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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.

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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!

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