Archives for category: Advice

Some questions for you: Name the biggest killer (most common cause of death) of women over age 25 Did more men or women die Of strokes? Breast Cancer kills more women than Heart disease true or false? Below are some facts: read them, understand them, protect yourselves, save your wives, mothers, sisters and friends. Women do not believe that heart disease is a health threat, yet it’s the Biggest killer! More than 35% of all Female deaths are from cardiac disease.  We are NOT protected before the menopause, the risk is lower BUT not risk free. Doctors also believe the risk free fallacy!



  • Know your family history, if you parents or siblings had problems young, your chances of getting it are high.
  • Assess your other risk factors – smoking, diet, weight, exercise, lifestyle and activity, there are plenty of good apps, books and websites to help you make a judgement.
  • Be prepared – how would you know if you were having a heart attack? What could you do while waiting for the ambulance and paramedics? Does anyone know CPR?
  • How will you help younger siblings and children, to cope with the genetic and lifestyle legacy? Or is it ok for them to go through what you do? If it’s good enough for me it’s good enough for them?
  • Research, read, talk, ask, participate this is your life, a Doctors ten minute appointment. Fight for your right to live healthily as possible.

Professor David Haslam, chairman of the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE), said British patients should become more assertive and see themselves as “equal partners” with their doctors, with legal rights.

Go Red For Women ™ presents: ‘Just a Little Heart Attack’ – YouTube
► 3:14► 3:14
31 Aug 2011 – Uploaded by OfficialGoRed4Women
This video is unavailable. … You need Adobe Flash Player to watch this video. … Go Red …

So this blog is not about the bypass but rather a clarion call to get YOU all to be aware of this disease and be prepared to fight! I have done more, lived harder, suffered and achieved things I thought were impossible because I wanted to live. I did not want to orphan my child at 14 or 24. My father died when I was 24, he was 55, I have lived longer than he did because I know this disease better than we did then!

I Can’t Believe It’s Butter Chicken
This is a recipe that will work for Jack Sprat and his wife, for those who need low fat food and those who don’t. I love the flavour of butter chicken but cannot take the level of fat so here is my recipe with acknowledgement to Sanjeev Kapoor.
You can do this with boneless and bone chicken it’s about time and preference, the latter is better in flavour! This is the boneless version, if you want to cheat buy roast tandoori chicken or pieces and put in sauce.
Stage 1
800g Chopped chicken pieces,
juice of a lime or lemon or use two tablespoon of bottled
Teaspoon Kashmiri chilli, (or half paprika, half chilli powder)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Leave to marinade at least 20 minutes
Stage 2
Now add:
Teaspoon mustard french
Teaspoon turmeric and garam masala each
Tablespoon each of puréed garlic and ginger ( or block of frozen)
1 finely chopped chilli
Pinch kasuri methi lightly toasted and powdered (optional)
500 g pot of yoghurt fat free, the Greek strained is best, but any will work fine, best to drain using muslin cloth. ( look up hung yoghurt)
If you like hot add some more chilli powder, if I have I add finely chopped stalks of coriander.
Leave to marinate for two hours or overnight.

The Sauce
1 litre of good quality of passata or a kilo of finely chopped fresh tomatoes must be ripe.
Bash 7/8 green cardamoms, pinch of Kasuri methi and
3 cloves, 6 black peppercorns, teaspoon cumin seeds, coriander seeds ( or a tablespoon whole garam masala mix)
1 inch of cinnamon bark, a bay leaf  (I do not have mace but it’s recommended by some chefs)
Tablespoon each of Fresh ginger and garlic paste
2 green chillies chopped ( deseed if you like it milder)
Teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
Salt to taste

