Tag Archives: heart Attack


Until Janice pointed it out, I hadn’t realised it was eighteen months since I last saw my daughter-in-law. She and Simon live near Bath, though Simon comes up to London for work four days a week and, once it was allowed, sometimes came to dinner. What with Lockdown and her job as a geriatrician, Janice and I just hadn’t met up.

It was lovely having them and our son Bernard to dinner. We had, of course, all carried out a Lateral Flow Covid test on ourselves before meeting up, just in case!!

Josh made one of his delicious signature salmon and asparagus frittatas, accompanied by a mixed salad, and I cooked a Waitrose recipe, plum cake. The cake was delicious, but I should have baked it in a larger springform tin. In the tin I chose, the dough rose so high it buried my pattern of plum slices on the top. The men had their dessert with crème fraiche, while Janice and I indulged in our favourite Puffer Cream.

Plum cake – Waitrose recipe

I enjoy cooking and baking. Not being able to have  friends and family to dinner is something I really missed during Lockdown. I’m sure it’s because I’m not sharing my cooking that I’ve put on the extra four kilos I am now struggling to lose. I shall just have to start counting calories again – the only way it works for me to slim.

Well, not quite the only way. When I was on a ventilator and fed by nasogastric tube after my heart attack, I lost 4 kilos in just 3 weeks. I wouldn’t want to go through that again and nor would my family. Simon told me that for ages he couldn’t bear to cycle past the hospital where I had been fighting for my life. At a meeting of heart attack survivors and their partners, we were invited to revisit the wards where our lives had been saved. A couple of wives told me they had difficulty getting in the lift to go up to the Intensive Care Unit – their memories of that time were so painful.

Another problem is that all my recipes are geared for six – for Josh and me and our four children. And of course, when they were younger and lived at home, the two boys could eat for four. I got used to us clearing up after a two or three course dinner only to hear a plaintive –‘Can I have a Sarnie, Mum?’ from one or both of the boys.

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


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’



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








Aren’t they gorgeous??

It was great to board a red London double-decker bus for the first time in over a year!! The nursery rhyme, the wheels on the bus go round and round, ran though my head as we tapped our Freedom Passes and took our seats. The three other masked passengers already seated nodded and kept their social distance.

The wheels on the bus go round and round

All ‘round the town

The wipers on the bus go swish, swish, swish

The driver on the bus goes ‘Move on back’

The people on the bus go up and down

The horn on the bus goes beep, beep, beep

The baby on the bus goes ‘whaa whaa whaa’

The parents on the bus go ‘shh, shh, shh’

Before Covid, I used to drive to my various Further Education classes. I have a Blue Disabled Badge because of my bad hip and previous heart attack, and mostly I could find a parking space nearby. I had to give up in despair and go back home only a couple of times in all the years I’ve been attending these courses.

There’s a bus stop close by all three of the Westminster Libraries I patronise, so until Covid, I used to go to those by bus. Fortunately, there is also a Home Library in our district and, since Lockdown, a very polite young man brings me six books of his choice every third Friday. I specified Whodunits and usually I have only already read one or two of them at most.

It’s wonderful to be able to shop in person again instead of ordering everything online. You can see and feel the merchandise and find the odd thing you don’t need but must have!!

We thought about driving to Tottenham Court Road to go to two of my favourite shops – Muji and Flying Tiger – but fortunately we decided against it. It was a nightmare. It is now a two-way street, having been one way towards Hampstead Road for many years. Much of it was closed to all vehicles except buses and cycles. Cars, taxis and lorries all forbidden. The worst thing was that the bus stops are far apart and for a disabled person the walk to the next stop was a pain – literally!!

I bought the drawer insert in Muji that I needed, visited the new Lidl that replaced Sainsbury’s at the other end of Tottenham Court Road and had a look around Flying Tiger.

Not a lot of purchases to show for my trip but gorgeous to be free to go on a Big Red Bus again!!

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’


Edmonton IKEA in the Sunshine

So good to have even this still limited amount of freedom! Being able to go shopping and finally visit IKEA again.

IKEA was fairly orderly, though very busy. Having been married now for 65 years, we never need any more furniture or linen, so we skip the first floor and concentrate on the marketplace on the ground floor. You used to be able to walk through from the entrance, but now you have to take the lift upstairs and another one down again.

With my breathlessness on exertion, I found the long walk around the ground floor a bit much, but I had one of their metal trolleys to lean on and managed to stagger through to the end. We always find some odds and ends we don’t really need but must have!!

My angiogram a fortnight ago wasn’t the nightmare I was expecting. In fact, I found it fascinating. The sedation I was given probably calmed me, but I was wide awake and lay there watching the dye spurting through my coronary vessels on a ginormous screen to my left. The worst thing was having to self-isolate for two weeks beforehand, when lockdown had already started to be reduced. It meant having food delivered again instead of going in person to the supermarket. It’s not just being able to choose just the size and type of fruit and vegetables you like, but the display in a well-stocked supermarket gives me ideas. Not having eaten out for a year, I can do with some inspiration.

My day in hospital wasn’t all good, as there appears to be a problem with one of the arteries supplying blood to my heart. A toss-up what you can do for a little old lady who will be 90 in October (PG).

It would have been a long walk to the end of the entry queue but, without my asking, the IKEA attendant opened the barrier for us. So kind!!

Thanks to all the lovely people who have been reading and writing to me about my memoir ‘Woman in a White Coat’.

Woman in a White Coat



With the prospect of an intrusive medical procedure in a week’s time, it’s hard not to ponder on what might go wrong and offer up a prayer whether you’re a believer or not. When I’m feeling happy, I write prose, but verse is more satisfying when I’m worried or sad.


