Tag Archives: princess grace

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.

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

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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