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The BOGOF girl

2 Sep

It’s blinking at me. Blink, blink blink. Like an impatient toddler pressing on a doorbell desperate for someone to answer. Blink, blink, blink.

It’s expectant, it’s ready, it’s waiting. Blink, blink, blink.

I hover over my keyboard. Watching the blinking type icon dance on the spot ready for me to type a letter. Any letter will do. Something, just type something. Anything will do. Blink, Blink, blink. Maybe I’ll surprise it and type ALL IN CAPITALS or I’ll just punch in my favourite thing on the keyboard and create a whole line of !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! – Ah the exclamation mark. How I love thee. Simple yet impactful. !

So little blinky line, why am I so hesitant to tap away? Well, it’s because I left you. I left you for a very long time. I totally abandoned you, completely walked away. I know you’ve been here. Waiting for me to come back. And believe me when I say I didn’t think either of us thought it’d take this long. But it has. I could have come back sooner, many times. I thought about it, a lot in fact, like all the time. Like some ex I was trying to ignore and couldn’t get out of my head. I’d get tipsy and tell people about you. Draft little notes for you. Compare you to other ones, but it was never the same.You were still there, blinking away. Waiting for me.

The problem was that last year, back in May, when I submitted my last post I was in a funk. An honest to goodness funk. I was Fed up. Pissed off. In a total huff. There were noises (of the huffing and sighing kind) rolled eyes at any opportunity and full on, armed crossed, sulking. Normally my moods pass as quickly as one of Britney’s marriages but not this one, not the one between me & you blinky. I just didn’t want to come back. I didn’t want to see you. I didn’t want to write. To open up. To keep talking. To talk about ‘IT’, C-Monkey, the never-ending operations, ‘frankenboob’ – all of it. Stupid, sodding, boring cancer, again and again and again. I was done. Simple.

But here I am. The truth is I missed you. I missed this, you blinking at me, me tapping absolute rubbish that only my Nan and mum will read. It’s peaceful, it’s you and me blinky. You and me together. Who cares what we talk about, it’s all nonsense anyway. So while I make amends maybe we should take some time to re-acquaint ourselves. You can tell me what’s been happening with all that blinking time you’ve had off and I’ll run through the various ups and downs of mine.

Ok so first things first, the boobs are looking good. I’m now up to five operations, yes five (oh the joy) because perfection, or anywhere close to it, is actually bloody difficult and seriously, as I’ve said before, boobs are very (!) complicated things. I really do wish they’d told me all this at the beginning. I mean two years on and I’m still having operations – that information would have been useful, AT THE BEGINNING! Talk about managing expectations. Jeez!

The last one was in February. It was the glamorously titled – fat transfer. I know what you’re thinking blinky, what a great opportunity to suck out all the wobbly chunk and achieve the svelte thigh gap legs I’ve always wanted, whilst also making Lefty nice and soft and a bit rounder. Sadly not. Not only was it bloody painful, resulting in me walking like John Wayne for two weeks in serious leg compression stockings (not the sexy kind) but I didn’t lose an inch from my thighs. Not an inch. How is that possible, have you seen my thighs?!

Couldn’t they have sucked out a little more, just to be kind. I mean come on, do a girl a favour, you’re taking it anyway, why not just take a little more and while you’re there feel free to take it from my ass, my tummy or what about those horrible wobbly arm bit – you can help yourself to that Mr. Go for it, suck it all out! But no. They took what they needed, left me with extremely bruised thighs and a slightly softer, rounder Leftie. The bugger is that this procedure doesn’t really take that well so I may need to have it a few times. Next time I’m going to try to bribe the surgeon to take some more fat. Or maybe I’ll drawn large circles on myself with a big purple felt tip pen, complete with helpful hints and arrows – suck fat here ‘0’. That should get their attention.

In other news I now have a nice man, who loves me, scars and all. Which has been incredible and also really weird. I think I spent so long worrying about what someone else would think I didn’t consider I’d be the one with the hangups. But I am. Turns out buys are pretty simple, I have boobs, he likes them. That’s it. Doesn’t care about anything else. So why do I? It’s a kicker and something I’m trying to work through, but I guess it’ll take time. Until then it’s wonderful having someone to boast my confidence and who makes me feel so cared for. In that respect I’m very lucky.

In other areas not so much. In fact I’d go so far as to say I’ve been really unfuckinglucky. Which I hope means I’m going to win the lottery. There really isn’t any other way to explain why I’ve had another pile of crap dumped on me, unless it’s because something amazing is just about to happen and karma doesn’t want me to get all big for my boots. So while I wait for my numbers to come up (note to self, must buy ticket) here’s the unlucky part….my health has taken another knock back.

C Monkey has a new friend to play with. Not another C Monkey thankfully but something that will undoubtedly play havoc with my life all over again. So I’ve been feeling pretty greedy when it comes to diseases. Yeap, why have one when you can have two! I am the BOGOF girl of illness. What a title.

I’m not sure how much I’m gonna tell you just yet blinky, I may keep this one to myself, or tell you all next time, who knows.

Now where’s my lottery ticket!

 

 

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Not so great expectations…

26 Mar

hate

Expectations.

What a fucking pain in the arse they are. Why do we do it to ourselves? Why do we naturally set ourselves up with a whole load of expectations which rarely, if ever, match up. I have been guilty of this my whole life. I’m famous for my “movie moment” imaginings and expectations that somehow a Richard Curtis style moment will happen upon my life and everything will be wonderful.

I’ve come to realise that this ‘great expectation-itus’ which I suffer from is probably linked to my positivity, because my positivity massively over rides any negativity in most situations and so stops me from being realistic. (It took hours of thinking, a chalkboard and some serious Einstein doodles to figure that one out). My ‘great expectation-itus’ theory states that instead of being realistic I over hype something to such an extent that I will only ever be disappointed, it is my positivity that is my actual downfall. I put great expectations onto almost everything – myself, my body, my job, friendships, relationships – I have these huge expectations that everything will be wonderful, that it’s all going to be fine, gloriously Richard Curtis technicolor, fine. And it very rarely is.

Dam him and his wonderful movie moments. The simple truth is they do not happen. Life happens. And the only expectation we can really expect, is that it’s going to be a bit crap sometimes, then other times it might be ok, quite nice or pretty good even. But that’s where it ends.

Right now those highly positive expectations that everything will be fine, well they have evaporated. I am so over this C-monkey roller coaster. I want to get off. I want a cancer holiday. A break from all the crap in my head, a day when it’s not in my thoughts. A respite from the niggling uncomfortable pain I still get. A time out from the daily view of what my body now looks like and the everyday exhaustion of convincing myself that everything looks fine. That I am fine. When the truth is there are days when I’m not fine. Not at all.

I would pay a serious amount of money to just go back, just for one day, to enjoy the old me, the old body that I gave such a hard time to – why can’t I be thinner, a bit taller, more gazelle like and less chubby bambi?!. God I could slap myself for all the times I put my body down pre BC. The truth is I’d give anything to go back and marvel at how truly brilliant it was. Not because it was perfect, but because it was mine, all mine and every wobble and curve was just the way it was supposed to be. I would go back and be so utterly grateful.

I am fully aware that I’m in a funk right now. This is not me. This is a tired, pissed off me, a me filled with head cold and sadness. This is the me that has also has a horrible feeling that I am going to need another operation. Operation number sodding five. I’ve had an operation pretty much every other month now for the last 7months and I am beyond over it! Stop the ride I want to get off. Now!

And if one more person tells me I’m nearly there and that this will hopefully be the last one….well, I will just smile nicely then punch them in the face. Hard. Because that doesn’t mean anything. Not any more. It’s still another operation, its still more general anaesthetic being pumped in me, more recovery rooms and morphine shakes, more pain, more bruising, more swelling and adjusting to yet another scar. It just royally sucks ass in every way, every single time. And I’m exhausted from it all. Exhausted at trying to stay positive and exhausted from keeping those great expectations and the ‘I’m fine’ sing-a-long going.

Ok this funk is not a good one, but I don’t care. I’m sitting right in it, like a teenager with a massive strop on. I am fed up. For anyone reading this about to tell me how lucky I am, I know ok! I know that I am lucky, lucky that it was caught early, lucky that my treatment is nearing an end, lucky that I’m even here to have a strop in the first place. I know all of that. I honestly do. I am grateful every single day for that. It will never leave me. I know there are millions of people who would swap everything they have to change places with me and be nearing the end of this crappy journey called Cancer, I know that and it makes me hate it all the more.

That’s right, I hate it! Absolutely, completely and utterly hate it. I hate that it was me, that it happened to me, that it’s still happening to me. I hate that it happens to anyone. I hate that horrible word and the way it can come in to your life and change everything, in one tiny horrifying moment.

I hate that it happened and I don’t care if that makes me a bad person. Like the teenager who’s slammed their bedroom door, turned up the music and screamed  “I hate you” to their parents, I am raging at that god forsaken word and everything it’s done to me – to everyone – it’s ever affected.

So for now, my great expectations that everything will be ok, that my body will sort itself out, that the operations will come to an end, that I will be able to keep everything in check with a bucket of positivity – well they can take a running jump. Great Expectations do not belong here. Not today.

Today I am slamming my door. Turning up my music and screaming my head off.

I bloody hate cancer. And no magical movie moment will ever make that ok.

Dear Mum, you drive me crazy but…

8 Mar

Mothers Day

So I’ve been raking my brains for what to get my mum for Mother’s day. I could go down the token flowers / bubbles / smellies route (yawn) but the flowers will die, the bubbles will be drunk (probably quite quickly knowing mum) and the smellies will be added to the heap that’s currently gathering dust on her bathroom shelf.

Instead I thought I’d try something a bit different, I thought I’d write her letter and share it with the world so that she knows just how much I love her and how truly wonderful I think she is……so here it is…

Dear Mum,

So with Mother’s Day just around the corner I’ve been thinking of how I could possibly start to say thank you for being such a wonderful mum. The truth is I’m not sure I can. For as long as I can remember you’ve been there for me, guiding me along this crazy, fun, stupid and often terrifying road called life. Fulfilling the role of both Mum and Dad for most of my life you’ve shown me how to be a good person, how to keep smiling when everything seems to be falling around my ears, how to be caring and loving, how to stay positive, how to laugh at myself, how to stay strong and the biggest life lesson of all….that there really is no situation that can’t be tackled if you have a glass of wine in your hand!

When I was told I had breast cancer I walked out of the hospital feeling shocked, scared and broken. The first person I called was you. I can’t remember a time in my life when this wasn’t my natural reaction – every grazed knee, every trip to hospital (could you have had a more accident prone daughter?!), the multiple car prangs, the broken hearts, the bad days at work, the friendship wobbles, the ‘I’m moving house (again) will you help me’ call, the fashion dilemmas or recipe questions (your four cheese lasagne is the best in the world, fact!). Whatever the situation, whatever the question, the first person I want to call is you and somehow you always have the answer.

So on that horrible day when I got the news, it was your voice that I needed to hear, it was you I needed to see. And there you were, just a few hours later having run out of work and jumped on the first train from Bumpkin land to the big smoke with nothing but your handbag and a pair of knickers. When I met you at the station and we stood there on the platform hugging and sobbing I knew somehow it would be ok, because you’re my mum, and somehow you always manage to make everything ok. Then you got the wine out and I really knew we’d be fine.

“Supportive” is you through and through. You are a rock to so many people, me and Lulu, the girls, the whole family in fact, not forgetting your friends and colleagues. Everyone knows they can rely on you to be there, to give them a hug, to listen, to laugh, to pour the wine and to just be there. You are patient and kind and always see in the good in people. You’ve never gotten really angry despite the million times you could have ‘Yes sorry mum, I did have a house party when you told me not too, um yes I have pierced my ear, again, yeap I’ve crashed the car, again, oh and I’m really sorry but I’ve lost your camera, oh and the new camera you got to replace the one you lost, I’ve broken it, sorry, and um yes I did loose your wedding ring when I wore it to school once for a play….(What a nightmare daughter I was!)

Don’t get me wrong for all your loveliness, you also drive me completely crazy! Your inability to operate anything remotely technical is ridiculous, especially but not limited to; remote controls, hospital beds (don’t get me started on this one!), my car, my washing machine and the list goes on….You do my head in with your inability to start a sentence without the use of phrases like “At the end of the day”, “Can I just say” and “Yes but, lets be honest….”- like you’re going to lie to me?! And no, for the hundredth time, I don’t know ‘So and so, who used to live next door to such and such, who’s cousin went to school with that girl down the road, who’s dog looked a bit like ours…’ No, afraid not, I have literally no idea who the hell you’re talking about and never will.

You are also highly embarrassing, like all good mums should be. Last Easter being the perfect example. In a moment of pure ’embarrassing mum madness’ you called my office and asked the person on the other end of the phone if they’d mind popping out to Sainsbury’s to buy me an Easter egg, because you’d forgotten to put one in the post for me. You kindly said you’d reimburse them, of course, but if they could see to it that I had one that would be lovely……I was 32 years old, the person on the other end of that phone was the MD of the agency….who subsequently called a mini company meeting to retell the story of my mum asking him to buy me an Easter egg, before finally presenting it to me in front of everyone …..mortified!

But as is typical with you, it was also bloody hilarious and just one of my many, many funny memories of you. Like the way you like to dance in front of the fridge – because you can see your reflection and weirdly like to dance with yourself?! Or your appalling singing voice and your tendency to completely disregard the actual lyrics of a song in favour of your own made up version, who can forget the classic “Hose me down” by James. And I’m not even going to get in to the graphic personal details you love to share about me and my sister to any Tom, Dick or Harry you meet – nothing is sacred, nothing. Strangers please gather round and let me tell you about the time that Jodie did…. (lets just leave that there shall we). We know you’re proud but still, it’s embarrassing! Although on that, I am slowly realising that maybe I’ve inherited the sharing gene, this is hardly a private blog is it….hmmm.

But I wouldn’t swap you for all the world and I know that these last seven months would have been immeasurably harder if you weren’t right there, by my side every step of the way. Holding my hand, wiping away my tears (and your own), giving me encouragement, telling me I was still gorgeous boobs or no boobs, giving me cuddles, taking me away when I couldn’t face the world, cooking for me, cleaning up after me, taking care of me, keeping me laughing, helping me every single step of the way. All the time just being you. Wonderful you.

So when I get snappy because you’ve left my car in gear (again), or you can’t figure out how to use my telly (again), or I’m huffing because you’ve told me the same story five times already and I’m at that mother/daughter point when I just need to get away from you because you’re doing my head in……please know, that even in those stroppy moments I completely and utterly adore you.

Happy Mother’s Day, you’re one in a million.

Jodiex

P.S Don’t worry, there will still be bubbles ;0)

Finally, I get the cherry on top….

28 Feb

Unknown

Saturday 16th Feb, Valentines weekend for many, operation number four for me. This time as part of the breast cancer reconstruction they were going to tackle as much of the symmetry issues as possible and hopefully give me a new nipple – finally I get the cherry on top. It was a pretty big day, who doesn’t want a nipple for Valentines?!

The operation itself went as well as could be expected. It’s rarely a barrel of laughs, more like a horrible roller-coaster of nausea inducing head spins, shakes, shivers and painful twists and turns. But as usual Mum was a complete rock, holding my hand, wiping away the tears, holding my hair back when I was sick and using every soothing word in her motherly vocabulary to make everything better. Mums, what would we do without them!

For all the awfulness of the operation I really did feel like this was it, this was the last big one. The one that would get me back to me, pre BC, nipple and all. So despite the general exhaustion from the three previous operations and knowing the pain that was ahead of me, I was actually pretty happy to be going back in.

