Category Archives: My Life Now

Explant! Breast Implant Removal Operation [part two]

… continued from Part One (previous blog post)

It was the next day, Tuesday, the day after my explant operation in London at a private clinic. I’d had the three hour procedure late in the afternoon and come round from the anaesthetic at 6:40pm. By 10:00pm the remaining clinic staff (one surgeon, one nurse, one healthcare assistant) were putting severe pressure on me to leave even though I didn’t want to and even though I was too ill to go home. An hour later I felt I had no choice but to go (what they said to make me feel guilty about staying did the trick) although I didn’t make it home, I was too ill, so spent the entire night in NHS A&E.

Apparently this is not uncommon – that the NHS has to mop up private patients after they’ve been discharged, although this is obviously wrong.

During the following day I took paracetamol and naproxen as often as I was allowed and yet it wasn’t enough for me to bear the pain. I dozed on and off and tried to cope as best I could, but by the afternoon I knew I wasn’t going to be able to last the night without something else. I needed stronger pain killers. They’d given me co-codamol but I’d vomited so violently the night before that I was frightened to try it again. Nausea and vomiting is my worse feeling. I’d rather be in pain than nauseous. But if there was a pain killer I could take that was stronger than paracetamol and that wouldn’t make me nauseous, I wanted and needed that, and the only place that would help me was A&E. So we packed a bag and my daughter drove me back to the NHS hospital that had treated me the night before. I hurriedly had to arrange for childcare for my two young children, my frail mother stepping in at the last moment. This time it was only a four hour wait because the doctor decided to accelerate me to the front of the queue because they thought I would be quick (which I was). I jumped the queue. I was given a box of codeine that I could take alongside my current paracetamol and ibuprofen which reassured me enough that if things became unbearable that night I had something to help me through. I’d rather wait four hours in A&E late afternoon early evening than many more hours during the night losing yet more crucial sleep.

During this time I had drains inserted into each side of my chest attached to bottles that I had to carry around with me wherever I went. These bottles collected blood (and other fluid) that was leaking out of me, which is good because otherwise it would have leaked into the space where my implants used to be, or into my abdominal cavity or who knows where? Leaking into the body instead of the bottles carries an infection risk, in addition you don’t know how much blood you’re losing without seeing it in the bottles. In total I lost 600ml (combined) by the time the drains were removed on Day 4. By then they were really heavy and so awkward to carry around and sleep with.

Imagine trying to sleep, shop, and visit the bathroom with these attached?

My recovery went well from then on. After the drains were removed I felt an immediate lessening of discomfort and a huge improvement in freedom of movement.

The first 48 hours post op were awful, in my opinion due to far too much pain relief at the beginning (because they wanted me out of the clinic) and not enough pain killers the next day (due to my reluctance to take anything other than paracetamol and ibuprofen because of the awful experience the night before). But after that I could cope with the underlaying aching pain and the sudden spasms of severe pain (which went away after a few seconds). They got fewer and fewer as the days passed, and by Day 5 post op I was no longer needing any pain killers at all.

I went back to see my surgeon two weeks after my explant to have the wounds inspected and dressings changed. The scars looked good, but drastic, rather shocking. My boobs did look sorry for themselves! But I knew this would change in time as they healed and settled down. As I write this now I am 3 weeks post op and doing well. No infections, no DVT, no unbearable pain (just spasms from time to time, especially if I do too much using my pectoral muscles).

I have now seen my boobs without any dressings, and even had a shower and changed the dressings myself. The shape is neat and perky but there is still a long way to go. They have taken a severe battering and will need a good few months before they assume their final form. Scar management is going to be my ongoing task now, just as soon as the wounds are securely closed.

Here is a link to a video showing my actual implants:
https://twitter.com/50Diary2020/status/1447913734752583685

So that’s it. My implants have been removed for good and there will be no need for me to have another operation ever again… (until my hips, back and knees finally give out)!

