HI & BYE – GOING AWOL – PRIVATE SURGERY IN PORTUGAL NOVEMBER 2023
I just wanted to say Hi and Bye for a while. I’m heading off for my surgery in a few days and I won’t be posting anything whilst I’m in recovery. My private surgery had to be cancelled in 2022 due to my impacted wisdom tooth extraction that resulted in 10+ weeks of living hell, multiple infections and horrendous bone spurs that required repetitive chiseling off. Once fully recovered and back to my normal healthy self I suddenly lost my vision in my right eye and had to undergo emergency laser surgery to repair a tear and hole in my retina. Fast forward to 2023 and I felt strong and fit physically and mentally to re-schedule my surgery. I booked a date for November 2023 and then I contracted Covid. My pre-op appointment had to be postponed by a couple of weeks but I now have a confirmed surgery date booked for November 2023. I have attended my pre-op check-up consultation and blood tests. The results are all O.K and within the healthy range so I’m ready to go under the knife and get this long awaited surgery at long last. My post is just a brief one today to say Hi & Goodbye for a while as I will now be AWOL and disappear for a while as I need time to process this traumatic event and heal. The house/pet sitter is all booked to look after our beloved fur and feathered friends and my hospital bag is packed. I your interested in reading about my previous cancelled surgery, wisdom tooth extraction from hell and my hospital bag essentials you can find the information here on this blog post: https://casavalhal.com/wisdom-tooth-extraction-cancelled-surgery-a-roller-coaster-of-emotions/
Got a Secret, Gonna Keep it
I have made the decision not to share the details of my operation, hospital or surgeon with the world. Why not? You might ask, well I have several reasons. When I initially booked this surgery last year a family member got very shitty with me because I wouldn’t say what the operation was. I didn’t want to share this information with this person because they are such a Negative Nancy and always bring doom and gloom to every situation. They always have something to say and it’s rarely anything nice or complimentary. If I had shared the details, I know for a fact that this person would have Googled the operation, surgeon and hospital, then they would have messaged me most likely with horror stories of the operation or they would have found an alternative hospital with so-called better reviews, alternative procedures or cheaper options etc. Then they would have broadcasted my intimate news with anyone they could. I have obviously done my homework and all the necessary checks so I don’t need this added stress. I just could not be bothered to endure days or weeks of such stressful contact or having to justify myself or my reasons for choosing my preferred option.
In the end I had to literally block this person from my life as they sent me a message saying that for someone who doesn’t want to share the details of my operation, I am talking about it a whole lot. Yes, I may mention my pending surgery because it’s a big deal to me personally. Major surgery is scary and expensive. There is always a small chance that one could die on the operating table and that is frightening as hell. I suffer from anxiety so the lead up to my surgery date will be a challenging time for me and I might want to vent to family, friends and loved ones without being judged. As I have got older, I realise that I don’t want stress or drama in my life, I have zero patience for such BS. I can honestly say that after cutting this person loose, it was like a breath of fresh air. I surround myself with positive people who are genuinely happy for me and offer support not criticism.
Finally some things are just best kept private and only shared with your nearest and dearest. Only 3 people know the nature of my surgery and I am one of them. People are inquisitive, that’s a polite way of saying damn nosey (ha ha). A hospital stay always seems to intrigue folk and everyone seems to want to know why you’re in hospital and what procedure you are having. I don’t think people need to know. I’m not trying to be rude or awkward but I don’t want to disclose the full details. I’ve had a few Facebook friends ask what operation I am having and which hospital. All I feel comfortable sharing at this moment is that my operation is at a Private Hospital near Lisbon. When most folk write the word Private, people seem to jump to the conclusion that it’s something connected to your intimate private parts. I can gladly confirm that it’s not. My lady bits are fine and dandy, well as fine and dandy as they can be for a nearly 50 year old post menopausal crazy lady. My dry fanny matches my dry sense of humour and will live another day (ha ha).
The only reason why I’m sharing the fact that I’m having surgery in the first place is because I may be absent for weeks or even months so I don’t want people to worry and think that I’m dead, struggling with a life changing event or going through a mental health crisis.
