Sunday, 5 August 2012
Four days at home have so far been blissful, especially since yesterday when I went back to the hospital and had the horrid drain removed. I grew to hate the drain – it went into my side at the bottom of my ribcage, all the way up to my collarbone, and it was a little spooky when I moved suddenly and so did it – often in the opposite direction completely. I had some funny moments with it, like the time I forgot all about it when I walked through into the kitchen and suddenly got stopped in my tracks because it had got caught on a chair. It was also quite good fun to pick it up and examine its contents at meal times, just to see my family's reactions. However, it didn't make sleeping very easy, and the final straw was yesterday very early in the morning when, turning over half asleep in bed, I suddenly realised that I had managed to split the tube into two bits. Very scary at the time, but with a wad of loo roll and then some sticky tape we mended it pretty quickly – maybe I should have been a Blue Peter presenter.
Going into the hospital meant getting dressed into real clothes rather than slobbing in pyjamas which I’m becoming really rather good at. That also meant realising that there are now stacks of redundant clothes in my wardrobe – even straightforward blouses with buttons down the front risk showing off the fact that I only now have half a cleavage. Deep breath, onto the back burner, and decisions for another day. I need to come to terms with the big huge lump of fresh air and nothingness where my right boob used to sit quite nicely. The process is starting to happen – I can now put my hand onto my new flatness, and when I was getting dressed I even looked at it in the mirror yesterday, when I made another discovery.
The bandage was falling off, gaping open, to reveal the scar with big black stitches in. They had to use old-fashioned needlework in theatre because of the infection – if they had needed to reopen the scar in the next few days it makes their lives much easier. So I had no choice but to look. The scar itself I think I’ll get used to, but the big black stitching looked like spiders crawling all over the place, which I wasn’t too keen on. So as well as removing the tube (not very pleasant) they also had to replace all the dressings, and I was very surprised to realise how long the mastectomy scar is – all the way from my breastbone, under my arm and just around the corner to the start of my back. It means I’m going to have to work doubly hard to get all my arm mobility back for the second time, but I’m actually pleased that they didn’t take any chances, and seem to have removed as much of my cancer-threatened flesh as they possibly could.
On the way home, WM and I decided to stop at the local M & S petrol station to pick up some posh sandwiches for a lunch, and suddenly inside the shop I remembered that I was one boob missing, which sent me into a bit of a panic in case anyone noticed and stared, and I couldn’t wait to get out and back into the safety of the car, where I had a little cry all over again.
Today, I got dressed again, and decided to try out my new falsie, which meant being brave enough to put on a bra. The most valuable piece of advice I can pass on to all women is never ever ever throw away that ghastly ancient baggy bra you’ve owned for at least 300 years. It may be grey and decidedly unsexy, but it holds the new appendage perfectly in place, and is as comfy as an old pair of slippers.
Watching the Olympics today has opened up new career opportunities – anyone else noticed that female marathon runners don’t seem to have boobs? The only problem would be if I actually won - it will be a while before I can manage the two-handed victory wave of success.
When Olympic gold medallists are interviewed, they always thank their “team”, the dozens of people behind the scenes that have helped them reach their success. That’s roughly how I feel. I have a fabulous support network of friends and family, and particularly since starting to write this blog, there is a continual tidal wave of love and support and encouragement that is carrying me through this horrid cancer stuff. I am so grateful to each of you, and very humbled, but it really feels like this is “our” problem, not just mine alone, and that you’re all there right with me on “Team Get Well Soon”. Thank you, particularly for all the messages of support over my recent difficult page about needle phobia, which I had been very anxious about going public with.
Most of the people reading this blog are people I actually know, but there is a growing contingent of people I don’t know, some based all over the world, in fact a whopping 10% of all readers are US based now, with others in Russia, Australia and all over Europe too. It was a bit spooky when I first realised how many strangers are reading, but I’m getting used to it and actually quite like the idea that people can care about complete strangers. So if I don’t actually know you, I’d still like to say thank you.
At some point this week I’ll take my new boob out for it’s first outing, and hope no one notices. I have to keep checking in case it goes wonky, or even worse, pops out, but once I’m feeling a bit more used to the whole thing, I think I’m going to have a lot of fun with it.