In a large pan heat a teaspoon of oil – rapeseed, coconut, olive oil or butter(optional I quite often dry fry spices but keep heat low)
Add spices wait for the smell (1/2 minutes), add ginger garlic & chillies stir fast for 2 minutes max, now add passata or tomatoes stir, I add half a litre of water and leave on a medium it should be simmering, no lid. Cook for about 30 minutes add more liquid if drying out or turn down the heat. Let it cool, and put in a mixer or blender and then if you want fancy strain to remove the bits of spices.
Remove chicken from marinade using a slotted spoon or tongs put on foil in a tray, roast in grill oven or on skewers in a barbecue or a griddle your choice, little bit of charring is good.
Put 2 teaspoons of cornflour in a jug add some cold milk or water to make a paste. Now add the remains of the yoghurt marinade to the corn flour paste and put into the tomato mix, stir and heat until bubbling, it will curdle, the corn flour should reduce it but it may not. Let it cook very slowly for 5 – 10 minutes, as the yoghurt mixture had raw chicken, it MUST be hot. Now add the roasted chicken pieces and all the bits. Mix well, let it heat through. Check for seasoning a teaspoon of honey or sugar may be added if too sour as some tomatoes can be, add salt chillies if needed.
Now you can split into two bowls: first put half in one just add fresh coriander.
For the rest add a nob of butter let it melt, then add 50 ml of double cream stir, warm do not boil. Transfer and decorate with coriander serve with steamed rice, roti or nan.



This is written for Women, whether you are having the operation (or looking after someone).

You will have a scar 6 – 10 inches long running down the middle of your chest and for some people there may be longer scars on one or both legs from just below the knees to the ankle. You will not be able to drive for upto 8 weeks, you need to sleep sitting up, you cannot make a cup of tea or coffee because you cannot lift a kettle. You are going to be in a lot of pain and discomfort and this could go on for months (or not).

REMEMBER this is NOT medical advice

So I am going to give you my shopping list and things to do:

To do list:
Get someone to clean and iron for when you come home you will break your ribs again if you do it too quickly. If you have a garden and it’s summer either ignore or give the responsibility to someone.
Have the numbers of people who will act as taxi drivers and the number of a taxi firm.
You will need some cash for things, so visit a cash machine.
Make sure you have a phone one that has credit and does skype/FaceTime and email/whatsapp is best. Learn to use it and remember the charger.
Get waxed everywhere, it makes stitches, stickers, bandages much less painful to remove.
Make sure you have stocked up heavy goods at home.
Fill the freezer ( more advice in later blogs).
Change the bedding
Organise a list of friends, family and relatives to visit, help,etc
Sort out your clothes so that they are easy to locate and easy to put, choose the bigger loose comfortable stuff. Shirt type tops dresses are best as easy to slip on.

Find or buy and put in a safe place:
A thermometer, paracetamol, ibuprofen gel (tablets not recommended), cream for babies bottoms,pen, paper, post it notes, baby wipes or facial wipes, antiseptic gel, tissues, favourite perfume, some personal care treats.

I used a couple of 500ml mineral water bottles for drinking as jugs were too heavy. I kept one in the fridge the other by the bedside, add a few pieces of lime or lemon rind, it makes it really refreshing.

Vitamins: vitamin C (500mg minimum), a general multivitamin, vitamin E capsules, take them if you believe. The Vitamin E capsules can be squeezed and the oil used on the scars, better than Bio-oil in my view and the recommendation of Plastic surgeon.

Pillows:  you are going to need three or four so make sure you have them to spare just for you. I also used a V shaped pillow to keep me supported. There are many available choose the one you like. This is not the one I bought just an image.



This is a nightmare, they tell you to buy a soft bra, I bought a masectomy bra, sports bra, wireless bra – DO NOT WASTE MON£¥. If you have great mammory glands not an A/B size you need to take care in choosing your support. My absolute favourite is GENIE type bra or equivalent from ASDA(Walmart) or other stores I paid 6.99. Or look for tops with support, never for work for my size but you may be OK. Get a size larger because your weight will go up initially due to the fluids in the operation, then You will lose weight. Anything too tight is painful, since I could not get a painless bra and other complications I ended up with red sore places under the breasts – baby bum (bb) cream worked a treat! Soaked soft dressings in the freezer also helped ease redness and heat in he wound or frozen peas in a plastic bag and then a sock all worked.

Packing for Hospital
There are two stages to this process before the operation and after – admission & recovery.

