Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Tues. 29th Dec. 2009 'Thanks & apologies'

I was thinking about my blog this morning, especially yesterdays entry and I suddenly became anxious that it may sound very 'self pitying' to those who follow or read it. So I thought about it for a while and reminded myself of the reason for starting it in 2008, and why I will continue for the time being. It's main purpose is to document the ups and downs however small or seemingly insignificant, from the day of diagnosis to the day I have my last Herceptin.

I know that some of my family read it, including my Sister Patty and my Husband Graham. It can sometimes be worrying for them as I'm often more able to express worries or problems via my blog. I suppose what I'm trying to do is thank those who read my blog and apologise if at times it seems a little negative - it's not meant to be, I just don't want to forget the rough times, so that I can enjoy the good times so much more!

Note: I have photographic evidence too, but have spared readers that experience:-)

Monday, 28 December 2009

Mon. 28th Dec. 2009 'Post Christmas'

I feel like a walking disaster at the moment. Yesterday, my operation sites were very sore and despite a fairly quiet day, I felt really fatigued again. Friend Allan came for dinner and I cooked a piece of pork, roast & mash, plus veg etc. It was all very relaxed, but just before bedtime, I commented to Graham that I felt a bit off balance. We'd just got into bed when I was aware of the fullness and slight disorientation which usually precedes a vertigo attack.

I took some Stemetil immediately and sat very quietly until it wore off enough for me to be able to lay down. I fear Vertigo attacks so much as they make me so ill, but usually I only get one every couple of years often triggered by a build up of stress and increased tinnitus. Fortunately I woke up several hours later and it seemed to have settled.

So this morning I just felt a little spaced and managed to stay in bed till 9a.m. which is really late for me. My Son Joe was coming for dinner, so I laid the fire, but as I put some logs down, I felt a sharp pain in my lower back. Consequently I've been hampered all day and afraid to bend down, pick anything up or sit for too long. See - walking disaster! I blame the fragility of my lower spine on the surgery too, I know how much you get pulled around in there. Anyway, I'm hoping for better things tomorrow.

Note: I got weighed this morning and despite 'over-eating' like everyone else, I still seem to have lost weight. I was 10st 5lb, which means I've now lost 2stone. I'm not complaining at the moment as I know I look quite good, but I hope it's going to stabilise soon.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Frid. 25th Dec. 'Christmas Day' 2009

Good morning world, it's Christmas Day!!!
I slept reasonably well, but the two surgery sites under my arm did come to life and were too painful to lay on. Both scars are about 4" long, one is quite high up actually on the reconstructed breast and has taken away the bulkiness I could see above the line of my bra strap and under my arm. The other has removed a 'dog ear' line which was visible below my bra strap. I can't actually see the wounds yet as I still have dressings in place. However, my 'Christmas present'... is visible and although it does look a bit 'messy' at the moment, the overall result is pretty amazing.

The day was fantastic, very relaxing and lots of fun. I missed my boys, but I was happy in the knowledge that they were having a good time together and enjoying their presents!

As for other presents, well they were wonderful and I feel so lucky to have such a great family, without who I know I would have a very empty life!

Thurs 24th Dec. 2009 Christmas Eve!

'Roo, Me & Mr Sowman'
Well it really snowed last night and it looks like we'll have the first 'White Christmas' for some time. I wasn't happy this morning as I knew we had to get to Roo and Gor's and the snow is worse over there. Also I was still suffering from effects of the anaesthetic, my brain and legs didn't seem to want to work together.

Despite this, we loaded up and decided to set off mid morning before the snow came again. It was a pretty good journey despite my fears and I enjoyed the scenery in a slightly 'ga ga' state! My scars were beginning to come to life, so I was grateful for the pain killers and diclofenac.

We did have to dig out the drive to get in, but otherwise it wasn't too bad and I felt really happy to be there and to put the last few weeks behind me. It will be so different to last year when I can honestly say I thought I wouldn't see another Christmas, I felt so ill.

