Archives for category: healthy eating


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 was looking back at updates I provided to family and friends  and I noticed that every time I left hospital I was convinced it was the last. Every operation has it’s dangers and there are risks of complications. A CABG is a bigger operation so carries greater risk, in the coming I am going to go through some of the complications.

A week after my second admission to hospital I completed the walk from my home to the ASDA store over a mile away. This walk is significant it is my test walk, and I completed it in under 30 minutes and I got through the incline without problems. I felt that this was going really well, my HEART was well. Before my operation I had reached the stage that I had to stop about five times up the final incline and I was totally exhausted.

A Test Walk – this is a walk that tests your heart and you do regularly, it needs to include an incline or inclines, my route has a couple of gentle inclines and one though it is not very high it goes on for more than 200 metres. The target pace is one that gets me there in about 20 minutes, and I know that I can complete the inclines without resting or loss of breath if all is well with my heart and lungs. I always kept a record of the time and performance on the test walk.

Obviously a two mile walk may be too easy for some and too hard for others, choose something you will do regularly all year round.

A week later I was having problems walking at all and I was in an agony of pain, again! Complication 1 – allergies or side effects to medication
Complication 2 – pleural effusion, fluid build up in the lungs,

Symptoms of Pleurisy

Pain in the chest
Pain in the muscles of the chest
Persistent cough
Fever & General malaise
Pain is worse on inhaling and exhaling deeply or coughing

I always thought pleurisy was a complication of tuberculosis and kills poets, novelists Catherine Medici, Benjamin Franklin in history, what was I doing with it in this present time? So I cannot breathe, cannot walk and I am doubled over in pain, hand me that paracetamol and tromadol NOW!

The Cure – if pleurisy is not severe just painful take diuretic tablets and painkillers. You cure it by deep breathing and coughing. So to cure yourself you have to cause yourself lots of pain every hour by taking six deep breaths and coughing up anything that will move out. Masochism, I went to see a physiotherapist who used to torture me, she made me breath properly! Stand straight! Walk fierce! She also said I did not breath correctly, it’s true. I also had massages sitting up, and used steam with olbas oil. I chose not to use diuretics, probably a mistake, but I was wary of medicines after my latest experience.

There are different types of breathing- to learn more read yoga books, watch videos, read self help improvement volumes and writings to get the technical words, this is my experience. Breathing correctly is an important skill that I had to learn and practice.

Breathing 1

To breath without pain, breath in the stomach.
The stomach goes out as you breath in and goes in as you breath out. How did I do it so wrong and not notice? This type of breathing was the only way to reduce the pain of pleura friction. I used to put hands on my stomach and watch them go up and down.

Breathing 2

To clear the lungs of the fluid and push it upwards, breath deeply fill every bit. First empty the lungs breath out, do the last hoo to,get the last bits. Now breath through the nose fill the stomach, get the lungs full,the rib cage should come out. Now the sternum ( The scar area) your breasts should be pointed, juste when you think no more. Do a last couple of sniffs to get more in. Now breath out through the mouth, regulate the flow let the air come out, keep going pull in the stomach as if you are going to get in to a pair of jeans that are too small. Empty the lungs pull in that rib cage, now just as it feels like it’s done do a couple more hoo, hoo, out for those last bits of air. Do not let the shoulders rise, they actually increase lung capacity, but it feels like it. Breathing in front of a mirror helps.

If you feel phlegm cough to get it out, look up, controlled coughing. Or take a deep breath and let out in a controlled huff sigh

Breathing 3
Inflate the lungs. For this exercise I am trying to open the lungs only. So I put my hand on each lung rib cage so I can feel it move. Breath out, pull the stomach in, now breath in through the nose, do not inflate the stomach just feel the burn as you open up the lungs, start at the bottom and then fill to the top. Sounds simple but when it hurts where the pleura ( lung lining) rubs and causes pain you only breath in The top of the lung.