That excitement was justified when days later I got to see my new nipple for the first time. Wow. Talk about sight for sore eyes. I have missed that little guy so much! It’s been just over 7months now since the mastectomy last summer, since Lefty was removed along with my nipple, so to finally see it, to finally see a whole beautiful boob complete with the cherry on top was amazing. Truly amazing. I felt like a proud new mum.

It really is very clever how they do it. Essentially they do a little butterfly cut on your boob and use the skin on your breast to shape into a nipple. Same skin, same colour, same you. So it’s very much a part of you, like a nipple should be.

I guess I’d had a few horror flashes imagining them growing it in a dish somewhere and sticking it on…you know, like that mouse with the ear on it’s back. Imagine that. A little mouse with a nipple on it’s back – seriously, that is just disgusting. Horrific. Dam you stupid brain. Thankfully, this one is all mine – no mice boob bits for me.

Despite the dressings, stitches, swelling and overall bruising (aka rainbow boobs) I can see that the symmetry has been corrected and they both now sit exactly where they should. Which is such a relief. Leftie has been shuffled over a bit and some clever internal stitches will now ensure it doesn’t make a break for freedom under my armpit again (back boob crisis averted). The fluid under my arm has been removed and Righty is now perkier than the boobs I had as a spritely 21 year old! All in all, they look pretty good.

I got my first look at them properly a few days after surgery. Since coming out of hospital my dressings had gotten rather, well, gross. That word doesn’t really do it justice but I’ve decided for once to spare the gory details (hooray! I hear you cry!) – manly because when I described this event to a male friend of mine he ended up in a curled heap, rolling around on the rug claiming his balls had retreated to such an extend he couldn’t breath….I also don’t want people to think of them as horrible frankenboobs as they definitely aren’t! So no, I’ll skip some of the gory details. Suffice to say the dressings needed to be changed.

As I stood in front of the bathroom mirror, I took in the reflection before me. The birds nest hair (complete with small animals and twigs) stood pilled on top of my head, bruises covered my right arm from numerous drips, making me look like a competitor from the Chinese Burn World Championships (pretty sure I’d lost). My pale face was puffed up from the anesthetic and peppered with small scratches from the post morphine face flailing that I seem to love to do so much during recovery. Big dark bags hung below my blurry eyes completing the look. What a vision I was. The bags had gotten so big I could have packed my whole flat in them and relocated to the other side of the world. Which didn’t seem like too bad an idea given what I was about to do.

The lovely nurses had sent me home with all the stuff I needed in case this situation arose. So there I was, stood in front of the mirror, in a white stretchy crop top, covered in bruises, cuts and scars, feeling every inch the female equivalent of Bruce Willis about to tend to my wounds so I could continue to kick the bad guys ass. In this case C-Monkey. He’d taken on a Russian look for this moment in time, complete with dreadful accent and fur hat. Ever the drama queen, he never misses an opportunity to dress up.

The process of removing my dressings was again, gross. Blurgh, in every sense of the word. But with my inner skyscraper saving hero shinning through I persevered, using scissors to help ease off any particularly stubborn bits. (oh yeah I did….balls…..are they still with you? I know mine have disappeared just reliving it!)

Anyway when the deed was done, I was all cleaned up and feeling very brave. Take that C-Monkey, yipee-ki-yay right in your smug face. There was just one problem. I’d run out of dressings for Leftie. Righty was all clean and sorted but Leftie had nothing. There were no dressings left. Bugger.

There was no way I could leave my new nipple just out there, all tiny, fragile and ….exposed?! What if it fell off?! How would I explain that to my surgeon! “Um yes, sorry about that, I seem to have let my lovely new nipple…drop off….have you got another one I can have?”

No, it needed something to cover it up until I could get to the hospital and get it dressed properly. So I improvised and used the only thing I had available to me. It wasn’t my proudest moment but I’m sure Bruce would have done the same, given the circumstance.

Needless to say I felt the need to warn my surgeon when I next saw him. I needed to prepare him for what he was about to see….

So while striping off the layers I hastily explained, in a manner akin to verbal diarrhea, what I’d done; I’d had to change the dressings myself due to the whole gross thing….. but that despite said grossness I’d been very brave, Bruce Willis-esq even (nervous laughter), taken all the dressings off without fainting, used my scissors for the tricky bits, again without fainting and put the clean dressings back on…..so all in all I’d done very well. Except… I ran out of dressings. So when it came to Leftie and covering my amazing new nipple, I had to improvise, use the only thing I could find at the time, the only thing that might work…..

At this point my surgeon and the nurse were staring at me blankly. There was a brief pause while I removed my bra crop top thing. There, covering my newly made nipple and protecting it from any harm was a very, very small plaster.

Not just any plaster, oh no. That would be too easy. This particular plaster was a child’s plaster, which meant not only did it just, very much only just, cover the nipple but it was also decorated with small…cartoon…monkeys. Yes. I had covered my new, extremely fragile nipple in a child’s plaster, a plaster covered in small dancing smiley cartoon monkeys….

I’m not sure I can do his reaction justice but I’m going to go with bemused laughter. I’m pretty sure he thinks I’m bonkers.

And the irony of having a plaster covered in monkeys on my new nipple hasn’t been lost on me. I don’t know where they came from, or why I had them in my flat but I’m pretty a certain C-Monkey had something to do with it. He really does work in crafty ways you know; it’s the Russian in him. The plaster incident has his name all over it. I mean, quite literally his name and face all over it, on my new nipple! How very dare he!

I’ll say it again, my new nipple is a thing of wonder. Although it’s still tucked up under the dressings I’ve seen it and know its there. A real nipple. Back where it should be, sitting proudly on top of my now very symmetrical perky boobs. I know I’m essentially gushing about a weird bit of skin that sticks off your boob and repeatedly using the word nipple in the process, which is getting a bit weird, but seriously; you have no idea what it’s like to not have one.

If when the dressings come off and the swellings go down everything is as good as I’m hoping the only thing left to do will be the tattoo, which I’m very intrigued by. I’ve never had a tattoo before and weirdly feel quite excited about having one. It’ll definitely confuse people when I admit that “yes, I do have a tattoo actually, two of them. You will never (!) guess where they are….” (smug face)

So all in all things seem to have gone well. Physically I’m good..I’m happy, if a little sore, bruised and tired, but I know that will pass soon enough.

Emotionally…..well we’ll save that battle for another day…

Yipee Ki Yay C-Monkey!

Flat on my back waiting for cupid….. in a pair of paper pants!

15 Feb

Stupid Cupid

Ah Valentines Weekend, here you are.

A weekend where everything seems to pass by in a bit of a dreamy loved up haze. For us ladies it’s an opportunity for the men in our lives to pay special attention to us, to shower us with physical attention and an array of little treats – like morphine and paper pants.

Yes, like most other girls my Valentines weekend will be spent flat on my back, wearing not very much at all, hoping that the man in front of me can make all my dreams come true…. Or to more specific, I’ll be wearing a surgical gown, some paper pants, enjoying a bucket of morphine and hopefully my dreams will come true with some nice boobs. Because this Saturday I’ll be in for operation number four. The forth in a line of operations to remove the breast cancer that had taken residence and rebuild me to resemble some form of my old self.

I’m not sure it’s exactly what cupid had in mind but this being Valentine’s weekend and all, I’d very much like it if this year he could make the object of my affection my new boobs.

Whilst I appreciate this is slightly outside of the buxom love baby’s usual tricks, I’d really, really like to wake up fully in love with my boobs, and I mean completely over the moon smitten. New boobs Mark 4. Possibly the best valentines gift ever? Well I certainly think so. For one they’re going to last a lot longer than those heart shaped chocolates and they’ll probably offer way more enjoyment in the long term – although I’ll never say no to a choccie.

