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I can’t stop staring at boobs!

26 Jul

Pump up the jam, pump it up… while your feet are….something…and the jam is something else….

This is the song that comes in to my head every time I go to the hospital to get inflated. I have absolutely no control over it. It’s absurd. I think there may be something wrong with me. I even found myself humming it while I got undressed last time. Seriously, is there something wrong with me?!

I’m up to about three pumps now, three lots of solution have gone in and little Lefty is finally starting to take shape. It’s not quite a fully fledged boob yet, it’s still looking a little like a wonky water balloon, but it’s my water balloon and as long as it keeps growing and doesn’t explode that’s fine by me.

My surgeon reckons I’ve got another two or three more to go then I should be ready for the next operation. It’s amazing how quickly it’s all happening really. It was just over a month ago that someone said ‘you have breast cancer’, a week after that they took my breast and now here I am growing a new one. There are times when it all feels a bit removed, like it’s happening to someone else and any moment I’ll wake up and realise it’s all been a horrible, horrible nightmare. Except it’s not.

The dreams I’m having at the moment are brilliant though, when C-Monkey lets me sleep the drugs have an awesome time kicking up some pretty bonkers stuff. My favourite so far involved me sitting on top of a giant plastic boob taking part in some sort of carnival, I think I may have been the carnival Queen. The boob Queen. My giant boob float passed along the street, music blaring, people cheering. Then I woke up. Complete madness. But who knows, maybe my subconscious has struck on to something, in years to come there could well be a Breast Cancer parade and there I’ll be, on top of my own giant Lefty, cheering and smiling. (Ok, might be time to come off the painkillers.)

The next operation should be pretty straight forward, well, as much as any operation can be I suppose. They’ll take out the temporary implant which has been stretching the muscles and swap it for the permanent one which should look more realistic in shape – so less like a weird water balloon with a side pump thing under my skin. I’m very happy about this, that pump has been quite uncomfortable and strange, especially when I’m doing my exercises and can feel it moving about. Blurgh!

They’ll go in through the same cut as before and then it’s simply a case of whipping one out and putting one in. Then bobs your uncle, new bouncy Lefty. Then all that’s left to do is the decoration, the cherry on top if you like, which should be done in time for Christmas. Jingle bells all the way.

So really, I shouldn’t really be fretting about it at all…..it’s a simple swap the boobie job. But I am. I really am. C-Monkey keeps reminding me of the pain, that horrible pain that I woke up to after the first operation, the weight of it all crushing down on me. How battered, bruised and savaged I felt. How alien and broken my body felt. The sane side of my brain, the one that doesn’t belong to C-Monkey, knows it shouldn’t be any where near as bad, how could it be, surely the worst bit has been done already? But I can’t shake the fear. And it’s exhausting. Will there ever be a time in all this when I’m not afraid? Afriad of the next step, afraid of more news, afraid life as I knew it will never quite be the same again.

Fear is a funny thing. Not really funny ha ha, that would be wrong, more funny strange. It’s probably one of the emotions I’ve felt most during all this. All consuming fear. Yet people keep telling me how brave I’m being. I can’t quite reconcile that as most of the time I don’t feel brave in the slightest, most of the time I feel small and frightened. I think I’m pretty good at being outwardly Ok and maybe that’s the thing that jars because there are so many times when I’m not, Ok. In these moments, I’m a bit of a mess, blind panic, fear or guilt ripple through me and just swallow me up.

Yeap there’s that word again guilt. Guilt and fear. They have become C-Monkey’s evil sidekicks. For every positive feeling I get, every time I feel happy or upbeat, he’ll lob a guilt ball in my face and suddenly I’m covered in it. Horrid sticky guilt over everything, the good diagnosis – why am I ok when so many amazing women aren’t, guilt for making such a fuss, guilty for not being better yet, guilty for not wanting to see people sometimes and just hide away. But mostly, mostly I feel guilty for putting my family through this. I hate that it has upset them so much, that they’ve had to worry so much, that it’s affected them and made them so sad. I wish everyday that it didn’t happen, everyday, not for me but for them.

But I’m over the worst and it shouldn’t come back (touching or rather gripping the wooden table as I write that) so I need to start letting go of the guilt, the fear, the worry and stress and try to be the brave person everyone thinks I am.

