Deja vu

The Freedom Day long weekend is officially over!

Had a busy week last week with physio and a visit to Dr B. Both good visits and both very pleased with all the healing so far…

Saturday saw Pete and I heading off to Howick for a truly beautiful wedding….was so pleased we were able to make it, even had a chance to do some (gentle) boogie-ing! Congratulations Kath and Kent wishing you both a lifetime of love and laughter.

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Had my first shower in 12 days on Saturday – Kath and Kent you should be honoured (and extremely thankful!) 😉

It was exactly how I imagined it would be, complete HEAVEN! It’s amazing what pleasure can be found in everyday small things!

And… as with most pleasurable things, there are generally always some non pleasurable consequences…. yesterday morning after 2 days of showering, it was time to change dressings….

I had everything prepared for Pete.. the hyperfix, the bactroban, the self adhesive tape for the re-strapping, even the rolled up gauze for stuffing my surgical bra. What I wasn’t prepared for was the sense of deja vu…. Pete marveling how well the cuts were healing as he calmly took off the old dressings….. and for me – the wave of nausea, the sudden and instantaneous break out of cold sweat (which may or may not be something to do with the hot flushes), the ringing in my ears (which had nothing to do with wedding bells) and the very real fear of falling down…. A physical reaction to emotional anguish (horror) I am told.

It was a truly humbling and realistic reminder that despite being told how “brave and courageous” I seem to be on the surface, and me almost buying into all of that… not so deep down, I’m actually still just a scared little girl.

 

“You can discover what your enemy fears most by observing the means he uses to frighten you.” –Eric Hoffer

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Easter Showers

Today is a week since my C-cup surgery and other than a few twinges, a sore back from being unable to sleep on my side and constantly being reminded I need to take it easy, I’m physically feeling pretty strong.

We had an amazing Easter weekend and still managed to host 2 annual Easter egg hunts. The first was Pete’s, apparently being out of hospital for only 4 days is not an excuse to forfeit his hunt for chocolate (giving up chocolate for lent may have been the true motivation!). Thankfully Sally was here to help me hide eggs, and more importantly, to remember where they were hidden!

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The second was for the McLuckie kids, not sure who enjoys these more, me or the kids! This year they had puzzles, word searches, handstands and cartwheels to do before being allowed their egg-ey rewards! (disclaimer: no kids were harmed during the making of this Easter egg hunt).

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I had my drains removed on Saturday which made me feel 99.9% better immediately!

Pete also gave me my first haircut!!! My post chemo head fluff has been growing really well, the only problem is that it’s just that…. fluff. Cute on a 4 month old baby, but not so much on a 40 something year old! So on Sunday evening, using the number 4 hair cutting attachment, the fluff came off.

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My eyebrow and lashes are growing very nicely now too. Sadly over the last few weeks I lost most of what I had been left with after chemo. Now I have what looks like a 5 o’clock shadows on my brow area and tiny lashes on top and bottom lids! Last Sunday at the beach I noticed the tiny growth on my brows and by the excitement it generated you would think I had won the lotto…again!

Things would be even more ideal if I could have a bath or just a shower!

I had a mole removed from my nether regions while in surgery – it’s amazing when you lose ALL your hair what interesting things you find ;). But until I have my dressings changed and a few stitches removed there’s no playing in the water for me!

So this morning while having my basin wash and looking at my poor swollen, bruised, battered, dressing covered and semi hair growing self…. I had to remind myself to keep looking forward, another box has been ticked!

 

“Some days there won’t be a song in your heart. Sing anyway.” ~Emory Austin

“Oh, my friend, it’s not what they take away from you that counts — it’s what you do with what you have left.” ~Hubert Humphrey

“I don’t think of all the misery but of the beauty that still remains.” ~Anne Frank

Paperweights, Stress balls and Easter Baskets

I’m HOME!

I was so grateful to have Gerry, my own private nurse 😉 to hold my hand as I went into in surgery again – without her theatre would be a lonely and scary place.

I was released yesterday late morning on good behaviour, or rather on good healing and good pain management 🙂

The plastic surgeon was happy to let me go, and after having a night of disrupted sleep, I was very happy to be let go!