No jewellery, no nail polish, had you hair dyed and cut, all waxed and threaded, been to the dentist. Now packing – the wash bag toothpaste, brush, floss, hairbrush, hair ties, face cream, lip gloss or a small tin of Vaseline, body lotion, wipes, small pack tissues, roll on unscented anti perspiration, baby wipes, small bottles of body wash, conditioner, shampoo. You need flip flops and or slippers, the former to avoid getting foot fungus, so many people complain I thought I would tell you.

Clothes: night clothes any 2 sets, underwear 3, socks, set of day clothes and a shawl.

Food: a late night snack, drink of your choice.
Medicines take them with you.

I took my ipad and phone, little bit of cash and credit card. Check the credit of minutes on your phone I racked up a £300 phone bill and T-mobile never warned me or told me madam you are well over your limit. Buy a package of extra minutes or do missed calls. As my daughter said it was a small price for your sanity!
I had loaded it with Apps, books,and games. I bought wifi when I got there!


Pack a larger back with night dresses or pyjamas that open to the waist, I had five kaftans made with zips down the front in soft cotton, the best thing ever, i lived in them. For day wear loose easy to slip on soft tops and joggers. Good walking shoes. Get them to bring in things that make you feel good.

For food anything high in potassium as your levels will fall dramatically, dates, bananas also prunes, linseed to make your bowels move ASAP you are out if intensive care! Dry biscuits if you have nausea.

Bed Sores
When my bottom and bottom of my spine began to get sore I got an air mattress, a special cushion and a swimming ring. The first two came via the district nurses, the latter I bought. I also used the bb cream. If you let the sores actually develop it will take a very longtime to recover, so take early precautions.

I was rarely hungry and I only wanted sweet or spicy food, for the first time in my life I got told eat anything, but you need nutrition & protein to mend and recover. So here is

Chicken Biryani

800g – 1 kilo of chicken pieces on the bone
1 tablespoon each of ground ginger and garlic
1 teaspoon ground cardamom green
Juice and rind of a lime
Salt to taste
2 teaspoon Kashmiri chilli, if you do not have mix cayenne and paprika
Mix together well
Leave to marinate for an hour

Now add:
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 tablespoon each of coriander & cumin powder
500 ml yoghurt
Piece of cinnamon
3 cloves
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon tomato purée
Optionally add fresh coriander stalks and chopped green chillies. Leave to marinate again for as long as you can overnight is good.

Basmati rice only otherwise make Paella.
Soak 2 cups of rice in cold water
When ready to cook fill a pan of cold water add, salt, 2 bay leaves, 4 cloves black, teaspoon pepper pods, cinnamon stick,2 brown and 4 green cardamoms. 1 tbsp toasted cumin or caraway seeds. If you do not want these spices in the rice put in a piece of muslin (bouquet garni)
Bring to boil add drained rice and cook for about 7min take. Couple of grains out, press down and if no hard bits drain immediately, if not give a minute more try again. It must not be totally cooked.

Make a purée of 2 large onions or use eazy onions can, 1 inch ginger 4cloves garlic, 2 green chillies, some coriander stalks and mint leaves if you have.
Now take a large casserole or pan with a tight lid, add a teaspoon of coconut oil
Add whole spices: bay leaves, cloves, cumin, cardamoms
Fry until they sputter, now add powdered spices – 1 tbsp garam masala,1tsp each turmeric, chilli powder salt to taste.
Stir fry for 30 seconds. Keep heat high add onion mixture stir well for 3-5 minutes, now add chicken pieces a couple at a time, until all in now add remaining marinade, stir well. Cook for 5 minutes, add some of the rice water or stock about a small cup full.

Now layer half of rice on top, sprinkle with garam masala, roast onions, herbs. Now add another layer of rice, spices onions and herbs. Over the top you can add saffron dissolved in 4tablespoon warm milk. Put on a tight lid.

Cook on a very low heat if possible put a griddle pan under the pot and allow to cook for 20 minutes. Check chicken is cooked. I have left it in a low oven for an hour at 140C. Eat with plain yoghurt.

To serve decorate with herbs, roasted onions, boiled chopped eggs. I also do a chunky salad of red onion, tomatoes, cucumber & lemon juice. Seasoning to your taste.


Everyone has a different road to recovery, do not compare yourself to anyone else. I suddenly realised that I am writing about complications as if they are obstacles on the route, the point is that this is THE Route for me. It is my journey, good, bad, happy or sad. While there are things to be learnt on the journey and the trail may wander, it will not change. So I do not want you to think geez she had it tough, for me I have gained a lot from the process and this blog is a way of pulling that together. It is my conversation with myself, assessing the journey so far and into the future.

I relish the life I have, I read somewhere the Latin phrase Amor fati, loosely translated it means Love of one’s fate. Without the months of painful attempts of putting a foot In Front of another I would not have the love of walking that I now have. I love the fact I can walk freely in the cold, up an incline and for significant periods of time. A few weeks before this present obstacle I walked to and through the very park that I had failed to even get as far as the entrance for months. The very essence of breathing and walking have been opened up to my mind. How can I see this journey as complications only, as obstacles to be just overcome? I cannot. Instead they are part of the landscape on the road I travel.

To change my heart I need a new genetic history, I would have to have different parents, I do not want that so this is my history. I have beleaguered this point enough!

Let us get back to the tale, at one point the pain was soo bad that the GP had me readmitted to hospital, but two days later they had upped my pain medicines and sent me home. The breathing exercises continued and it seemed as if we were making real progress. All this time another part of the road was changing, while the lungs issue was like an undergrowth that had to be cut back. The new problem was a slow increase in humidity and temperature – the wound. It had continued to give out pus and was recovering slowly. Around it there was intense pain and I began to have severe night sweats.

Pain is not always pain. What does she mean? The implication is that when we move into a long term chronic illness we come so inured to the presence of pain that we do not realise the cause and nature of the pain has changed. We accept that this is the way of things.

So here is my advice keep a record of how you feel, record your temperature before you take paracetamol or other pain relief, when and how many you are taking of the pain killers.  If the trend changes, I was feeling better, now I am worse and its different because

I have night sweats, temperature, pain in my bones, redness, emphasis the new characteristics ignore the old. Doctors are simple souls, this is your life their 10 minute appointment . Make it simple for them, do not gve up, demand help!

Savoury Scones (healthier)

I never see the point of making a small quantity, be greedy or freeze or share. The secret to light scones is do not handle the dough for too long. Scones and soups are my clear the fridge recipes.

500g wholemeal and white flour mixed
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate soda
1 teaspoon salt or half
Sieve this lot together.

Now add your herbs and spices, my favourite ingredient is red chilli flakes, I add a tablespoon, but you do what you like. Herbs I use together are:
thyme, parsley and oregano together
Sage with spring or red onions and parsley
Basil with sundried tomatoes and a hint of oregano or lemon rind
Coriander, capsicums, roast garlic, spring onions and maybe cumin

Fresh herbs I use 2-3 tablespoon of each, 2-3 teaspoons dried herbs.
Herbs vary I strength, thyme is bold, parsley is mild so blend carefully to your taste.  Mix  these into the flour.

I use up sour or fresh milk and yoghurt together to about 450 ml. Low fat yoghurt, skimmed milk, but if you are not worried about fat levels, go for it. I have used up all types of old cream, mascarpone and other dairy products. If the are not sour add a tablespoon of lemon juice.

I use a mixture of cheeses I do not stint on low fat cheeses adding a 200 g carton at times but I am much more restrained with the hard cheeses using between 50 -100g depending.
Cottage, ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, cheddar, feta,

Add the cheeses to the flour and herb mixture. You do not need butter or oil, trust me if you will eat them quickly, but if they are for keeping add two tablespoon of oil of you choice. I also add seeds sunflower, sesame, poppy a handful will do.

Now add the yoghurt/milk mixture to form a dough a soft dough, do not addit all. Get your hands in there, but if not use a food processor. If it’s too wet do not roll it out just put on to a floured metal tray using a tablespoon and pat them down. Other wise roll cut out place on metal tray ( no need to grease just put a light dusting of flour ). Put in a hot oven at 200C, gasmark 7 for about 15 minutes check them after 10 minutes. Take of tray if the bottom is baked, brown they are done.