Explant! Breast Implant Removal Operation [part one]

I did it! I got my breast implants taken out… but it was a horrendous experience and I ended up in A&E twice. Here’s what happened.

Part One

I chose my surgeon for two main reasons – he was £4,000 cheaper than the others I looked at, and he operates out of a clinic in London, just an hour’s drive from my house. He is also experienced and has done this particular operation many times before. He showed me ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos of his pervious patients, and there were a great many all apparently done well.

Initially I’d wanted to go to Guy Sterne or David Floyd, two of the top UK surgeons for breast explant in the UK, but their prices were too high and would have meant a three hour drive. So I’d the found perfect solution – a cheaper price and a more convenient location.

However something very important that I didn’t properly appreciate or understand was that this surgeon operates out of a clinic, not a hospital. There is a difference. They don’t cater for overnight stays. But at the consultation I was repeatedly reassured that I wouldn’t need to stay over night.

I knew from my Facebook support group that most people having this operation have to get up at 4 or 5 in the morning to be in hospital for 6 or 7 for an operation at about 8 so I would have all day to recover, and would probably feel well enough to be driven home by late afternoon.

Forty-eight hours before my operation I had a phone call telling me to be at the hospital for 2:30pm for an operation start time of 3:30pm. I was really surprised. I’d have very little time to recover after the three hour op before going home. I wasn’t happy about but didn’t have any choice in the matter. That was the time of my operation.

On the day of my op I arrived slightly early and was ushered into the waiting room to fill out the reams of paperwork to do with Covid, the anaesthetic, and my general health. My friend who had driven me there wasn’t allowed to come in which was disappointing, but again, there was nothing to be done. He just had to leave and go and amuse himself in John Lewis for the next (what turned out to be) eight hours.

I was also presented with a menu to choose my after op meal and selected asparagus soup, green tea, and a banana. Then I was taken into a room upstairs where I had to change into the operating gown, put my compression stockings on… and do a pregnancy test (!). The nurse said that some people come for their op and find out they’re pregnant! I explained I was 52 and probably post menopausal; but I still had to do one. I mean, can you imagine?!? I’m single so it would have to have been an immaculate conception as well. But I suppose they cover themselves if they play extra safe and make sure. After that I sat back, alone in my small room, and waited.

I took this selfie. I can see the terror in my eyes.

Pre-op breast explant

After about half an hour and a visit from the anaesthetist I was moved downstairs into a room next to the operating threatre. A nurse introduced herself and told me she would be looking after me from now on. Then the surgeon came in… and this is when I started to feel worried. He said hello and slumped down in a chair leaning heavily on the table in front of him as if he was utterly exhausted. He didn’t smile, he seemed far too tired to even look me in the eye. He mumbled something which I deciphered as, “do you have any questions?” and then immediately began reading some papers. I started to ask my questions but when I could see he was reading, and then writing, I stopped. I don’t like it when someone shows absolutely no interest whatsoever in what I’m saying to them. The poor man seemed shattered. He rested his head in his hands and sighed and mumbled. Then he picked his ear with his little finger. I was horrified. I thought, “this guy needs to go to bed, not to start a risky, three hour long operation.” I didn’t get to ask any questions – he was simply not interested. He gave me the impression of being clinically depressed, utterly disinterested, and completely exhausted.

But what could I do? I was all gowned up and prepped and ready to go. Everything was ready. I was in the hands of fate. He asked me to stand against the door and take the top half of my gown down so he could draw on me. This took a while and he seemed to need to re-draw some lines a few times, as if he’d made a mistake at first. The pen was scratchy and hurt a little. The surgeon sighed a few more times and that was that. He went off and soon after the nurse came to take me into theatre.

There was a bed in the middle of the room and as we approached she took my outer gown off, but trailed it around my ankles and I almost tripped up. I stumbled against the bed, attempting to disentangle it from my feet and didn’t actually fall over thank goodness. It made me wonder just how good the nurse was. The anaesthetist was nice. He was the only person in the room who made me feel reassured, that he knew what he was doing! He got me pillows for my under my knees to protect my back whilst I lay on the operating table and told me what was going on, which was nice. The nurse put a mask lightly over my face and said, “this is just oxygen,” but I didn’t believe her. I’m afraid my trust in everyone (apart from the competent anaesthetist) had been eroded.

