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Brain Surgery: My VP Shunt

{This post includes a photo of a stapled surgical incision}

When I was preparing myself for my VP (Ventricular Peritoneal) shunt surgery, I had a look via Google for any articles or blog posts that would give me some idea of what to expect. I was able to locate basic information on the surgery itself without difficulty. But personal experiences were harder to come by. So, two weeks after having my VP shunt fitted, I’m at home recovering and feel that it’s only right to create a post about my experience.

As you probably already know, the purpose of a VP shunt is to drain some of the excess fluid from the brain, thereby lowering the pressure inside the skull (I’m no medical expert so apologies in advance if my explanation isn’t spot on – I’ll recommend sources of medical info at the end of this post). In my case the pressure needed to be lowered both in the hope that it may help with some of my debilitating symptoms but primarily to facilitate future decompression surgery for my Chiari Malformation; my neurosurgeon felt that the high pressure increased the risks too much and therefore decided that a VP shunt had to be fitted before we move on to decompression. So, a VP shunt is placed in this way:

Including time in the anaesthetic room, recovery room and being moved around the hospital as needed, the whole thing took no more than 3 hours. I believe the surgery itself took somewhere between an hour and 90 minutes. There was some head pain when I awoke but it was  manageable with morphine (which I had to ask for dose by dose…what’s wrong with a good old fashioned morphine drip after surgery? Sigh.) I was of course tired but thankfully there was no post-anaesthetic throwing up on this occasion; always a bonus. 


(Me and my Shady pillow post surgery)

In addition to the incision at the back of my head, there was one on the right side of the abdomen. This made moving around a little tricky but I was able to shuffle to the bathroom etc within a few hours of waking up from the surgery. Overall I was surprised at how soon I was able to be discharged; I was only in hospital for 3 nights. Of course, had there been any signs of infection or misplacement of the shunt, I’d have been kept in for longer. Scans were taken on the morning after surgery to ensure that everything was where it should be; since my surgeon was happy with what he saw and I was managing the surgical pain with my usual painkillers, I was able to come home rather quickly.

If you’re facing the surgery yourself, you’ll probably want to know how the incision looks. Here’s mine:

The exact placement and size of the incision will depend on the clinical decisions and preferences of the surgeon; mine is at the back of my head, on the right. This was the first time I’d had staples as opposed to thread stitches after a surgery. It looks pretty grim but I didn’t find that they hurt any more that the thread type. Removal of the staples took place 10 days after surgery at my GP practice. The abdominal ones were easily removed. The head ones were more painful to get out, but I was able to breath through it. I found that the surgical pain, which had been waning, was exacerbated by the removal of the staples but I still found it manageable with my usual painkillers (which are, I admit, pretty strong).

It’s still early days in my VP shunt journey. I long to wash my hair! My recovery has been complicated by repeated kidney infections/kidney stone stuff (I’ve been admitted to hospital twice in last few weeks due to this – my kidneys have shockingly bad timing or perhaps they’re just mocking me) but I’m grateful that the recovery from my surgery is going smoothly so far. 

My advice to anyone who needs this surgery is to take it one step at a time and know that you WILL get through it. As is the case with all surgeries, managing the pain from the incisions is really important. When the pain is tolerable, it’s easier to be patient and calm during recovery. It’s important to make sure that when you are discharged to recover at home, you have all the medications you’ll need as well as a discharge letter that explains exactly what you’ve had done. Should you be unlucky and develop an infection once you’re home (signs to look out for include fever, vomiting, becoming disoriented, extreme head pain), this letter is very useful for handing to the person who deals with you at A&E. I’ve found that being prepared for all eventualities and having plenty of pain meds available, even if I turned out to need less than I expected, allowed me to relax and focus on my recovery. As I’m sure is the case with most people living with chronic pain, I’m usually as conservative as possible with pain meds. I’m not Superwoman though; I’m of the opinion that I’m as entitled to proper post surgery pain relief as someone who doesn’t live with pain on a daily basis. If you’re worried about surgical pain being added to the chronic pain you already deal with, speak to your surgeon and nurse before you go to theatre and put a plan in place re. what combination of meds will be available to you when you wake up. As it turned out, I found that I didn’t need morphine beyond 12 hours after surgery 👍🏼. 

If you or someone you love needs a VP shunt and you’re anxious about the surgery, feel free to get in touch. You can email me at chronicpaincockney@gmail.com or follow me on Twitter.

Wishing you good luck & happy days,

Kindra x 

Useful links: 

IIH UK Surgical Leaflet

Hydrocephalus Association: Shunts Overview

NHS Choices: Treating Hydrocephalus 

Johns Hopkins Medicine: Shunt Procedure

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Metallic Red Lips: Jouer

I’ve been pretty quiet on the blog front lately; my broken brain has been torturing me even more than usual. This has severely limited the already meagre time I had available for wearing makeup and reviewing products. Now that I’ve finally taken this lipstick out for a couple of test drives, I’m ready to tell you what I think of it.

This liquid lipstick is in the shade Bronze Rose from Jouer. It’s metallic enough to look different from matte liquid lipsticks without being so over the top that you feel over dressed wearing it in the day time. Full-on metallic lips that look like liquid metal may be gorgeous when they appear in my Instagram feed but I need something more subtle for use IRL! 

It smells gorgeous in the same way that all the Jouer lipsticks do. The fragrance fades once the product has dried down though so if you’re not a fan of scented lip products, this shouldn’t cause you a huge problem. The formula feels like a moussey kind of texture as opposed to more liquidy formulas such as those by Anastasia Beverly Hills.

This dusky brownish rose shade is really easy to wear and would look pretty on a range of skin tones. It has impressive staying power and while there can be a little transfer, it’s nothing major and most of the product stays put on the lips. I’ve received a couple of compliments on the shade whilst wearing it, which is always a good sign.

I added the lip topper Skinny Dip from Jouer on top of Bronze Rose to create the above lip look. I think the lip topper caused more transfer than usual and a little stickiness but it did look lovely. The colour faded pretty evenly and lasted several hours including a meal. 

I like the Jouer lipsticks and this shade is lovely for winter. If you haven’t tried them and you’re a fan of liquid lipstick, I recommend grabbing one and seeing what you think. I also own a couple of ‘nude’shades from the brand that I find myself reaching for quite often. They haven’t quite toppled theBalm Meet Matte Hughes Liquid Lipstick from my Favourite Liquid Lipstick throne but they’re definitely worth checking out and may well become someone else’s favourite.

What do you think of Jouer lip products?

Wishing you good luck and happy days,

Kindra x

Follow me on Instagram.

Tweet me – @chroniccockney.

Note: this is not a sponsored post. All products discussed were purchased with my own money.

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Chronic Life: A Moment of Gratitude 

Gratitude is, in my opinion, something that can only be genuinely felt when it comes from within. No amount of ‘it could be worse’ or ‘you should be grateful that..’ comments from other people will make me feel it. In fact, such comments from people who do not live with chronic daily pain are more likely to generate rage rather than gratitude on my part. 

This Christmas hasn’t been easy. I’m scheduled to have brain surgery on 25th January and a blood pressure problem has arisen, so we’ve working with my GP to try and address it in time for the surgery. I made it through Christmas Day itself with the use of meds and a nap mid way. The two days since however have seen me stuck in bed with agonising and very determined head pain. But there is so much that I’m grateful for, so I’d like to take a moment to articulate the things I have going for me.



My husband and daughter: My husband looks after me and my daughter without ever making me feel like a burden. I remember what it was like to live with someone who made me feel guilty about things I couldn’t control, so I know just how much of a difference it makes that my husband is truly strong; he is always on my side and there to keep me from despairing and giving up. Our daughter makes me happy just by being her funny, cheeky, lovely self. Seeing her as happy and confident as other children her age, despite my situation, lets me know that we’re doing something right. 

My family: my parents are always there to provide advice and practical support when we need it. They play a big role in my daughter’s life and it is very reassuring for me to know that she has another source of love and attention outside of our home. Other members of the family help me just by understanding my situation – they don’t get upset or angry with me for missing special occasions and are delighted on the rare occasions that I make an appearance. 

My friends: my best friend has remained in my corner all these years, even though I’m not much use on the socialising front (or the ‘being remotely normal’ front). She is always there if I need her and is firmly on my side, even when I’m irrational or struggling emotionally. She belongs in the family section really; if past lives are really a thing, we’ve definitely been through at least one life together before.

I’m grateful for the handful of friends who are always pleased to hear from me despite the fact that it can be AGES between calls or texts. That they haven’t given up on me is an amazing thing.

The Essentials: our two bedroom council flat in East London is a blessing in my eyes (though doubtless some people would look down on it). Finding somewhere affordable to live in London is  a nightmare so I’m truly grateful for our secure tenancy. We are a few minutes walk from my parents’ place, my daughter’s school, the park, my GP surgery and my favourite nail place💅🏻😊. When I applied for this flat I didn’t know that a few years later I’d become so ill and largely housebound but if I had known, this is exactly the location I’d have picked. The fact that we have some lovely neighbours is a bonus too. When I’m getting stressed because I’m too poorly to tidy up/clean as often as I’d like or decorate as I desperately want to, I remind myself that we have everything we need here. 