With it being the fourth operation I know exactly what to expect now. I’m like a boob op pro. My pre operation habits and rituals will be the same and I know exactly how to prepare myself. For example, I know that I like to work from home the day before so I can have some ‘me’ time, get my flat ready, do some work and allow my distracted brain to wonder when it needs to. It’s much better than randomly bursting in to tears in a client meeting or being caught doodling big boobs and nipples on my notebook. Not very professional and a bit unnerving for the juniors. No I’m best off by myself in the haven of my little flat, doodling away.

I’ll pack my hospital bag with the essentials; some comfy clothes, iPod, toiletries, phone charger, headband, earplugs and eye-mask – I’m not a princess but hospitals are loud, bright, busy places so the ear plugs and eye mask is a must. When everything in the flat is done, the bed has been changed, I’ve had a hoover round and it’s all nice and clean, I’ll then treat myself to a night out. This is officially known as the distraction method, the ‘break here in case of emergencies’ wine button or simply the ‘get me very drunk now please’ approach.

The very first one was the night before the mastectomy, the now infamous Bye Bye Boobie party with the boob shaped cookies and as much alcohol as I could possibly consume until the midnight cut off point. Apparently after midnight you turn in to a cancer pumpkin or something?! The pre operation night out has become as much as an essential as my red spotty headband. Side note here to say don’t judge the headband, I know they are normally the domain of children under the age of 10 but you never know when a hot doctor or guest might stumble in to your room, and trust me when I say that my hospital bed head is truly dreadful. I’m not quite sure what happens in surgery but every time I emerge it’s like I’ve spent five hours rubbing my head against a giant balloon, backcombed the life out of it then rolled around in glue. I’m sure that’s not what they do to me when I’m out cold on the operating table but nevertheless, every time I wake up my hair resembles an out of control birds nest, of gigantic proportions. There are small animals nesting in it… twigs and everything. I’m the hair equivalent of Worzel Gummidge (anyone under the age of 30 might need to look that one up). No, the headband is absolutely essential. As is the night before fun.

I’m sure lots of people will disagree, they’ll believe that I should stay in, be centered, be true to my emotions, eat healthy things, drink green mush and prepare by body for the surgery ahead. Bollocks to all that. Don’t get me wrong I love a juice and Quinoa is my new best friend. But the night before the operation… oh hell no. What I need then more than anything else is wine and giggles.

I need to forget what I’m still in the middle of dealing with, what I’m just about to go through. Again. I need to forget how it’s going to feel when I come round – the shakes, the pain, the discomfort – all of it. Just for a few hours, I want to push it all to the very back of my head and hide it there under a rock with a sign that says, “Oi you, yes you, piss off, there’s nothing to see here”. I need to drink a lot and laugh even more.

Then at 6am when my alarm goes off and my pounding head kicks in the first thought that will run through my head won’t be ‘Jesus I’m scared, I don’t want to do this… again’ it’ll be “Bugger me my head hurts. What the hell am I doing awake at this stupid hour? Where am I? Has something died in my mouth…” Then I’ll start to dream about coffee, even though I can’t have any. I’ll grab my pre-packed bag and me, mum and my thumping head (her’s too) will get the tube up to the hospital.

Then the real fun begins. After I’ve been signed in I’ll go into my room and see the wonderful gown, socks and paper pants waiting for me. The lovely nurses will come in to go through my charts, they’ll put a red thing on my wrist for the stuff I’m allergic too, and then they’ll weigh me (it’s always a joy to feel fat the day of surgery!). Then they’ll stick one of those long cotton bud sticks up my nose. Yes this actually happens. I really don’t understand what a snot sample is needed for (boobs, noses… nope lost on me), but they do it every single time so it must be important.

When the time’s right I’ll hug mum goodbye, walk down the corridor, get into the lift and go down to the operating floor. I’ll go in the little room that’s connected to the theatre by big swishy doors and lie on the trolley that’s waiting for me. It’s a very white, sterile place with lots of gleaming metal surfaces and beeping machines that you can hear but can’t see. I hate this bit. Lying on my back in the scratchy gown and paper pants, staring up at the mottled ceiling tiles above, as nurses and doctors come in and out, busying themselves with other things. I feel so exposed and alone in those moments. But then the lovely anesthetist will arrive and we’ll have a little banter about how he’s going to trick me in to being to be knocked out. The first time I totally fell for the “Now we’re just going to give you something to calm you down, then we’ll do the proper injection.” Needless to say I was out like a light. Clever man. Or maybe I’m just very gullible… yeah sounds about right.

That’s it. That’s everything until the moment I wake up. This is thing I dread most. Obviously I want to wake up, of course! It’s just that the waking up bit is the most frightening, which I know sounds backwards but it is. I’m all disorientated, the violent shaking kicks in, my face gets all itchy from the morphine and I do the smacking myself in the face action over and over again like a drunk buffoon. And the pain… even with the morphine it’s there. Every time.

Once I’m back in my room things calm down a bit. But at some point I know the tears will come. In the hours and days following surgery the resolve I normally have is completely gone. The ‘I’m fine’ banner, hat and matching jumper are discarded on the floor. C-Monkey has set fire to them and is doing a tears inducing rain dance around the smoldering ashes. He loves it when I have an operation. He gets to run riot through my thoughts. He barges through my emotions like a drunken uncle trying to get to the dance floor, knocking aside every ounce of fight I have in me. My once strong defenses, the ones that have gotten tougher over the last few months fall apart in a moment and I’m usually left a crying, snotty mess. Feeling guilty at not being able to hold it together in front of mum, who doesn’t need C-Monkey to have a cry… she’ll be off at the sight of me in the paper pants! (Love you mum!)

Once I’m back at my flat it’ll be all about resting up, getting some sleep and some much needed quiet time. Which sounds easier than it is. Despite being desperately tired and sore I know I’ll be determined to do something, which never really works. But I know I’ll still try. Because when I do nothing C-Monkey wins. My only real defense against him is keeping busy, filling my head with work or friends or fun stuff. When I’m drifting between sleep, semi awake and sleep again, he wins. There will be nothing in my head apart from him, what he’s done to me, to my life, to my body. In those days I am completely at his mercy, again. Unable to ignore the pain, unable to distract myself from the hell of the last seven months and the weight of it all just pushing down on me.

So come on Cupid, what d’you say, could you spare a few arrows for me this Valentines weekend? If you could aim them at two slightly rounder targets… then maybe, just maybe I’ll be able to love myself again and be all the stronger for it.

Happy Valentine’s! x

Boys, boobs and a whole lot of honesty

3 Feb

The carrie affect

Recently someone told me that I had to keep writing and that I should keep being as honest as possible.

Whilst I wholeheartedly agreed, nodding repeatedly whilst sipping on my red wine, I was shamefully hiding the fact that sometimes it’s hard to keep it up. Don’t get me wrong there are days when I could talk about it non stop but then there are other days, more quiet, reflective days, when I just want to shut up. Put on my ‘I’m fine’ hat and just ignore stuff. But, as I’ve said before, the main problem with being such a loud mouth with a massive “oh crap, I’m overcoming Breast Cancer” banner and a pet C-Monkey in tow, is that when you want to be quiet….you kind of can’t be.

The other thing that struck me was the word ‘honest’. At the beginning I was brutally honest, there was a rawness to it all. I think this was partly because of the shock at everything that was happening, the Cancer news, the appearance of C-Monkey, the mastectomy and the aftermath of it all. Back then I just couldn’t stop blurting it all out, loudly, to anyone, in graphic detail….I look back at that now and know it was the right thing to do because it massively helped me at the time. It gave me an outlet at 4am in the morning when C-Monkey was doing cartwheels on my pillow and ripping up my bras. But now, well now lets just say I’m a bit more self aware. I know that people are reading this, that there are opinions being made, judgements even. The effect of that has meant that I’ve unwittingly started to self edit. I didn’t mean to, but I am. I’m more cautious about what I write, even to some extent what I say to people. I don’t want to offend anyone. I want my friends and family to continue to be proud of me and not be horrifically shocked or embarrassed by what I say or do – I think they’ve had enough of that with the TV appearance and boob cookies?!  I’m also acutely aware that my Nan will be reading this (hi Nan, love you, promise I’ll try to keep the swearing down!)