My word if anyone thinks they go to hospital for rest and recover they will be rather disappointed. I was woken up at 11pm to have my blood pressure, oxygen and temperature taken. I woke up at 12pm and again at 1am to general hospital noise and some twinge-y pain. At 2am I was woken up for my drains to be checked and finally at that point I also just took advantage of being wide awake to ask for pain medication. When I finally managed to get back to sleep I was woken up at 5am for tea and a rusk. Fortunately the quality of the care certainly made up for the lack of sleep!

I was even presented with the cleaned expanders as a souvenir and after feeling how heavy they were I totally understand why I felt as if I had been carrying around rocks on my chest for all these months! More than half the fluid had been removed so they could be taken out during surgery, so realistically they were even heavier – scary stuff!

Been thinking of turning them into paperweights or stress balls for Pete’s desk or maybe I should do one of each – they certainly would make interesting conversation pieces!

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The expanders with their magnetic ports

Pete arrived at 9am and I was happy to tell him that the worst pain I had experienced so far came from the drip in my hand! I got my last bottle of pain medication via drip at 10am and by the time my plastic surgeon came to check up on me, the nursing sister had already decided to remove the drip (a huge relief – you would think I would be completely immune to these things).

Dr B discharged me with my drains along with strict instructions on how to empty them and then to send her the readings from each  this morning. Thankfully Wendy, my other private nurse, came to empty and measure the fluid for me. So this morning when I spoke to Dr B’s receptionist and gave her the volumes she said she very much doubted they would be removed today. I sadly felt the same way, but considering I only have 2 drains to juggle as opposed to 4 last time around, I certainly can cope for another few days…

The good thing is that the little bags I was given last year post mastectomy from the Reach for Recovery organisation, can double up as handy baskets for Easter Egg hunts – Pete hope you are ready!

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“It is easy to tell the toiler How best he can carry his pack
But no one can rate a burden’s weight Until it has been on his back”  Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Good humor is a tonic for mind and body. It is the best antidote for anxiety and depression. It is a business asset. It attracts and keeps friends. It lightens human burdens. It is the direct route to serenity and contentment.”  Grenville Kleiser

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Sunrises and C-Cup Day

So tomorrow is D-day…..or more correctly C-Cup day 😉

We had another fantastic weekend at the beach thanks to the generosity of some special friends, Joan and Fenwick.

Long morning walks on the beach, some spectacular sunrises and some great company with Pete’s mom, and his sister Sally visiting us from New Zealand. I feel refreshed and stocked up on some soul food for the coming weeks.

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Surgery is scheduled for late tomorrow afternoon, and hopefully I won’t have to be in hospital for more than a day or two…

Logic tells me that I should be relieved that another chapter will soon be over and I should be grateful and excited about meeting my new and improved chest…

My short term memory (post chemo) may still not be completely reliable, but my long term memory (post mastectomy surgery) is infallible. So tonight while I sit here trying very hard to find words of courage and positivity, I am battling to untie the knots in my stomach.

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“There’s a sunrise and a sunset every single day, and they’re absolutely free. Don’t miss so many of them.” Jo Walton

“We can only appreciate the miracle of a sunrise if we have waited in the darkness” ANON

 

Taking stock…

Pete has been away in Joburg this week on stock take duty, and even though I’m used to him being away for a few days every month – it REALLY sucks when it’s over the weekend.

What doesn’t suck is that he leaves me presents! So very shallow I know, but WHO doesn’t like receiving a huge bouquet of flowers and WHO doesn’t like being left with a gift bag filled with goodies AND cards for every day he’s away with the sweetest messages and beautiful quotes. I mean REALLY……..WHO?

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The suckey-ist thing about the whole situation though was seeing my plastic surgeon yesterday, to discuss the next step of my reconstructive process, without him being there to hold my hand…

But yesterday morning I put my big girl panties on and headed to her office.

Now, I honestly can say that I love my plastic surgeon! For someone who has a constant waiting list of people trying to get in to see her and whose diary is booked up months in advance -she is one of the kindest, most caring and down to earth people I could ever have hoped to have on my team.

Just after my diagnosis Pete and I found ourselves overwhelmed, scared and pretty much still in shock sitting in her office. Having been advised to chat to a plastic surgeon regarding reconstructive options before going ahead with the surgery, we once again had no clue who to contact.

My surgeon suggested a few names but when we mentioned we would prefer the surgery done at a specific hospital group, he said our best bet was to contact Dr B. He did however also warn us that we probably wouldn’t be able to get an appointment with her before my scheduled surgery. He did mention though that he was operating with her that afternoon and that he would chat to her about my case – but basically, not to hold out much hope.