I also walked regularly through the day, sometimes for only 5 minutes, other times much longer. Walking was the only way I could last waiting for the next dose of painkiller. Things seemed to be improving, the length and distance of walking was improving slowly. After a time it seemed like I would get periods without pain. Surely I was getting better now?

My appetite was severely reduced I wanted highly flavoured food, sweet, spicy or sour. So the recipe I liked was Tom Yum Soup – vegetarian or chicken not prawns.

Quick Tom Yum Soup

Bouillion soup powder or stock cube, litre of water
Add finely chopped:
ginger or galangal 1 inch
3-4 garlic cloves
1-2 stalks of lemongrass
2 chillies
4 kafir lime leaves
Many times I added frozen garlic and ginger and bottled lemongrass to make it quicker and as it was painful chopping.

Add to the liquid and set to boil for at least ten minutes.
Now add vegetables of your choice or what you have finely chopped: carrots, broccoli, pak choi, mushrooms, baby sweetcorn, mangetout, capsicum. Again I added chopped stir fry packs to spees things and I did not have energy

Let them cook for a couple of minutes.

Now add tofu or cooked chicken.
Now add flavours : juice of 2 limes, 1 tbsp sugar, 2 tbsp soya sauce, 2 tbsp fish sauce
Taste and adjust to your personal taste.

Chopped: bunch of Basil leaves, coriander. Keep some for decoration.
Put in a bowl and enjoy.

After an operation we are momentarily disorientated uncomfortable and yet happy, euphoric – relief at waking up. But more importantly to note we are full of anaesthesia such as morphine, all very happy drugs. As they leave our system they cause withdrawal and bring us low and may make us tired, negative and even depressed.

I was connected to tubes, ports, machines, catheters and looked like a good candidate for Victor Frankenstein experiments. Most patients have both legs covered in bandages and another covering the whole of the sternum join about 8 – 12 inches. Time is a myth, you sleep you throw up, you throw up and slowly you come out of the stupor to true wakefulness. That is when the pain kicks in –

do not be a hero, take the pain killers!!

When it’s safe you will come out Intensive care unit into a surgical ward, where they look after you, remove the appendages over time and then get you performing routine bodily functions. Tick them off : drinking, breathing without oxygen, urinating, emptying your bowels, eating, coughing, burping, sneezing, laughing and last but not least walking. I tell you the last five hurt. They will give you a rolled up towel to press to your chest, some of us hold onto it like a babies blanky, but it is an amazing low tech device to stop you from breaking your sternum again. Do not open doors, hold your towel, when you want to cough or sneeze press towel to sternum your ribs need to rejoin, do not pull them apart, use the TOWEL.

The rule: drugs are not offered unless someone with knowledge and experience feels you need them. So if they say would you like a laxative say YES please fast! Being constipated after and before an operation can be excruciatingly painful and dangerous. Do not think “I do not suffer from constipation I do not need this”, just do it!

Eat bananas, your potassium level is very low. Take deep breaths and as soon as they allow walk. Have healthy snacks brought in or stored at home, you need to be eating well to recover, nutritionally rich foods. Nuts, seeds, oat biscuits, fruit are good. If you are diabetic or on warfarin check with the nurses.

You are in recovery and will be in grief this is normal, you have lost something important – the YOU, that lived that manic life, the healthy you, optimistic you and some of us find ourselves afraid. It is normal paranoia, it will go quickly, if you work with your body.

Recuperation (recovery), a period of physical and/ or mental recovery and can be as short as 8 weeks and as long as a year. I thought it would be the former not the latter.

I was walking well by day three and had conquered the stairs by day five, then before day seven I was on my way home. I am safe, home, it is just a walk in the park now, you have done it so many times before. Get well and live. Little did I know.

A Recipe? Really folks, I have just come out of major surgery! oh ok! What do I miss in hospital?

Tea, I hate the tea in hospital with a vengeance and when I am not well I like ginger tea without milk or sugar, sometimes a bit of honey! And always lemon.