I shouldn’t worry what people think of me but yes, I admit it, I actually do. It matters a lot. So maybe my writing, my brutal honestly has eased off somewhat, maybe I have been waiting until I can write positive things rather than just wailing “EVERYTHING IS STILL CRAP AND I AM SO TIRED OF IT!” whenever I want. Seriously though, who wants to hear that? I’d be bored of me. Wailing is not fun. So no there will be none of that. But maybe I should go back to being a bit more honest. Afterall when I first got the news all I did was frantically search for someone like me, someone I could talk to and although there were endless forums I just found them all so deeply depressing. I just couldn’t engage with them.

There didn’t seem to be anyone like me, someone who just wanted to life as normal as possible, didn’t want to wallow but kind of was. Someone who could keep laughing at the crazy ridiculousness of it all, drink a little, cry a bit, talk about boys and jobs and how the hell anything would ever be the same?? I had a million questions from the stupid and inane to the serious and heavy, but just couldn’t find anyone to help me answer them. So I started writing. Being honest.

So here I am giving myself an honest kick up the bum and starting over. Deep breath, and go….Ok, so, my next operation is now mid Feb. It’ll be my fourth within a seven month period. Lots of poeple don’t understand why I’m having another operation, my usual brush off response is that things just need to be sorted, things haven’t quite gone as well as expected but that I’m fine, it’ll be fine, I’m fine blah blah blah…yawn. That’s probably what I’d be writing right now actually.

But the honest truth is, boobs are bloody complicated. There I was happily bouncing about before the whole C-Monkey accident thinking that boobs were nothing more than lovely big lumps of jigginess with bits on top. But no, they are seriously complicated things. This is something I have hugely underestimated.

I mean when I was little it was pretty easy to make boobs. All you needed was a few pairs of socks to stuff down your top, or anything that you could mould into two lumps… play dough worked quite well, as did sand, little boob shaped sand castles complete with shells for the naughty bits. You see, easy. In real life though, not so much.

So then the operation, numero four. The problem is this, essentially leftie is still a bit too small. This feels like a ridiculous admission given that I feel like I have a giant jelly tot stuffed in me, but he is. The skin has stretched even more and he needs to be made a bit bigger. There’s also the problem of him….um how to say this….migrating away somewhat… You see this Leftie seems to a bit shy, he is rapidly making a bid for freedom and is trying to hide under my armpit whilst doing do. In short he’s just sort of nudging me under my arm, which is really uncomfortable, and needs to be firmly put back in the right place. If he isn’t sorted out god knows where he’d end up? Who wants a boob on their back, that is a scenario I’m not willing to even think about.! So he needs to be made a little bit bigger and with the help of a few internal stitches (ouch) hopefully he’ll stay put.

But it doesn’t end there. This will actually be the first time I’ve had both done at the same time. Yeap even Righty isn’t quite right, yet. Despite the lift and the little implant that’s been put in, Righty is still….well, flagging somewhat. My own boob is quite literally, letting me down. (Sigh). So he’ll be lifted a bit more and reshaped a bit too. The hope is that eventually, with a little bit more attention here and there, they will both match and I really will have the best boobs possible.

I say possible because they still won’t be my boobs, not completely. That’s still a hard pill to swallow. As much as I quite like the new perkiness and the way they’ve suddenly made me look a bit slimmer (oh yeah, random but true!) they still won’t be my old boobs. I can’t even say they’ll be better because they probably won’t. In truth, the real honest painful truth, is they wont. They will have scars and even after those fade they will still be a bit different. The reality is that I will always have one real and one fake. Actually I’ll have one fake and one who’s identity is a bit confused…half and half if you like. To the casual observer they won’t look any different, if anything they’ll look pretty perky and amazing, but I’ll know the truth. I’ll know what it took to get them.

On the plus side, one other life thing that’s been suffering from all this has had a nice surprise. Boys. Now boys and boobs have had a love affair for as long as the world has existed. Boys are seemingly mesmerised by these two dangling things, the mere sight of them can bring joy into their life and make the world a better place.

This always proved to be quite handy for us girls. The hypnotic power of our greatest assets could get us out of most situations and in to lots of others too, if you know what I mean. And I loved mine. As I’ve said before I think they were my best feature. Anyway, one of the things that goes through your head when you hear you have Cancer is how your love life will be affected. Well, it went through my mind anyway. As a thirty something single girl, this was a major concern. I mean, for a start I could rule out the next 6-9months at least! Love life officially cancelled. No Mr Right or any Mr Wrongs. Just me, alone, single and bored. Only C-Monkey to cuddle up to and he hates to cuddle, and he snores, badly.

But after that, well then what? What happens when life starts over? How would I tell someone I wanted to be with that I may have to do a bit of a Carrie Bradshaw for a while? How do you even start that conversation? For those of you who know SATC you’ll know that Miss Bradshaw was a fan of the bra in the bedroom approach. Miranda, Sam and Charlotte regularly got their boobs out in many a sex scene, but not Carrie, she was a bra in bed kind of a girl all the way. So I decided a while ago that should the situation ever arise again (?!) I would adopt the Carrie way.

But in order to even give that a go I’d have to get my confidence back, get out there, find a boy to like me, then face telling him….then do the Carrie thing. I appreciate this all sounds very superficial and stupid, but when you haven’t had ‘fun’ in a really long time (thanks C-Monkey) and you really do want to meet your Mr Right eventually, it does occupy an awful lot of your thinking space.

Recently I got to put the Carrie in to action. I’m not quite ready to be that honest, just yet (hi again Nan!). Suffice to say that the guy in question told me that not being able to have something, just makes you want it all the more. So maybe Carrie was on to something, sometimes it’s ok to hide the goods away. It seems boys actually quite like it.

So if I could go back in time and relate some of this to the freaked out, frightened and totally confused me, the one frantically searching the internet at 4am in the morning searching for answers and just becoming a sobbing mess… I’d say this – No it won’t be the same, they won’t be the same, but that doesn’t mean it will be awful. It’s all down to you. You will find the strength to hold on to who you are, and that’s what really matters. Keep writing, keep being honest, oh and keep a nice bra handy too ;0)

Honesty and boobs, who knew it could be so complicated!

Has anyone seen my Monkey?

16 Jan

“Um yes, I actually had a bye bye boobie party for my left breast….we made cookies in the shape of boobies….with little dolly mixture sweets on top, for the nipple…” – I can not believe these words are coming out of my mouth, but they are. What’s more surprising is the person I’m saying them to is Jeremy Paxman……yes Jeremy bloody Paxman, of Newsnight! Because there I am, on Newsnight, live on the bloody BBC talking about Lefty, my imaginary Cancer character C-Monkey and boob shaped cookies…oh dear god.

This was not another morphine moment, I wasn’t hallucinating, I was sitting in a studio, in front of the legend that is Jeremy Paxman talking about, well, everything – my C-Monkey and his incessant ramblings, drunken bye bye boobie parties, mastectomies and how my blog has helped me. In all honesty I’m not really sure he knew what to say or what to think of the bonkers girl in front of him rabbiting on, but he was very sweet actually, he smiled a lot, I think he may have even laughed. (Well you can’t be mean to someone who’s had cancer can you, I’m pretty sure there’s a rule about that somewhere.)

I didn’t think I’d be able to do it at first. So I said no. No way. No thanks. I was tired, run down, feeling a bit emotional and worried it might all go horribly wrong. Worried I’d end up a blubbering mess, sobbing in Jeremy’s arms, snotting all over his nice jacket about my lovely Lefty and my nice bras that don’t fit any more….on live TV! Oh dear god that would be so humiliating. Poor Jeremy! No, definitely not. So instead I suggested they call my friend Tessa Cunningham. Tessa interviewed me a while ago and is simply lovely. Tessa would be articulate, well-mannered, there would be no risk of swearing, crying or making a tit of it with Tessa (excuse the pun), no she’d be perfect.