I also need to stop staring at other women’s boobs. Yes staring, unashamed starting. It’s something I’ve realised I do now! I’m like a dirty old man, or rather a dirty young man, actually, just a man. Any man. I am suddenly fascinated by them. And they’re everywhere. You can’t move for boobs. I’m serious. Big ones, small ones, perky ones, saggy ones. They are all glorious and just….everywhere! Boobs really are brilliant. Well done ladies. I promise I’m not being a pervert, of course I am looking with a slight envious curiosity but mostly I’m wondering if these women have had Breast Cancer. Because you really can’t tell. My friends keep telling me that they can’t tell, that I look ok, that ‘they’ (my slightly strange not quite matching pair) look normal. Which is crazy considering I feel like I’m walking around with a giant neon sign above my head that says – ‘One boob, she’s only got one real boob’. But they’re right. When I’m dressed and now that Lefty is a bit more pumped up, you can’t really tell.

Think about it, women who’ve faced their own horrible C-Monkey are walking around every day, right now, all around you and you can’t tell! It’s like an amazing secret society of strong, beautiful, determined women with wonderful boobs. Real ones, fake ones and even those that are gone but not forgotten. They are everywhere and it’s marvelous. But you can’t tell. You don’t know who these wonderful women are. And there’s something really powerful in that. One day I secretly hope someone catches me having a good old look and gives me a little nod or wink that just lets me know – yeap I’m one of those ladies and so are you, well done.

Either that or I’ll get arrested for being a bit of pervert…

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Paper pants, drugs and one wonky lady – Lefty finally gets it

11 Jul

You want to know this year’s fashion must have……well, here it is – giant paper pants! Yeap, it’s as much a surprise to me as it is to you but there you have it. Massive, and I mean bigger than granny could ever had imagined, massive, paper pants are very, very now. But it doesn’t end there. To complete the look you’re going to need a backless gown, made from scratchy cotton, with a complicated side tie belt and tight knee high white socks. Trust me, this ensemble is so hot right now. That is, if you’re a girl who’s about to have a operation to remove their favourite Left breast to combat cancer. If that’s you, get this look now. Quite frankly if you’re wearing anything else, they just won’t let you in. I’m serious, they are really weird about it – who knew?!

So there I was. Standing in my paper pants, white socks and backless gown. I couldn’t have been more thrilled (please note the massive sarcasm here). Paper pants. God, those things depress me. I mean really, paper…pants. Why? Why is this necessary?? Humiliation achieved. Thankfully I didn’t have much time to dwell on the horror that was my new wardrobe before the nurses came to escort me away. Old Lefty gave mum & sis a bye-bye jiggle and that was it, off we went. Walking down to theater I took a deep breath. How had this happened? To me? And so bloody quickly?? Yet somehow, here I was. In hospital, stood in a pair of paper pants about to have my breast removed……shit. Proper shit bags.

I don’t really remember much about ‘going under’ as they were pretty quick to knock me out, I think my inane nervous chatter probably hastened up that part of the process. I do remember the recovery room though. Which by the way is sooooo not a recovery room. They need to rename that place. A recovery room implies a place of relaxation, a place to just rest up, chill, take it easy, sniff a little incense, maybe have a herbal tea. No. This is NOT a recovery room. I’ll tell you what it is, it’s a “Fuck me, what the fuck is going on, who the hell are you, get off, help, where am I, ouch, fuck me that hurts, get off you bastard!” room. Yes that’s what it is and that’s what it should be called. The recovery room, bah! What a lie.

Needless to say I woke up with exactly those thoughts running through my drugged out brain. I couldn’t figure out how to get the oxygen mask off and kept hitting myself in the face with my very limp arm, every part of me was floppy and weird. But then I started shaking, shivering from head to toe, chattering teeth and everything. I’m beginning to realise that this is how my body reacts to shock or fear, which isn’t ideal, for one I can’t get a bloody word out and secondly shaking about like a 90’s raver doesn’t exactly do much to bring down the pain factor. Stupid body.

After god knows how long they took me back to my room. I wanted to cry so badly, but even the smallest sob caused a massive stab of pain to shoot through me. It hurt. Sweet Jesus did it hurt. Everything hurt. Breathing hurt, talking hurt, moving hurt. It felt like someone had tied a belt across my chest and tightened it as far as they could, then placed a large acme weight (like the ones in the Road Runner cartoons) on my chest just to ensure maximum discomfort. Sneezing, coughing or laughing was also out. Simply put, it was agony, the kind of which I’d never experienced before – this coming from a very, very clumsy girl who might as well have a loyal card for A&E. Seriously, I’d have so many loyalty points by now I could pretty much buy my own hospital – oh now there’s a thought. The Butt hospital! Hmm, maybe not.