You get what You Pay For in Life
My chosen hospital near Lisbon is a private hospital so I’m not being a drain or burden on the SNS although hubby pays a lot of tax here and National Insurance so I do access the SNS as and when needed. I even got my pre-op blood tests done privately this time as well as last year as although there are 9 tests the total costs a mere €22. I am using the very last of my own hard earned savings to pay for the expensive surgery. This is funds that I saved before I even met hubby over 12 years ago so I don’t feel like I am taking advantage of hubby’s wallet as he works so hard to provide us with an awesome dream life here in Portugal. I just hope I get the surgery results I want as it’s a heck of a lot of money (just under €8000) and I could buy a very nice car here for the thousands that I am paying. After much debate and research, I decided to opt for a hospital in Portugal. I did have a video consultation with a top surgeon in London but in the end I chose Portugal. The main reason for this is the aftercare. I don’t particularly like travelling to the UK, I cannot fly immediately after my surgery and the thought of having to spend a whole month there would be very stressful for me. The journey is long and I always get delayed so adding up the 1 1/2 hour drive to the airport then the 2 hour flight then travel time from a London airport into Central London would just be too much on the return journey. If I suffer any complications from the surgery then I want to be close to the hospital and my surgeon. Surprisingly the price was not all that much different. I did not save much at all by having the operation here in Portugal. I could have saved myself a couple of grand by having the operation in places such as Turkey or Lithuania but I value my life. I’m not saying these Hospitals won’t provide a top class service but I’ve read the horror stories and it’s not something I would ever personally consider just to save myself a few quid.
Why I Chose to go Private
Firstly I would like to say that the SNS Public Healthcare System (Equivilant of UK NHS) is superb here in Portugal. It is a slightly different system here to the UK as I sometimes have to pay a fee here for a hospital visit but some procedures are free and others are at a highly reduced rate and the same goes for prescriptions from the pharmacy for medication. When I say free, we do contribute via hubby’s social security taxes. Tax is very high here and he is a higher earner so pays a substantial sum in tax and social security contributions even with NHR. My only ever experience of surgery on the SNS Public Healthcare was a positive one. Last year I lost the sight in my right eye and was rushed to Coimbra Hospital where I underwent emergency laser eye surgery to repair a tear and hole in my retina. The whole experience was fantastic and I could not have wished for better care and the surgery was a huge success and saved my sight. Unfortunately my operation that I am having is not available on the SNS Public Healthcare system in Portugal so I have no other option but to go private and pay.
My Previous Surgery Experience from Hell
My previous experience of NHS surgery in the UK was absolutely terrifying. I was on a spinal surgery waiting list for over 18 months and the operation to remove my coccyx only had a 50/50 success rate. The surgery failed and I live with constant chronic pain but after 20 years of trying every treatment and therapy out there my surgeon reluctantly agreed to operate. My operation was scheduled for 7:30 early morning and I awoke a few hours later on a trolley in a room and was left there for a whopping 15 hours! A shortage of beds and with elderly patients getting priority I was sadly forgotten about and left vomiting for hours. Hubby was repeatedly refused access to see me and he sat in a waiting room for over 17 hours. He was out of his mind with worry and had to keep returning to our car to feed the parking payment meter. Staff eventually let him see me around Midnight which is when a bed became available. I looked at him, cried then vomited on his new trainers (ha ha).
The room I was given was on a noisy ward and the lights had to be left on as well as the door had to be left open. I didn’t get a wink of sleep because a nurse put a blood pressure monitor on my arm which kept pumping up to check my levels every 30 minutes throughout the night. I needed the loo during the night but couldn’t move without assistance due to the pain and drain attached to me. The nurse on duty was abrupt and I was scared to call her. She talked to me like I was a 10 year old not a 40+ year old woman. Various alarms kept going off and I could hear other patients moaning and groaning, it was pure torture. The next day I wasn’t allowed home until a Doctor had checked me over and I had eaten something. I was given a limp white ham sandwich, took 2 bites and puked it straight back up. They still let me go home but provided no assistance so hubby had to negotiate me in a wheelchair with my baggage and escort me out down to the car. The only nice member of staff was a kind Hospital Volunteer who helped hubby with the door. God bless all Volunteers! I vomited the entire journey home which took about 40 minutes. A District Nurse was supposed to visit me at home to change my dressings. She came once then never returned. My 6 week recovery morphed into 4 long months of pure hell! My only hope is that my private surgery is a more positive experience.