So decision made, that was that. Except it wasn’t of course. Because a few hours later there I was talking to Paxman about Lefty and boob shaped cookies. I’m not entirely sure what happened but two things definitely helped to change my mind, a conversation I had with my boss and also, of course, C-Monkey. Both reminded me what I’d come through and that although I was tired it was because I was trying to get my life back on track – I was tired because I was working hard, working on getting back to the old me. Living my life, going out, doing…stuff. Normal every day life stuff. And what a bloody privilege that is. C-Monkey told me I couldn’t do it which was the final push I needed, god I hate him. So that was that. I was going on Newsnight!

And I’m glad I did because for those few hours I felt really brave. And I didn’t make a tit of myself, or cry or stare mutely at the camera, caught speechless, the moment he started speaking to me. (Which for those who know me would be hugely unlikely anyway….me, silent?! Pah! I’m just surprised he managed to get a word in!)

The high afterwards was incredible, amazing even. I couldn’t sleep for all the adrenaline and excitement that was rushing through me. Wow, what an experience, what an achievement. I couldn’t believe how far I’d come since that horrible day back in the summer – take that C-Monkey! High fives all round, even one for Jeremy. Well no, maybe not, I don’t think he’s a high-five kind of person.

That was back in October. Almost three months ago. And I haven’t written since.

I’ve love to say it was because I was out there, going crazy, seizing every moment of life, carpe diem all over the place, in everyone’s face. But no. Far from it.

You see what I’ve actually been doing is a really good job of pretending everything is ‘fine’. I’m fine, it’s fine, everything’s fine. I’d thrown myself into action mode when the diagnosis got made, started writing, moved house, got the first two big operations out-of-the-way, started a new job, got a new boob, started a Facebook page for other girlies like me…..But what I hadn’t done, not properly anyway, was stop and really deal with any of it. Sure there were moments, of course, the odd sad day but I don’t really like being sad, so the “I’m fine” shake off dance would quickly kick in.

To back up a little, Lefty, when we last left him had been reborn! And all was marvelous. Except of course, it kind of wasn’t, but I was too busy being “I’m fine” to really face it. The implant was great don’t get me wrong, it’s just, well they still didn’t match. Not at all. I can see how that might sound really superficial but it really does matter. Every single day, several times a day you see your body and when somethings not right you can try to ignore it or overcome it as much as possible but it’s hard. And when you’ve convinced yourself that just “one more op…, just one more” will fix it, and it doesn’t well you get seriously deflated (me not the boob).

So I stopped writing. I didn’t want to talk about it or think about it any more. I wanted to forget and be fine. Instead I resolutely buried myself into every distraction I could. I wanted to continue pretending I was fine, totally fine, while I silently counted the days to the next operation in December. Yes another one.

I’m now three operations in from when this all began and things are starting to look a bit better. Much better in fact. But there’s going to be at least another one….after that I don’t know. I’ve stopped saying “there will only be one more, then I’ll be done” because, well, one has turned in to three, three big operations in 6months and now there’s another on the horizon. Exhausted, doesn’t even touch the sides. But seriously, I’m fine….really. Ok so that sounds like a big lie, and maybe it is but it’s starting to become a much smaller one these days.

C-Monkey and me are now more at peace with each other too. Well I say at peace, we just sort of just ignore each other. I’ve stopped letting him in and he’s stopped screaming so loudly. It’s more of a quiet despair now. Silent companions if you will. A curt nod at each other, a mumble here and there, a few barely audible rants in the shower (it’s still his favourite place), but mostly we just sort of stay silent. I know he’s there, he know’s I’ve tuned him out. It is what it is.

On the plus side he has given me back my gym kit, so I’m going to get my wobbly (not in the right places) self back to the gym for some gentle exercise which may help with all the PMA bollocks.

And I’m going to write. Because it helps. Because I like it. And when I’m not writing it just means I’m hiding, which isn’t good.

So then C-Monkey, I know you’re still there and I know we are not completely fine….yet…but we bloody well will be. Oh yes, 2013, I’m coming to get you!

Lefty is……REBORN!

5 Oct

“Lefty……Is…..REBORN!!! Screamed the Doctor, clutching his chest… “It’s alive!!”

I kid you not, this actually happened.

Mum and I just starred at each other. Did that really just happen? Did he really just scream out “Lefty is reborn!” or is the morphine taking me to a whole new level of crazy?!

Yes he said it. Or rather, he screamed it. We both heard it. Loud and clear.

I really did think my morphine drip was on far too high. But luckily Mum helped steer me through the drugged up fog by explaining that the Doctor apparently had two hearts and one of them, Lefty, had stopped beating but was now perfectly fine.

Ah right then, of course, that makes perfect sense.

There we were, in hospital, me just coming out of my post operation haze and mum sat next to my bed tuned in to the penultimate episode of Doctor Who. It was a very fuzzy time for me, but that line definitely got my attention. It also got the attention of my sister, who nearly 200 miles away had exactly the same reaction as me – “Did he really just say that? Did he really scream out ‘Lefty is reborn’ – on the same night your Lefty got the new implant??” Yes Lu he did. And it was brilliant, just brilliant.

Because the very gorgeous Matt Smith was right, Lefty was indeed reborn. Gone was the old stiff Frankenboob, with its wonky edges and hard bits, gone was the annoying pipe that stuck in to my ribs, gone are the days of pumping up the jam. All gone. Frakenboob is no more. Lefty has risen from the operating table like a boob shaped phoenix and has been reborn as a real life (or very close to it) boobie! And he feels amazing.

The morning I went in to hospital I was absolutely terrified. My only reference point was the last time I’d been there. The mastectomy. And that was a world of pain I couldn’t even have imagined. After that surgery I couldn’t move. I couldn’t even cry, my whole body felt brutally attacked. I hurt in every way possible. So this time, going back in, I was terrified it was going to be the same.

Waking up in recovery is never fun, ever. But after the first few hours, when the fuzzy head and sick feeling started to pass I realized I could move my arms without pain. In fact I could move my head, I could sit up, I even got out of bed pretty easily (with a little assistance). This was nothing like the last op. Not even close to it.

The difference was staggering. It was amazing in fact. I was so happy. I cried. I cried my eyes out, because I could.  It was such a huge relief. It wasn’t like last time, not one little bit. It felt so good to let it all out. I was overwhelmed with it all. I couldn’t believe that I was ok, that the pain wasn’t as bad and that Lefty was right there, all big and boob like. Right in front of me. The last time I woke up there was nothing, it had been taken away.  But this time, Lefty was back and bigger than ever! I can’t really do justice to the feeling that came over me, relief, pure relief is as close as it gets.

I only stayed in a night, which was fine by me, the hospital is lovely and everyone there is amazing but there’s nothing like being in your own bed. But after about 2days of being in the flat I could tell mum was getting restless. I was very happy in my PJ’s moving from the bed to the sofa, from the sofa back to bed, sleeping off the hangover of the anesthetic. But mum, well mum isn’t really a ‘do nothing’ kind of person. No. Mum likes to be busy, she likes to be doing stuff, she likes to have a project. Me resting, well, that’s quite a boring project.

So two days after we got home mum set about getting stuff sorted, and by stuff I mean anything and everything. My internet needed to be connected, check and online. I was thinking of getting a juicer to be a bit healthier, ordered and delivered. I wanted have some new healthier recipes, new cookbook bought, lentils cooked. The list continued. Every day that mum had a project she was happy. By day four my bedroom even had a new lick of paint and now has a very nice new feature wall. Mums, they really are incredible – I’m pretty sure I’ve got one of the best. Scrap that, I’ve got the best.

But by the end of the week I was running out of projects and we’d started to annoy each other, a sure sign I was on the mend.