The only thing that helped was the drugs and boy was there a lot of them. It was brilliant! First there was the morphine, which basically sent me mental, which I really enjoyed, but the slurred speech and dosey ramblings made it difficult for anyone else to know what the hell I was on about. It also stopped me sleeping which wasn’t great. Next up was Tramadol which made me puke, so I had to have an anti-sickness pill which stopped the puking but still left me feeling sick, dizzy and light headed. Then there was the paracetamol and the diclofenac to help with the swelling. Oh and not forgetting the anti coagulant I had to have injected into my tummy everyday as I wasn’t moving around enough. The tummy injection was probably the worst, they jab this bastard into you and it stings like crazy for a good hour – I mean really, you’ve just taken off my breast, I’m in more pain that I’ve ever been in in my whole life and now you’re stabbing me in the tummy. Just bugger off will you! Jesus.

I was in hospital for 4nights. With each day and night that passed I got a little better, I could talk more (well ramble on in a drugged up manner), stand up by myself, take a few steps and even laugh a little. Not that there was much to laugh about. In fact all I wanted to do was cry. Cry and cry and cry. But I couldn’t, it just hurt too much. Which just made me want to cry even more. There’s something truly heartbreaking about wanting to sob and knowing that you can’t. It took all the strength I could muster, which wasn’t a lot, to hold on to that lump in my throat, to stifle back the tears that were constantly threatening to fall and just hold on. God, it was hard. All I wanted to do was cry and I bloody well deserved a good cry, I needed it. I had every right to be sad, to sob, to let go, to be scared, to be devastated, for Lefty, for what I’d had to endure and the pain I was still in….but I couldn’t. It just hurt too much.

After a few hazy days I was able to get up by myself – well not completely by myself, I still needed the help of my amazing whizzy bed, which had every kind of ‘up’ / ‘down’ / ‘ half up or down’ button you could imagine. The bed was brilliant. My mum’s operating of the bed however, was a disaster. This is the woman who several years ago took charge of my wheelchair after a pretty bad knee op and promptly wheeled me into the road, leg first. She also thought it was ok to open doors using my leg as some kind of battering ram and regularly wheeled me into corners of shops, leaving me staring blankly at a wall, so she could have a look around. Mum is amazing, but honestly, she needs to be kept away from anything with buttons.

The only problem about being up was that it meant I had to do two things, firstly I had to remaster the art of walking about and not getting too dizzy or passing out and secondly, that I had to have a shower. The shower thing was an issue. I’m not normally a soap dodger but the truth was I just didn’t want to see what I looked like. I mean I really, really did not want to see what it looked like. As much as I tried to prepare myself, when the time eventually came I was pretty mortified at what I saw. My lovely Lefty was no more. I’d had a skin sparing mastectomy so it was still me, still my skin, still my little moles that I could see, but the fullness of it, the shape, was effectively gone. All that was left was a small little flat mound. Inside which was the temporary implant waiting to be inflated. It looked pretty pathetic next to glorious plump Righty. Poor thing. There was a long thin cut where my nipple should have been and another very small cut running under my breast. I also had quite a big cut under my armpit where they had gone in to test the lymph nodes. We found out after the surgery that the lymph nodes were clear and the cancer had definitely not spread, which was simply amazing to hear.

And it was…amazing to to hear, but that’s the thing with all of this, it totally mixes up your emotions. One second you’re over the moon because you know how lucky you are, but then you’re massively pissed off because actually, you aren’t that lucky – lucky would have been not having cancer in the first place and still having your breast. You get mad at the stupidest of things, cry at a moments notice, snap, shout, winge, then try to ignore it all and just shut the world out. Then comes the guilt – oh god do you feel guilty – guilty for making such a fuss when there are so many other amazing people who’ve faced the C-Monkey and had it much, much worse than you. When you mix in the pain, the all consuming pain, well, it’s a total head fuck. No doubt about it.

If it wasn’t for the amazing love from my mum, sister and my close friend TB I know how I couldn’t have got through it. They formed a small army and watched over me every step of the way. They sat, in horrendously uncomfortable chairs, for endless hours, held my hand through the pain, wiped away my tears, shared my frustrations, helped me in every physical way possible, listened to my drugged up ramblings and surrounded me with love, at every single moment. I honestly don’t know how to even begin to thank them, but I hope they know how much I love them.

While the emotional roller-coaster rattles on the next stage in the physical process is just around the corner. Soon, when the bruising and swelling has gone down, they’ll start the reconstruction.

Until then, all I can do is focus on getting through each day. I still don’t like mirrors or the shower or seeing people…. Mainly I just want to hide away, to run away from it all, from everyone and just be by myself. But that’s ok. I won’t hide under a rock forever. Just for a little bit. Then I’ll come out fighting again, vino in hand!

The final countdown…

28 Jun

On Monday morning I got a call to say my Op had been postponed until Friday. At first I was a bit bummed out. I’d kind of been psyching myself up for D-day, or should that be C-Day?! But after a moments reflection and a little glance down at Lefty a big smile spread across my face. Me & Lefty were living on borrowed time. This was good news.

It’s like when the Governor runs in to save the guy on death row about to get the lethal injection – “Noooooo George, wait! Lefty ain’t going down today….no sir”

Anyway, so there we were, me & Lefty. On borrowed time. Exciting. Maybe we could flee the country and just carry on for ever, Lefty and I, adventures all over the world…..but no, that’s not really very practical and I’m pretty sure wherever we went that dam C-Monkey would show his face. Suncream and sombrero in hand, waving merrily at us…..he really is such an annoying little C…..

So, three days. That’s all we had. Just three more days of my body, just the way it is. That was quite a sobering thought.  So we set about making a plan, a master plan to fill those three days with fun, laughter, a tiny bit of sadness (ok, ok maybe a lot of sadness, because stupid C-Monkey seems to insist on in at every turn!), some nice girly stuff and then, then we’d have ourselves a big old send off for Lefty with the official – Bye, Bye Boobie party!

But more on that later.

So in a nutshell here’s what we did:

1. Dinner / drinks / coffee and chats with numerous amazing, gorgeous and loving friends, colleagues and family – who continue to prop me up and make sure I’m not in a crumpled heap on the floor crying over my favourite bra. They love Lefty just as much as me and their words, hugs, tears, chats, giggles and love are keeping me strong.

2. Some pampering – Obviously this was essential, who’s to say this whole C thing isn’t some kind of really elaborate (if slightly mean) plan for me to meet Mr ZomesertBoy! Of course he doesn’t has to be from Zomerset and I’d rather he was a man than a boy but that’s by the by. Maybe he’ll be a dashing doctor, or nurse (Cute), or maybe he’ll be the person who tattoos my new nipple on – oooh errr. Anyway my hair is now as glossy and shiny as a little pony and my nails look pretty so I’m good to go.

3. Admin, or rather Cancer admin. No one ever warns you about this but there is a whole lot of admin that comes with Cancer. Seriously it’s like a second job, my to-do list is massive. It goes something like this – Number 1. Say thank you to everyone for all their lovely messages. Of course this is absolutely crucial, but it’s sort of like the ‘thank you’ cards you always means to send out after your birthday or Christmas or something. But I’m doing them, if you haven’t got yours yet it’s coming, it’s coming I promise – and thank you!! Number 2. Return the phone calls / text messages – There is a constant stream of calls with nurses or the health care people about general C-Monkey stuff. Of course again I know this is critical stuff and needs to be done. it’s just I’ve only got three days with Lefty, we want to be out running across London Sans Bra, bouncing freely in the wind, showing the world how glorious he is – not stuck on the phone….

4. Panicking. Ok so time to admit I’m bloody terrified. Three days to appreciate Lefty also means three more days to slightly loose my mind over what it’s going to be like, you know, when they take him. The lack of sleep is still also a bit of a pain. Pretty sure I have lost a few of my marbles now, C-Monkey has them, he likes to play with them. I’m hoping he chokes on one. So I try to take my mind off the lack of sleep with other stuff, like this rambling nonsense and planning the Bye Bye Boobie Party.

In hindsight I probably could have done more with Lefty, maybe taken it to see some sights, shown him off in some seriously sexy bras or tried my first ever nipple tassel, maybe I could have slept with as many men as possible to show it off one more time (note to self, this isn’t really possible when you’re a crying, mascara stained mess, blabbing on about ‘old Lefty’ – not really a turn on, no, not so much), maybe I could have had my breasts cast in bronze, oh now that would have been awesome! But no, we just did normal stuff and now the day is nearly here.

But the Bye Bye Boobie Party is happening tonight and that’s something to be excited by. The night before the op was always going to be horrible, fucking horrible actually, but now I get to spend it with my lovely friends and family laughing, eating, drinking (yes I can, I checked, I can go crazy until midnight, then I turn into a cancer pumpkin – boo!), talking about boobs and generally trying to keep me “perky” until morning. Sorry couldn’t resist that one.

Then after the party, that’s it. Time will have officially run out and Lefty will be gone. At 6.30am on Friday 29th June I go in to hospital for three days and everything after that will always be different.

Terrified doesn’t come close.

Shit bags.

Glow in the dark nipple – why not!

23 Jun

So today has been my first day alone. Since hearing the C-Bomb that is. I decided to spend it in bed. I don’t want to go out. I don’t want to get dressed or talk about stuff, I want to wallow in bed, cry a bit (maybe a lot actually) and hopefully, at some point, get some much needed sleep.

However C-Monkey has other plans, he won’t let me sleep or stop crying. So here I am. Still in bed. With Mr Chaterbox going round and round in my head. In a bid to regain control we’ve started a new game which I thought I’d share – listing the pro’s and con’s of having my breast removed…..yes I know it’s a very sombre game but when you’ve had little to no sleep in about a week these things sort of become quite black and white.

So here’s where me & C-Monkey have got to –

Con’s:

– Ok so yes, lets get the first most glaringly obvious one out of the way – they have to take my boob. Old ‘Lefty’s’ days are numbered. And that sucks in every kind of way possible…..and then some more, in ways which no one thought was possible, but actually is. It just sucks.

– I’m also bit freaked out about having something ‘else’ in my body. I have no idea what it will feel like. Will it be like someone’s put a bean bag under my skin or a water balloon, will I hear it swishing about??? Blurgh! Or will it be really hard and solid and heavy? Will I feel a bit…wonkey? Hmmm, yeah not really feeling good about all that stuff.

– Also and completely randomly (thanks C-Monkey), I’m pretty sure no one will ever motorboat me again. I know, I know, that’s a totally and utterly ridiculous thing to say and actually I can’t remember the last time anyone actually did do that, because I’d probably slap them, – BUT should they want to, they probably won’t be able to. The phrase ‘rock and a hard place’ should be replaced with ‘boob and a hard place?!’ Who knows how solid this new boob could be, I could seriously hurt someone!

– Some of the ‘process’ is a bit grim too. The first implant they put in needs to have a tube, some kind of pump (?!) thing. This will stick out of me for a bit, which is just weird and horrid to think about. And what they hell are they going to do, just pump me up a boob every day?? Is it like those trainers we had as kids, you know the airmax things with the pump so you could pump up the soles – I mean that’s pretty cool for shoes, but who wants to be pumping up their boob every 10 minuets. And what happens if it deflates, do you get that weird hissing sound like a balloon going down?? Um, embarrassing… Thankfully I’m told that bit of the process doesn’t last long and the new boob will get properly put in quite soon after, but still….it’s not nice.

– This may sound vain but I’ve always really liked my boobs. I’m sure every girl does, but I’ve never really had what I think are stand out features – I’m not tall, don’t have long legs that go on for days (mine end after about oh, say, a minute), I don’t have big eyes or amazing Jolie lips, but I did always have nice boobs. I could fill a dress and always felt kind of sexy, you know, in a womanly way. But now. Or rather after. I really don’t know. Will all that go away? Will they take my womanliness as well as the cancer? Will my confidence, my sexiness (cringe!) be gone too……… I don’t really like thinking about that too much.

– What will I look like…..will it be ugly and scared, will it horrify me every time I look in the mirror. God, that one really depresses me….ok time to move on.

Pro’s:

– Ok so I get to have a whole new boob, which could potentially be amazing, like porn star perfect – forever. No spaniel ears for me in years to come, nope I shall have a perky pair for a very long time. Oh yes I say pair because as part of the aftercare they make sure you have a matching set – so even if Righty starts to droop and look a little sad next to the new and improved Lefty, they’ll sort it out. Come on ladies that’s a pretty big bonus, you know what I mean.

– I’m lucky enough to be having a skin sparing mastectomy which means they keep the skin. Ok so I know that sounds gross but it’s actually a very good thing, it means the implant will be put into or rather under my own skin. So I don’t have to have a skin graft from anywhere, there will be less scaring and when I look down it’ll still look like me, because its my skin. So that’s pretty amazing really. I feel very, very grateful about that.

– Also as my friend James pointed out, I’ll probably never drown. I will have my own built in buoyancy aid, like a life raft just ready to go should I ever need it. My own mini dingy boob. Brilliant. Bond would be proud.