Thoughts & Feelings
I am a positive person and rarely offload my doom and gloom on to peoples shoulders as it’s just depressing. It is extensive surgery and I need to stay near Lisbon for 2 full weeks so I won’t even have my creature comforts of my lovely home or comfy bed. Last time I had major spinal surgery in 2015 my recovery was expected to be around 6 weeks but I was off work for 4 whole long months. I had extensive physio, weaned myself off liquid Morphine and 2 days before I was due to return to my very stressful job in education, my lovely mum died at the age of 66! It was just weeks before our wedding too so you can imagine the trauma that I went through. I am a mixed bag of emotions including scared, excited and super nervous. My anxiety is through the roof and it wasn’t helped by contracting Covid for the first ever time just a short 6 weeks before my surgery date. Apparently what doesn’t kills us makes us stronger. I’m not too sure about that but I’m trying to stay calm and breathe through my irrational thought processes that I endure multiple times per day. Any stress sets off my IBS and my flare ups have been more frequent recently which is totally debilitating. I just really hope that my recovery is weeks not months and that hubby steps up to the plate with his Nurse Florence duties. Leading up to my operation I have tried my best to eat a healthy diet and keep up with my cardio, strength training and physio exercises so that I enter into my surgery at my optimum fitness level to speed up my recovery time and reduce any complications or risk of infections or complications. All was going well until I caught Covid then everything went to shit and my healthy eating and exercise routine had to be abolished because I couldn’t even get out of bed or eat solid foods with severe nausea.
I won’t be able to exercise for weeks/months after my surgery which scares me ridged as when I do re-start, it’s going to be right back to square 1 and every muscle is going to hurt like hell and I will have the challenge of trying to regain my muscle mass and strength. I cannot begin to explain the amount of anxiety that I feel about ceasing my workouts. Exercise not only keeps me at my maintenance weight and physically fit and strong it is my weekday mental health therapy. Anyone who exercises regularly will be fully aware that numbers on a scale are easily reduced in a short amount of time but gaining muscle and toning takes time. Body transformation is a long journey and it takes a lot of commitment and daily routine. It has took me over 2 years to tone up, get fit and fill out some my saggy lose skin. I will never ever be totally happy with my body and I am my worst critic as I always pull apart my imperfections and many flaws but deep down, when I dig hard into my soul, I know that I have worked my ass off, literally to be happy and healthy and not die at 66 like my heavenly mum. My body is far from perfect and excessive weight loss has resulted in lots of lose skin but I have worked bloody hard to turn what God has blessed me with into something I can feel relatively proud of despite being in constant chronic pain day in day out. So many young ladies just focus on ridiculous diets, numbers on scales and being as stick thin or skinny as possible. For me, it’s all about HEALTH. I want to lead a long, happy and healthy life free from illness and disease. Priorities change when you get older. I value simple things like being able to hike up a mountain hill without getting out of breath. Saying YES to every opportunity rather than saying NO and shying away at home feeling depressed because I know I’m too unfit and unable to participate in fun activities.
I will need hubby to monitor my meals as I don’t want to gain weight and become obese again. He is the chef of our house and cooks nutritious healthy meals but he is not great at weighing food on the kitchen scales. He can also eat whatever he likes and never ever gains any weight, it’s frustrating as hell! Losing over 100 lbs+ is not a picnic or walk in the park! With zero cardio I may have to adjust my calorie intake to compensate as I usually burn off around 400 calories on each 7 km jog. I also have a tendency to overeat if I’m sitting on my ass and not busy. Willpower has never been my strong point so I need to be strict with myself. I also often swell up like a balloon when taking any form of medication so I think I’m in for a rocky ride but as I always say “You have to risk it, for a biscuit” just don’t eat the whole packet (ha ha). I am going to struggle immensely doing nothing and being on bed rest as I like to keep myself active with daily tasks. I’m not one for laying in bed, I find it boring as hell. This is little old me colour coordinating with the blue sky. How awesome are the fluffy white clouds? Simply beautiful.
Bye Bye Muscles
I’m really sad that I might lose a lot of my muscle mass that I’ve worked relentlessly hard to gain but it is what it is and if I have to start all over from scratch then so be it. I’ve always been a girl up for a challenge and I’ve never let a bit of hard work ever stop me from reaching my long term goals. Please excuse the modesty flowers. I was showing a little too much lady bootie (ha ha). I blame the vigorous spa water jets that sent my bikini bottoms right up my derrière (ha ha). Lets take a moment to appreciate this Serra da Estrela mountain spa and it’s incredible breathtaking views!
