Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Tues. 28th & Wed. 29th Apr. 2009 Hello!

Day 1 Post Op:
Porridge and morphine for breakfast; chicken casserole and morphine for lunch - wahaay!
All going to plan, thanks for all the good wishes, more soon.

-- Post From Roo's iPhone :-)

Ah yes, thanks Roo, I do look remarkable in this picture and yes, Morphine is wonderful stuff, I was sad when they took the pump down. (29th april)

I was first down for surgery at 8a.m. on 28th April. I was clerked in, had a word with MJ about the op. He said there was a possibility he might have to put in a small implant, but would try to avoid this if I didn't want it, which I don't. Hopefully the breast will settle down to a similar size, but if it's smaller he will do a reduction on the other at a later date.

In the anaesthetic room and terrified, but they were wonderful. It was difficult siting a vein due to their knackeredness and some phlebitis, but of course they're experts so I was quickly away.

Woke in recovery at 2p.m. I always cry when I wake up, simply because I'm relieved to be back. It wasn't until I needed a bed pan that I realised how big the op had been. I wasn't expecting to have such pain down my back into the lower back muscle (and that was with pain relief).

Once back on the ward I have a lovely big side room. Apparently MJ likes his Mastectomy/Reconstruction ladies to have a quiet room as we need to be able to rest and the bays can be noisy with people coming and going round the clock, mostly with gynaecological problems.

I was extremely sleepy when Ruth, Gor and Graham came at 3p.m. I remember them being there, but kept drifting off. The only other thing I remember is sipping some ginger beer Graham had and promptly being sick. I have Nasal O2, a Hartmans drip, two drains and a PCAS syringe driver (self medicating morphine), so it's going to be a long night.

29th April - 2009 - As you can see in the above picture I was looking quite well, despite a very strange uncomfortable night. I really enjoyed some porridge, had an assisted wash and was able to pee properly for the first time. It feels as though someone has pumped up my left breast and sewn in several bricks down my back, I daren't look. The PCAS keeps the pain at a manageable level, but finding a comfortable position in bed is damned near impossible.

Graham, Ruth and Alan came in the afternoon. Ruth brought me my first Frappacino which I really enjoyed, she also worked out how to post a picture (above) onto my blog via her i-phone.

Evening visitors - Ruth and Dad came back and Joe and Louis came too. We had a laugh at some old photo albums he found at his Mums.

Later that evening I was aware of increased pressure in my boob which was pressing on my sternum and making me feel short of breath and anxious. The nurses felt it was worth checking so they bleeped the on-call doctor, but they felt it was better to wait and let MJ take a look in the morning, hence I had a very poor night.

Monday, 27 April 2009

Mon. 27th Apr. 2009 'The day before'

A restless night as you can well imagine. We got ready and picked Louis up from York before heading out towards the Howardian Hills. Despite the rain we had a really lovely day, ending up in Helmsley for brunch. I found a great toilet bag with a piglet on the front and Graham bought me a super Gardening book.

I've had numerous calls from friends far and wide and I'm overwhelmed by the number of kind thoughts and best wishes, including e-mails from Australia ( Lorraine & family), Indiana (Patti & Dave) and a phone call from Falmouth in beautiful Cornwall (Dianne & Bill). Thanks to all of you, I can't say just how much I appreciate all your support and your prayers.

I will be making notes in hospital and once home I will update the blog with a blow by blow account - bet you can't wait? Bye for now.

(photo - as promised for the Hodge family & relatives Nan & Joseph sharing their Birthday cake)

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Sat. 25th Apr. 2009 'A lovely day'

Not much sleep last night and I know the anxiety is building up, I just want to wake up in the recovery room now, I hate the waiting and I know Graham is feeling the tension. fortunately we've had a really good day, the weather has been great and we spent a few hours in York where we met our good friend Alan and later my eldest son Joe. York is so alive in Spring/Summer and I love shopping there.
(Picture - Louis & Coleen)

Ruth and Gordon came over for a visit this afternoon and that made the day perfect. We had a very healthy salmon and salad lunch, then sat outside in the sunshine with a glass of wine. The garden is looking great thanks to some hard work by Louis and Graham. Louis worked really hard last week digging out the lawn circle so we could put down a porous membrane. Graham had the job of clearing it all away and barrowing in the pebbles - thanks guys!. Once I'm feeling better I'm going to choose some grasses and small bushes to plant. Daisy isn't sure what to make of it yet.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Fri. 24th April 'Facing Demons'

Today is my last day at work again for a few weeks and I've actually driven to Brinsworth for a pre-arranged meeting with Margaret. That might not seem noteworthy to most people, but for me it was a big step. Last time I went Graham drove me in and it was just a social visit. This time was different as it was the culmination of two weeks working from home.

First of all I would be driving myself there and back, seeing people I hadn't seen for ages and catching up on business issues with Margaret and Beth who's been helping out. Nothing major really, but I still have the memories of my last day at Brinsworth and the acute Vertigo attack which was no doubt triggered by the stress of my diagnosis and my desire to leave everything in a reasonable state. So in many ways I was having to face some 'Demons' related to the above experience.