– I also get to have a whole new set of bra’s. Now I know this doesn’t especially link to the Op because you can get new bra’s anytime but bra’s are really, really bloody expensive. So for the most part us girls make do with our regular boring every day sets and then have some nice expensive sexy stuff for when we have….um…visitors. But post Op, I’m gonna need a whole new draw bursting with amazing bra’s to make me feel nice. It’s important. There will be a fully justifiable reason to buy as many bra’s as I like, even if there are no ‘visitors’ for a very long time. It doesn’t matter. They (the old & new boob) need to look and feel pretty if only for me.

– I get a whole new nipple. Yeap you heard me. As part of the whole reconstruction thing they build me a new nipple and then tattoo it and the surrounding area to make it look natural. They tattoo my new nipple! How bonkers is that. I have flirted with the idea of a tattoo for ages, and now I finally get one. Having a tattoo of a nipple wasn’t really what I had in mind (more like a small bird on my wrist) but hey, it’s a tattoo non the less. Plus I might be able ask for something cool, maybe they could make it…..gold! Yes a gold nipple, that would be cool, or maybe sparkly pink – you know for parties and stuff. Or maybe they could do a glow in the dark one!!! A-MAZING! Yes that’s what I want. I want a glow in the dark nipple. I will never get lost in the dark, it’ll be a very handy beacon, so you’ll always know where I am and I’ll fit right at any Coldplay gigs. Done. Glow in the dark nipple. YES. sorted.

– Aside from all of that silliness, the most important Pro of all, of everything actually, is that the Cancer will be gone. That alone is the biggest Pro of them all. It will, I hope and pray, be gone. For good. In one horrible but very necessary moment. it will be out. That’s the only Pro that really matters. (Although I am going to ask about the glow in the dark thing, you never know…)

Ok C-Monkey, now that’s all out can I sleep now or at least stop crying…..pleeeeeeeease!

(That’s not me by the way…)

Bumper stickers for boobs

22 Jun

The shock of the C-Bomb stayed with me for quite a while…….well truth be told it’s still there, like some kind of weird evil monkey that just pops up. And pop up he does, all day, every day, I’m in the shower and he’s there (pervert!), making a brew – oh look there he is, settling down for some much, much (!) needed sleep – no, don’t think so, the C Monkey has other plans, he’s going to chat incessantly at your head for hours and hours and hours. I hate the C Monkey. I’m pretty sure he ate all my chocolates too.

The other annoyance in my life is my very, very sore boob, the one that got prodded and poked with big old needles. Jeeze it smarts! Every single wobble, bounce and jiggle is painful. I’m pretty sure this would be less painful if I had small boobs, small boobs don’t jiggle quite so much or with such rebound motion – at least I don’t think they do, it’s not really something I’ve ever had to think about before.

Anyway, the jiggle avoidance game is not a fun one. My poor mum & sister have had to drive like drunken idiots to try to avoid any bumps in the roads, any looming pot holes or potential dips that might cause me to wince in bouncy agony.

This has got me (and the C Monkey) thinking, wouldn’t it be a great idea if after your trip to hospital they gave you a “Boobie care package” to take away…..stuff that means people know you have a sore boob and to essentially mind the fuck out the way!

So you’d get a boobie bumper sticker for your car so people don’t think you’re driving like a lunatic –

“CAUTION: Broken boob on board” or “CAUTION: Nervous nipple behind the wheel”

They could even make badges, like the ones pregnant women have on the tube, saying something like –

– “Boob, not on board” – that would be handy to have post op I guess….

You’d also get one of those U shaped travel pillows, that you put round your neck – only it wouldn’t be for your neck, it would be for your sore boob. Imagine that. A boob, just nestled into one of those travel pillows, wow, what a comfy place that would be!

They also need to think of something more practical for the shower situation. I was told to get a shower cap and put it on your boob to stop the dressings getting wet. Right then. Now I don’t know if you’ve ever put a shower cap on your boob before put it’s pretty ridiculous and it just doesn’t stay on no matter how much tape you use. Oh yes, I taped the damn thing to my boob. You know that plastic popping, bubble wrap stuff you get to protect vases and stuff – well that’s basically what my boob ended up looking like. One giant puffed up bubble, waiting to be popped. This actually really amused me, I mean I got a fit of giggles for about 5mins it was that absurd. I almost took a picture. But think that may have been one step too far in this whole sharing thing…

So there you go, essentially there is loads of cool stuff these breast doctors could devise for the after care boob package….If you have any other idea please let me know – I could do with all the giggles I can get!