Wed. 23rd Dec. 2009 'Snow, Stress & Surgery'

Somehow things seem to have got very complicated this week. I booked my 'Christmas' surgery for today not realising Graham would be out working (singing) and unable to pick me up. Thankfully Pat & Michael stepped in and kindly offered to come for me. The weather hasn't helped, it's been extremely cold and snowy with the possibility of more to come and so I'm stressing about the operation, the Christmas arrangements and getting to Ruth and Gordon's in Ilkley tomorrow!

Arrived at the hospital around 12 noon and after the usual checks & info, walked down to theatre about 2p.m. I agreed nervously to have a general anaesthetic as Mr MJ says there's a little too much to do just under a local.

I did try to warn the anaesthetist (a pretty very young Asian lady) that she may have difficulty finding a decent vein in my hand, but I don't think she was really listening, so I had to endure a couple of failed attempts before commenting that chemotherapy had left m veins a bit like 'old knicker elastic'. Now, the rather burly tattooed assistant who was applying pressure to my lower arm, laughed out loud, but it was obvious that my joke had been lost on her. Fortunately, and to avoid having to scrape me off the ceiling, it was then decided to put a small cannula in for the purposes of getting me off to sleep and then add another one in theatre.

The next thing I remember (which only ever feels like seconds) is waking up, well, trying to. I was really sleepy this time and I kept hearing the nurse say my name, but couldn't be bothered to come round. At 6p.m. I was wheeled back to the ward in a morphine induced dream state, where only the mention of 'staying overnight' really woke me up. The nurse said it could be 9p.m. before I was fit enough to be discharged and I would need to be able to drink and eat something without 'chucking up' . I was beginning to panic, when Pat & Michael appeared at the door and I planned my escape. Two rounds of toast later (only one of which I actually ate) it was decided that I would be able to go home with them - hurrah!

I'd like to say we made a hasty exit, but the truth is I was having to really concentrate on walking in a straight line, like some kind of drunk person. Judging by the looks I got from people as we made our way out, I'm guessing I didn't look too good either!

We made it safely home (in a blizzard) and I am eternally grateful to Sissy Pat & Michael for their love and help. I was making my way back from a toilet visit when Graham came upstairs, he looked at me and said 'oh shit', which I think was a comment on my very white face, so I just curled up in bed and went to sleep - tomorrow's another day, in fact, it's Christmas Eve!

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Sat 19th Dec. 2009 'colonoscopy'

Well we managed to get into York despite the snow and ice. It was -7 when we set off, but we went very slowly. I fell surprisingly ok, despite no solid food for over 24hrs now, perhaps a little weak in the knees. Anyway, I was 'booked in' and shown my room about 10.30 after a short but rather cold wait. The nurse gave me a blue paper gown to wear and a pair or very large navy blue paper pants with a slit at the back - mmm nice! Also a nice dressing gown and a blanket. We went through the usual paperwork and shortly after the Consultant came to explain the procedure and took me through to the theatre.

Naively, I thought it was just going to be a clinical room and a tablet or two. However, I was made comfortable, given nasal oxygen and attached to various monitors. The Consultant then tried (a couple of time) to site the cannula, through which I was given a pain killer and a sedative, which worked almost instantly. It wasn't an unpleasant feeling, which is more than I can say for the actual procedure, which was excruciating at times and even the pain killers didn't prevent me from vocalising my discomfort and nearly breaking the hand of the nurse who did her best to keep me calm and distracted.

Once over, I was taken back to my room on the trolley to sleep for a while, which was quite pleasant. I was given a lovely latte and a sandwhich once I felt like sitting up and I can tell you - a cheese and tomatoe sandwhich has never tasted so good!

The Consultant said that he hadn't seen any abnormalities in the colon, but he has taken some biopsies and I'll see him again in a few weeks.

