Tag Archives: heart Attack

SHUT AWAY FOR FOUR MONTHS??

As you see from the bookmarks I always have at least two books on the go

It’s not compulsory yet, but for us elderly folk it’s almost certainly coming. By chance, I passed our local library at the weekend so I collected some more books – now 13 in all. They’re a mixture – mainly my favourite whodunits, but also some poetry and a collection of Oscar Wilde’s witty remarks. I’ve still got half a dozen of my own books to read – some I bought and some left by Louise when she paid us a flying visit last month.

Daily exercise should help. When our physiotherapist granddaughter popped over from San Sebastian I was jealous of her fancy sports watch. Too mean to buy an expensive one like hers, I ordered a much less pricy Letscom fitness tracker. My hip replacement has been painful for years and I gave up on exercise classes for the over 50s so I started by doing 10 minutes of mixed exercises each day. Yesterday I was able to do that much twice. Luckily our flat has a long corridor so I start by walking up and down 10 or more times.

I’ll try to complete the sequel to my memoir ‘Woman in a White Coat’ which I finished in 2017 as I was recovering from the heart attack that nearly took me off. I’m aiming to get back to writing every day. It’s easy to get lazy but if I’m going to be a virtual prisoner for 4 months I’ll need to structure my time.

And I’ve even started sorting and clearing out the kitchen drawers. Amazing how much stuff we oldies accumulate that we’re never going to use again!!

Lots more stories like this in my memoir ‘‘Woman in White Coat’. Buy it on Kindle at £2.99 or as a paperback on Amazon at £9.99

http://bit.ly/Woman_in_a_White_Coat

 

SONS AND DAUGHTERS

We have two of each but for a time all four lived abroad – our elder son in Africa, the younger in Finland, our elder daughter in the Basque Country in Spain and the baby in Switzerland. Now the boys live in the UK, though the elder often goes abroad for conferences, but the girls work permanently abroad. I hated it then and hate it now, though they come and stay with us during the year.

The girls are not often in the UK together. We have only one spare room so if they bring their partners we have to put up one pair in a hotel, like when they came over for Josh’s 90th birthday.

But they are coming together this week – our elder daughter with her partner for a concert and the younger for a conference. The girls will share the spare room and Mark will have to sleep on the sofa.

School photo of Jane and Louise

They are great friends now but they weren’t always. It was fine when they were little. When Jane cried for a feed Louise would pull at me – ‘Ninny crying’, she’d wail. ‘Ninny crying.’ It didn’t last. When they were teenagers they were barely on speaking terms. There was only 17 months between them – Jane had been 6 weeks premature – and they seemed to have nothing in common. If we planned a trip or a holiday it was ‘If she’s going, I’m not.’

It got better when they both went off to Uni and now they’re best friends, though they don’t often meet except for events like Josh’s 90th birthday last year and my heart attack in 2016.

But I do miss them. I love my sons dearly, but mothers get a completely different kind of sympathy and support from our daughters. Lucky us!!

I thank all the lovely people who wrote and commented on my memoir ‘Woman in a White Coat.’

‘Woman in White Coat – the memoir of girl growing up the East End making good.

Buy it on Kindle at £2.99 or as a paperback on Amazon at £9.99

http://bit.ly/Woman_in_a_White_Coat 

ALL 6s AND 7s – ACCORDING TO WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

Age 6 from Rachel Mulligan’s sequence ‘Seven Ages of Man’ stained glass roundels illustrating the life of her father Jim Mulligan, Stained Glass Museum, Ely Cathedral

On my way home from seeing the audiologist about my hearing aids, I thought about all the ‘falsies’ now available to us. I don’t have those we usually associate with the term – when I had surgery for breast cancer immediate reconstruction wasn’t on offer, but I have been fitted with some of the other prosthetic replacements hardly dreamt of when Jacques in Shakespeare’s ‘As You Like It’ spoke of the Seven Ages of Man.