The anaesthetist tapped the back of my hand and inserted a cannula then injected something into me. “This is just anti-sickness.” I was lying there not feeling sleepy at all with my heart racing, watching everyone busy themselves around me wondering why I needed anti-sickness medication now for when I woke up three hours later. Then finally, the anaesthetist said, “I’m going to give you the anaesthetic. You’ll feel it slowly creep up on you, nice and slowly.” I thought that sounded great. I’d rather that than a roaring rush into unconsciousness which I had once and was pretty unpleasant. I continued breathing my “oxygen” which the nurse now pressed more firmly around my face and waited. Nothing happened for a few seconds. I felt just as alert and awake as ever, then there was a sudden complete body relaxation, a total letting go of all tension, which was glorious, then a few seconds more and I went into blackness.

The next thing I knew I heard a voice pulling me out of sleep, “Wake up, hello, wake up now. Time to wake up…”

I opened my eyes and saw I was back in the room next to the operating theatre where the surgeon has drawn on me, and the nurse was busying herself around my bed. No-one else was there. I was wrapped in dressings and felt pain in my chest area. I lay and suffered and tried to doze but the nurse didn’t allow me to sleep. Soon the surgeon popped in to say that everything went well. I asked him how the operation went and he said my capsules were very thick. That made me feel pleased because I know that makes the operation easier.

“Ah good. That means the capsules come out easier,” I said, but he replied with a shake of the head and a slight eye roll, “not necessarily.”

My heart sank. I asked, “what percentage of the capsules did you leave inside? but he only shrugged and grunted, then walked out of the room. I felt disappointed and upset, and the pain was increasing.

“How much pain are you in if 10 is the maximum and 0 is no pain at all?” The nurse was bending over my bed. I thought about it a few seconds then said “eight.” It was pretty painful. I think this was the start of my problems.

The nurse then gave me a spoon of oramorph but a few seconds later she stuck fentanyl into my veins through the cannula. She said, “this is the BEST, the top, top drug.” I didn’t know what she was talking about. I generally try and have as few drugs as possible in my life and I’m good with pain. I can tolerate a lot before I need drugs.

I fleetingly wondered why she didn’t leave more of a gap between giving me morphine and fentanyl. Why give both at the same time? But soon I was falling, falling into semi-consciousness, although for some reason I could still feel the pain. The drugs made it impossible for me to articulate the pain, to speak about it, but it didn’t take it away, which was extremely annoying.

I don’t know how long I lay there, hours maybe. They kept trying to convince me to eat but I had absolutely no appetite at all, and no saliva. The nurse was encouraging me to have some of the asparagus soup but I just couldn’t take it. My throat wouldn’t swallow. There was no desire to eat. She tried with the banana, but it was the same. I absolutely did not want to eat, so much so that I really couldn’t eat, despite trying. The nurse kept saying idiotic things like, “if you eat you will feel so much better. All you need to do is eat and you will feel fine.” I tried as hard as I could, but it wasn’t going to happen. She suggested toast and had someone make me two slices, but when I put a little bit into my mouth it was like trying to spread butter over a desert. Physically, it couldn’t be done. It rolled up into a dry ball and stayed in my mouth. There was no saliva to digest it. I turned my head away miserably. I was weak and in pain and unable to eat. I couldn’t settle. I couldn’t eat, sleep, or be awake. I didn’t know what to do with myself.

By now it was 10:00pm. The surgeon came to my bedside and told me I needed to go home now. He said, “we could get staff to come in, but who are we going to call at this time of night? Who’s going to come in now?” He pointed to the nurse, “she’s been here since 7:00am and it’s now 10:00pm. She needs to get home. Her sister is waiting to open the door she can’t get in unless her sister opens the door and she needs to go to bed too.”