Dropping the C Bomb – the day my life changed

21 Jun

In the space of just one week my whole life has changed. Sadly my Zomerset Adventures have taken a much tougher course, one I really wasn’t expecting. Writing it all down has really helped to start to get my head around it, if that’s even possible.

It all happened one very normal day, just over a week ago, when someone dropped the C bomb.

Cancer.

Ok so lets rewind to that day and take this epic tale (you may need a cup of tea and some snacks as it’s a long one!) from the beginning. I’d gone to see my doctor about….ok so also a little warning here that things may get a little graphic so if you’re gonna freak out or be squeamish – stop reading and go pin something fluffy to a board or something!

Still with me? Ok so, I was at my doctors to show her a very little dry patch, which had appeared on my boob, the nipple to be precise. It had been there, not really doing anything, for a few months so it was time to get it sorted. I assumed it was eczema or maybe a reaction to something, but my doc didn’t like the look of it so referred me up to Parkside. That was it, no other weird symptoms, no big lumps. No pain. No big weird green fungus with a little sign that read “Danger – keep back – Grrrrrr”. It was just a small dry patch, mad really.

Anyway two days later I was sat with Professor M, my specialist, at Parkside. He’d just spent quite a bit of time prodding and poking my boob and didn’t have a happy look on his face. He had “concerns” and suspected it might be something more nasty than just a dry patch, so wanted me to go in to hospital the next day for some more tests.

I tried to remain calm but walked out of there shaking like a leaf. This was potentially really serious shit. So I did what all mature 32year grown ups do, I called my mum and burst into tears. Now a word on mum, she is by far the best mum in the world. Sorry but it’s a fact. A point proven by her reaction to my news – at 10am she left work, by 10.28am she was on a train to London with nothing but some knickers and her makeup bag!  By 2pm we were sat in my garden drinking wine – again, proof that she is the best mum in the world. If we’re gonna face a crisis lets at least do it with a nice glass of wine in our hands!!

So 9am rolled around and I was at the Princess Grace hospital in Baker Street, with absolutely no idea what to expect. In a nutshell it was a pretty horrific day.

Now being a spritely 30-something I’ve never had a mammogram before so when they clamped my poor boobs into this giant machine and proceeded to squeeze them into flat little pancakes using what can only be described as a winch like torture device, I was pretty shaken up. The fact that they had to do this two more times,  two different ways, didn’t help either. Seriously, girls, you have know idea how fucking painful that machine is – just try really, really squishing your boobs flat between your hands, you can’t do it!! Because they are large squishy boobs, they aren’t meant to be flattened down into pancakes, it’s painful and just wrong?!!

After the pancake boob machine I then moved on to the ultrasound room. This essentially involved my boob being covered in jelly and explored back and forth  with some kind of joystick thing (calm down boys!). The TV screen didn’t give anything away, not that I knew what might look weird, I guess I was expecting some kind of “ta da” moment. Perhaps a big C shaped dot smiling back at us.

But as far as I could tell it was just a very fuzzy picture with loads of black and white, well fuzzy stuff. Luckily the radiologist understood the fuzzy pictures and seemed to know what he was doing. Either that or he was just having a great time playing with the joystick and my jellied boob?!

After all that…. (oh yes it goes on – please feel free to get refreshments, have a loo break, as I said it’s a pretty epic tale!)…I was told that they’d seen some calcium spots on the mammogram and that the ultrasound just “didn’t look right” – so they wanted to do the biopsy. I don’t mind admitting, I’d gone from mildly frightened to bloody terrified in just a few short hours. But I was determined to hold it together, be a tough cookie and just get through it. DO NOT CRY, was pretty much my mantra all day, that and “oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuckety fuck fuck!”

For the biopsy I had to go back into the boob pancake torture machine. You can imagine my joy at that news.  This time it wouldn’t be over in 5 minuets, instead I’d be stuck, literally stuck in by my squashed boob, for 30 agonising minuets. If that weren’t enough pain to contend with, they’d then stick a bloody great needle into my boob to extract some samples. I’ll spare you any more details suffice as to say it was one of the most painful, whole body shaking with fear, things I’ve ever had to endure. But endure it I did. I remember laughing most of the way through like some kind of crazy, pain hungry lunatic who actually enjoys having their bits squeezed and stabbed?! Um no, not really, definitely not. I think I just went a bit mad with the shock of it all. Laughing hysterically and talking jibberish a million miles an hour while someone stabs your boob with a big needle maybe isn’t the normal reaction, but that’s what happened.

