Category: Medical stuff

Subarachnoid haemorrhage


Subarachnoid haemorrhage

I was in my 30s when I suffered from subarachnoid haemorrhage which led to brain aneurysm.  I was very fit then and was never prone to any illness.

In fact I was on the treadmill when I had the attack.

My late mother came to visit me  here in London from the Philippines.   After scolding me for exercising right after finishing breakfast, my mother asked me what book I would recommend for her to read.

I wickedly recommended  The Blood and The Holy Grail, a 1982 book written   by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln.  This book was way way way before Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code.

The book is about the hypothesis that Jesus and Mary’s children went to live in France.  As soon as  I explained this to my mother, suddenly everything started to blacken and I was looking into a tunnel with my mother’s horrified face at the end of it.

I was in a dead faint for at least a couple of minutes.

As soon as I got up, I staggered to the bedroom and slept only to be woken a couple of hours later by my husband, who was called by my mother at work.

I was just so tired and sleepy that day and had a bit of a headache.

That night, my arms were so uncomfortably numbed.  Throughout the night, I would raise both my arms and moved them in circle again and again.  I was sleepy but so restless.

The next day, Peter took me to the doctors.  We saw Dr Andrawis (RIP) who at first thought I had the onset of a flu.  He even said that he won’t prescribe me any tablets as it would be cheaper to get them over the counter at the chemist.

Peter said that I did not have the symptoms of a flu as I was complaining of tingling, pins and needles in both my arms and legs.  I was sleepy but so restless.

This stopped Dr Andrawis.  He got a reflex hammer and then he called an ambulance to take me straight to the Royal Free Hospital.  The paramedic put a neckbrace on me which stayed for weeks while I had to stay perfectly still in bed.  Apparently this was the only way to find out where the exact location of the aneurysm.

I have to commend the medical and nursing staff at the RFH, I am sure I would have died if I had the hemorrhage in the Philippines.  (No disrespect to the Philippines, but the medical facility would have been horrendously expensive or something).  Everything was free with the NHS.

It was rather frustrating though at the hospital, they had to wake you up every couple of hours, 24/7.  This was to ensure that I had not succumbed to coma.  I was so tired.

I was rather cheerful though, I was thinking of all the weights I must have lost by being nil by mouth for so many weeks.

I also remembered the surgeon telling me how they are going to go about the surgery.  He said that they are going to open my head by the left temple to get to the burst blood vessel.  They would then put a metal clip into the where the aneurysm was to stop the bleeding.

He gave me all the possible outcome or side effect like memory loss, coma, impaired speech, vision, coordination, balance, stroke and even death.

The consultant was so lovely,  so I asked him if he can give me plastic surgery as well. 🙂

The brain operation took 5 hours.

Apparently I went very very cold during the recovery.  I think I must have been feeling really cold because I was babbling about putting enough sugar in my son’s milkshake!

After the surgery, I got better quickly but I had to stay in the hospital for more weeks.  The brain does have a way of coping by itself.  I keep having dreams of being a different person.  Sometimes as an Italian, sometimes as a journalist working in the Killing Fields.

The nurses still had to wake me up every couple of hours.  I really longed for a good long sleep.  I wanted to go home.

Thank goodness there were not much side-effect from the hemorrhage nor from the surgery except for forgetting words,  especially when I am talking. I used to be really fluent in English 🙂 my vocabulary was very good, but suddenly I was struggling for words.  This went on for years. Fortunately I am getting better.  I found out the reason for this was that the craniotomy was done near my temporal lobe, which control memory and understanding language.

Other early temporary side-effect was when the first few times I first opened my eyes, it was like looking through a kaleidoscope, complete with flashing lights, bursting with colours.  Also  the first night I was home, I woke up in the middle of the night and saw a man next to me I did not recognise. I had face-blindness.   It was Peter, of course and thank God the feeling lasted only for a couple of minutes.

I am all better now, except for the almost permanent high blood pressure.

I asked the doctor for the possible cause of the aneurysm, he said that I had a week vein in the brain.  It was also found that I have a sickle cell trait which did not help.

But mother always believed that I was blasphemous and was punished!  LOL 🙂 🙂 🙂


Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital – UCLH


Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital – UCLH

I finally had my eardrum repair operation yesterday at University College London Hospital and I have to say the service and care were first class.  Excellent in fact!

Because I am growing older by the day, I am more susceptible to illnesses and diseases, which are rather unheard of when younger.  I find that I have a few more medical problems that require me to visit various hospital specialising with ailments of the human body ?

My experience with UCLH was the best.  The building itself is very old, inside is quite old as well but very clean and somewhat comforting.

The hospital is also a teaching hospital like the Royal Free Hospital.  The nurses, doctors, consultants and anesthetists were all professionally able. Their bedside manners were friendly, heartening and inspiring.