I just did not know how to respond. I was wondering why they were telling me off. What had this to do with me? Why was this my fault? I was unwell and so weak and nauseous. I would have loved to have gone home but I couldn’t sit up let alone walk.

At some point I managed to use a bedpan to have a wee, and was supported to the toilet, but it was all so difficult. I was still dizzy and woozy and shaking.

Back in bed I rested for a while, but the nurse was agitating for me to go home. Then the surgeon came in again and and told me how expensive it would be to get someone to come in and look after me over night, and anyway, they didn’t have anyone to call… He said he had to be in Bristol for ten o’clock the next morning and really needed to go home now. He told me how my friend was waiting for me outside bored, tired, and hungry, that he’d been waiting for hours and also wanted to go home.

I had no choice but to give in. It was awful.

And yet their website boasts, “We always ensure that patient care is at the forefront of everything we do and that’s why we are proud to offer industry leading fully inclusive lifetime aftercare and support to all our patients. Our aftercare is designed to give you reassurance with no hidden extras.”

What a load of rubbish!

After they kicked me out I shuffled slowly, slowly with great difficult to the car and my friend began the drive home. But during the drive I started to feel worse and worse and asked him to take me straight to A&E. I knew I couldn’t be left alone to care for myself. I could barely walk. I couldn’t get a drink. At home, everyone would be asleep already and there were my two young children who would be disturbed. I was far too ill to be settling the children back into bed etc. At least at A&E there would be people to help look after me through the night, which is what I urgently needed.

As it happened my instincts were correct. It would have been horrendous if I’d gone home. At A&E I vomited so violently over and over that I lost control of my bladder and made a large puddle on my wheelchair and the floor. I was groaning and weak and so ill, “help me, help me,” was all I could cry into my sick bowl. A nurse wheeled me into a side room and gave me an anti-sickness injection and then sent me back out into the waiting room. I apologised to the twenty people who had had to sit through this with me, listening to my moaning and crying and vomiting. But imagine if I’d done this on my bed at home? There would have been no-one to help me, no-one to give me antisickness, no-one to clear up my urine and change my sheets and mattress. Single mothers don’t have that luxury. I would have lain there in vomit and urine. It doesn’t bear thinking about.

Later on I was given IV fluids through a new cannula they put into my right elbow crease, and then IV paracetamol. By 6:00am I felt ready to go home, and my friend drove me slowly back to my house and put me to bed. I sat upright and dozed until 7:00am when my elder daughter woke up. The kids came in at 7:30am but I couldn’t speak with them. I was too fretful and unwell – still feeling a lot of pain and still trembling and woozy.

[…to be continued in part 2 next blog post]

Goodbye Mirena Coil IUD

And for me at least, it is good riddance. After six years, it was definitely time for us to part ways. I’m 52 and single so it’s not needed for birth control, and I’m on HRT and take progesterone tablets, so it’s not needed as the progesterone part of HRT either.

The Mirena coil is used as effective birth control for about four years so it was even, by now, out of date. So although the nurse I saw six months ago persuaded me to keep it in (against my instincts) I decided I’d had enough of there being a sizeable piece of plastic in my womb for no reason at all, and asked the doctor to take it out today this morning. She agreed.

I stripped off the bottom half of my clothes and lay on the bed. The (female) doctor then switched on the lamp and aimed it between my legs. Awkward… but necessary! Then she inserted the speculum and dilating instrument and cranked it up to widen the cervix to about 5cm. I tried to relax and she told me to take deep breaths, but it was pretty uncomfortable (although not exactly painful). Then she inserted a grabber thing, like a miniature litter picker, and a few seconds later told me to cough… in the same instant I obliged she pulled the strings of the coil and it pinged out onto the bed. That part didn’t hurt at all, and I was delighted. I’d given birth to a t-shaped piece of polyethylene! Straight away I started feeling cramps, and these continued for several hours along with light bleeding, but by late afternoon the bleeding had slowed right down and the cramping had become mild.