Well, I'm pleased to report that the day has gone really well. My motorway journey went smoothly and I felt fairly relaxed. It was great to see Margaret, meet Beth and catch up with one or two other colleagues at Brinsworth especially Joan who's been a real friend since I started there and throughout the past six months - (well I didn't need the enamel bowl this time Joan!).

So that's it in relation to work, until I'm recovered from the surgery, which I'm hoping will be in 6 - 8wks. I do feel re-assured that I'll be able to drop back into my role eventually and I'm quite excited about that now.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Tues. 21st Apr. 2009 'Pre boob job Consultation'

I've been looking forward to this appointment in a funny sort of way, probably because I needed to know exactly what Mr MJ intends to do and how it will affect me. I'm not sure Graham felt the same, he's been quite stressed by it all. Certainly as the day draws closer I'm feeling a little anxious at the thought of major surgery, but also in the knowledge that my body will never look the same. Yes, I know he will do a marvellous job, he's one of the best at reconstruction, but even he made it clear that it's unlikely he'll achieve a perfect match.

One good thing is that my op has moved to 28th (just a day later) because he wanted to do the mastectomy/reconstruction himself as opposed to supervising a new consultant. So he drew some pictures of the surgery and from what he was saying it sounds as though the cancer cells are very close to the areola/nipple area which will be surgically removed first and sent off for further histology, they may also look at other nearby nodes.

Regarding the actual breast surgery, MJ explained that he may decide to insert a small implant if he feels their isn't enough tissue to create a good shape. Also, I can go back at a later date for surgery on the right breast to even things up if necessary!

The surgery will last about two and a half hours and I'll be in hospital for five or six days, providing there are no problems. Apparently the wound on my back (where they take the muscle for the reconstruction) is prone to collecting fluid even after discharge and may need draining should it get uncomfortable. So there we have it, the grim details of my next 'hurdle'.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Sat. 18th Apr. 2009 'Happy Birthday Joseph'

Been looking forward to this day for a while because all my children are coming over for dinner. I promised Joe I would do real Grandma style Cornish Pasties, so I got up at 8a.m. to start preparing them. For some strange reason I felt very sickly and had to ask Graham to cut up the stewing steak. Fortunately it did settle and I was able to do the rest, which took two and a half hours.

It's been a beautiful day, the pasties turned out great, if a little on the big side. Later in the afternoon we brought Graham's Mum over to share a Birthday cake with Joe (she's 91 tomorrow). Ruth took the photograph - talk about every picture telling a story, I think we all look happy!

All in all it was a super day and just what I needed, I love having the family together, we always have a laugh and I'm sad when they go.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Wed. 15th Apr. 2009 'Fond memories'

Remembering my good friend Christine who passed away four years ago today and smiling when I think of the good times we shared with Chris and Alan, especially up in Skye. We'll be making the journey again soon with Alan and my sons and I can't wait to immerse myself in its beauty, enjoy some good food, good company and lots of music with family and friends.

It was day two of working and didn't go too well. We had a Conference Call booked for 10a.m. I was all ready to dial in when, oh oh, need the loo. I seriously thought I would pass out at one point the gripes were so bad and when it finally settled I was 15 minutes late and feeling completely washed out. Tried to dial in on my mobile, but lost the network connection after only a few minutes, so ended up using our own land line for the 90 minute call.

I did manage to follow what was going on regarding the Minutes etc., but didn't feel I could contribute much. On a positive note, I am sure it will help me in the long term to integrate back into my role and eventually my head will be clearer and I will have the info I need to hand, something I find frustrating at the moment. As Graham pointed out, I need to be patient and realistic about what I've been through and honest about my limitations - it will get better.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Tues. 14th Apr. 2009 'Hey Ho, Hey Ho ......'

Yes, today is my first day back at work since October and even though I'm only catching up with what's been happening, it's been quite a big step for me. I spent about three hours just trawling through e-mails and reading anything relevant. Clearly the business is struggling like everyone else at the moment, so I'm doubly grateful for the help I've had, not to mention a salary!

Health wise I'm getting better each day. Unfortunately I have three mouth ulcers at the moment, but I think they're the last remnants of the chemotherapy and will be gone in a few days. One of the sad things is my tinnitus is back - it disappeared when I started chemotherapy and I had hoped it was gone for good, oh well you can't win them all.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Sun. 12th Apr. 2009 'That's what friends are for'

What a great weekend I've had. Yesterday Joan and Gerry came over and it was so nice to see them, have a hug and catch up face to face. It's the first time we've seen them since Boxing Day and it was just great. I think my bacon and egg pie went down a treat with Jamie's rice salad and Joan brought some home made raspberry and blueberry buns. They were a New Zealand recipe and very yummy! Just what a recovering chemotherapy patient needed.

Today, my friend and colleague Anne came over from Middlesbrough where she's been visiting relatives. The last time I saw Anne was at our Team Meeting back in September. I was feeling so positive and enthusiastic about work at that time, little did I know what was to come. Anyway, we had a great time catching up over lunch (Jamie's mini pasta with bacon & peas, followed by rhubarb pie). My Son Joseph came over too, so it was a really good day. Anne reluctantly agreed to the blog picture above and I think it's great. I feel I should say a special thank you to Anne for keeping up our weekly 'natter'- don't worry Anne just keep 'winging it'!

