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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)

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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!

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!

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.

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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