So that’s it. I am free of the implant in my womb. Just got to get these large silicone breast implants out now. Five days until the big op….

This time two years ago…

August:

“Mum is struggling after coming home from hospital ten days ago. Although she’s up and about, she’s not back to her usual self physically or psychologically. In fact, the personality change is the most troubling thing. She’s extremely tense, as if in a state of perpetual fear. She had an apparent bad reaction to the anaesthetic and although she was given a powerful anti-sickness injection, a day after she arrived home the nausea and trembling began again. I’ve never seen her so weak and unwell. She could barely open her eyes or move. She was white as a sheet and complaining of dizziness, nausea, trembling and weakness. She couldn’t eat and could barely drink. She couldn’t walk. A doctor was called to her bedside and diagnosed a possible post-op infection and Meniere’s Disease — which was unexpected and seemed strange to me, but my mum accepted it straight away. I’m more inclined to think it’s something to do with the operation or the anaesthetic. She was fine before the op, desperately ill afterwards. It would be a huge coincidence if she suddenly got Meniere’s Disease in that short time, but maybe the operation has sparked it off, if that’s possible? I don’t know. But for the last week or so she’s been taking new medication prescribed by the doctor which has given some relief, and she does seem to be recovering. I feel uneasy about it though. Something doesn’t feel right. I’ve tried to say this a few times but she’s not interested. She wants to accept the easiest and first diagnosis, and while she’s weak and ill I’m not going to press my point, she’s in enough distress as it is.”

A month ago mum finally got a diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease. It was as I feared. It’s interesting how I diagnosed her with the condition two years before the medical profession got round to it. She’s now on medication to help curtail the symptoms but her leg is still painful every day all day, and the “internal jitteriness” (as she describes it) has not gone away. They haven’t given her a CT scan of her brain yet so I’m not sure how they can be so certain of a Parkinson’s diagnosis. I agree her symptoms are in line with the disease but it could still be something else. Something really bad. Here’s hoping she’s not too long on the waiting list.

Sanex Zero Sensitive Deodorant Skin Reaction

In case anyone else has a bad reaction to Sanex deodorant, sensitive version, and is wondering if they’re unusual, this is what happened to me:

I chose this deodorant because it doesn’t have aluminum in it. Medical research shows that aluminum from antiperspirants can build up in your body (if applied frequently) and there are some who suggest that there is a link to breast cancer, but no direct evidence shows this and I’m skeptical. However, since I do have breast implants and many of the symptoms of Breast Implant Illness (BII) I didn’t want to add an extra layer of risk.

So this morning I applied the Sanex Zero Sensitive deodorant under my arms and immediately felt a stinging sensation. After five or ten minutes I had a look and the skin was angry and red. I hastily washed it off with soap and water and the redness and stinging quickly went away. I’ll never use it again. There is some bad ingredient in there! I’ve never had this reaction to an antiperspirant or deodorant before.

The full list of ingredients is:

Aqua, glycerin, stearth-2, PPG-15, stearyl ether, dimethicone, steareth-21, parfum, lactic acid, sodium lactate, caprylyl glycol, sodium benzoate, calcium silicate. One of those isn’t good for the skin at all.

How I Could Have Died Getting Breast Implants on the NHS

It was Spring 2004, and the day after my breast augmentation operation I developed a really weird sloshy ring, like a spare tyre, around my waist. I asked one of the nurses what it was and she dismissively replied, “oh that’s normal dear.”

I’ll never forget those stupid, wrong words. It wasn’t normal. I never had a spare tyre of sloshy liquid around my waist before in my life. I was a skinny minny, 5’9″ and only 9 stone. There wasn’t an inch of fat on my body – except now there was a completely liquid ring around my waist. I guess the nurse must have thought that I was being vain and complaining about a bit of fat on my body, but she didn’t stop to discuss it further, she was already walking away in irritation.

