Tag Archives: Breast reconstruction

The BOGOF girl

2 Sep

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now where’s my lottery ticket!

 

 

Not so great expectations…

26 Mar

hate

Expectations.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dear Mum, you drive me crazy but…

8 Mar

Mothers Day

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

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

Dear Mum,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jodiex

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

Finally, I get the cherry on top….

28 Feb

Unknown

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yipee Ki Yay C-Monkey!

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

15 Feb

Stupid Cupid

Ah Valentines Weekend, here you are.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Valentine’s! x

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