In the UK by 2018 the expectation of life for men was 79.6 and for women 83.2. In Shakespeare’s time, in the 16th century, the expectation of life for both was just under 40, given the high mortality during infancy and childbirth. At 40, I’d have thought myself in the prime of life and was just about to start my specialist training as a consultant pathologist. My final career was just about to begin.

‘The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose’

‘Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.’

I used to be lean and wish I were again. I’ve more ‘the fair round belly’ of the Justice and I only wear slippers at home – haven’t yet descended into going out in them, nor in curlers. I’ve most of my own teeth with only one false tooth – a bridge supported by a tooth on either side, and since having my cataracts removed and false lenses inserted, I no longer wear spectacles,. Also, I have a false hip after fracturing the neck of my right femur in Spain in 2000.
I’m not sure about the ‘second childishness’, though every now again, when I try to remember a word or a name, I experience the ‘mere oblivion’. But so at times so do my children and grandchildren. Immediately after my heart attack I virtually lost my sense of taste and some manual dexterity, but they’re mostly back now.
Lucky we didn’t live in Shakespeare’s time, when ‘sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything’ meant literally that!!

Lots more like this in my memoir ‘‘Woman in White Coat’. Buy it on Kindle at £2.99 or as a paperback on Amazon at £9.99

http://bit.ly/Woman_in_a_White_Coat

Woman in a White Coat paperback

HURRAH! WE MADE IT TO 2020

Fireworks on the London Eye from our balcony

I was born in 1931. Had I been born 30 years earlier, would I have survived breast cancer, a fractured hip, wrist and ankle and, in 2016, a near-fatal heart attack, when my notes were labelled ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ if the second attempt to wean me off a ventilator failed?

I remember in 1999 thinking ‘Well I’m 69, very nearly three score and ten, will I make it to the Millennium – and all the predicted computer crashes that never happened?’

And now here we are in 2020 and I’m still hanging on age 88 thanks to the amazing advances in medicine. We take x-rays, radiotherapy and antibiotics for granted as well as the even more amazing robotics. My heart has two metal stents keeping my blocked coronary arteries open and powerful drugs are helping my heart to remodel itself. All unimaginable in my parents’ youth.

I’m afraid I’m very superstitious, although 13 is my lucky number. I never walk under ladders and there was no way I would even think about what I was going to post about the New Year before the very last stroke of midnight – just in case I didn’t make it!!

Lovely watching the fireworks on the London Eye with our daughter and son-in-law. Shame this year, the grandchildren couldn’t make it.

I thank all those lovely people who contacted me to say they enjoyed my memoir ‘Woman in a White Coat’

‘Woman in White Coat – the memoir of girl growing up the East End making good.

Buy it on Kindle at £2.99 or as a paperback on Amazon at £9.99

Woman in a White Coat paperback

http://bit.ly/Woman_in_a_White_Coat

 

 

 

ON LOSING SOME OF MY MARBLES

A great book + some spilt marbles

I agree with Edith Piaf when I hear a recording of her singing ‘Je ne regrette rien’, but it sounds so much more elegant than ‘I regret nothing’!

I’m used to feeling a bit sorry for myself – coming from a poor family, being brought up in London’s East End in a cold-water tenement infested with bed bugs and mice, probably a bit malnourished, dragged away from my family to be evacuated far from home, childhood illnesses, a string of adult accidents and illnesses etc etc.

But I am now re-reading David Eagleman’s fascinating book ‘The Brain.’ According to him, all these experiences helped my brain to develop, forged new neural connections and put off the time I might finally lose my marbles.

I seemed to be doing fine after my heart attack. I’d had a couple of stents inserted to reopen my blocked coronary arteries, but then I deteriorated and needed to have an intra-aortic heart pump and be put on a ventilator. When I came all off those and the heavy sedation, not only did I have a series of weird hallucinations and delusions, but often I couldn’t think of the word for something (nominal aphasia). That’s gradually improved, though I think ‘It’s on the tip of my tongue’ more often than before my coronary occlusion. It makes me feel better when someone much younger than me says they can’t think of the exact word they’re after.

