The Vascular Surgeon and…Christmas Coconut Swirls

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?’

Mum’s Christmas Coconut Swirls

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.

Easy to make and ready in just a few minutes

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.

Decorated with glace cherries to look like holly

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…

How about a close-up!

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

Makes:  30

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.

Related Post


  1. Most definitely my sort of christmas treats. They are perfect to have in the cupboard and they look so great, and I have all those ingredients in my pantry.

  2. They seem so beautiful, so beautiful… I hope I can make it like yours. Thank you dear Charlie, love, nia

  3. That is a horrific experience, and you should have reported that quack! Just dusgusting. Of course the strength we have today is far greater than in those days!
    These little treats look wonderful and festive; and good timing as I’m starting to think about my Christmas baking.

  4. You have gorgeous legs! You are beautiful on the inside and out. Your mother certainly makes lovely treats!

  5. What tasty looking treats!

  6. Hoping to find a doc like that soon!

  7. What a horrible experience. I do wonder why some doctors chose their profession when they have such an issue with patients. Great little treats and perfect for a gift or a party. GG

  8. Why is it that some doctors/dentists, etc., are so arrogant? I don’t understand this. Are they not taught good manners in school? Good for you to stand up for yourself.

  9. Doctors and dentists both can be soooo scary–and so helpful at times. But stories like these make us all cringe. No doctor should have spoken to you like that…especially in front of a child. The treats are so pretty–so pretty. And they sound delicious.

  10. Hang on a moment, I haven’t made your Mom’s Christmas Whiskey Logs yet and here you are with another scrumity recipe.
    I wish my hubby would allow me to have a bit or surgery but alas!
    🙂 Mandy xo

  11. Sounds like you and your friend had some pretty miserable doctors. My worst experiences have been with receptionists especially my gynecologist’s. The biggest plus to having agreed to have the hysterectomy was I didn’t have to go back to that office. Next time my GP wants to send me to one, I’ll insist it’s NOT the same individual. I rarely complain but I actually asked my GP to refer me to someone else and he told me to ‘hang in there’ as the gynecologist was very good. He may be good but going to see him was NOT a good experience in any way.

    Love the coconut swirls. They look like a very elegant addition to a holiday dessert platter.

  12. I don’t understand how some people can be doctors when they have no bedside manners! How awful!
    But your treats look gorgeous 🙂

    Choc Chip Uru

  13. I am so going to make those for Christmas 🙂

  14. Surgeons are seldom noted for their bedside manner, Charlie. They do their best work when the patient is unconscious. Having said that – this man sounds like a real pig!

  15. I’ve had a similar experience Charlie! I saw a specialist in Hong Kong who was supposed to be the best and turned out to be the biggest tool…saying I wont be able to do this, and that it wont look pretty and all these negative things.

    Then I came back to Melbourne, found the loveliest doctor and he just assured me that as long as I’m careful, I’ll be fine. It really annoys me when doctors are insensitive! So glad you didn’t have to pay the bill and you were able to wear mini skirts again YAY 😀

    These christmas swirls look so delicious!

  16. Sheeesh that first doctor sounds like he needs to go back to Medical School and learn about bedside manner! They wield so much power, thankfully we have a system where we can go and get a second opinion easily 🙂

    P.S. Your legs are great! I’ve seen them!

    • Lorraine: I had six years of Medical School in Sydney: two things never spoken about were bedside manners and correct diet! My girlfriend and I walked off from more than one post-ward round talk, when the doctor taking the round would have made what Charlie just related, an absolute kindness!!!! Oh, we heard ‘Must be having PMT’ + laughter more than once ;)!

  17. Dear Charlie

    We all have one of these arrogant doctor stories – I just wish I had refused to pay the doctor who told me I was just being vain about some problem which I obviously thought was significant! I’d be a bit more assertive now.

    I’m a new reader and I notice that in a few of your posts you say that a recipe is inexpensive because you’re likely to have the ingredients in the pantry, as though you hadn’t had to pay for them in the first place. This recipe, which looks fantastic, would more realistically for me, cost me the price of buying milk powder, chocolate and glace cherries. Not a great expense I know, but not “inexpensive”.

    I really love your stories about family life.

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Hi Melissa, thanks so much for your feedback and lovely to hear from you. It was certainly inexpensive for me as I had milk powder, coconut, butter, vanilla extract and the cherries in my fridge and was actually quite pleased to be using them up. If you do have to go out and buy them, yes, there is a cost involved but because these items are readily available from a supermarket they tend to be quite reasonably priced. The chocolate can be expensive depending on the brand and type used. If you do go ahead and make them I’d love to hear how they work out. Thanks so much for your comment.

