Monthly Archives: April 2014

V difficile

Around the house the family joke (?) is that I may have been given the world’s best wonder drug but it doesn’t seem to have cured me of v difficile! As you can imagine I find this rather less hilarious than everybody else BUT was hoist my own petard today…as, true to form I have been trying to run before I can walk…

So..had a lovely morning drinking coffee in the garden with a friend…the sun was shining and I decided that I could enjoy my afternoon by taking myself off to the garden centre so I could get busy (planting and growing stuff!) over the weekend. Despite the fact that I have local friends who could and would come with me, I figured that I was fine on my own-io (I am well!) and so off I went!  Had a lovely time, feeling like myself (my old self), browsing “stuff” and making decisions. How can decision making about garden plants be affected, I laughed..I am well! That was fine, but what was less fine, was the realisation that if I bought all these plants I had garnered I would also require potting compost and why miss out on a deal when 3×50 litre bags was such a bargain? So far so good…except I then had to put the 3 sacks on the trolley, get to the checkout, get from checkout to car and put it in the car and the same in reverse at home. managed it all (despite the fact that the 5 people behind me in the checkout queue overtook me on the way to the car park. Of course…I still didn’t clock any problem…I am well, after all…And..of course, even at this stage, I could have left everything in the car and asked one of my many neighbours who would have only been too happy to help me, unload it.

But no….I had to do it myself…I am well! I was feeling more than smug with the day’s achievement…and even thinking of getting digging and planting, when I was home in the garden then I collapsed, the full monty…head spinning, arms and chest aching and down flat on the ground…Fortunately (or unfortunately) depending on your point of view…the cats had not been fed and it was well past their regular tea time so they came to see what the heck was happening to their schedule and, as a result of this cupboard love,  kept nudging me until I came to…or at least, that’s what I think happened. Some time had certainly passed….at least it was warm and dry outside…

OK – Obviously doing more than I should…obviously matching my “v difficile” moniker rather more than I would like to think….Sigh….

Will sit “safely” in front of Masterchef tonight and will try, really hard to “do” nothing further today. Tomorrow, as they say…is another day!

 

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Green shoots

Now last week’s news has started to sink in I feel like I am setting off from my previous crossroads with more of a swing in my step. My regular 3 weekly treatment happens again on Tuesday but I sense that I may start facing this differently now I know this will be the only treatment. Hard to feel smug when sitting in a room of people (being pumped with drugs) at every stage of cancer, who I now feel more than ever, are my crowd! However I am sure that the experience will be far less stressful.

Meantime I am back to fretting the small stuff….When did a sorting office (for parcels) become a “sortation facility”? Why, when I try and take a “selfie” of the “new” me to put on the blog does none of the dozens of pictures I have (so far!) taken look anything like me? …and why..oh why does it take so little time to lose stamina and yet take so long to regain it? (same could apply to hair!)

 

Shooting From The Hip!

Whilst I may be having my first bad hair day for some time…which, you understand is a good thing, as it means my hair is now sprouting enough to be unruly..nothing else is bad about today…Today is my red letter day!

Just back from the hospital and the verdict is no biopsy….no more surgery…and no radiotherapy…I’m “better” (albeit with provisos that this may not mean forever…but what does forever mean anyway?). Just the 3 weekly treatment which will continue and regular scans to see if anything pops up…otherwise I’m good to go!

I am “celebrating” with a gym session (which I arranged yesterday) so that a trainer can help me regain my stamina which seems a good start to getting back to the real world. I am sure I will find other ways to celebrate later on….

Whoo-hoo!

Shooting the breeze

Merrily bumbling through the week waiting for “news” of what the medics have in store for me on Wednesday. When I think sensibly about it, I am convinced that “looking into” my lymph glands with biopsy and possible further surgery may be a red herring. The surgeon spoke to me post-mastectomy and said that my lymph glands, (or is it nodes?) looked fine and that he had positively decided that there was no clinical need to remove any. But…when did I ever think about things sensibly so…in my more panicky moments, I think that maybe this is the way of second opinions and that “they” may decide to “go in” after all.

I swing back and forth. It is only 2 days now so I should just enjoy the reprieve of thinking that everything is good, even if that puts radiotherapy sitting on the near horizon.

I have spent the time usefully in full retail therapy mode, so whatever I face…I face it, for want of a better phrase, dressed to kill!

Whoa…let’s not get too optimistic!

One morning – 2 hospitals, 3 clinicians…I was back in the Breast Clinic today and saw the lovely consultant I first saw back last summer who gave me my diagnosis. She is still worried about my lymph glands which she can feel. Bottom line is that I WILL be having radiotherapy but may possibly need a biopsy in my lymph glands which, depending on the results, may send me back for further surgery before radiotherapy (or, may not). There will be a team meeting with my “case” next Wednesday when all clinicians who have treated me are back after the Easter break, and so I have another appointment the same day as this meeting to see what has been decided.