Tiny Trinkets (My Donkey Lucky Charm)
I have packed my Donkey lucky charm which my daughter gifted me for my 49th Birthday. Hopefully it will work it’s magic. I bought her a tiny blue glass lucky cat and she took it to every exam, job interview and special event. She smashed everything so never underestimate the power of a tiny trinket. I honestly believe that we make our own luck in this world but I’m holding on tight to any extra added luck that I can find.
My Real Life Charms of Joy
I really wish that I could sneak my fur and feathered friends into my suitcase! I’m going to miss them so very much but we have sourced a lovely lady to pet sit for us whilst we are gone. To My Darlings, Milo, Rick, Negan, Carol and Michonne, I love you to the moon and back and miss you already. Don’t forget me!
Christmas is Cancelled
If I don’t die on the operating table, I will be back with a vengeance soon. I am the Princess of Planning and am always prepared like a boy scout so I wrote a couple of letters to my children just in case something unforeseen happens and I don’t make it. I want them to know just how proud I am of the kind, caring and funny young adults that they have become. They both have a quirky weird ass streak within them but they get that from their momma (ha ha). Bye for now and thankyou for taking the time to read my random rants and crazy Brit blog posts. I’ve cancelled Christmas and to be honest I’m not that upset as Christmas is so low key here compared to the craziness of the UK. You wouldn’t know it was Christmas living in our tiny rural village unless you venture to the cities like Coimbra. The only thing I will miss is visiting all the Presépio (Nativity) scenes in Portugal because they are a sheer delight. I still have some mince pies in the freezer and hubby bought some Paxo stuffing and Bisto gravy back from his recent UK visit so I won’t be hankering after a roast and going without. Hubby is fully prepared for his Nurse Florence Nightingale duties for the foreseeable future. Wish him luck, he’s going to need it juggling FT work and an incapacitated wifey. It’s lucky that he has the patience of a Saint. I told him to buy me a bedside bell so I can ring it when I need a coffee refill (ha ha).
Christmas may be cancelled but the order for Bolo Rei (King Cake) is firmly still on! I can wash it down with a gigantic glass of Manjar Divino.
Christmas may be cancelled but hubby bought me a little gift to cheer me up. I’m highly disappointed with the calendar I received. Feb, June, July and Oct are scenic shits but the rest are poopy pants. I can honestly say that I’ve personally crapped in more beautiful places on my Portugal hikes here. Well lady pee pee’s as I’ve never actually pooped in public yet but there’s still time (ha ha). It is made from such flimsy paper, it’s so small and some of the days are completely filled up with American holiday dates, there is no room to write anything else! There is also some random scribble on one month as well as an unidentified sticky stain which I haven’t sniffed yet but I oh so want to (ha ha). I think I’m going to return it and buy the semi-naked chicken daddy calendar instead (ha ha).
Down the Rabbit Hole
So here I go, off down the rabbit hole, into the unknown. Who knows how my medical story will unfold, only time will tell.
Jumping for Joy
I am sure I will be back with a vengeance Jumping for Joy very soon and enjoying beautiful Portuguese adventures with my Soulmate. How hilarious are my shadows!
I am going to end this blog post by saying that I know I often use humour when I talk about my hubby (AKA Adrian). With this in mind I would like to say that I am eternally grateful to my hubby for working relentlessly hard every single day to provide us with a dream life here in Portugal. Being a Lady of leisure and being able to give up work 4 years ago in my late 40’s was pure bliss and I am blessed with the best family for sure. I never take anything for granted and I am so lucky to have been able to find love second time around and marry my best friend and soulmate. We have such a laugh together and when I think back to all the adventures we have taken since relocating here, it’s insane! We live life to the max and have certainly packed a lot of fun in considering we only have weekends and holidays for our exploring. I raise a glass of something sparkling and bubbly and say a Humongous Helena ‘Cheers’ to my man for being by my side through thick and thin. Life is sometimes a rocky rollercoaster and I am pleased to have you as my companion on the ride of my life. Thank you for being you and loving me unconditionally for being me. I LOVE you my BOO. Hopefully I will be back to my horney red devil self in no time (ha ha).