I didn’t know it at the time but it was blood from internal bleeding (because I didn’t have drains put in post op). The next day I fainted when I tried to walk to the toilets. In total, I was in hospital for five days. All the other girls had recovered and been sent home, yet I was struggling and exhausted and still utterly feeble. No-one thought to question this. It was decided that I’d been occupying the bed for too long so was sent home without any checks on my health. I must be fine – it had been five days since the operation – I was a lazy slacker (or at least that’s how I was made to feel, as if I was taking a long time to recover on purpose).

I continued to feel unwell for a couple of months (weakness, feebleness, headaches every day, fatigue, tiny appetite) and eventually, after really insisting, pressurising various GPs and getting nowhere, I went to A&E. They said, “you have a tension headache.”

I knew in my heart they were wrong so I insisted that it wasn’t. Thank God I had the strength to battle. A young doctor reluctantly ordered a few blood tests and not long after that I was hastily admitted. The next day I had to have a blood transfusion I’d lost so much blood – leaking out of my breasts into my abdominal cavity and settling around my waist…. It was my first ever blood transfusion, and I haven’t needed one since. I will forever feel annoyed that I was forced to have one because of the surgeon’s error.

“Have you been bleeding?” he demanded to know when he came to see me. “You weren’t a bleeder during the operation. The blood must have disappeared somehow!” I didn’t say anything because I didn’t know what to say. The only thing that had happened to me was the operation he performed. I was fine beforehand, unwell afterwards. I didn’t realise that his failure to fit me with drains caused the problem and risked my life. But he must have known as he interrogated me with his ridiculous question.

I was lucky the situation wasn’t any worse.

Are My Breast Implants The Cause of All My Health Problems?

Seventeen years ago I had two Mentor Siltex Contour Profile Cohesive Gel-Filled, 280cc breast implants done on the NHS. They’ve served me well in the sense that they gave me what I needed at the time.

But things have changed now that I’m older and wiser and care more about my health – my health that is deteriorating almost by the day. I’m worried my implants have caused me to have an auto immune illness, just like these celebrities in this article.

My state of health today is: a hip that has “severe” degenerative changes (arthritis) and needs replacing; multiple slipped discs in my back; and two knees that keep subluxing (partially dislocating).

A recent blood test shows I have raised centromere antibodies, so rheumatology think there might be an underlying autoimmune disorder – I’ve previously been diagnosed with Crest Syndrome, then undiagnosed with it. Also fibromyalgia, then undiagnosed with that too. No-one knows what’s going on.

I have very frequent and intense migraines. This could be to do with the fact that I’m peri-menopausal, or partly due to this fact. But many women report that their migraines stop when they have their breast implants taken out.

I recently found a UK Breast Implant Illness group on Facebook and was astonished (and a bit horrified) to read that thousands of women (in this group alone) who all have breast implants – many the exact same type as mine – suffer from autoimmune type symptoms to varying degrees. And those who have had their implants taken out (explanted) say their chronic symptoms have mostly vanished.

Among this group we’re not glad we had our breasts augmented. We wish we’d never gone through with it, we wish we’d known it could seriously effect our health, and we now face an explant operation in the hope that we can get healthy again.

Explantation isn’t as straight forward as you might think. You can’t just whip out the implants, you have to take the scar capsules that have formed around the implant out too. And if you’re unfortunate enough to have sub-muscular implants like I am, this can be dangerous because the capsules get can get stuck to a rib and become too risky to scrape away (ribs can be broken and lungs punctured). It means that parts of the toxic sac stays inside you forever, possibly leaking silicone particles, possibly causing cancer. It’s a truly horrible state of affairs.

I can’t WAIT to have my implants removed. I have a date with a private consultant in late July, although it’s not soon enough but it’s his earliest availability apparently. As soon after that initial consultation as I can, I will make a date for an explant operation (as long as it doesn’t clash with my total hip replacement – I’m so broken!).