And I am on the mend. (Even though that’s probably the phrase I hate most of all. Please never say to anyone going through any kind of Cancer ‘good to see you’re on the mend’. It’s not fucking flu, it’s cancer, there is no on the mend. It’s not something that’s just over and done with like a cold. It’s not a broken arm that will ‘mend’ its cancer you idiot. So please, just please, never, EVER say that to anyone. And if you have cancer and someone says it to you, you have every right to tell them to knob off and punch them on the nose – oh and then say ‘It’s ok, you’ll be on the mend soon enough!’ I’ll say it again, idiots.)

Anyway….yes the dressings have now come off and Lefty and Righty are looking pretty bloody good. Oh yes, I said Righty because he got some action too. For all of his “oh look at me, I have a nipple” showing off, Righty was in fact in need of a little attention. There was no way he was going to be able to stand up to a new super, perfectly formed, perky Lefty. Noooo. In the cold light of day it would be Righty that looked a little….shall we say relaxed….(read droopy)….next to the new and improved Lefty. Oh how the mighty have fallen, not so smug now are you nipple boy!

So Righty got a little lift at the same time. Which is a very good thing. Having matching boobs is actually pretty important. You don’t want one boob looking like the granny version of the other boob, no, they need to be identical twins. Preferably perky, bouncy, jiggly twins – who like mud fights and jelly!

Those twins are still a little way off, Lefty needs some ‘decoration’ and that won’t happen for another month. So for now it’s about getting to know this new Lefty. Honestly, it’s a little strange. I mean obviously it’s great, but strange non the less. Because, well, it’s not me. I mean it feels like me, it looks like me, but it’s not really me. It’s just the closest I will ever get to the old me. And that’s what I have to get used to, that’s what I need to accept. I guess it’s going to take some time. And it’s not quite there yet so I need to be patient a little longer and wait and see what it’s like when I’m finally finished, when Lefty is totally “reborn”, decorations and all.  Maybe then it’ll feel more like me. And maybe this whole crazy, nightmare will be over.

I have a lingering feeling though, that like all truly horrific nightmares this one will stay with me for some time to come.

I think I need to accept that having Cancer, or being someone who had Cancer, has fundamentally changed me. Mentally, emotionally and physically, it’s changed everything. So it really doesn’t matter if Lefty (and Righty) live out their lives as the worlds best boobs (aim high right?) the fact is I did have cancer. My whole life got turned upside down the moment someone said those words to me. I had to change in ways I never wanted to.

And that will stay with me, long after the scars have faded.

But for now I’ve got some decorating to look forward to and I guess at some point I need to start thinking about getting my old single girl life back on the road – crikey, now how the hell do you tell a boy about all that??

How’s this for an opener –

‘Do you prefer girls with real boobs or fake ones?

‘Ok so how would you feel about a girl who has the best of both worlds?’

;0)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grace is a very grubby girl….

21 Sep

Patience is a virtue, virtue is a grace, Grace is a girl who forgot to wash her face. Or so the saying went when I was nine.

It always kind of bothered me, why did Grace forget to wash her face? How do you just forget to wash your face? Did she have to be someplace so urgently that she just left the house without noticing her big, dirty, grubby face?!

I came to the conclusion some time ago that essentially Grace was just a bit dirty, a dirty little stop out if you will. Literally.

I feel a bit like Grace. Not with the grubby face, god no, I am meticulous about the whole face cleaning business – there’s a whole night time / day time ritual that bores even me.

But I’m definitely more of a go, go, go girl – again not in that way. Ok so in the PG version I just like things to move quickly. I like to skip ahead to the best bits – god there really is no way to write this without it sounds like blog porn?!

Essentially I want to fast forward the boring stuff and get straight to the exciting bits. I’m not one of these “Life is a journey” people. To me, life is a series of really brilliant things, with scatterings of shit times and whole chunks of just average, normal, day-to-day stuff. Which is fine, but I’m secretly just waiting for the next big exciting moment to come along.

But this month I’ve mostly been waiting. I’ve tried to distract myself with the house move and the new job but essentially I’ve been waiting…waiting for the next operation to come. Waiting to see if Leftie has “rested” enough, waiting to hear if I’ve been pumped up enough, waiting to see if the muscles have stretched enough. Waiting, waiting, waiting. (Sigh)

It’s only the enforced waiting that’s made me realise how quickly everything happened before. How I’ve effectively been on fast forward since that fateful day back in June.  From the first time I heard the C-Bomb to the day of the mastectomy a total of eleven days passed, it felt like years, but it was just eleven days.

Then every day or week after something has happened. First the immediate recovery and adjustment, running away to the seaside, the weekly hospital appointments, watching little Lefty grow, finding the new flat, getting ready to start the new job – everything just seemed to fast forward at a rapid pace. Then someone hit pause, while everything else could move on the reconstruction had to wait, until Lefty had rested enough.

The job has been a great distraction. It’s just what I needed, a fresh start, lots of new people, new challenges and I love it. But even this has come with it’s own C-Monkey related issues. Mainly the crisis every woman faces every single day, the thing that keeps us up at night, that occupies our thoughts in the shower, or when making that first cup of tea….what the hell am I going to wear today?? This is a universal problem for women across the land, but what I have only just realised is that C-Monkey has gone through my entire wardrobe, tried on everything I once liked (he looked very fetching, if a little camp) and then destroyed it. I have been living in pretty causal, comfy clothes for a while now; work wear really wasn’t required in the hospital corridors. But now I’ve started the new job, I want to look super polished and PR fabulous and it’s a bloody struggle. This wardrobe is no longer my own. C-Monkey has ransacked it. He has made previously pretty dresses fit in all the wrong ways, he has shrunk tops, taken zips in, removed buttons and don’t even get me started on his attack of my bras. There are no wires left!

Quite simply my wardrobe has halved, scrap that, it’s reduced down to a third. The only items I want to wear are loose, baggy, shapeless things that hide the ‘under construction’ Franken-boob from the public eye and the ever-expanding body beneath. Oh yes, C-Monkey may take away with one hand but he also gives with another, he gives you….wobble. Yes, wobble and chunk. And not the good kind.

The day C-Monkey arrived he bought a wheelbarrow of wobbly bits; he hid my gym kit and made a deal to swap my Lefty with the chunk in his (I want to say trunk…_) wheelbarrow. Because exercise and me have parted ways, which was kind of expected and not something I’ve even worried about…..but I do miss it. Accepting my new body, the extra wobbly bits and the not so wobbly bits (yes Lefty I’m talking about you) and the lack of control to do anything about it is actually really hard. Nothing fits, nothing feels like it use to, or hangs in the right way, my body is a bit of a stranger to me.

So now my morning routine involves a good hour of frantic hunting for anything, anything, I can wear that still fits. Something that isn’t too tight, or shows the difference in size between the two, or that flaunts Righty and his bouncy ways too much. Yes he’s still showing off and bouncing about happily while Lefty stays rigid. Blazers are my new best friend.

But not for much longer. The wait is finally over. This weekend the Franken-boob will finally be replaced by a proper, soft, life like implant. Lefty will be reborn! No more pipe, no more weird hard wonky boob, no more pump up the jam sessions, no more wardrobe wars (ok so there might still be a few of those, the gym bunny is a little way off yet) ….but yes finally, finally, the time has come and I’m actually excited!

And maybe a little terrified.

I don’t really like to think back to the last operation I had, the mastectomy. Those horrible dark, pain filled days afterwards. I just can’t face it. I don’t want to remember. But it keeps sneaky up on me the closer I get to going in. I’m scarred it’s going to be like that all over again. Waking up in recovery, the shock, the shaking, throwing up, the dizzy spells, that horrible drain, the pain…….I can’t concentrate for thinking about it.

I tell myself repeatedly that this isn’t the same, it’s a much simpler operation, effectively just popping one out and popping a new one in, done.  But still I think about it.

I’m also worried about what it’s going to look like, the new boob. In a weird way I’ve sort of been able to excuse Franken-boob and the way he looks because he’s been ‘under construction’ – so if he looks a bit funny, or feels weird, that’s to be expected. But after this next op, well he’s supposed to be almost finished ….almost perfect. But what if he’s not, what if he never looks ok?