The NHS: the NHS isn’t perfect; you need to advocate for yourself and stay on top of the admin side of things, as it can be slow. However, I’m grateful that I have access to some of the country’s best neurosurgeons, not to mention my GP who I see regularly and the prescribed meds that I am not charged for. I dread to think what all my treatments over the years would cost if I had to pay for it from my own pocket. I’m also grateful that I don’t have to do battle with an insurance company to get access to treatments; I know this can be very stressful for spoonies in the US.

Benefits system: this one isn’t always easy to feel grateful for, as our current government seems determined to paint the sick and disabled as work shy freeloaders. The systems in place for processing claims from sick/disabled people are in desperate need of reform. I paid tax throughout the decade I was in teaching; I wish people could understand that becoming too sick to work can happen to anyone, including people who worked hard and loved their careers. I’m grateful for the help we receive to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table, but I wish that sick and disabled people didn’t have to fight so hard to get what they are entitled to. The system at present is designed to hinder access to entitlements rather than facilitate it. The stigma around being sick or disabled is absolutely stifling. Still, I’m grateful that we’re not in a Victorian work house kind of situation; but we do have a Tory government, so I probably shouldn’t speak too soon…

Looking back:  I remember what it was like to live with someone who made me feel guilty for being sick. I remember what it was like to struggle through work and feel constantly stressed when my boss hounded me about my sickness levels. I remember what it was like to struggle with rent that was ludicrously high and panicking that I’d lose my job and not be able to pay it at all. I remember when being stuck at home in terrible pain meant being alone for huge swathes of time. I remember the desperate struggle to appear ‘normal’ so that I could cling onto the career I’d worked so hard for.

It is because I can remember the times when I felt desperate and alone that I truly value the blessings in my life now. I did lose my career in the end but because of the other good things in my life, I was eventually able to cope with it. The pain can and does crush me underfoot but I know how much harder my life would be if I didn’t have the above mentioned blessings to cushion and support me.

What are you grateful for?

Wishing you good luck and happy days,

Kindra x

Follow me on Instagram.

Tweet me – @chroniccockney.

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Makeup Geek Eyeshadow Swatches

I’ve been really struggling to post lately; even my weekly Sunday beauty post has fallen by the wayside. I’m going through one of those phases in my Chronic Life when I have zero energy left; the constant battle with the pain is wearing me down. The pain itself is also particularly severe and persistent, even by my standards. I’m scheduled to have brain surgery in January, but that’s another post.

So, while I haven’t had the opportunity to properly test drive this batch of Makeup Geek eyeshadows (my first!), I do have some swatches I would like to share with you.

They are swatched on the back of my own hand so bear in mind that I’m super pale; I use NW10 in Mac foundations. I didn’t use any primer underneath. I used a fingertip to swatch and didn’t go over them several times; I wanted to show as accurately as possible how pigmented the shades are. 

I was impressed with the pigmentation of these shadows and I’m pleased with the shades themselves- soooooo pretty 😍. I’m particularly excited about Mermaid, the bright metallic bluish green right in the middle. Now if I could just get a few  low pain hours to test drive these beautiful shades…

What do you think of Makeup Geek eyeshadows?

Wishing you good luck and happy days,

Kindra x

Follow me on Instagram.

Tweet me – @chroniccockney.

Note: this is not a sponsored post. All products discussed were purchased with my own money.

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A New Nail Shape and Bargain Polish 

I’m something of a perfectionist when it comes to my nails. If they look shabby or the layer of acrylic has grown too far out, it bothers me. Way back before I became largely housebound, fitting in regular nail appointments around teaching and socialising wasn’t a big deal. Now of course, things are different. Weeks can go by when I’m not well enough to leave home and when I am, it’s only with the support of my husband and/or parents.

Nonetheless, getting my nails done remains a tiny and all too infrequent window into the person I used to be. No matter how sick I am, my nails looking nice gives me a little joy.

So, here’s how my nails look after my latest (and too long delayed) visit to my nail place. I’ve gone for an Almond shape rather than the square with slightly rounded edges shape I’ve been in the habit of getting for a long time.

I really like this shape. It elongates the fingers and strikes me as elegant. I find the sharp spike look that’s popular now to be too extreme for my taste but the Almond shape is somewhat softer. 