Yesterday I was feeling all re-born like all the spring flowers and blossom and set to increase my stamina before getting back to work…today I feel, at best, back in the waiting room, at worst thrown back to the reality of cancer metastases and that, maybe, I won’t ever be “well”.

I then had to zip over to another hospital to have fluid drained from my mastectomy side which I understand is called a seroma, and is “normal”. It may well be “normal” but having over 500ml of red wine (or rosé perhaps) coloured fluid extracted by needle was not previously in my range of “normal” daily activity.

Drat…and double drat!

 

At the crossroads

2 days until my post-op appointment with the surgeon…2 days until I find out whether there are to be more interventions or not…in 2 days it could be one of 2 things (hey..possibly more but I haven’t let my mind stray in that direction). So…either, no new treatments required and just continue with my “forever” treatment of intravenous pertuzumab and herceptin every 3 weeks OR radiotherapy is added into the mix. Depends what histology has shown.

There will, naturally, be the post-surgery inspection of needlework…To me it looks like clutches of skin pinched together with a form of running stitch, with lots of gathers and lots of numbness. I think this is “normal”. Left side bruising is yellow and black, right side is red and black – all very colourful and, I suspect, “normal” but I think my chest looks like a display of rainbow chard! Yes! – “normal”.

If no radiotherapy is prescribed this would mean that I am as good as I am getting so it will be time to think about regaining stamina and returning to work/life. If it is radiotherapy, it will be rather slower as they will not start this until at least late May and it will be 3 or 4 rounds of daily treatment (5 days out of 7).

I, at last, have a thick crop of hair…albeit short and grey but I like it. This is providing a whole new area of shopping possibilities. I understand – from that impeccable source “Woman & Home” magazine that grey hair should be washed in purple shampoo…I can’t remember why but just wonder how you identify purple coloured shampoo on the shelf when it sits in the container … or maybe “purple shampoo” is a type of shampoo…All advice welcomed! I am assuming that this is an enriching type of shampoo rather than the modern blue rinse!

Hell’s Bells

Hell’s bells…I am obviously proceeding up the medical rankings. Yesterday I was treated by Dr Champagne – how marvellous! Once “nothing sinister” was found on my skin biopsy I had assumed that my skin rash (yes…still there…since last summer) would be left to its own devices…but no, it appears that Dr Champagne wants to get to the cause and attempt to cure it. More tests were taken and a new range of dermatological supplies given (which seem to come in tubes or pumps that look as though they will last a year!). Back again in a month.

I tentatively pulled at my waterproof breast dressings this morning and have now revealed my “new” small breast. It looks very “me” – if that makes any sense at all! Dressings on the other side did not seem to want to say goodbye just yet and so I have left them in situ…This means I am rather half and half but, suppose I still will be when all dressings are off, that’s the new me…half and half…

Still awaiting my post-op appointment so I can find out what interventions are planned for me next…

Shapeshifter

Medical staff seem surprised to find me in as positive mood as I am. It may seem bizarre to onlookers, but, to come round from surgery to a body shape far better than the one I left behind is surely something to celebrate. Granted, half that “shape” is a small breast-shaped stuffed cushion but it still looks better to me than either the diseased or un-diseased breast that has gone. The relief of no longer being big-breasted so outweighs all the downsides of this surgery.

My drainage bag was removed yesterday so I now feel less like Marley’s ghost, dragging my chains behind me…or, more in character, getting them looped onto any door handle or hook going! I was strapped up with dressings by the district nurses and left to “rest”.

I suppose it was destined that everything was not going to run as smoothly as it had been, and within an hour or so I realised that my trousers and top were wet and bloody – I was “leaking”. Unsure what to do, I dripped around the house and pale coloured carpets for a while before wrapping myself in a beach towel…as you do…and called the district nurses. They were lovely and re-padded me up after checking that I had stopped dripping. They did suggest that maybe I was trying to do too much instead of “just resting” …. Me?

 

Home again!

I am now back at the ranch – complete with a range of tasteful hospital accessories. Delightful drainage bag with very long tube (that I have already caught on door handle and managed to detach) and this sits in a special William Morris like bag – which, without, the long bloody tube hanging from it, could…at the stretch of someone’s imagination..possibly be a shoulder bag. This will be in situ for approx a week but maybe less…

My chest has been seriously re-arranged into a concave dip on the right and something resembling a C cup on the other side – although, because of swelling, it is hard to know just yet…I have my “softie” bra (complete with kapok stuffing) in case I want to go out and look “normal”…..NORMAL??? Are you joking? Trailing my blood and pus over my shoulder…Hmmmmm…..

Hospital experience (aside from the 2 hour discharge) was fabulous. Joined up thinking, with a complete team of reassuring and switched on clinicians, carers, catering staff and cleaners…Diabetes care was just perfect…and fortunately went exactly as my team had told me..I was managing my own insulin within 3 hours of operation. Nothing that the “carry on” pre-op “nightie” nurse told me, was true…with no-one checking my sterility on arrival!

Discharge advice did not even mention the word alcohol – either imbibing or not-imbibing, so will, as ever, do as I choose…