At 88, I no longer have the photographic memory that helped me through my exams, but I am attending classes in Music and Art History, I have piano lessons and I am about to join a beginners’ class in Classical Greek (PG).

I love being the oldest person in the class even though I may now be a penny short of a pound!!

I thank all those lovely people who read and commented on stories like this in my memoir ‘Woman in a White Coat’.

Woman in a White Coat paperback

Lots more stories like this in my memoir ‘‘Woman in White Coat’. Buy it on Kindle at £2.99 or as a paperback on Amazon at £9.99

http://bit.ly/Woman_in_a_White_Coat

BELIEVE IT OR NOT I MANAGED TO TURN 88 TODAY

I look pretty serious in this photo of me from 1934. Perhaps I was pondering the future of mankind or how to save endangered elephants and bears!!

The amazing part of it is that I have survived being in London in WW2 in the Blitz, and when Doodlebugs and V2 rockets were falling, a near-fatal heart attack, breast cancer, several broken bones, a slew of quite serious medical conditions. Perhaps it was having the same loving husband for the last 63 years and four fantastic children!!

I look back to a time when we could play cricket in Wentworth Street after the market closed. We’d scour the fruiterers’ refuse for a clean orange box that would provide both a wicket and the bat, hoping we wouldn’t miss a nasty smelling surprise of a rotten green orange in a corner that our rushed inspection had missed. Cars were few and far between even in Commercial Street, and none ventured down Petticoat Lane – except to deliver goods before the Sunday market opened. The everyday demountable food stalls arrived on barrows. The sound as they trundled along first thing in the morning accompanied the smell of bread baking from Kossoff’s bakery.

None of us had our own phones – an emergency sent someone running to the phone box outside Aldgate East station. You phoned your current boyfriend there too – getting an hour’s worth for a couple of pence. Now you can hardly walk along the pavement without bumping into someone too busy on their mobile.

Of course, they weren’t all good old days. My dad was out of work in the Great Depression. Not sure how we scraped by. And without our fantastic NHS and immunisation us children all got measles, or mumps, or chicken pox, or diphtheria or any combination of them (more later).

We’ve so much to be grateful for that just wasn’t available when I was a child.

Lots more stories in my memoir ‘‘Woman in White Coat’. Buy it on Kindle at £2.99 or as a paperback on Amazon at £9.99

http://bit.ly/Woman_in_a_White_Coat

Westminster Cardiac Support Group

I never felt after my various other medical catastrophes including breast cancer and a broken hip that I wanted to join a support group. As far as I was concerned, I knew how I needed to come to terms with my extra disability and I just got on with it.

However, St Thomas’s Hospital Critical Care consultants arranged first a follow up clinic for patients who had been in Intensive Care and then scheduled Evening Support (Discussion) groups for survivors and close relations.

I was surprised and delighted with how helpful and reassuring it was to talk to people who had been in a similar situation and with whom I could swap war stories.

I had a particular lurid crop of hallucinations after my heart attack last August – up to 80% of patients in critical care experience some delusions that seem very real to us. Mine will be going into the Final Chapter of my nearly finished memoir.

I loved hearing about those that other patients had. One man was convinced burglars came in the night and stole all the hospital’s bandages. The nurses’ denials didn’t convince him one bit. One of my delusions was that Damien Hurst and Jeff Koons had presented the High Dependence Unit with priceless artefacts. My response was that they made the ward look untidy!!

Pimlico Library on the corner of Lupus Street

The Library Manager of Pimlico Library has kindly offered us a meeting room for our proposed Westminster Cardiac Support Group for one evening a month , There is a pleasant -looking coffee bar upstairs for anyone who comes early and we would provide water and soft drinks during the meeting. It also has a toy library!!