Additionally, I had a room all to myself.  It was like a private hospital, I was given a welcoming pack consisting of the blurb of what the hospital does, a pair of totes-like socks to use to walk on the very shiny, very clean tiled flooring to prevent you from falling. There were also eye mask, earplugs, dental kit, pen and paper all sealed in a lovely zipped plastic envelop.  The pen was so useful, I used it to answer all the quick crossword puzzle of the Metro newspaper, available at the reception of UCLH.

The food was  good, there were selections for everyone; those with allergies, vegetarian, who are kosher, also who wants halal food and for me, who eats everything. ?  I had the Chicken with creamy sauce, and it was delicious completed with jam pudding & custard.

Bimala was my personal nurse.   She was so kind and so cheerful but I also saw other nurses as well, who were equally kind, in the intervals of 15 – 30 minutes taking my heartbeat, temperature, blood pressure, etc.  Apparently to increase the level of oxygen to your body, you have to take a deep breath with your mouth wide open, that will also open your lungs.

Prior to the operation I was visited by the various doctors and the anesthetist, telling me what will happen and the likely side effect of my operation.  Apparently the ears control the facial muscles, the right side of my face can drop, I could have tinnitus, permanent hearing loss, etc.  All wanted to know if I might die during the operation.  Reassuringly, they laughed it off and said they don’t do death!

My surgeon was Dr Quinney, who I consulted at the Edgware Hospital.  He was very serious but you know you will be safe at his hand.

After my operation under general anaesthesia, I was gently woken by reassuring nurses about 4-5, two were Filipinas telling me Gising na Jean (wake up Jean).

I am so happy that we have the NHS.  We should all make sure that it is not privatised for all our sake!

Way With Waists

Having joined and subscribed to the British Heart Foundation, I was sent a magazine package complete with freebies of a recipe booklet and a tape measure of all things, like those used by tailors and dressmakers.

Measure for measure, photo by JMorton

Measure for measure, photo by JMorton

Measure for measure, photo by JMorton

Measure for measure, photo by JMorton

The tape measure is slightly different from the normal ones because it was colour coded.  White for normal waistline and the red to denote dangerzone towards being unhealthy.

Apparently a woman should have a maximum of 32 inches waistline, while men should have 37 inches at the most.  Any higher, would mean an increased risk to health such as  heart disease and diabetes.

Come on guys, get measuring.  If you are over the limit, time to change your routine and lifestyle.

Again remember:

Maximum waistline for women:  32 inches

Maximum waistline for men:  37 inches

Cold and Flu

It was such a lovely weekend! 😉  The weather in London is hot and sunny. The pervading aroma in my neighbourhood was that of meat being barbecued!  Yummy!!!  There were much laughters and chatters reverberating from back gardens to back gardens.  Everyone is out there enjoying the sunshine in the company of families and friends. flu-ss-cartoon

However the weather in the UK has been known to be  forever capricious.  One minute it is hot, the next freezing and showery.  No wonder cold and flu are prevalent and so contagious.  I have been told that we are actually on cold and flu season.  I was also informed that scarlet fever is also on the up, especially amongst school children. What can we do to evade the various viruses that are going around?  There are of course some simple and obvious rule of thumb to follow:

  1. Stock up and take echinacea – 200mg taken up to 3 times a day, echinacea apparently  boosts the immune system.
  2. This is the time to be more self-aware of hygiene.  Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water everytime you visit the loo.  Do not touch your face with unwashed hands.  It is prudent to carry a small bottle of hand sanitiser in your handbag at all times when you are out and about.
  3. It might sound impolite, but avoid shaking hands with someone who has a streaming cold.
  4. Avoid stress.  Stress lowers the immune system.
  5. Get lots of shut eyes.  Lack of sleep makes you tired and run down, therefore your resistance to virus is in an all- time- low.
  6. This is strange but according to research the more friends you have the less likely you will catch a cold.  The more social you are the more resistance you are to viruses.  But there is a catch, the friends should be those ones who you mingle with personally and not just in Facebook friends. lol  This has probably has something to do with the level of endorphins, the happy hormones.
  7. The best prevention of cold and flu is the intensity and frequency of making love.  The more frequent you make love (at least once a week) the stronger and higher your immune-system molecules you’ll have.  It was found that these molecules are called immunoglobuln A which is important in protecting the mucous membranes from pesky viruses.


Sept 2015:

It has been found that lack of sleep increases risk of catching the cold virus.  Those who sleep 6 hours or less a night, have a 4.2 times more chance of developing the cold symptoms.  So if you had a bad night and now sitting in a public transport near a sneezing commuter, change seats at once! 😉

Diet & Depression

What we eat can affect our moods and general health. We should, therefore, watch what we consume foodwise, drinkwise or even drugwise. Be wise.

Below is an article from which I think we should all know as everyone of us at one point of our lives will suffer from depression (from mild to debilitating one).

Healthy eating and depression

Feeling down or depressed can affect both your appetite and your daily routine.