He must have been rather persuasive as by the time we got home from seeing him and completing the pre-admission forms for the hospital, we already had a call from Dr B’s receptionist asking if we could possibly come in and meet with her the next day at lunch time… We found out later that she has a specific interest in post mastectomy reconstruction and she had made a VERY special plan to see us to discuss our options.

So there we were ……..sitting in her office not even sure what to ask or where to begin. She walked in and said, “Shame you guys have had a crappy week!” I just knew right there and then that we were in the right hands (literally and figuratively). It was just so refreshing being treated as human beings and not just as another patient sitting in a very long line.

So today with a waiting room full of patients she put her arm on my shoulder and asked me how I was….

We sat for a long time going through my book full of questions (chemo brain has certainly improved, but I still don’t trust my memory!): intense radiation over a shorter period of time duration vs less radiation over a longer period and what this means in terms of possible damage to the tissue, skin, implants and muscles; the reasons she would prefer not to do nipple reconstruction before radiation; how nipple reconstruction is done (I could feel my toes curling); what size implants to order; how she would try and remove some excess skin under the right “boob” where the lymph is not draining properly. She asked how my hair was growing and how I felt after chemo. She also took a few pictures and despite them only focused on my chest – I found myself smiling stupidly in every photo she took ***slaps head***

Now although I know that this surgery has always been a reality, it is a scary prospect considering all the healing already done and the fading scars…to think of those been opened again and starting the healing process from scratch is beyond comprehension.

I had imagined that the implant exchange would be done at the end of the month as April is a busy time of school and public holidays, not to mention knowing how busy she is. So imagine my surprise when she opened her diary and found a spot for me in (less than) two week’s time………….!!!!

“She had a strange feeling in the pit of her stomach, like when you’re swimming and you want to put your feet down on something solid, but the water’s deeper than you think and there’s nothing there”
Julia Gregson

“If you dont know learn how to be scared, you’ll never really learn how to be brave.” Simon Holt

“When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which never happened”.

“The greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions and not upon our circumstances.” Martha Washington

” No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted” Aesop

Toenails and Beach walks

If I didn’t love my home so much I would have called this week’s post: Prison Break!

It was the first time I had been away from home, (not counting the hospital stay after my surgery – and who would possibly count THAT!), in a VERY VERY VERY long time, did I mention it’s been a long time?!

And, how is this for another amazing example of how generous and kind people have been to us along our journey: Pete and I had been offered a weekend away at a private beach cottage on the south coast by someone I have never even met…

It could not have come at a better time! Not only have I been desperately needing a change of environment, but I see the plastic surgeon on Friday to discuss the next surgery and the next chapter of treatment…we really needed some time away from reality

On Thursday evening however our highly anticipated plans were almost thwarted!

While chilling in the bath tub I was horrified to see that my big toenail had cracked and come “loose” from its nail bed **cue “the scream” face!** I had been so preoccupied and concerned about my fingernails falling off that I totally forgot that this may possibly also happen to my toes! Pretty nail polish had hidden the nail damage but in the aftermath of walking my very first 5km Park Run last weekend, it clearly had lost its will to hang on any longer. What a catastrophe! I mean, how can you possibly set foot on a beach, without one of your toenails?????

Fortunately I know some very powerful people in the beauty therapy field who responded quickly to my hysterical Friday morning BBM SOS. After some closely guarded cosmetically induced magic, I left the salon sporting a freshly painted and brand new toenail! Crisis averted, thank you Nicola!

The beach house was beautiful, the weather glorious and the company perfect!

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Pete and I took morning walks along the beach and despite swollen feet and pork sausage toes, my toenails looked amazing and it was worth every step.

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There’s just something about the sea that really helps heal a bruised spirit …and with any luck, broken toe and fingernails too!

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“Thank you – because when you pause and look around there are some pretty amazing people in this world” ANON

“Every time I stand before a beautiful beach, its waves seem to whisper to me:
If you choose the simple things and find joy in nature’s simple treasures,
life and living need not be so hard.” Psche Roxas-Mendoza

“When my toes are sunk into warm sand and the ocean is lapping my feet, when I breathe in the scent of salt and hear the cry of a seagull, I know that I am returned to a place of restoration. I am home. I can heal here.” Toni Sorenson