Traditional Indian Ginger Chai for Two

In a small pan add two mugs of cold water
Bash one green cardamom, half a teaspoon fennel seeds, a clove and add to water. Some people like a couple black pepper seeds too. Wash ginger Then I peel and slice an inch of ginger add everything to the water, turn on the heat.

If you are not going to add milk add a slice of lemon peel. I bring to the boil and leave to simmer at least 5 minutes, look at the colour and smell. For me it’s ready I strain add honey and lemon juice.

BUT this is the traditional recipe:
So add tea of your choice a heaped tablespoon, let it come to the boil and give a strong colour at least 2 minutes now add a cup of milk and let it come back to the boil, now you want a rolling boil for at least two minutes for that authentic taste, the longer the boil the better the flavour. Strain and drink. It is hot take care!
Add sugar to taste

To recap: I lost my ten year battle to avoid a CABG ( pronounced cabbage – meaning coronary arterial bypass graft) and on July 8th 2013 I had an ‘elective’ surgery.
Some medical terminology really gets my goat, I did not elect to do this I had no real choice – options:
1. have a massive heart attack, die or be disabled
2. Have this ‘routine’ operation to give you 15 – 20 years of a normal life.

The comment that annoyed me ‘it is routine’ a CABG is not ‘routine’, an eye test is routine, cleaning your teeth, a five hour operation that saws open your ribs, stops your heart and lungs is NOT routine.

This operation took place almost three months before the expected date, to say I was not prepared is the understatement of the year. My home was undergoing a major construction project in readiness for my operation, and was a life threatening hole for a healthy person neveR mind me. So I needed to move out.

I was still busy with putting head in sand syndrome. I was rescued by a friend Ana, who cleaned, organised, prepared and fitted out the flat into a home. Later in this blog I will give a guide to help other people prepare for this non- routine operation. There was so many things I needed through the seven months that I have taken so far to recovery, that I would never have thought to have them ready. What had organised itself was that I had friends and relatives coming to staying look after me for 12 weeks, they came from India, USA, London and next door. That was a blessing, that I did not orchestrate and was totally thankful for.

On the day of the operation Ana was with me, this again is important as she kept everyone updated and it’s great to wake up to someone who loves you. On the way to the Theatre I had origami flowers from my niece and the sound of Queen:” I want to break free” playing on my ipad to dance to as I went in.

I do not remember much else until I woke up to see my husband & Ana. As you come out of that deep anaesthesia in a strange body, these people become the reason to wake up, their hopes and fears are written on their faces.

So could I have avoided this? Or was this just delayed for over ten years ago. On Monday 21st June 2003 i went for an angiogram and my LAD Left Anterior Descending Artery was not visible on the screen, completely blocked. I remember Dr Rodney Foale, saying you need a bypass, but he used his skills to give me stents, I had four over the next nine years. In a future blog I will look at recovery from stents and a by pass. We are a family with heart disease and we are living experiments:

My brother had a heart attack in April 2003 of the same year, he was 50 and was diagnosed as needing a triple by pass and he chose a different path to reverse his heart disease. You can find out how he did it on :
Vin | Club 150s
I have added yet another seed to my list of ingredients that I blend in my smoothie every morning. List is now flaxseed, sunflower, sesame and hemp. Why hemp …

Green Smoothie

So my recipe is based on his life enhancing green smoothie that he has every morning:

5 fruits of your choice, he uses tinned too I don’t. I do recommend frozen berries for convenience. Make your fruit choices seasonal. You can chop and freeze daily portions to make smoothie making quicker.

Banana, apple, kiwi, blueberries, pear as they keep and are always available
150g a couple of good handfuls of greens, spinach is best but kale, frisée, salad greens have all been added.

Then the supplementary ingredients of your choice:
Ginger half inch piece (1.5 cm) chopped
Cocoa powder a heaped teaspoon
Turmeric a half teaspoon powder or fresh root if available
Lemon juice and rind

Flaxseed, sesame, sunflowers and coconut mixture
Walnuts or almonds

Sometimes I add them all other times none at all. It’s my mood.