Thanks to everyone

Friday, 10 April 2009

Frid. 10th Apr. 2009 'Good Friday'

Thought it was time I did a little update. The week has gone well and I'm feeling so much better. Stomach problems have settled, throat ulcers have just about gone and with the exception of sweet things, I can eat without a ghastly after taste. Tiredness is still a problem and according to the info it can continue for quite some time, oh joy!

My scalp has a definite fine coating of hair now, but I can't tell what colour it's going to be yet. I did buy some new mascara, but as yet there doesn't seem to be enough length to apply it - must be patient. I'm looking forward to next Thursday because that would have been my next chemotherapy, so every day after that will be a step forward. The only problem being that it's also a step nearer my surgery.

I'm going to work from home for a couple of weeks from the 14th as this will give me an opportunity to catch up with what's been happening in the business. I also need to remember where all my files are and how to find things on the BOC network - should be fun!

Well, I'm expecting a few visitors this weekend so I've baked a bacon and egg pie and a rhubarb pie without any disasters, progress indeed.

Monday, 6 April 2009

Mon. 6th Apr. 2009 'Echo & the Bunny woman'

No, I haven't lost it, well not yet anyway. I've been for my Echo cardiogram today and it's Easter - get it? I seem to remember there was a group called Echo & The Bunnymen, so there you go, at least my sense of humour is coming back too.

Anyway, the day has been pleasant, we went via York and had a light lunch. I didn't have to wait very long at the Hospital and the technician was a really pleasant young man. I won't get the results for a while, but I don't expect any problems so I'm not worried.

I feel so much better today, my taste is improving and I just have to cope with the swing from constipation to sudden bouts of diarrhoea. I reckon by the end of this week I will be starting to enjoy life again - Yeah!

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Sat. 4th Apr. 2009

Slight set back today, don't know if I'm expecting too much too soon, but I felt really sick this morning and even the thought of food turned my stomach. I had been really looking forward to a few hours in York, but once we got there, I couldn't wait to get home. I'm sure one of the major factors is that I'm still 'in France'. Anyway, had a better afternoon - Joan & Gerry are coming over next Saturday and I'm really looking forward to seeing them. Also Anne my friend and colleague from BOC is going to come and see me too while she's visiting family up near Middlesbrough and that'll be lovely, we can talk for England me and Anne.

Friday, 3 April 2009

Frid. 3rd Apr. 2009

Graham and I talked last night about my illness and how it has turned our lives upside down. Graham said he was really 'brassed off ' with the whole thing and feels that 'nothing is real' at the moment. That wasn't directed at me, just things in general and I know what he means, it's like living in some kind of parallel universe. I know that Graham doesn't feel he should be 'fed up' or complain about the situation, but I've always told him, that in many ways, we're going through this together. Partners are often forgotten because they're not experiencing the physical aspects of the illness, but if the bond is strong, it hurts them in hidden ways.

The other thing I've been thinking about, is when to wind down and stop writing this blog. I suspect that many readers and followers will assume that now my chemotherapy is over, the Journey has ended, but for me (and Graham), it's just the close of a Chapter. So, I've decided that I will probably update it on a weekly basis as from Monday, at least until I have my surgery and I'll keep it going until I've settled into the Herceptin treatment and got back to work. I must admit I have found it very therapeutic and I'm sure I will miss it, but I'm happy that I've been able to record everything and I'm looking forward to printing it out and reading it through from the start.

Thurs. 2nd Apr. 2009 'Keeping Warm'

Well, I discovered today that being ill is expensive. I suppose it shouldn't have been a surprise to me when I discovered our 'British Gas' bill of over £400 (Jan - Mar). Since Christmas I have struggled with the effects of the chemotherapy and one of those effects is numbness to extremities, in particular my feet and legs. It also means that I feel generally cold and this is exacerbated by my cold bald head.

So, the heating has been switched off and I'm wearing thick pullies and actively looking for alternatives for next winter, a log burning stove or something. After getting over the above shock I felt it was time to get out for a few hours, so we went to see 'Slum Dog Millionaire' and thoroughly enjoyed it, not what I expected at all, superb music too.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Wed. 1st April. 2009

What a difference a day can make, my energy levels are definitely improving and providing I don't pick up any germs, I should continue to emerge from the chemotherapy abyss. I'm sure that my decision to do virtually nothing for the first few days has paid off, I just need to be careful now not to get carried away with the thought of getting back to normal and overdoing things.

Food wise, I'm enjoying meals a little more. I haven't had any reflux, but I still feel as though something is lodged in the back of my oesophagus and when I drink or eat it's as though I'm swallowing lumps of grit as well. I'm assuming that this is just inflammation as it does tend to disappear after a couple of weeks, very annoying though.

Anyway, I've thoroughly enjoyed the sunshine today, it was nice to feel it on my bald head - maybe it will encourage my hair to grow, who knows!