Tuesday, 12 September 2017

6 week post-op update

Today marked the first return to the hospital since I was allowed to go home 5 days after undergoing major spinal surgery. I was quite nervous about going back but actually quite excited to finally see my x-ray. It's hard to explain but I personally found it really frustrating walking out of the hospital after my operation without having seen the x-ray, there was something about the fact that I couldn't see what he'd done that really bothered me!

We got the hospital a little earlier that my appointment, 'checked in' and were told to sit in the infamous waiting room. The white board showing who was holding each clinic today was saying there was a delay for the spinal consultant.. typical!

Thankfully, I was called pretty quickly and sent off for an updated x-ray which I was called for almost instantly too. The usual "I just need to check you're not pregnant" questionnaire filled out and the x-rays done, I was sent back to the waiting room before being called in to the consultants room.

Pre-op vs. post-op!

All-in-all I think we were at the hospital for about 30 minutes. I was seen really quickly after my x-ray and the consultant was really happy with everything, the x-rays, the strength in my legs and the wound itself. I went through a few of my worries but he assured me they were all just my body getting used to it's new positioning and nothing to worry about.

He sent me away with some advice; take paracetamol (stay ahead of the pain, don't chase it), try swimming and up the physio. My favourite part of the whole appointment... he signed me off to drive again! I can't begin to tell you how good it feels to have my freedom back - it's been hard work having to rely on people to come to me or pick me up and ferry me about!

So, I can finally drive my poor little car that hasn't moved in 6 weeks (YAY!) and I can begin a phased return to work which, I never thought i'd say, but I can't wait. Being off work and stuck in the house for 6 weeks has been a lot harder than I thought it would be. I thought i'd just watch loads of series and movies and be fine but I had 0 interest in anything on netflix/amazon prime.

Trust me when I say, 6 weeks off work sounds so much better than it is!

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Recipe | Eton mess cake

One of my go-to websites for recipes is BBC Good Food, each time i've tried one of these recipes i've always been impressed with how they've turned out. With being off work for 5 weeks, i've done a lot of baking recently - we had a couple of meringues left over from the other weekend so that was the basis of my search for this bake.

Serves: ~15

175g butter
5tbsp double cream
1tsp vanilla essence
225g plain flour
100g ground almonds
1tsp baking powder
200g golden caster sugar
5 large eggs
400g strawberries (1/2 roughly chopped & 1/2 thinly sliced)
4 meringue nests (we only had 3, and it worked fine!)

  • Grease and line a 30 x 20 cm deep traybake 
  • Melt the butter, then stir in the cream and vanilla
  • Mix the flour, almonds, baking powder and a pinch of salt - then set aside
  • Whisk the caster sugar and eggs, until very think and foamy (~5 mins)
  • Pour in the butter mix and whisk again then whisk in the dry mix
  • Stir in the chopped strawberries
  • Pour into tin and level
  • Scatter the strawberries and meringue over the cake
  • Bake for 40-45 mins until golden

This was definitely more of a pudding that a snack cake, with a bit of extra cream it was really nice. It wasn't my favourite bake and i'm not 100% sure i'd make it again but it was nice enough and a great way to use up some left over meringues! 

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

~2 weeks post op

When I finally received the date for my operation I was so convinced that it would get cancelled that I didn't allow myself to get excited for it. It seemed like i'd be waiting forever for the operation to come round but it went so quickly!

I had to be at the hospital for 7am on Friday 28th July, by 9am I was in the anaesthetic room being poked and prodded with needles ready to be wheeled through the double doors into theatre. Surprisingly, I wasn't nervous at all - I think because it had been such a long time coming I was just so relieved to finally be there.

The next thing I remember was waking up in HDU with an oxygen mask on a wires coming out from every part of my body. They'd put some kind of vaseline or something on my eyes too so I couldn't see properly. It wasn't pleasant. Although, it's not the norm, the staff allowed my parents to come in and see me when I was brought round (for about 5 minutes) - I don't remember much of the first day, and very little of seeing my parents.

The next morning I was taken down to a ward, it was just me and 3 other, older ladies. It was a really pleasant ward, the staff were all lovely (particularly the good looking, Spanish nurse!) and the other ladies were all very friendly too.

On the Sunday, I was sat up and took my first couple of steps into the chair next to the bed. At this point I still had the morphine drip which was an absolute god-send! The day that came out, I definitely knew about it!

I was surprised at how quickly everything happened once I was moved to a ward, the catheter came out within a couple of days and I was able to put my own clothes on pretty quickly too. Throughout my entire stay at hospital I had no appetite and very little energy. I napped a lot during the day but never managed to sleep through the night - the pain always woke me up! It's hard to explain how painful/uncomfortable the whole experience was/is.

I had a slight reaction to the gauze too!

Since the operation I've only had 2 days where i've regretted going through with it. One day being when I was given an enema which resulted in me developing a temperature and breaking out in a cold sweat not sure if I was going to pass out or vomit or both! It was a horrific experience!
The other day should have been a happy day, the day I came home - I was fine all morning and even on the journey home. But once I was home and without the comfort of all the hospital staff and the reclining bed I really struggled to get comfortable and just had a bit of a breakdown!

But all-in-all I'm really glad i've had it done. I came home on the Wednesday morning following my operation and since being home i've improved massively. Everyone I've seen has been so surprised and impressed with how far i've come in such a short period of time. Everyday i've increased the distance i've walked and how long i've been sat up for.