My next task is find a way to get the money to pay for it. It’s going to cost about £8,000 altogether and I have no savings or access to that kind of money. I’ll be looking at credit cards and loans. I don’t have anything I can sell. But getting into debt is nothing compared to living with two toxic bags sitting on my chest. The idea makes me shudder.

Back on HRT – Evorel Oestrogen Patches & Utrogestan Progesterone Capsules

Well I tried. I have been six months completely free of any kind of HRT. I started weaning off my oestrogen gel and progesterone capsules in October 2020 and by January 2021 I reduced my dose to nothing. I was delighted to be dealing with the menopause the way my mum dealt with hers: stoically accepting the natural process. Not interfering with my body’s natural hormonal cycles.

And then came the hot flushes. Although that’s not really a fair way to describe what happens. They’re more like Intense Sweating Attacks.

These happen multiple times per day, starting at the neck, where I feel a sudden mushroom of heat that rapidly expands to my ears, face, whole head, and then the rest of my body. Sweat runs off my forehead and seeps out of my neck. Sweat gathers and trickles down my chest, my hair sticks to the skin on my forehead and the back of my neck, sweat pours out of my arms, back, thighs, behind my knees, elbows, shins… EVERY bit of skin on my body suddenly, within seconds, goes from a completely normal temperature to an INTENSELY sweating, deeply uncomfortable hot mess. Why? Why, body, why? What is the point of this unpleasantness? How does it serve me?

The hot flushes happen about twenty times per day and every time I wake in the night (usually about three or four times). My skin is permanently sticky, my bed sheets and bed clothes need to be changed far more regularly than normal, my pillow is often like a cold damp flannel – sweated on so much when I’m asleep that it doesn’t dry out and just gets cold.

I’ve been suffering like this for six months. I also have other health problems – two dislocating knees, a crumbled destroyed hip, and multiple slipped discs in my back. I am having a total hip replacement operation this summer. I also have frequent and intense migraines.

So I have enough trouble without sweating like an elite athlete just sitting watching TV. It’s just one deeply uncomfortable problem I can do without. And since it’s relatively easy to do something about, I finally gave up trying to be natural like my mother, and asked my GP to prescribe HRT.

I collected my first dose this morning and was so desperately excited to get started that I stuck my first patch on in a Waitrose car park. I couldn’t even wait to get home. I’ll take my first progesterone tablet last thing tonight before I go to sleep (because it can make you feel drunk). And that’s me off. Relief is in reach on the horizon!

How To Get An NHS Doctor’s Appointment Today

Well, it’s a nightmare. It’s a battle. It’s hit and miss. It’s a protracted and exhausting procedure that I’m sure puts most people off bothering.

Today I suddenly broke and realised I can’t continue living the way I am – every day in pain and agony from my hip, back, knees, and head. Something isn’t right. I can’t cope with the pain any more. And why do I have all this pain anyway? What is WRONG with my hip, my back, my knees..? And why do I get a headache every single day and migraines most day? Why do I wake up every morning with a splitting headache? I honestly can’t take it any more. it’s making me a bad mother and a miserable human being. I need to make a doctor’s appointment.

BUT… Gone are the days when you simply pick up your phone, call the surgery, and book an appointment. Gone are the days when you can go online, select a day and time from the list, and make an appointment. No, no. You can’t do anything as simply or easily any more. Why? I do not know. Perhaps it’s because they’re using the coronavirus pandemic (that isn’t a pandemic in the UK now) as a continual EXCUSE to keep patients away so doctors can have an easy working day, but if so, this is a stupid strategy long term. We are all so ill and suffering, and we’re only getting worse and worse alone at home, making our injuries or diseases more complex and harder to treat every day that slips by that we don’t have any medical attention.

But back to my story. Having decided I need to see a doctor to find out what on earth is wrong with me, I went straight to my GP surgery’s website where I discovered that unfortunately I can’t do anything today or tomorrow because it’s the weekend and, naturally, the doctor’s are closed. You can’t phone, text, email, or fill out a form – they are shut, closed, offline. This is extremely inconvenient.