Some people don’t feel like eating when they’re depressed and are at risk of becoming underweight. Others find comfort in food and can put on excess weight. Antidepressants can also affect your appetite.

If you’re concerned about weight loss, weight gain or how antidepressants are affecting your appetite, talk to your GP.

Tips for eating a healthy diet

Research into the links between diet and depression is ongoing. As yet, there is not enough evidence to say for certain that some foods help relieve symptoms of depression.

However, a healthy balanced diet is important for maintaining good general health.

“The most important thing is to eat regularly and to include the main food groups in your daily diet,” says Dr Lynn Harbottle, consultant in nutrition and dietetics at the Health and Social Services Department in Guernsey.

A diet based on starchy foods, such as rice and pasta, with plenty of fruit and vegetables, some protein-rich foods such as meat, fish and lentils, and some milk and dairy foods (and not too much fat, salt or sugar) will give you all the nutrients you need.

Find out more about the five food groups by looking at the eatwell plate. Also, read more about how to have a balanced diet.

There are many simple ways to improve your diet. However, if you’re more severely depressed and feel unable to shop or prepare food, see your GP to discuss the types of treatment and support that are available.

Eat regular meals

Have three meals every day, including breakfast. Breakfast can help give you the energy you need to face the day. Try a bowl of wholegrain cereal with some sliced banana and a glass of fruit juice for a healthy start to the day. If you feel hungry between meals, have a healthier snack such as a piece of fruit.

Eat more wholegrain cereals, fruit, vegetables, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds

These foods are a good source of vitamins and minerals. Try to eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day.

Include some protein at every meal

Protein is essential for the growth and repair of the body. You can get it from meat, fish, eggs, milk, cheese, lentils and beans.

Don’t get thirsty

We need to drink about 1.2 litres of fluid a day to stop us getting dehydrated. Even mild dehydration can affect our mood. Symptoms of dehydration include lack of energy and feeling light-headed. Find out more about how much you should drink, including how to choose healthier drinks.

If you drink alcohol, drink within the recommended daily limits

If you’re a man, don’t regularly drink more than three-to-four units a day. If you’re a woman, don’t regularly drink more than two-to-three units a day. Use our alcohol unit calculator to find out how many units there are in different types of alcoholic drinks. Don’t drink alcohol if you’re taking antidepressants.

When you make changes to your diet, set yourself realistic and achievable goals. Lynn warns against crash or miracle diets that might not be nutritionally balanced. Instead, make moderate changes. If you want to make major changes to your diet, see your GP, who can refer you to a registered dietitian.

Further information about diet and mental wellbeing

For general advice on healthy eating, see our food and diet section.

The energy diet has information about how healthy eating can help prevent tiredness.

Many treatment options are available for depression, including talking therapies, antidepressant medication and various self-help techniques. Find out more about treatment for depression.

If you’ve been feeling low for more than two weeks, see your GP to find out about treatment choices and to get advice on which might be most suitable for you.

Page last reviewed: 06/01/2014

Next review due: 06/01/2016

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS)

Be careful if you are about to travel into the Middle East.  There is a virus that is going round, liken to SARS, which can be fatal.

Observe proper precautions especially on hygiene.  WASH THOSE HANDS with alcohol-based handwash, frequently.

Get away from coughing and sneezing people when travelling into the Middle East.

Stay away from crowded places.


JPJhermes, Nagpapatrol


Pinoy nurse tests positive for MERS virus, first case in PHL
By IBARRA MATEOApril 16, 2014

A Filipino male nurse has been confirmed to be the first reported case of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus in the Philippines, Health Secretary Enrique Ona announced Wednesday.

The nurse, who was exposed to the Filipino paramedic who died from MERS last week in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), had been tested while he was there and the positive results came out upon his arrival in the country on Tuesday, Ona said.

He did not attend to the patient who died and did not exhibit any symptoms of the disease upon arrival, Ona added.

The nurse returned to the Philippines with his wife, two children, and helper, Ona said. Five people fetched them from the airport, and all of them were quarantined due to possible exposure to the MERS virus.

The virus has a 10- to 14-day incubation period, and the results of new tests done by the Department of Health (DOH) are expected to be available by Friday, Ona said.

“Hindi pa ito talagang confirmed na results kaya we need to do some more tests kasi tawagan lang ang nangyari sa UAE. That’s also the reason bakit quinarantine natin sila,” Ona said during the briefing.

The DOH is now conducting “contact tracing” of 12 passengers seated near the male nurse inside the plane to find out if they were exposed to the virus, he added.

“It will certainly depend on the seat arrangement if he is in the middle we have to trace those in the front or back. At the same time, we will check other people na nagkaroon ng possible contact,” said Dr. Emmanuel Labella, director of the Bureau of Quarantine, at the same briefing.

MERS is a novel virus often referred to as the Middle East’s own version of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). Symptoms of MERS include fever, cough, shortness of breath, and even diarrhea. It was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012.