I say almost finished because the ‘decorations’ won’t be done for another few months – maybe I’ll get my ‘baubles’ done just in time for Christmas, how very festive! Apparently they like to leave the new implant to settle for a while, as it may shift slightly (more settling time, joy!). If they put the decoration on now and it shifts I might well end up with a nipple pointing sideways?! As funny as that might be for 5minutes and potentially useful (handy key hook anyone?) I’m glad they’re not taking that risk.

So here I am, it’s nearly time. I definitely haven’t learnt to be patient and I may not be feeling very brave (at all) but at least I’ll always have a clean face and possibly a very nice, new bouncy Lefty. Here’s hoping!

The boat that rocked….with a C-Monkey and a Water Goat

25 Aug

Change. It’s a funny old thing. I’m not very good at change. In fact, I hate it. I’m the kind of girl that likes things to stay just as they are….forever.

I’ve managed to ignore this fear of change for quite some time. In fact I’ve even given it my own PR spin. So you see, it’s not that I’m afraid of change, no, no, I’m just very, very loyal. Yes loyal, not afraid of change…just loyal. I am loyal to a fault. A big fault. The kind of fault that ends up being yours for not changing…..for example, I will stay with a boy I met at school for 9years (yes 9 years!) even though I knew he was a lying cheating idiot with a soft spot for younger girls (loyal = a walking doormat), I will stay at a job for 8years (again yes 8years!) because even though I loved it, looking back there were times I knew I should have moved on and explored new things (loyal = not really believing in myself), I’ll stay in the same ‘renting with randoms’ situation for years even though I feel my insides curl up and die each time I see that wee in the toilet that someone refuses to flush away (loyal = serious sanitation issues).

I cling so desperately to this masked idea of loyalty that I often miss out on really living life, on throwing myself out there, being brave and having a few “oh fuck it!” moments. It’s just wasn’t me. I mean why would you want to? Why take the risk, why rock the boat, bad things happen when you rock the boat, someone could fall in, get swept away or eaten by a shark. Hey, it happens! So my advice, just stay in the boat, be very, very still and don’t move. Ever. Ok.

But after years of doing everything I could to keep things steady, I realised my life was at a bit of a standstill. That actually I wasn’t very happy. Don’t get me wrong I wasn’t miserable, it’s not like I was lying on the floor at 2am drinking vodka singing George Michael songs (that’s just a typical Friday night, no? And who doesn’t love George!) – What I mean is, that after a while I realised my life hadn’t just slowed down, it had come to a stop.

At 32 I was waiting. Waiting for my life to start. For something brilliant to happen, anything really; maybe a nice house, a little dog called George (yes I know, I love George but again who doesn’t!) a lovely man (he doesn’t have to be called George…), some babies (preferably mine), or maybe just winning the lottery and becoming an international jet setting bumpkin – you know, the usual really. Something… anything, that would give me that big shove and get my life going again.

And then C-Monkey arrived. You could say he quite literally snuck up behind me and shoved me so fucking hard I still have the bruises. I mean talk about be careful what you wish for, because that ‘anything’ might just come up and bite you on the ass….or in my case, Leftie.

Once he’d arrived C-Monkey did everything he could to remind me that my life as I knew it, was going to change…forever. There was no getting away from it, no matter how much I tried and there was nothing I could do to stop it. It was like I literally woke up one morning with the word ‘Change’ written in very big capital letters on my forehead, underneath it also read ‘you’re an idiot’ – he used that special invisible ink stuff, but I knew it was there.

It wasn’t a quiet gradual change either, oh hell no, that would have been too easy. No C-Monkey didn’t do quietly; in fact he had his very own marching band, complete with cancer theme song, which was sung loudly, day and night, night and day, over and over, and over! C-Monkey’s ‘Campaign of Change’ marched all over every aspect of my life. Nothing was safe. First he conquered my body (and not in a good way), then he moved on to my family, my friends, my job, my flat-share, relationships … everything.

The biggest battle however was the one that took place in my head. At first I ran away and hid behind the “I’m fine” banner but it was made of paper and he promptly ripped through it. Then came the “Why is this happening to me” / “Fuck off” / “I need more wine” banners which didn’t do much to slow him down either. Finally, exhausted I gave in.

C-Monkey had won. Cancer had changed everything.  There was no loyalty coating for this situation, it was going to change my whole life and that was that.

So my once steady boat, securely tided up in the harbour is now crashing through open water, no sign of land, just miles and miles of ever changing seas. C-Monkey loves it. He’s like a wild pirate laughing like a lunatic with every wave that crashes over us.

At first I freaked out. Who wouldn’t?! I mean – a) I hate boats, b) I am convinced I will at some point be eaten by a shark (long story involving me and a fish pond as a little girl but let me assure you it’s a very real possibility) c) I do not like or never will like open water…or waves or being in a boat, I know I said that already but I mean it.

But here’s the weird thing. Once I crawled out from my hiding place, I started to get a little braver. My sea legs kicked in and now, well, I quite like it. Yeah I do. And no I’m not high on drugs, I mean yes there are still drugs but not so much that I’m dreaming about carnival boobs again. And obviously the cancer thing still sucks giant, wobbly, whale ass and loosing Lefty sucked even more, but now that I’m here and finally realising that I have absolutely no control, I’m kind of enjoying it. I’ve let go. I’m embracing the change.

I’ve taken the PR sheen off of the loyalty cloak and finally seen it for what it is, the “I’m a mug” anorak. No one looks good in an anorak, not even on a boat. So now that it’s off I’ve started to see things clearly. I’m realising that maybe some those things that Cancer changed, actually needed to be changed.

So decisions have been made. First up the flat situation, living with other people during all this (the diagnosis, the operation, the emotional fall out) hasn’t always been easy, mostly because I was just all over the place. So I’ve rented a flat, by myself. Now the only wee I have to see the in toilet is my own, it’s a revelation. Peace and quiet, my own space, more kitchen cupboards than I could have dreamt of, a whole fridge to myself and privacy! Oh the privacy, it’s amazing. Finally I can cry whenever I want, I can sing loudly, shout, dance about naked – have my own mini naked disco for one, it’s brilliant. It’s all mine and I love it!

And that’s not all; I’m starting my new job in a few weeks, and can’t wait. It’s another big change that may have felt daunting before but now I’m just excited. Its fresh start, with new people, new challenges and maybe even a new pencil case or handbag. Well a new handbag is a must for any new job, and shoes, yes shoes are also very, very important. You can’t start a new job without new shoes, they will mock you, there will be pointing, and staring, no one will take you for lunch or talk to you, you’ll be the new girl with bad shoes!!! NO. This will never happen. I may have one wonky boob but I will never have bad shoes.

I know it won’t all be plane sailing and that C-monkey has more changes to come but hopefully I’ll be able to face them head on. Something I’m already doing. Recently I found out that the operation for the proper new and improved go-go gadget Lefty (with possible glow in the dark attachments and buoyancy aid) has been put back …..again.

Apparently more pumping action is required then it needs to ‘rest’ and ‘settle’ which makes me feel like I’m baking some sort of boob cake?! Normally I would have become a weeping mess at the news, but I’m not going to let this recent change rock my boat, it’s actually ok, it’s a good thing. It means I can start my new job for a bit, then have something to look forward to getting stuck back in to when it’s all done – the job I mean, not the boob cake, that’s just weird. And I have my new place to come back to after the next operation, a real home, somewhere that’s all mine.

It’s funny how change can affect you. Someone recently told me I was a water goat, at first I thought I was being insulted and was about to tell him he looked like a sweaty toad, but apparently it’s my Chinese sign or something. It means I’m better out in open water, riding the big waves, taking on the changes and sailing through. It turns out I’m terrible in shallow safe water and will forever fret about the small stuff. Who knew!

So here we are, a C-Monkey and Water Goat, out at sea…. in a beautiful boob shaped boat. Where we’ll end up is anyone’s guess but we seem to be doing ok.

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