  18. I can’t believe that first surgeon you visited – what a jerk! Thank goodness you found someone who was much nicer and actually able to do the job.. Btw all kinds of doctors, dentists, etc I’ve ever been to ALWAYS has toys for kids!!!

    BTW those chrissy coconut swirls look great. I made some Christmas truffles last year and decorated them in the same way – but not nearly as well as yours hehe

  19. How rude! My mum had to fire my dad’s doctor when he was in hospital a few years ago. The guy was just so rude and arrogant.
    These are just adorable!

  20. You do. you do have legs like elle macpherson I;m telling you.
    These little desserts are so beautifull and really easy Charlie I love them!
    I’m so pissed about arrogant and rude doctors Argghhh

  21. Thank goodness you looked elsewhere – I hate to think how many people have a horrible encounter with an arrogant specialist and believe them, giving up there and then. What an example of the medical institution gone wrong!

    These look like just the sort of treats to celebrate Christmas, too 🙂

  22. How unbelievably rude! I’m proud of you.. what an A$$ (dollar signs.. because we know what he was all about). I can’t wear short skirts.. because of the “c” word, and until they find a remedy for that.. well, I’m happy with knee length. I’m ecstatic about this recipe.. it’s sooo pretty and Christmasy.. I’m pinning it. The seniors would love these!!

  23. That first dr was a PIG!

  24. What a little bastard. Both doctors. What little bastards. Here’s to wearing mini-skirts into your nineties if you darn well choose! Hip hip hooray!

  25. Good for you for not paying that medical bill. What a horses arse! 😉 I can’t believe he said those things to you. Wow.
    These little swirls look so pretty!

  26. I just read this to my hubby I was so shocked…..oh my word! My hubby said, “It sounds like this guy may have needed a day off.” Wow, well I am glad you didn’t pay the bill! Those coconut candies look so festive, and delicious! Hugs, Terra

  27. It’s scary how many truly horrible doctors there are. I think everyone has run across at least one in their lifetime. So glad you met the new one and he fixed you right up!

    Your mum’s cookies look gorgeous and delicious! I’ll have to see what I can do to find a powdered dairy free milk.

    Have a lovely day! ~ April

  28. Oh my goodness! I can’t believe someone would say that!! That’s ridiculous!

    But these look perfect for christmas, I love it!

  29. Yum! These are such yummy little holiday treats! I really like the holly decorations on top, too.

  30. I’m so glad the story had a happy ending! The first experience sounds horrible, but good on you for trying again.

  31. Seriously – what an absolute turd of a DR. you have fabulous legs and they should be totally shown off. Thank Goodness you found a good one that looked after you. I am still seething. What an Ahole! xx

  32. Vascular surgery and Christmas swirls – now that is an interesting title. 🙂 Having experience with lots of doctors and having fired several, I understand your frustration. What I haven’t had experience with are this coconut swirls. These look really, really good!!

  33. These sound quite good, (and now that Thanksgiving is over, we’re on the same page again!).
    You don’t even want to know the treatment I have had from doctors.We just have to remember what a nurse told me;”They are your employees; YOU are PAYING THEM for a SERVICE”.

  34. Coconut, chocolate and a family Christmas Tradition? YUMMY! They look delicious! And short skirt? The time for those – for me – is SO long gone!

  35. Yes I agree with nearly every one, a lot of specialists really are not in it with a personality. When I had a hernia repaired above my bellybutton i chose a surgeon because he did key hole surgery. But when it came to the day he just said he wasnt doing it ….”why do you women always worry about that sort of stuff?. I’ll show you my scar…… if I can see your legs ….Charlie. No, really only joking I’ve seen your short skirts and your sexy legs already

  36. What a rude man indeed! When I went to the hospital with pains, the doctor told me they were looking for obvious signs of the 3F’s- Fat ,Female and Forty. I seemed to fit the profile, so they checked out my gall bladder. I thought that was kicking me while I down- and anyway, I only fit 2 of the categories! I won’t say which 2 though 🙂

  37. I have a couple of “rude doctor” stories, too. And we’ve done the same thing. Fired them on the spot! It would be best in my mind if healers actually liked people! And I sure do like the look of these holiday chocolates, Charlie. I love coconut, too, so these are winners! 🙂

  38. These coconut confections are so beautiful!

  39. Wow, that doctor sounded so cruel! But this is a lovely Christmas treat! Thanks for sharing.


  1. […] 4:  Mum’s Coconut Swirls – these are very easy to make and with their holly topping, look very […]

Speak Your Mind