Friend Alan very kindly came and picked me up from the Hospital as Graham had a booking which we didn't want to cancel. So it's 2.30p.m. and I'm waiting with great excitement for the arrival of Joan, so we can have our 'Strictly Party'. A great end to a fairly traumatic day.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Fri. 18th Dec. 2009 'Hereptin & Citramag'

Finished work on Wednesday after three very busy days. Also started the colonoscopy prep on Wed, which meant two days on a very bland and boring diet (low residue). Herceptin yesterday, which went OK and today it's fluids only plus some delightful stuff called 'Citramag' which has to be taken at specific times. I think I'll be wrecked by Sat night, but I'm determined to enjoy the Strictly Final with Joan.

We woke up to snow this morning, so I got up briefly to make up the first packet of powder. Mixing the boiling water with the powder made me feel as though I was taking part in some 'Magic Show' or 'Macbeth', it has a really dramatic reaction which causes it to hiss loudly, producing a white cloud (good job I followed the instructions and mixed it in a large jug). Anyway, it's one down and one to go. I'm already feeling the effects which are not very pleasant. It's going to be tough 24hrs and I sincerely hope we can get through the snow to York tomorrow, because there's no way I'm repeating this process!

Friday, 11 December 2009

Frid 11th Dec. 2009 'Christmas Shopping'

I feel as all I've done this month is go to appointments, backwards and forwards to York. They're all either necessary or requested, but it did start to get me down this week and having given it some serious thought I decided to cancel the CBT. The thought of going was beginning to add more stress to my overloaded brain, plus having tried to do my 'homework' from the first session, I couldn't see how it was going to help me get my life back on track.

I think also, the fact that I'm now being taken more seriously regarding my stomach problems, has helped me to be able to see some light at the end of the tunnel (that sounds funny knowing that I'm going for a colonoscopy). Joking apart though, if that can be sorted, I'm sure everything else will fall into place.

So, I've called this 'Christmas Shopping' because I've been to order mine today. I had my follow up appointment with Mr MJ, my breast surgeon. He's such a sweetie, with a good sense of humour. We both marvelled at the great job he's done. Surprisingly, he says he can reduce the 'puckering' under my arm, which I thought I would have to live with. Also, in the new year, he will arrange for me to have some fat removed from somewhere (plenty of choice) and injected into the top part of my breast where it has drooped bit. How wonderful is that?

Last but not least, I will be having a new nipple reconstructed on 23rd Dec. - my Christmas present! Happy Christmas Lesley :-)

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Sat 5th Dec. 2009 'Another Nuffield visit'

Was given the opportunity to attend an appointment with the Cons.Gastro-enterologist this morning. Not the best way to spend a Saturday morning, but on the whole probably a more useful option than trying to fight our way through the Christmas crowds in York.

I assumed that it would just be an initial consultation, but following a fairly in depth chat about things I would rather not discuss, the Consultant decided he wanted to do an initial examination. A nurse came in and the curtains were pulled so I could remove the requested clothing. The nurse came back and was struggling to get through the curtains due to furniture, so she went back out and came through where it finished near the wall - 'oh' she said 'I thought I'd use the back entry'! It was at that point I was thankful Graham wasn't with me as we both have the same stupid sense of humour and several options for reply flashed through my head, but I guessed she may not get the joke, so I resisted.

For the record my weight today was 67.7kg which is 7kg less than I used to be. I'm a size 12 now, which in some ways is great. I haven't been a size 12 for over 30yrs, and generally I feel and look good, but I don't want to lose any more weight. I've decided to clear out my wardrobe and start again. This is harder than it sounds because I have some really nice clothes and it's tempting to keep hold of them, but that suggests I may go back to being a size 16 and I don't want that.

Following a rather uncomfortable procedure we talked some more about the significant changes in my bowel habits and he informed me that he wanted to carry out a Colonoscopy to be absolutely certain nothing was being missed. He agrees with my Oncologist opinion and doesn't feel the problem is related to the Herceptin and is worth further investigation. Personally I still think the chemotherapy has triggered some sort of 'irritable bowel' disorder, but I'm happy to go along with his recommendations and if everything is clear, at least we can look at ways of managing the problem.