Use as rolls, spread with butter, as they are, with chutneys, accompany soups really well.


I chose this Picasso painting to show you how the first week feels. You know that you are there, but you are surrounded and overwhelmed by so many things.

The colour is the uniform of the staff who surround you and tend to you constantly and it is also the pain which you associate with them. The construct is the confusion, unreality of the situation and fear. There are nights when I hear this man shouting for help, darkness and his family leaving him brings about insecurities that in any normal circumstance he would never allow to come to the fore. Another wants to go and feed her cat, then we have a lucid conversation about her grandchildren. So the I is hidden, lost changed but can be seen in the shapes and flashes of non-blues across the painting.

I found this painting as the closest image of how I feel, and the importance of holding on to the non- conformity that is me, at the heart of this process.

One week after my operation I wrote a post to family and friends which basically said that I had completed the first stage of the challenge and would be going home to the next 12 weeks to recovery. I had already understood that this would not be a linear journey and there were going to be bumps and reverses, I was not to know exactly how many. There is a song I have always found evokes the fragility of life and the instance it can change from sorrow to joy.
Transmutation and evolution, slow change and cataclysm .

The film is Kal Ho Na Ho
Kal Ho Naa Ho (Eng Sub) [Full Song] (HQ) With Lyrics … – YouTube
► 5:23► 5:23
15 Jul 2011 – Uploaded by thebollysongs3

In these weeks I was brought face to face with the consequences of heart disease, I lost a beloved aunt to a heart attack and a special friend to complications after heart valve surgery.

My surgeon also told me that the operation had gone well, but there had been complications, as I had vasculitis, which is an inflammation of the blood vessels and that as a result he could not guarantee how long this would add to my life. What! Excuse me! F***! Disbelief I am going through all this for what?

Here is a hard truth, knowledge no matter how bad is just that knowledge! It can save you, destroy you or transform you or you can just store it. It is only through application does knowledge become more than trivia! The fact that King George III died on the toilet is trivia, it was useful in a pub quiz!The fact that I had another illness was not going to change my life and goals, but it helped me to understand my allergies, symptoms and reactions.

I go home, have a great meal and a hot cup of tea, I walked around the supermarket and scared people with my scar. The sun is shining, I am alive. Normality here I come! The hospital had given me a bag full of medicine including candesartan, frusemide and bisoprolol – an ACE inhibitor, diuretic and beta blocker. Knowledge, remember it’s your body, know what you are getting and taking, it was so hot and I had no swelling so I did not take the frusemide and unusually I take the bisoprolol at night, it suits me better that way. Within a day I went from being wellish to exhausted, new pains and the symptoms of severe angina on day two I called the ward and went back, my blood pressure was very low.

I was back in a safe place and my brain could now function, Sherlock Anita stepped up, what had happened, what were the variables? The ONLY significant change was the candesartan and vasculitis – I react strongly to things, well my vessels do. I am a mathematician by training, So I created a table and recorded the time, reactions, sensations when I did the door to door walk in the ward. In the morning after the drug I was, breathless, dizzy and had chest pain, it took me nearly ten minutes to complete the walk and thirty minutes to recover. By night time it was much easier and I was down to four minutes, first thing next morning before taking the drug I had background symptoms only and I was down to three minutes. I was able to use the data table to convince the doctors and stop taking the drugs. I probably threw the baby out with the bath water, but I always accept the consequences of my decisions, so two days later I went home.

Back on the road again!

This is one of my favourite quick meals:
Spicy egg white Omlette

Chop a spring onion, half a chilli, half a tomato or what ever you have I have used capsicums, onions (red or white), mushrooms, spinach,

Separate two eggs, ( keep yolks put in fridge) whip up the egg whites, some people like a soufflé Omlette, I just whip gently, add small amount of salt, pepper and coriander. Use a nonstick heavy frying pan, add a very small amount of oil sauté vegetables for a minute, now add egg whites and stir until egg is setting. Now turn out carefully onto plate, either traditional or frittata.
I eat with salad (avocado, spinach tomato), granary toast or beans.