A quiet corner showing the entrance to the meeting room

Buses #C10, 24 and 360 stop outside, for the good walkers both Victoria and Pimlico Undergrounds are in walking distance and there is a lift down to the library level.

It’s a very generous offer and I hope plenty local post-cardiac catastrophe patients and their near-ones will come.

Pimlico Library

This is a large library with a huge range of facilities serving the general public and Pimlico Academy.

Locations and contact details

Opening hours

Day Main library
Monday to Friday 9.30am to 8pm
Saturday 9.30am to 5pm
Sunday 1.30pm to 5pm

Facilities and services

Spread the Word – Life Writing Prize

Closing date 05.02.2017

Great surprise to open an email from Spread the Word and find that they have established a Life Writing Prize with a generous donation from Joanna Munro and partnership support from Goldsmiths University, Arvon and the Royal Society of Literature.

It is open now to UK residents over 18, and you can submit as many pieces of not more than 5000 words. The closing date is February 5th 2017.

The judges are Blake Morrison, Dr Katy Massey and Margaret Stead, Publishing Director of Atlantic Books. The first prize is generous – £1,500, an Arvon course, two years’ membership of the Royal Society of Literature and a meeting with an agent or editor. Two highly commended writers will receive £500 each and a meeting with an agent or editor.

For me, it’s a great incentive to finish editing my memoir Woman in a White Coat.  I think that several of the episodes are worth working up as stand-alone pieces. This is just what I need to get me going – doesn’t matter if I don’t get long- or short-listed though having my memoir short-listed for the Tony Lothian and Wasafiri prizes was a great boost to my moral. Having a heart attack set me back and played havoc with my ability to motivate myself. Something like this certainly helps.

Thank you Spread the Word

The Gorgeous Smell of Fresh Bread

70% Wholemeal loaf
70% Wholemeal loaf

It’s taken some time since my heart attack at the beginning of August to get back into everything I did before. Obviously, I tire more easily and it’s more difficult to concentrate.

But last week I settled down to refilling the freezer with a variety of home-baked loaves. Of course, it doesn’t taste as good when it’s been frozen but I always have a thin slice of one of the ends while the bread is still fresh and warm.

I still mix the dough in my good old Panasonic SD-ZB2502 bread maker but prove and bake the bread in my fan oven. I don’t like the tall slices you get when you bake bread in the machine and I think it tastes better my way.

The great thing about having lost so much weight, when I was unconscious and fed by a naso-gastric tube, is that I don’t have to watch what I eat as much. I still try to eat healthily, though.

ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISM – Pleasure and Pain

abstract-outside
Exhibition at the Royal Academy September 24th – January 2nd 2017

 

The pleasure was in huge rooms full of Jackson Pollock (1912-1956), most of which I hadn’t seen before and Rothko,  (1903-1970) panels in lovely bright colours – one from 1949 subtitled Violet, black, orange,  yellow on White and Red – and much more.

I was not surprised to find that two of the paintings by Arshile Gorky (1904-1948) were so like de Kooning’s (1904-1997) when I read that he was Kooning’s mentor.

Though I quite liked the large abstract sculptures in the courtyard outside, only one of the sculptures within the exhibition really excited me – Sky Cathedral Moon Garden + One by Louise Nevelson 1957-60. A large sculpture composed of turned and shaped wood, I found it mystical and entralling.

The pain was yet again tiny print on the labels so that to read them I had to walk up close to the wall. Since following my heart attack my exercise tolerance is limited, it was literally a pain having to walk nearly twice the distance to read them all. In my view, if an artist gives their work a title, even if Untitled, it is relevant and should be easy to find. bad mark, curator.

Cover from Blue Poles by Jackson Pollock 1952
Cover from Blue Poles by Jackson Pollock 1952

I always promise myself that I’m not going to buy one more art book. We have too many on our coffee table already.
But this one was irresistible. Not only is the colour reproduction excellent but the text is interesting and readable.