs pushed tight against each other.

News of the new Coronavirus was everywhere, and it was already clear that oldies like us – Josh going on 91 and me approaching 89, both with long standing medical conditions – would be unlikely to survive an attack of the virus.

When I came home and told Josh I had decided it just wasn’t safe to carry on with my class, it was to find that he had made the same decision about his jewellery classes. We withdrew from our respective colleges and were early enough to get partial refunds.

That was it for Josh, for whom online classes are not really on. He contributes to a jewellery making forum and exchanges ideas there. On the other hand, I have been taking Art History online classes since the summer – the present one a repeat of the class I had to leave at the beginning of the year.

It’s pros and cons. It’s good to see the images more clearly and zoom in on them. And none of those classes have had the breakout groups I have always hated. I think dividing the class into small groups, while the tutor corrects essays or reads their love letters, is a cop-out. The speaker for the first group covers most things and the rest of us say – ‘Well as the last speaker just said…’ I know that breakout groups are a godsend for language classes, enabling the shyer students to make their voices heard, but for everything else I’m likely to attend – no thank you!!

I thank all you wonderful people who sent our younger daughter, Jane, their kind wishes. Like so many cancer sufferers she is finding her chemotherapy very tough going. When her course is completed, she will have a total gastrectomy (stomach removal). It is wonderful that we have Zoom and WhatsApp so we can see and speak with her in Switzerland but awful that we can’t be with her at this time.

WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO STOCK UP ON??

My favourite bay in Tesco’s

We shouldn’t go crazy and be selfish but it’s only sensible to check that we have enough of the essentials for when the dreaded Coronavirus rears its ugly head again. There are spikes all over the world, though we have to hope that the race between a deadly pandemic and the vaccine is won in our favour.

I have to admit that I was worried enough to pay a silly price on eBay for a giant pack of toilet paper when toilet paper completely vanished from the shops. We still have some left now, when the supermarket shelves are full.

The commodity I missed most was bread flour. We hate stodgy supermarket highly processed bread and, except for an occasional artisan loaf, I bake all my own. As an aged and vulnerable couple, we were able to book supermarket delivery slots, but week after week there would be bread flour on their product list, but my grocery would arrive with a ‘flour out of stock’ notice. Same for yeast and baking powder. I was able to buy bread flour from a baker in 2.5kg packages but being a 5 foot nothing lady I found it quite a thing shlepping 10 kg of flour. So, I’ll make sure I have a reasonable amount of flour in stock. I am only just finishing the 500gm pack of Fermipan dried yeast I found online and have a spare ready for the next few months.

I was delighted to read in Martynoga’ s excellent book ‘The Virus’ that soap is as good or better at killing the virus than sanitisers because it dissolves their essential outer membrane. I bought a packet of antiseptic wipes as well as a little bottle of sanitizer but prefer to use the antiseptic wipes to wipe down surfaces I must touch.

Our older son got us some pretty masks, but the elastic pulls out my hearing aids – apparently a common problem. I bought some extenders, but the elastic still caught.  I ordered a mask that goes over the back of your head, rather than over your ears. Silly me!! I then realised that I could alter mine by cutting the elastic that fits over your ears in half and re-joining it so that it slips over your head. Easy/ peasy!!

When we come home from our short outings, I wash my masks in hot soapy water and as an extra precaution use them in turn and I don’t have to stock up on disposable masks.

Read more of Abby’s previous posts in her book Abby’s Tales of then and Now. It 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.

 

 

 

 

 

Or read her memoir

Woman in a White Coat

O

OUR UNSUNG HEROES

My oral hygienist’s chair

We all clapped and cheered for our NHS and other heroes who risked their lives to save ours – and quite right. But what about our Unsung Heroes, who now are coming into the line of fire – workers whose professions bring them into potentially dangerous close contact with us, like our dentists and oral hygienists.

My oral hygienist, who has been helping me keep my remaining teeth for the last 14 years, assures me that the fact that I collect lots of calculus around my teeth, so that they need scaling every 3 or 4 months, is not to do with Central London’s hard water, but the constituents of my saliva. Whatever the cause of my heavy accumulation, a visit to the Oral Hygienist was long overdue.

She has worn a mask and gloves since I first went to her, but she does not, of course, wear full PPE and so is at some risk from patients stupid and uncaring enough not to self-isolate when knowingly exposed to Coronavirus infection. I was interested to see that, when I rinsed my mouth, my washings were disposed of safely, not tipped into the bowl attached to the dental chair as in the past.

Especially now that the number of cases of Coronavirus in the UK is worryingly high, we should appreciate these less popular members of the caring professions even more.

I qualified in medicine after training as a dentist and was always amused by the fact that at the end of a course of treatment, when I had taken great care to cause my patient as little pain and discomfort as possible, my dental patient would shake my hand and say

‘I’m glad I won’t be seeing you again.’

In contrast, as a doctor, I might have had difficulty getting a needle into a vein, making several painful attempts, but my patient would still thank me profusely and say they looked forward to their next visit and discussing their diagnosis and treatment.

I was the same person but the patient’s view of my two professions was so different!!

Read more of Abby’s previous posts in her book Abby’s Tales of then and Now. It 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.

FRUIT BREAD AND VEGGIE BREAD

Scrumptious Blueberry and Oatmeal Loaf

I’ve been making walnut and raisin bread and beetroot bread for several years now, but not being able to go to the Saturday market on Pimlico Green for specialist bread or to Artisan bread shops during lockdown, has made me look for something more interesting than my staple White, 50% Wholemeal or Granary loaves.

Baking other veggie bread started because the supermarkets only had carrots in bags of 1 kg that, having made carrot and orange soup, and courgette and carrot spaghetti as a vegetable, I still had too many carrots left. My favourite Bread Machine cookbook is by Jenny Shapter. I bought the paperback years ago at the reduced price bookshop in Southampton Row. Her book is now called The Ultimate Bread Machine Cookbook and seems to be only available as a hardback.

All her recipes have worked out well, even those that seem a bit strange. My Anadama recipe is hers and lately I’ve tried her Blueberry and Oatmeal and Cranberry and Orange loaves. The former, though it contains sugar, does not taste like cake and I’m sure would be great for a savoury sandwich. It seems strange having the whole juice of an orange in bread, but it tastes delicious.

I shall try some other vegetables and fruit but now we can go to the supermarket ourselves and don’t have to buy such large quantities I am less likely to have more vegetables than I need for our dinner.

Read more of Abby’s previous posts in her book Abby’s Tales of then and Now. It 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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