Meanwhile I’m resigned to the fact that, even on a weekday, I won’t be able to see a doctor face-to-face because… Coronavirus Excuse, so Monday (in two days’ time) is the earliest I’ll be able to fill out the electronic consultation form. I will hope against hope that the vicious triaging guard dogs allow the form to be seen by a doctor, and then hope that a doctor, any old doctor (I never see the same one twice) replies and sends me an email to say that I have permission to phone to book an appointment with him or her, by phone. It definitely won’t be a face-to-face appointment straight away because Coronavirus Excuse. I will then get on my knees my knees and pray that the appointment they make for me isn’t scheduled too far ahead in the future (and not at a time when I’m already doing something important – because I get no say at all about when my appointment will be. If you don’t accept the one they offer you, you get the feeling that there won’t be another one and you’re made to feel utterly ungrateful). It could be up to two weeks away. When I finally do get that precious telephone appointment, which will obviously be without any eye contact or body language or any physical examination, I will have to ensure I convince the doctor about how much pain I’m in every day, and how I can’t go on, and desperately need help. (Why does it have to be that I’m absolutely desperate before I seek help?) After that, it’s anyone’s guess. Most likely they’ll offer pain killers but no exploration as to what’s causing the problem. If I’m extremely, incredibly lucky, I may manage to somehow convince him or her to allow me to come into the surgery and sit down opposite them and have an actual real, life face-to-face appointment. This would be like some kind of miracle, a similar feeling to winning the lottery. If they examine me, they will be shocked at how much I’m suffering and FINALLY, I might actually get some help – hopefully a referral to a specialist. But in reality, a face-to-face appointment with a doctor is extremely unlikely.

This is what it’s like these days in the NHS. No exaggeration. It’s easier to get a hairdresser’s appointment, your nails done, a virgin media technician or even a plumber to come to your house. Massive problems are being stored up for the future and patients will be dying in their thousands because doctors – the first port of call for us ill and suffering people – are trying their best to keep us away as long as possible.

I’m usually proud of the UK and England, but right now I’m losing that. The GP service is not fit for purpose. The NHS is failing its people. God help you (me?) if it’s cancer.

Tonsillitis is HORRIBLE

Amy has tonsillitis. Why aren’t more people complaining about this awful disease?! It’s nasty. A throat filled with pus, agonising pain on swallowing, constant nausea, regular vomiting, can’t even keep water down, aching tummy and ears, a headache, and utter exhaustion from lack of sleep. It’s completely disabling. She can only lie there and occasionally groan. Such protracted suffering for a twelve-year-old.

She’s been prescribed phenoxymethylpenicillin, an antibiotic to treat the infection (in case it’s bacterial) and I’m giving her Calpol for the pain. She also has anti-sickness tablets to control the nausea. I hope it all works to relieve her symptoms.

I’m worried she may be taking antibiotics when she doesn’t need them, because they didn’t test to see if it was a bacterial infection but I guess it’s better than taking the chance that it isn’t. This really is a very nasty illness.

Sigh. Single mother hell. My whole body aches. I’m so stressed and I have a migraine coming on. Amy was up vomiting at 2:30am and I didn’t properly get back to sleep after that. All day today I’ve been at the Urgent Care Centre in a nearby hospital trying to get the drug’s sorted out. I’m really, really tired. No chance for a nap, even if I didn’t need to collect Jack from school and provide him with supper – I’m too anxious and stressed.

UPDATE: Amy had a reaction to the antibiotics. All of them – the penicillin and the non-penicillin. Nobody knows why, or even what causes this – usually you’re just allergic to penicillin and not all the other types as well – but as soon as we figured it out and stopped giving her the pills she started getting better. It’s a bit worrying for the future if she ever gets a bacterial infection (sepsis? another bout of tonsillitis?) but I’ll research this problem and see if I can discover anything. If I do, I’ll post it here.