The top up with water and juice. Mix well drink. I find I cannot drink I one go so I put Ina bottle and put in fridge or I have made ice lollies and ice cubes.

Again your Smoothie your choice.

On July 8th 2013 I had my bypass, they call it an elective, but it’s like having a shot gun to your heart playing Russian roulette when you elect to sign. This is the story of that event:

Natasha will tell me that I should not capitalise this or that but really it does not matter as this is my account of this latest period in my life! I am not spiritual or alternative, maybe if I had been, I would be in a different place. There are those that BELIEVE! I would quite like a massage but really Reiki, power healing, crystals ok a nice chunk of diamond or ruby may make me feel better for a few hours but chanting, bell ringing no no that was a radio programme I was listening to campology, sorry campanology.

I have now accepted this has to happen but my wish now is to get there without another mishap or mis sharpen heart attack! My life will then be in the hands of Leonadis Hadjinikolaou, you have to be able to say the name of the man who will do something that you hope you will never do – hold my heart in his hands.

I will now collect another set of scars to go with the others including the one on my neck! I feel and look OLD, but I know it will be better after this. On Thursday I am getting my hair dyed, and threading done, after talking to Ritu I my also get a full body wax! Doctors / nurses do not stitch and staple across hairy parts, please! It hurts a lot!

Today, I got approved for one of those never never credit cards, except this is 15 months, I have put the kitchen on that. This is a new experience and better than the deal offered by many, it’s sensible and strange option for someone who generally pays of her cards at the end of each month and saves before she buys, except property! Have to wait for the card to come to order tiles, hob and hood, the last of the big things.

11 days to go woke up early as I forgot to switch off the alarm. Heard Nishant coughing must give him fruit today and blackmail him to stop smoking for the final time! So many jobs to do today and an afternoon at the university looking at learning materials.

I am trying to pretend it is not happening, but it will, and if I can keep busy it may pass me by. Someone said you will be alright it’s a routine operation. A routine is the way I Mark papers, bake brownies, clean, get ready. It is not having your ribs opened by saws being used to make kitchen. It is not routine to stop your heart and lungs, while you are alive! I could rant but I won’t .

The definition of routine is – A sequence of actions regularly followed.
Regularly meet people who wear glasses, have diabetes, had Lasix surgery, failed Maths, up to now I only knew five people who had had open heart surgery, but apart from one they were OLDER, in fact during my time in hospital most people were in their seventies and eighties. Only two people were younger and both had childhood cardiac disease. This is not routine.

I decided to cook and put food in the freezer an idea doomed to failure when your kitchen is being destroyed and rebuilt. However I did make my no added sugar and very very low fat fruit cake.

Vin’s Fruit cake

600 ml hot strong brewed tea ( I prefer black tea, but you can use tea of your choice)
500g mixed fruit ( I buy the cheapest)
200g dates, figs, apricots, cranberries ( luxury fruits – your choice) chopped finely
2 heaped teaspoon Mixed spice / cinnamon
Rind of lemon or orange or both (your choice)

In a large bowl mix all ingredients and leave to marinate / soak. I have been known to leave for a couple of days.

2 cups whole meal flour ( or half & half)
1/3 cup shredded coconut
1/3 cup seed mix flax, sesame, sunflower, walnuts (optional)
1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs ( I have used just egg whites – 3)

Sift and add all ingredients to the fruit. Mix so you cannot see dry ingredients, it should be soft and floppy of spoon, but not a runny batter. If it’s too dry and stiff add fruit juice or smoothie mix. I put it into two lined and greased loaf tins, bake at 160C for about a hour. Test using a skewer, but as iced fruit cake should give of that wonderful smell of spiced cake when ready. I like mine moist but you may prefer it as crumblier cake.

Healthy, fabulous, sin free treat

Healthy, fabulous, sin free treat

I add booze for Xmas cake version and use more luxury fruits.
I add in a grated apple, soFt pear sometimes.

It is your cake make it your way.

Women Heart Disease & Food conversation.