I was chatting with a friend over the phone a few days ago and she was purging this story of a horrendous surgeon she had ’employed’ to remove her gall bladder. After the operation she was in a lot of pain and wanted some adequate pain relief but the doctor had only written-up panadeine forte. She told the nurse the medication wasn’t doing anything for her pain and so the doctor was called and when he arrived he stood at the end of the bed sporting a bow tie and bellowed, ‘I hear you want stronger pain relief. Are you a narcotic’s junkie?’
And my friend replied, ‘What’s a narcotic?’
When she found out she was furious. She fired the doctor and although he did walk into her room later that day to apologise she told him she meant what she said and he was fired. (There had been lead-up red flags to his dismissal including arrogance, his look of boredom at hearing her previous medical history and his loud statements about how he was the ‘pioneer’ of gall bladder surgery).
Not to be outdone, I then told her about my experience with a vascular surgeon.
A few months after having Arabella I wanted something done about the unsightly veins on the backs of my legs that had surfaced during pregnancy. I was referred to a surgeon and with no other option, took Arabella along with me. I opened the door to his rooms and was immediately hit with the stale stench of cigarette smoke that was thick in this airless room.
The receptionist was older than God and couldn’t crack a smile and told me to sit down in the chairs that looked like they were a relic from that era before the War. There were no magazines and no books or toys for children.
When the door to the surgery opened, out stepped a very obese man with a grumpy look on his face. Without looking up he called my name and in I went with Arabella. After the preliminaries of my short medical history I noticed Arabella was becoming a bit restless so I asked him if he had a toy box. He looked up at me and said, ‘This isn’t a pre-school’, and looked back down again.
I was feeling uncomfortable but had waited six weeks for my appointment so persevered and next he asked me to strip down and stand on a box while he flooded my legs with harsh lighting and did an ultrasound that involved pinching and squeezing my legs. And he did this in silence except for telling me to turn to the left, the right or turn and face the wall. Finally he said, ‘You can get your clothes on now’, with no charm or tact or sensitivity for the situation.
I sat back down opposite him with Arabella on a chair beside me and he said very bluntly and almost rudely, ‘There’s nothing that can be done about your legs, they’re too far gone. Especially your right leg; nothing can be done to fix that’.
I was shocked. I gasped. I said, ‘Oh, I would have thought something could be done’.
He looked up at me and said, ‘What is it you want?’
I said, ‘I’d just like to be able to wear short skirts again’.
He gave me a look like I was pathetic and said, ‘You need to get over the fact you’re not 21 anymore’.
I was so stunned I didn’t know what to say. I had just turned 29. I just sat there. He said, ‘Is there a problem?’
I said, ‘I just can’t believe nothing can be done’.
He raised his arm, pointed a finger at Arabella, looked me in the eye and said, ‘Don’t shoot the messenger; blame the cause’.
This story has a happy ending because not only did I refuse to pay his $300.00 bill with noises that I would report him to the AMA if he did pursue me for the unpaid bill, but I found the loveliest vascular surgeon in Woollahra who said to me, ‘Of course you need to be wearing short skirts; you have legs just like Elle Macpherson. Of course you need to be showing them off.’
Now, we all know that’s a stretch of the truth but this doctor was not only wise but skilled and he gave me not only a self-esteem boost but also hope. He operated on my incurable and inoperable legs giving me perfect results, a lifetime cure and a reason to whip out the mini-skirts.
I’ve never looked back.
But getting back to my mother’s Christmas drinks, along with Christmas Whiskey Log she served Christmas Coconut Swirls. I did blog these last Christmas (in a post called Unclean Archie) but I posted them so close to Christmas it would have been impossible for anyone to have been able to replicate them prior to the big day, so here they are again…
Mum’s Christmas Coconut Swirls
These swirls are simple to make and look very festive with their miniature pudding features and holly made from glace cherries. The recipe I’ve used is based on a very old Elise Pascoe recipe that I first used when I was a teenager. I used to make these for my mother’s Christmas Parties and as gifts for neighbours and friends.
Degree of Difficulty: 2/5
Cost: Inexpensive because most of the ingredients can be found in your pantry and these are a great way to use up leftover glace cherries.
- 60gms chopped butter
- 3 tbspns water
- 1 tspn vanilla extract
- 2 cups icing sugar
- 3/4 cup powdered milk
- 2 cups desiccated coconut
- 200gms dark cooking chocolate
- Green and red glace cherries for decoration
In a small saucepan combine butter and water and melt gently. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract.
In a medium sized bowl sift icing sugar and powdered milk. Add butter mixture and stir to combine. Add coconut and mix well.
Place teaspoons of mixture (rough looks better than neat balls) on a baking tray lined with cooking paper and place in the fridge for 20 mins.
Melt cooking chocolate gently in a bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water. Spoon a little chocolate over the top of each swirl and decorate immediately before the chocolate has time to harden with cherries cut into the shapes of green leaves and red berries.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge.