Monday, 27 April 2015

Mixed Emotions

I am a week and a half post pain and infection so healing is happening within my body and I am starting to make myself strong again with exercise and clean eating.

My chronic back pain has re-started because I am walking more. I will have to have further visits to my chiropractor but all in good time..... baby steps, baby steps.

I was awake at 5am, unable to sleep so I listened to the Dawn Chorus. 

"Oh there's a dawn chorus breaking out all over the town"......

Oh my, it's the most beautiful music one can ever listen too. 

Sadly, 6 years ago, the chorus was stunning beyond comprehension but alas with the destruction of woodland and the building of houses in Lavister has pushed the birds away and it's no longer as loud or eclectic as it once was. 

However...... I am blessed! I still have my hearing to hear them and I still have breath in my body to be here to experience it. 

The pain in my lower back was gnawing at me, like a persistent ache so I didn't feel like picking up my kindle to read or indeed, getting up to welcome the day. So, as is usual in these sort of circumstances, my mind wandered .....

I don't want pity.

I don't want sympathy.

I am telling you this in order to cleanse my soul and my mind.

 Writing this blog has always been my therapy. Getting my thoughts and experiences "out there". Who knows, my writing MAY help somebody else ... I hope so.

I managed to categorise how I feel post mastectomy and failed reconstruction. I don't feel ugly, I don't feel sad or unlucky or angry........

I feel different from everyone else.

I feel like a reject.

I feel as though I am no longer attractive or desirable.

Yes, yes I know! I know!

Goodness, I am no longer a young girl. My body has given me two beautiful sons and battled cancer three times - I have lost the bloom of youth but at least with my breasts I felt pretty and now I don't.

I am crying while writing this..... See!! I told you it was cleansing to write and get my thoughts out there. Tears are the bodies way of washing away the dirt and healing the soul.

This will pass.

Life is good! I am alive and I am surrounded by good friends who have supported me and given me the strength to continue my fight.

Every time I stumble, a friend holds out a hand and helps me up.

At the moment, I am holding my friends hands in my mind. My friends don't realise this but their thoughts, gestures and messages are the hands which support my own.

Life is good.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

I've Lost Count!!

So much has happened since 17th February that I have lost count on how many weeks have passed since my operation.

A week last Friday I had the stitches removed which had become embedded in my skin. Indeed, two stitches had tangled up with each other and were trapping a nerve hence my pain. Three syringes of fluid was also removed.

This could have been done on the Tuesday had my surgeon been available but instead I had to wait a further 3 days before my suffering ended.

However, the relief was almost instant and from the Sunday I gathered up my courage and started to go back to my horse care routine with continued help from my wonderful friends. I honestly don't know how I would have coped so if you are reading this...... Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

So here I am now..... my back pain has returned with a vengence but at least it's not a threat to my life and I know what I need to do to sort it out.

Spending this week with my boy has been the best medicine I ever could have wished for. Just being with him, smelling him, watching him, loving him has filled my heart with so much joy I could burst. (Don't worry, I won't burst because that would be rather messy).

At last, this part of my life is over and I am looking forward to the summer and making the most of life, after all.... you only get one!!

Friday, 10 April 2015

By Your Side

Love Hope Strength.

Anybody who knows me, knows that this is the charity I volunteer for and support. This charity was set up by Mike Peters (my hero) and is a cancer foundation.

The By Your Side campaign is to raise money for the North Wales cancer centres. You know that I have been fighting cancer since 2009 with 6 operations, 12 rounds of chemo, 30 radiotherapy and 18 herceptin not to mention the blood tests, heart scans, CT and MRI scans.......

And the rest!!!!

Really weird to see a friend on one of the photos M!!!! who is a tough welsh fighter just like me. 

Also Sister Wenna on 1.23 from Shooting Star Unit who took me under her wing.

You see, I have small veins so I am hard to canulate. It would take up to 4 attempts to get a line in for chemo so with 12 chemos, you can imagine how many canulas I had to endure.

Towards the end of my chemo I literally was a shivering wreck and the only way I could actually pull myself together to face it was to listen to "Fight Back" by The Alarm, this song gave me the gythryl to get in there and do the job.