The polish I went for is the shade 04 Our Sweetest Day from Essence’s The Gel range. I love these little polishes; they apply and perform well and are a bargain at £1.60 each (available in the UK from Wilko online or in store). I chose to have 3 coats of this particular shade but generally 2 coats is sufficient with these polishes. They’re a great way to update your collection of colours each season without causing significant damage  your bank balance 😊.

What nail shape do you favour? Do you have a favourite brand for polishes? 

Wishing you good luck and happy days,

Kindra x

Follow me on Instagram.

Tweet me – @chroniccockney.

Note: this is not a sponsored post. All products discussed were purchased with my own money.

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Mac Nutcracker Sweet Blush Highlight Compact

Every now and then, a limited edition product comes along that makes my eyes widen and I just HAVE to have it. In my own defence, this is actually quite rare; lots of limited edition products strike me as over hyped and all too often they aren’t going to work with my milk coloured skin. Plus, living with a chronic debilitating illness tends to do bad things to your disposal income. 

But when I saw this compact in the marketing ads/reviews for Mac’s Nutcracker Sweet collection, I fell in love. I was lucky enough to get it as an early Christmas gift – yay! It’s one of those products that really makes me look forward to the times when I’m well enough to put on makeup.

There were two versions of this compact available in the collection; I went for the Peach version which includes (unsurprisingly) a peachy pink shade of blush called At Dusk. The Copper version was super popular because it included the much loved Whisper of Gilt highlight but those shades just weren’t to my taste for my skin tone.

Both of these products are easy to wear and buildable. I don’t own many peachy tone blushes but have found that I really like it; it’s a soft and natural look that’s great for daytime. I found that is was just the right side of pigmented, meaning that the colour pay off is good but not so stark that one swipe needs endless blending to be wearable. The highlight is a lovely shade called Tutu that you don’t often see on the market, light but not stark or cold looking. Mac descibes it as a pale white peach. It works really well on my very fair skin tone. 

The packaging in this collection is adorable without being juvenile. I love the burgundy/purple and pink combination and the stitched detailing makes the whole thing feel a little luxurious. The detailing is repeated on the pans of product and makes using them for the first time a little sad! Mac have really got it right with this collection in my opinion.

I’m going to include a couple of pics of me wearing these products but bear in mind that I’m no expert at taking such photos – it looks great in real life! On that morning I was well enough to wear makeup but not well enough to remove shades in any kind of light; pretty typical of my rare ‘good hours’ these days.

The Nutcracker Sweet collection is well worth checking out. At the time of writing, this product was still available  online in the UK (yay!) along with some of the gorgeous lip and eye sets.

Did you buy anything from this collection? Have you spotted any other LE holiday products that you’ve fallen in love with?

Wishing you good luck and happy days,

Kindra x

Follow me on Instagram.

Tweet me – @chroniccockney

Blog also available via Bloglovin.

Note: this is not a sponsored post. All products discussed in this post were purchased with my own money.

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Revlon Diamond Top Coat

A good top coat is one of those beauty products that tends to be an unsung hero; they aren’t as glamorous as much a hyped highlight or eyeshadow palette but finding a good one is a little beauty blessing. I’m very much enjoying this Colorstay Gel Envy Diamond Top Coat from Revlon so I though it deserved a quick post.

I was pleased to receive this top coat in my October Glossybox as I had almost run out of my previous bottle from Sally Hansen. There are so many top coats on the market to choose from and I’ve never loved one so much that it became a regular repurchase.

That said, I intend to buy another of this product when I run out. I like the double brush design; I can cover my entire nail with one swipe if I’m trying to be quick.

The finish this top coat creates is super glossy and long lasting. The formula is slightly thicker than most top coats I’ve tried but it doesn’t take any longer to dry. I’ve found that it helps keep my nails shiney and ‘just painted’ looking for a good 5-7 days, bearing in mind that I like my nails to look really glossy.

This photo shows my nails in serious need of in-fills (I have a layer of acrylic on top of my natural nails) and the top coat is doing any excellent job of distracting attention away from the shabbiness of my nails, with the cunning use of glossiness. This is very useful when I’ve been too unwell to get to the nail place regularly; let’s face it, that’s the case all the time these days.

So if you’re browsing the drugstore for your next top coat, I recommend giving this ago – what’s not to like about a top coat that’s glossy and keeps your nails look freshly ‘done’ for longer?

Wishing you good luck and happy days,

Kindra x

Follow me on Instagram.

Tweet me – @chroniccockney.

Note – this is not a sponsored post. All products discussed were purchased with my own money.