vickygoestravelling

my journey to health and well being via exotic destinations

Battling with the NHS as I hit a health hurdle

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The beautiful rose Felcity Kendal gave us in Louise's memory

The beautiful rose Felcity Kendal gave us in Louise’s memory

Went to get an HRT prescription last week, and thought it worth mentioning to the Doc that I was feeling exhausted, and a bit dizzy plus I am losing weight (a kg fell off since I returned from China, now 53 kgs). She took some blood tests to rule out a number of things including under-active thyroid, mycoplasma (a form of pneumonia prevalent in Singapore) and Vitamin B 12 deficiency.

It’s not great news: I have a severe case of the latter, and low blood pressure, which on a quick read up means I am producing abnormally large red blood cells which are not functioning properly, and can be an early sign of dementia/memory loss (got that already!), visual impairment and inability to walk/balance, among other things. Apart from feeling listless it also causes depression, and I have to admit to feeling a bit low over the past couple of weeks. Doesn’t fit well with cancer either, as autoimmunity depends on those blood cells working well; don’t want those pesky cancer cells getting away with murder…

It can be caused by a number of things; first thought: is it diet? Has my ‘no red meat no dairy’ played a role?  But I still eat chicken, fish and eggs and do occasionally sin with pork, and it seems it must have been around for more than three months to be so low (139 FYI). My diet PC (pre-cancer) has been ultra healthy – no junk food, and at least 10 portions of fresh fruit and veg a day! And loads of lentils…

The first thing I did with the B12 news was to make a Vietnamese beef salad

The first thing I did with the B12 news was to make a Vietnamese beef salad

 

Chicken kebabs wrapped in lime leaves with my favourite steamed kai lan   and shitake

Chicken kebabs wrapped in lime leaves with my favourite steamed kai lan and shitake mushrooms

 

Trishodic dahl, with greens and carrots. Full of vit B12!

Trishodic dhal, with greens and carrots. Full of vit B12!

Could the cancer or radiotherapy be linked in any way? All questions that need to be answered…

The treatment involves a course of injections and, depending on what the cause is, probably a jab every three months for the rest of my life.

So now to call the London GP and see what can be arranged.

The call proves one of those NHS horror stories you often hear about but I never believe: an incredibly unhelpful receptionist who would not listen:

I explain the situation, and that I am resident in London as well as Singapore and am about to come back for my scans.

‘If you’re in Singapore I suggest you get treated there.’

‘No, as I said I’m flying back tomorrow and Dr G has always said she would see me because of my history [unspoken code: bereavements]. I have CANCER. Please can you ask her if she will at least talk to me to discuss options…’

Long wait ensues.

‘I have spoken to her; she suggests you get treatment in Singapore.’

‘I’m flying back tomorrow! I would like to see or speak to her on Monday, as I said before’

‘Well, you can ring in on Monday to try and get an emergency appointment, but there are no appointments left next week, so we can triage you, but we’re so busy I suggest you don’t ring until Wednesday. We can’t allow people like you to jump the queue.’

AARGH!

My lovely garden is waiting for me back in Lonnon

My lovely garden is waiting for me back in London

So Monday sees me at the private surgery of Dr Evadney (makes me think of Hinge & Bracket, and my mum, who loved them) Keith at the St John and Elizabeth Hospital, St Johns Wood. She is charm personified and gives me a really good check up before recommending me to see a haematologist, and she rings up herself to make the appointment!

I have lost another kg, down to 52.

First meal cooked back in London: poached fish, Cantonese style  with steamed beetroot tops and ginger:

First meal cooked back in London: poached fish, Cantonese style with steamed beetroot tops and ginger:

I postpone my flight to Switzerland by a day – at huge cost but, hey, because I’m worth it – and on Friday I am at the Royal Free seeing Professor Mehta. We swap stories of our African childhoods, and he says that he doesn’t think its diet related as my diet is so healthy, despite the no dairy, no red meat; rather it might be an absorption problem, so he takes more blood tests. Whatever the cause, need some Vit B12 jabs pronto as he agrees the level is exceedingly low, and for someone in my position, not great.

Another view from my wet bed, with the Omani urn in Louises  memory

Another view from my wet bed, with the Omani urn in Louise’s memory

Detail of the urn

Detail of the urn

The jabs are booked with the lovely Dr Keith on my return form the mountains, where I am now sitting in intermittent sunshine and thundery showers, writing this. I’ve even managed to get some B12 phials here in Switzerland as an interim measure – feel like a right junkie!

In other news, I have been beavering away at my mum’s war letters and, inspired by D-Day (her boss Admiral Ramsay actually masterminded the landings), am working on the final submission draft with advice from various friends and a literary consultant (thanks Jo!). This week will see me polish this off in the peace and quiet, while I prepare for the big date with the MRI scanner on Monday 23rd June; results on 25th. Fingers crossed.  Next post will have the update.

Some of you have missed Pickle as much as I have - here she is, most disdainful on my return!

Some of you have missed Pickle as much as I have – here she is, most disdainful on my return!

 

 

 

Author: vickyunwin

I am a writer and traveller. Our darling daughter Louise died on 2 March 2011, aged 21 (www.louisecattell.com) and I started writing as therapy. We never know how long we have on this earth, so I live for every day...in November 2013 I was diagnosed and operated on for a malignant soft tissue sarcoma in the calf, followed by 6.5 weeks of radiotherapy, so am embarking on a different kind of journey which you can follow here. I also have another site www.healthylivingwithcancer.co with my blueprint for health and well-being. My husband works in Switzerland so we flit from place to place anywhere else that takes our fancy

5 thoughts on “Battling with the NHS as I hit a health hurdle

  1. Vicky I am so sorry to read your discouraging news. I am sure there are many paths traveled on this particular journey and few of them pleasant. Like your doc, I am quite sure your diet is not lacking in anything, quite the reverse, but still one worries. I am sitting in an elegant lobby in our hotel in Rome, right opposite Parliament, lits of protests daily! , our days are very full and. Adela arrives for the weekend momentarily, so that will be fun. But I do so worry for your Dearest Sis, and await some better news. All my love, Always and Forever. Bonnie xxx

    • How strange you are there (Rome) this weekend as I might have been too, but for a quirk of fate – my Geneva girl gang are all there, but I am aux montagnes with Ross, as it’s the only weekend we will have here this summer. Now I have seen the Prof, I am feeling much better again, never fear. And the waiting is nearly over…

      • Oh no! What a quirk, to think we could have met here. So pleased you have Ross with you. My girlies say B12 is not to be worried about, they seem to know about B12. It could be a totally different cause, just something you are prone to. I am back on June 23.

  2. Not great news to have something else to factor in, I’m sure. Feels (again) unfair particularly given that you’re not even boozing! But glad to hear you found good and sensible support from Dr Evadney and Prof Mehta.

    When you said Evadney and Hinge and Bracket all in one para, it reminded me of a woman in the 70s I think – used to do late night TV here – sort of horoscopes / predicting – I think she was called Evadne Price? She’d always end with “Think lucky and you’ll be lucky” I’m not sure it always works – but you’re living proof that having a positive attitude has just got to be better than the opposite. xxxx

  3. Thanks Linda, I like Think lucky and you’ll be lucky! Vx

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