The weird thing is they describe in graphic detail everything they’re about to do, so you get this running commentary of escalating horror described to you. “First we’ll put your breast into the vice machine to achieve flat pancake status, then we’ll leave it in there for about oooohhh 5 minutes or so,  just to check it’s as flat as possible and really, really painful. Then we’ll move on to stage two which will involve needles, bloody big needles which we’ll stick in to your boob, wiggle about a bit, while the pancake machine make loads of scary noises, then we’ll drag it back out. But it doesn’t stop there, oh no, just you wait! Just when you think we’re done, we’ll do it all over again!! …….Oh and then we’ll stamp on your big toe, poke you in the eye, give you a Chinese burn and  carve your nose off with a blunt spoon….what fun…..!!!!

By this point I was a shaking mess. Serious head to toe shakes like some kind of pneumatic drilling machine. I couldn’t stop, even my teeth were chattering. I think my body was freaking out – which was fair enough. Back in the waiting room I was given some hot chocolate, which I promptly spilt everywhere such was the shaking frenzy, and some more biscuits to stop me from passing out. It was at this point I realised that we must be in a pretty good hospital – as next to us was a very famous TV personality – I shant give away her identity and tell the world she was in a boob hospital waiting for her annual mammogram – but I will say she is very famous, very lovely and used to have a very well known Big Brother, hint hint……..

So there we go. The tests were done and so we just had to wait. And wait we did, until the afternoon of Tuesday 19th June – a day I will remember forever. If you haven’t guessed the ending by now, this was the day they confirmed I have breast cancer.

Yeap. Breast cancer. Me. Wow. Weirdly I was pretty calm when they explained everything, I guess I sort of knew from the tests that it was coming but still nothing really prepares you for that moment, that moment when someone says “You have cancer”. FUCK. It’s a total and utter head fuck. Pure and simple.

The hilarious thing is that the cancer I have is quite rare and a lot of people wrongly assume only old people get it, which makes you feel about one hundred and five when they tell you this. Oh by the way you have cancer, you have cancer for old people….yeap, you are just old, with cancer….nice.

It’s officially called Pagets disease and yes a lot of old women get it. But so do younger women and it’s regularly missed by GP’s who wrongly assume it can’t be anything more serious than eczema – so girls, please don’t ever ignore your boobs, if anything and I mean ANYTHING changes get to that doctor and insist on a second opinion – it’s so important.

An hour after they’d broken the news I was down in the MRI room waiting to be scanned to see if the cancer had spread to the other breast or anywhere else. For those of you who’ve never had an MRI before it’s basically like getting inside a giant polo mint, being in a seriously uncomfortable position for about 30 minuets whilst a whole orchestra of seriously loud noises, beeps, vibrations and bangs kick off all around you. And you can’t move. At all.

Now I’ve had an MRI before so thought I knew what to expect. But because they were scanning my breasts I got introduced to what I quickly renamed as “the milking machine”. It looked like an MRI in every possible way, giant polo tube – check, big loud noises – check. But there, on the metal plate were two quite big holes. Yeap you guessed it, I was to lie on my front and stick my boobs into those holes, just letting them dangle down, like some oversized dairy cow – for 30 minutes.  Just after being told I had cancer.I found myself in the milking machine trying with every fiber of my being not to completely and utterly freak out.

I got through it by counting. Counting, a lot actually. Large bouncy, animated numbers jumped about in my head whilst the small yapping toy dog (you know the ones you see in hamleys)  “bark, bark, bark” moved around my body. Nope I hadn’t lost it completely, as part of the mind distraction I started to try and identify the noises, so we had the toy dog and his yapping, the big bass drum – which made me think I was in a rave, the vibrations – which I tried to imagine were relaxing in some way (absolutely not btw!) and the loud continuous humming which sounded like a flock of bees attacking a tambourine?!

Before I’d completely lost my marbles it was done. And I was allowed out. Out of the polo milking tube, out of the hospital and finally allowed to let out all of my emotions. And out they came. I cried my eyes out. Sobbed. For hours.

I had cancer. Proper bloody cancer. And tomorrow I’d find out if it had spread anywhere else. Jesus. How the hell do you get over the shock of that?? The truth is, you don’t. I don’t think I ever will.

Thankfully we got the results back and I’m pleased, sorry that should be – fucking over joyed, to say it hasn’t spread and it’s not invasive, which is amazing, amazing news. This time I cried with relief!

So all they have to do now is get rid of it. And that’s the next battle. The operation. The operation to take my cancer out – along with most of my breast. How the hell do you prepare for that?

Pour me a large glass of wine and we’ll take it from there…..

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