Last Monday I had to go to the local nurse to get the dressing changed and the wound checked, she was happy enough with it to remove the steri-strips and sign me off to shower again (a massive relief!) However, since having the steri-strips removed the wound has weeped a little and we had a rogue internal stitch make it's way out which I had to go back to the nurse to have removed.

I'm still a while off returning to work and have an appointment back at the hospital at the beginning of September with my consultant to check the wound and hopefully we'll be able to see the x-ray finally! I'm hoping that appointment will be with my surgeon as we haven't actually seen him since the operation, i'm really intrigued to see how he thinks it went. Currently all we know is that he managed to achieve 90% of what he wanted to achieve but didn't managed to get as many screws in as he would have liked because there wasn't enough room...

So here's to the next 4 weeks.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Scoliosis update | The pre-op

I celebrated the end of the Easter holidays with a trip to NOH for my pre operative assessment, a 6am alarm and 5 hours later we left with more information and another few weeks of waiting!  

I was given a checklist of all the people we were scheduled to see during the day and a form to fill out about the conditions of your home in preparation for release from the hospital post op. First up, I was taken down for an x-ray, my consultant had ordered a bending x-ray so that he could see how flexible my spine was and thus which surgery (posterior or anterior).

We had a long discussion with my consultant, where he went through all the risks associated with the operation, what he was planning to carry out and how much of my spine he was going to fuse. (T11-L3 ± L4) Thankfully, my spine is still flexible - my curve reduces from a 42º to a 14º when bending meaning that my surgeon will be able to carry out a posterior surgery, rather than anterior and my surgery should only be a few hours. My consultant also told us that he’d requested another MRI as the one i’d had previously at Royal Berks hasn’t found it’s way to him! 

After the chat with my consultant I was taken for an ECG, blood pressure checks and blood tests. The nurse said that they don’t normally do ECGs for people of my age but because of the length of the surgery and the fact that it’s the spine, they were going to do one anyway. I was told I had a “text book” blood pressure but that my veins are wiggly and shallow. It took 2 nurses and about an hour for them to get enough blood to fill the little tubes they needed. I don’t have any visible veins in my “elbow pit” so they tried my hand to no avail. As a last resort, they tried the other hand and managed to get just enough.. the nurse said I was being “stingy” but it would have to do!! 

I had a chat with another nurse afterwards about the health of my lungs, heart and general health - questions about smoking, previous ailments and any medicines you take etc. After that, was a chat with another nurse about being a part of the British Spine Registry, which I joined - I think it’s just signing up to become a statistic essentially! 

Following that was another chat with a different nurse that went through more questions regarding my health and the suitability of our home for returning to, she carried out a MRSA swab and then gave me a bottle of antiseptic wash to be used the night before and morning of surgery and also a tube of cream to be used 3 times the day before and once the morning of! 

Finally, a little hallway chat with the Occupational Therapist about returning home and getting back to work. (essentially everything had already been covered throughout the day) It was a quick chat that concluded a very long day. 

All-in-all it’s a pain-free and relatively easy process, one that goes on forever but answers a lot of questions! I’ve been told to stop taking my pill (which you have to be off of for 6 weeks before they will operate) and to swap vodka for water! I’m still waiting on a date for surgery but have had the updated MRI, it’s now been 6 weeks since my pre-op and considering they only last 12, i’m hoping to hear soon. 

But for now, we wait. Again! 

Thursday, 12 January 2017


I hope you all had a lovely christmas and spent lots of time with your loved ones. I sure did, despite waking up with the weirdest stomach cramps on christmas morning (although it didn't stop me chowing down on my christmas dinner!) I really enjoyed my time off.

On Christmas Eve, my best friends came round to our house and we all exchanged presents between each other and had the best buffet dinner. Buffets are definitely one of my favourite kind of meals, especially when pigs in blankets are on the menu!

I was spoilt beyond belief again this christmas by my family and friends. I'm completely over the moon with all my gifts and have been making full use of all of them already! I've not included everything I got in the pictures, "fluff" and stocking fillers i've left out. I've also not included a picture of the box light my brother got me because I was using it to take the photos!

Disclaimer: I'm not gloating. Incredibly grateful for everything I received, just love reading this posts so wanted to do one of my own.

Those caramalised pecans in the back of this picture, sound delicious right? Well! They're definitely an acquired taste. They've got a "hint" of black pepper in them.. those mother fuckers, are loaded with the stuff. Completely underestimating in the first time I tried them, my mouth was on fire!!

I'm yet to try out the brush pens, but i'm super excited. The trend of brush script grew so much towards the end of last year and I absolutely loved it. Fingers crossed, with a bit of practice i'll be able to create some lush hand written stuff too.

Okay, so i've heard tons about the Garnier Micellar cleansing water from different YouTubers and bloggers and have been desperate to try it out for ages, so was super happy when I opened this. I've been using it religiously since Christmas Day and I love it, removing my make-up has never been so easy.

The Venus Swirl razor, a little random some might say but honestly that thing is like shaving with a cloud, it so soft!

My main present from my parents was the GoPro Hero 4 Silver. I'm really keen to start making videos, especially of little trips and holidays and I cannot wait to give this a proper go! Watch out for video updates on my scoliosis journey too!

My girls got my the MAC palette and Real Techniques brushes which I can't wait to use this year. I used them on New Years eve and a few other nights out already and I love them! One of my goals for this year is to learn how to do my eye make-up properly so this is literally the perfect gift. Girls did good!!!

So that's what I got for christmas this year. What did you get?