Your first born lies there pale and still

Bloody fluid in his ear

His skull is fractured

His life in the balance

You pray – whatever your beliefs


Six weeks later

He lies in a hospital bed

His kidneys failing

Bloody fluid in a bottle left for you to see

You pray – whatever your beliefs


Your last child, born six weeks early

Her lungs not properly finished

They say she will not last the night

But somehow she survives

You pray – whatever your beliefs


And you’re not exempt

Breast cancer

Osteoporosis and

Multiple bone fractures

You pray – whatever your beliefs


Now comes the big one

The squeezing, gripping chest pain

You know this means that

Death has come a-knocking

You pray – whatever your beliefs


You haven’t suffered enough

For then your youngest

Who fought death once

Has stomach cancer, chemo and major surgery

You pray – whatever your beliefs


At the very end

When it’s nearly over

You pray – whatever your beliefs

For then you will finally know

If your prayers were heard?

Josh and the four kids 1970


Thanks to all the lovely people who have been reading and writing to me about all this in my memoir ‘Woman in a White Coat’

Woman in a White Coat



Woman in a White Coat

I first qualified as a dentist in 1953,and then as a doctor in 1959. In 1963, in between having 4 children, Josh and I opened an educational toyshop in Wimbledon but, having had enough of being an entrepreneur, when the children were all at full time school and aged 43, I returned to medicine. Five years later I was a consultant pathologist and director of a Cancer Research laboratory at a major London teaching hospital.

Now I suppose I can add ‘author’ as a fifth career. A near fatal heart attack in 2016 made me hurry up and complete my memoir ‘Woman in a White Coat’, self-published on Amazon in 2017.

Of course, I’d written papers about our work on the diagnosis of cancer and had needed to submit applications for funding. I hated the anxious times waiting for a response, especially once I had staff dependant on me for their salaries and futures.

Having long since retired and rather under protest, I finally joined Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn. However, I felt that Social Media really wasn’t my thing and certainly not for someone in their eighties.

But then, the summer before last, I got the bug and started posting regularly on Facebook. I found great pleasure in the responses to my little stories. making ‘pen’ friends from the USA and Canada as well as from the UK. It’s lovely ‘talking’ on Messenger with someone in Montreal in the middle of the night, when I can’t sleep and it’s still daytime over there!!

Writing posts for Facebook is just right for me under lockdown, fitting in writing between doing other things. I am still trying to master Ancient Greek; I play the piano and attend virtual Art History classes at Further Education college. I bake all our own bread and cakes, and Josh and I cook dinner on alternate days. No takeaways, of course.

If I can bear to delay posting for a few days, I discuss my latest offerings with my Writing Circle on Zoom. We still meet every fortnight, but I miss seeing my friends in person. I expect they miss the homemade muffins and cafetiere coffee I always provided.

Last summer I published a collection of my Facebook posts ‘Abby’s Tales of Then and Now’ on Amazon. It was discovering that Kindle started to publish in colour that persuaded me. Now my children and friends can have another souvenir of me for ‘if and when’.

When you reach your 90th year, ‘if and when’ is never far from your thoughts!!

Luckily we went to the supermarket the day before it snowed in London


‘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.


Woman in a White Coat


In normal times the two huge 15 inch naval guns in front of the portico would have been swarming with children.

This week we changed our walk from the Victoria Embankment to the grounds around the Imperial War Museum in Lambeth Road. It was a lovely spring day, the roses, edging the lawn outside, in full bloom.

The actual building was constructed as the Bethlem Royal Hospital for the Insane in St George’s Fields, moving there from Bridewell and then Moorfields in 1828. Probably from as early as 1598, visitors were allowed to come and laugh and poke at the poor inmates. Known as ‘Bedlam’, it was a popular stop on the London tourist trail and a source of income for the hospital and staff. When the asylum moved to Beckenham in 1936, the Imperial War Museum transferred to Lambeth from the Imperial Institute in South Kensington..

I first saw the Imperial War Museum from my room in the clinic opposite, on a snowy evening in February 1990. Though still attached to various tubes after surgery for breast cancer, I was able to walk around and look out of the window. The snow was no longer falling, but it lay thick on the windowsill, glistening under the starlit sky. The elegant snow-covered Imperial War Museum across the road, with its tall cupola looked like a fairy castle in the moonlight.

I needed cheering up. As a consultant pathologist, who had worked in a cancer hospital for 4 years, I had carried out numerous autopsies on women with breast cancer. Virtually all the women I encountered with breast cancer had died of the disease. When I lectured on the subject, I pointed out how good the prognosis for breast cancer was, but I still thought it would prove fatal for me. It didn’t – and that was 30 years ago. Now the outlook for patients with breast cancer is better than ever.

I can’t decide whether it is better or worse to be in the ‘trade’ if you are a doctor and have a life-threatening disease. Of course, the surgeon, the anaesthetist and the radiotherapist were all friends as well as colleagues. I could stop the breast surgeon in the corridor and ask for a quick word about the hard lump I found while having a shower. But it also meant that I was well aware of the worst possible outcomes and because I was a doctor I felt I had to be extra brave, not make a fuss or ‘come it’.

Although I had long since retired, when I was admitted with a near-fatal heart attack in 2016, I was treated more like a colleague than a non-medical patient, who might not understand the medical terms and find being in a hospital frightening. For me, a hospital is almost home from home and the antiseptic smell is reassuring rather than threatening.

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

Woman in a White Coat


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