Sister Wenna saw what I had gone through and knowing that I had another 18 shots of targeted chemo (herceptin) to go, she took me under her wing and made it her sole purpose to get the line in herself. She did this spot on for each session. The one she missed because she was on holiday, well, she arranged for another sister to look after me but she made sure I knew in advance etc. 

Above and beyond the call of duty!!

I will never forget Sister Wenna.

More recently they tried to canulate my chemo damaged arm and it was like driving nails into my veins. The pain was indescribable. It took me right back to my chemo days and I started shaking so badly. Totally relieved when my surgeon told them to stop and use my better arm.

All of these memories.

So what LHS is doing for Awyr Las and the By Your Side campaign is amazing and I hope that in the future when I endeavour to raise money for this I will get lots of support.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Love This Time of Year

I really do love this time of year..... SPRING....... fresh mornings and warm sunshine, its wonderful. 

I hope I have many more springs to experience on this earth.

I saw the surgeon yesterday for my post operative check. I now have no dressings on my right side and I am struggling to look at it. Itching like crazy as a reaction to the dressings which have been on for almost 2 months.

The other side is OK. She didn't expect to see pink skin so was pleasantly surprised. The drain was removed which erm let me say, was an experience. It passed from under my right arm to the centre of my chest..... yes.... will say no more on that subject!!

There is a small scab in the centre and now I will just have to wait and see how that heals. I am hoping that liquid does not leak out of it because that will mean having to have a VAC pump fitted and I don't want that.

Stitches come out next Tuesday so I am trying to rest until then in the hope that the skin will repair itself enough to avoid the VAC.

I am really enjoying the sunshine though, I have just come inside to rest from its warm rays. 

Bolt, my chinchilla rabbit is outside on the grass! His outside hut is due to arrive today and I am excited to see him investigate that!

He is such a gentle and loving rabbit.

I have had some beautiful gifts during this illness. One in particular springs to mind and I am going to post about it shortly - I will not go into further detail other than to say that the work involved, the comradely and team effort make it so outstanding.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

7 Weeks Post Mastectomy and Reconstruction

I didn't think I would be sitting here with a drain at my side as I am right now.

Seven weeks ago I went in for a double mastectomy and reconstruction in the hope that not only would I be cancer free but I would at least be left with breasts.

Sadly it wasn't my destiny.

Having had one implant removed 2 weeks ago due to an abcess and infection, I was hoping that the other one would be saved.

Everything was going really well up until Thursday of last week when it started to seep a little then by Good Friday it was really discharging, so much so that we had to change the dressings at home.

Thank goodness my surgeon had given me her mobile number so we were able to text her with photographs of the discharge and where it was leaking from.  It was the first time I had ever seen the site and as my son said it was rather like zombie flesh.

I was told to go to the womens ward for 2pm on Saturday but that morning I received a text asking me not to eat or drink that day "just in case".

To be honest with you at that point I knew that excision was inevitable.

She was held up all day so it was gone 5 by the time I saw her but at least I had a hospital bed and J was with me.

She squeezed the breast and nothing seemed to track from the other side but the source was deep seated so behind the implant.

I was taken into surgery at about 6.30.

Putting me to sleep was hell. They tried to canulate my left arm because the op was being done on my right side but the veins are ravaged and honestly it was as though they were driving nails into my veins. My surgeon tried her best to distract me, bless her, but it was horrid and took me right back to the days of chemo. I began to shake with fear, couldn't stop myself at which point she called a halt and told them to canulate the other side and they would work around me.

The cannula went in the other side straight away with nothing more than a pin prick sensation.

When I came around from the anaesthetic I had the shakes but the nurses stayed with me giving me pain relief until it subsided and my pain was managed. 

I even managed to chat about autism and helped a grandma whose 4 year old grandson had just been diagnosed with aspergers. It was nice to know that even at such a bad time for me I was able to help somebody.

The pain this time was incredible stinging.

The surgeon explained that when she opened me up she found a track from the original infection on the other side to this side. She hadn't removed both implants because she thought that there was a bit of hope for me and didn't want me to wake up to the shock of both being taken. I totally "get" that and I am so grateful that she showed humanity and care in that way because there is always hope.

There was no abscess this time but the infection was deep seated so she had to really scrub me out. I had been on antibiotics for over 6 weeks so she wanted me off them.

The next day when she visited me, she was able to flush the wounds out with a local anaesthetic which really did help while the initial healing took place.

2ish days post surgery and each day is better.

I have a drain attached which will be removed tomorrow (with hope) and the stitches will be taken out on Monday.

There is still a bit of damaged tissue remaining which she wasn't able to remove so hopefully that will heal now but there is the possibility of having a VAC fitted to that in order to speed up the healing process. I really hope I don't need one!!!

There IS a purpose to all of this, I just don't know what it is yet.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Faith is my Island

Saturday morning, the second day of Easter and the sun is shining.

Its going to be a beautiful day. The buds are forming on the trees and everything is springing to life.

I love spring because the mornings are so crisp and fresh and you just know the rest of the day is going to be wonderful and filled with dog walking and horses.

Seven weeks ago I never in my wildest dreams thought that I would be sitting here on such a day taking antibiotics and pain killers.

If I never see Chester Hospital again it will still be a day too soon. Take my care back into Wales!

Then there is the question. Why could I not have my surgery in Wales?

The nearest plastic surgery unit in Wales is in Cardiff the other side of the country so why isn't provision made in the north?

All of the operations and treatments I have had at Wrexham Shooting Star and not one complication - NOT ONE

The cake I had made for the staff at Shooting Star in gratitude for all that they did for me with the name of the cancer charity I support
So I am sitting here today worrying about what the day will bring.

At this moment in time I want to "turn around and walk away and live to fight another day".

As a woman in my 40s I just wonder what more can cancer take from me? What more horrid scars can it leave on my body not just the visible ones but the ones nobody can see or even want to know about.

A very brave woman click here to read her story.

Tensions are running high in our home as J has become my nurse and carer. No hospital after care, no district nurse visits, no GP calls nothing! Major surgery - chucked out of hospital after a day and a half with drains attached and a load of injections to shove in my tummy.

I think I am getting a bit angry now.

I just want to get today out of the way so that I know what I am dealing with and when I can get my life on course again. I have a Mike Peters gig to get to, a horse to care for and dogs to walk for goodness sake, cancer cannot get in the way again!

Friday, 3 April 2015

Fears and Setbacks

Following the last weeks outcomes when my other implant started to leak albiet only a little I was absolutely scared to death. 

Thankfully I was seeing the surgeon before the Easter break and long weekened.

I actually went to hospital prepared for an operation to remove the implant - how silly am I!!!!

The stitches were taken out of the failed side which didn't hurt until under my arm where the nerves haven't been severed but there were only a couple to take out there and it was only like a needle stab.

The other side had been weeping and there was some slough but the scab was alot smaller. It was cleaned and redressed.

I have the surgeons number so if anything goes wrong over the long weekend I can contact her.

This morning I feel better. Although there has been a small discharge about the size of a 5p my "breast" feels less tight and the tingling has gone.

I think that I just over did things the other day. I scrubbed the bathroom because I was frustrated. I thought I felt better so I did it but in retrospect I did too much too soon.

So up until my next check on Tuesday I am going to try to take things easy. I am going to up the walking and moving but lay off the movements such as scrubbing and brushing etc.

Seeing Cola each evening has lifted my spirits enormously. Just talking to him and lightly brushing him has helped more than any amout of therapy. Big thanks to my dear friend who has been taking me.

My target for after my next consultation is to start driving again - only short journeys but I can build it from there.

I had a thought though yesterday about the infected implant........

2 weeks post op I was screaming in pain that weekend and when I went into the hospital on the Monday my surgeon wasn't available so I went in for a scan and they drained the fluid off the outer edge of the breast under the scan. Having taken 3 or 4 syringes of fluid out of this area the doctor then tried to take fluid from the cleavage area and she failed..... Then 4 days later I have an infection in the cleavage area....... I don't think she changed the needle for each area. Could it be that the infection was in the outer area where the fluid was and she has introduced the infection to the delicate cleavage area where the necrosis was profound??

Who knows.

All I know is that the aftercare leading up to my infection and implant removal has been diabolical and has probably contributed to my complications.

Ah well.... I am not bitter, how can I be?